A Fond Farewell to Punk Planet

After 13 years, and hard luck, <em>Punk Planet</em> bids adieu

| June 21, 2007

Every other month, when Punk Planet arrives at our office, it is quickly snatched from the shelves and sequestered by one lucky editor or intern to pore over its pages. Library-shelf sightings of the coveted magazine are so rare, in fact, that our librarian Danielle Maestretti long ago gave up trying to corral copies and simply got a home subscription.

So it is with great sadness and fond appreciation that we report that the final issue of Punk Planet is in the mail. Co-editor and publisher Daniel Sinker and associate publisher and co-editor Anne Elizabeth Moore sent word to fans Monday through email and via the magazine's website. The bimonthly covered all corners of the independent and alternative spectrum, from standards like music, books, comics, and zines, to feature articles ranging from the revival of student activism to the perils of No Child Left Behind legislation to the secrets of competitive Scrabble. It provided an invaluable resource in the form of advertising space, which was offered exclusively (and affordably) to indie retailers. And as long as your album, book, or comic was independent, Punk Planet always made time and space for a few words.

The deck was stacked against Punk Planet, though, and the hard knocks of independent publishing finally became too much to bear. In their farewell letter, Sinker and Moore sullenly note that going against the cultural grain brings very little in profits. The ultimate financial blow landed in January, when Punk Planet's distributor, the Independent Press Association (IPA), announced it was folding due to bankruptcy. Although Punk Planet outlasted other IPA members like Clamor, the structural and financial damage proved fatal.

With few options left, the editors asked readers to buy T-shirts and back issues to raise money. Readers in Chicago, Milwaukee, and Madison, Wisconsin, went a step further and hosted benefit concerts. The money they raised kept Punk Planet afloat for a short while, but in the end, as the staff came to realize the extent of their distribution problems (roughly 70 percent of the magazine's budget comes from newsstand sales), Punk Planet had little choice but to call it quits. Although the outfit will continue publishing books and running a website, the chance of the magazine making a full comeback is remote. 'The only realistic way' for that to happen, Sinker tells Utne.com, 'is to change the industry.'



The departure of Punk Planet leaves a gaping hole in the landscape of independent magazines. And it will be sincerely missed in our office, where one or two articles from each issue inevitably rile us up or turn us on to something new. That's probably why Punk Planet has racked up nominations for the Utne Independent Press Awards every year since 2000. Along with its 14 total nominations over the past seven years, it took home honors for 'General Excellence (Zines)' in 2000 and 'Cultural/Social Coverage' in 2002.

Though we mourn the loss of this bastion of the independent press, we're buoyed by Sinker and Moore's closing remarks, heralding Punk Planet's last issue. 'Read it, enjoy it,' they write, 'and find in it enough inspiration to last until we come back in some other form, at some other time, renewed and ready to make another outstanding mark on the world.'