On a recent trip to Quimby’s, I picked up the third issue of a zine called The Vellum Underground (along with a pile of others). It’s thick as zines go, 44 pages, and competently assembled. TVU is the brainchild of David LaBounty, one of the busy owners of Blue Cubicle Press. He and his wife, Robin, have put out multiple zines over the years, though this is the first I’ve read. TVU takes us through David and Robin’s history with zines and the stores that sell them.
As I’ve written before, I love zines but have only recently gotten acquainted with the zine world. As such, I am always interested in reading zinesters write directly about zines, how they’re made, sold, bought, traded, distributed, etc. TVU3 gives us a lot of behind-the-scenes info on this process, especially about how LaBounty’s own zines have made it into–and out of–various bookstores over the years.
My favorite bookstore on the planet is Quimby’s in Chicago, and TVU3 tells several stories about this zine-and-radical-lit mecca. As an added bonus, it also has an extended essay by manager Liz Mason, which in essence builds on the information she provided in How To Be a Good Zine Citizen. A similar piece by Benn Ray of Atomic Books in Baltimore and a few essays by various zinesters and self-published authors round out this issue.
I’m impressed overall with the level of professionalism in the assembly of The Vellum Underground Number 3. LaBounty’s pedigree as a publisher shows. I know it’s not cool to say so, but I value attention to quality in the zine editing and assembly.
If you want to learn more about zines, or just want to go behind the scenes of a couple awesome bookstores like Quimby’s and Atomic Books, check this one out soon.