About Trash City
Trash City magazine was run out of London from 1989 through 2000. Over the duration, I was working in the City in the IT department of James Capel (later part of HSBC), and initially, copies were run off on the photocopier there, after everyone had gone home. As circulation increased, this method of production eventually became unfeasible for my mental health, and I switched to getting it printed properly.
You’ll see the evolution of both layout and production values through the chronology of the ‘zine. Initially, the master copies were output through an output generator I wrote myself (in COBOL!). This took as input marked up files, the mark-up indicating margin location, whether to justify the text, etc. and output formatted up docs, with spaces into which clip-art could be pasted. Literally: pasted. There was physical glue involved. As time went on, we switched over to early desk-top publishing, through an Atari 800 computer, and eventually into PC and Microsoft Word.
Sales were mostly by mail-order, through stores like Forbidden Planet and Psychotronic Video, and at horror film festivals like Shock Around the Clock. There was never any advertising, beyond trading copies with other, more or less like-minded ‘zines. I think we peaked at about 500 copies per issue, which was quite a hefty amount. There were also spin-off T-shirts featuring the later covers on them, as well as the infamous “naked Nastassja Kinski wielding a blood-spattered chainsaw” illustration.
It was my baby, but I couldn’t have done it without the assistance and encouragement of a number of other people. Rather than listing them, and likely forgetting some, I’ll just say: you know who you are.
The magazine came to an end when I moved from London to Arizona in late 2000. This was also the point at which the Internet was beginning to take over; Trash City had a site, with lovingly-crafted hand-written HTML pages for new content at this domain name. I did start putting the issues online there, but that kinda foundered quickly, dying on the lack of easily accessible OCR and CMS, which made the process more a chore than a pleasure. These days? Not a problem, which is why we’re here.
The gallery and PDF versions are scanned from the original printed copies (there may be exceptions in some later cases; scanning perfect-bound magazines is a fraught process, and for certain editions, I only have a single copy). The website versions typically come from the saved docs, except where I don’t have them, in which case I used OCR to convert the scans. I did find some places where the printed versions were slightly different from the docs; there are probably other discrepancies that I missed. The printed editions should be seen as definitive in such cases. I have, however, fixed some formatting, spelling and factual errors in the website versions. Again, I probably missed a few. I’m sure you’ll cope.
Even the articles where I had preserved the electronic versions were not without incident. In some cases, I was dealing with files written on applications from close to 30 years ago, and which had inconveniently been saved with no file extension. So I had to figure out how these could be opened in 2020. Turns out I’d had used Corel WordPerfect. Who knew? Thank heavens for online file-converters, which could typically hack these into usable text files.
- June 5, 2020 – site established
- June 24 – issue 0 completed
- July 7 – issue 1 completed
- July 14 – issue 2 completed
- August 7 – issue 3 completed
- August 21 – issue 4 completed
- September 13 – issue 5 completed, site launched
- October 4 – issue 6 completed
- October 9 – issue 7 completed
- October 19 – issue 8 completed
- October 31 – issue 9 completed
- November 15 – issue 10 completed
- November 24 – issue 11 completed
- December 10 – issue 12 completed
- December 14 – ConTanimeT ’92 special completed
- December 24 – Issue 13 completed
We now hit the perfect-bound issues. These are considerably harder to scan than the stapled ones, which can easily be destapled to lie flat. These are also twice the size. I would therefore expect future progress to be considerably slower, particular for issues 14/15, 16/17 and 23, for which I only have one copy. The others, I can perhaps destroy during scanning. Though I have to say, wrestling with issue 14/15, I am remarkably impressed by the quality of the perfect binding, which has withstood all the punishment I can throw at it. Anyway, rather than taking a couple of weeks, I’d imagine maybe 1-2 months for an issue going forward. Possibly more, once baseball season starts and demands my attention. Which it does, the day after 16/17 got finished
However, the final few issues had already been turned into a website – albeit hand-crafted HTML. That made converting them into WordPress posts a snap. As a result, 20/21 got knocked out in less than a month, though partly due to a night where Chris was out at an event she was running until 2 am. Got a lot of scanning done that evening…
- February 11, 2021 – Issue 14/15 completed
- March 31 – Issue 16/17 completed
- May 29 – Issue 18/19 completed
- June 24 – Issue 20/21 completed
- August 4 – Issue 22 completed
- August 26 – Issue 23 completed. That’s it, they’re all done!
Running concurrently, I’ve begun working on formatting up the website articles, which ran intermittently from 1998-2016. Most of them were already in WordPress, but could certainly use a polish.
August 26. I’ve also launched with new content that I’m writing. The Olympics providing a buffet of topics, as well as ABBA, Kaiju Big Battel and imaginary racism. Coming soon (ish): Immersive Van Gogh and Brand New Cherry Flavor.
I’m still very much writing these days, and my film tastes haven’t really changed much. Current movie reviews (as well as some taken from these same issues) can now be found on FilmBlitz.org and GirlsWithGuns.org. I also write a lot on baseball, and run a site called AZSnakePit.com, about the local MLB team here in Arizona. It’s part of Vox/SB Nation, and so is something of a thing. They actually pay me, which is nice, though not so much that I can quit my day job. Since 2002, I am happily married, to a Trash City subscriber. Chris still frequently tells me I am the best twenty bucks she ever spent. Who says you can’t put a price on love?
There is an email address: admin@ the domain which you are currently browsing. I can’t say I check it every day. Maybe not every week. But it exists. Feel free to get in touch if you ever bought a copy of TC, or are just stumbling across this time-capsule of unfortunate ideas.
There are a lot of things here that make me cringe now, as I read these issues. I mean, I formatted articles with spaces before and after a “(“? Was I insane? But bear in mind: what was written was done so in the nineties, by a twenty-something single male. There will therefore be bad language, sexual content and other things which reflect badly on me. Just ask my wife, who will never, ever let me forget the off-hand reference to the leisure possibilities inherent in Denise Richards and a vat of chocolate.
But when browsing this historical document, please remember, the very first issue had the following at the bottom of the contents page: “The views expressed in this ‘zine, are not necessarily those of the editor or publisher, and may well be an attempt to wind you up.” If you take anything here seriously, you’re doing it wrong. And if you’re offended, my twenty-something self would likely rejoice. Now? I can only apologize.