Before the kid, back when having personal space wasn’t such a luxury, I did a lot of writing on a manual typewriter. Yeah, I know… if I read something as hipster-fied as that, I’d want to throat punch whoever said it too. But I didn’t acquire an Olympia De Luxe for the aesthetics, or to enhance my authenticity vibe.
No, for me, it was about the challenge. I wanted my prose to be more economical. More precise. Rhythmic. And I wanted to get away from Microsoft Word.
The way I figured it, manually typing out stories would help get to the core of what I was trying to say. Without all the bullshit asides and redundant phrases.
Besides the lack of auto-correct, you have to physically hammer out each word, letter by letter, with just your two index fingers.
If this unforgiving process doesn’t make your writing lean and mean, nothing will.
When you write with a word processor, the only challenge is regurgitating the thoughts in your head onto the computer screen as fast as possible. For anyone who’s good at typing, it’s almost effortless.
With a manual typewriter, you start to question whether you need so many adjectives. All those adverts begin to seem unnecessary. Observations that don’t serve the narrative get cut. And tangents for the sake of tangential storytelling? Forget about it.
Typing on a manual can be like scratching words into concrete with a rusty pair of pliers. So why make it harder on yourself?
Once you get going, though, a rhythm develops and that translates to the page. Like playing a musical instrument, the composition becomes a performance. Mistakes and all.
After finishing a story, I’d usually transcribe it into the computer and edit from there. Then print a copy and retype it on the Olympia. When I started making zines again, I’d cut the sheets of paper size and create my master for the copier on the typewriter. I did a few quarter-sized zines and then realized I could squeeze more words onto half-sized pages.
A few weeks ago, while rummaging through some boxes of old publications, I stumbled onto a stash of zines. These three issues of Piltdownlad were completely written and designed on my Olympia Manual. After hammering out the text onto parchment paper, I cut-and-pasted the blocks of text together with various images, photocopied the masters to make the zine pages and bound them with my longarm stapler.
You can check them out in the videos below.
They’re available individually or as a discounted bundle.
Order all three zines for $12 postpaid here:
The Typewritten Zine Bundle
I'm offering a special deal on this collection of typewritten, personal narrative zines: Get three zines, The Nasty Oh-Dear, The Cult of Teddy Ruxpin and The Murky Realm for $12 postpaid.
Or individually here:
The Nasty Oh-Dear
“In 1986, when I was fifteen, I moved from Los Angeles to a small town in Alabama. My father, a sergeant in the Army, was transferring to Fort McClellan outside a place called Anniston. Along for the ride were Joey, my younger brother, and Rick, a friend of the family who was also in the Army. We left LA the day after Christmas. It was the first time Joey and I had ever been out of Southern California. The prospect of a new beginning was like a beacon guiding us across the country. The way the old man talked about it, the South was a land of golden opportunities, where we’d be free to reinvent our lives for the better. Six months later, the old man and Rick were in prison, Joey was in a Christian group home and I was in a mental hospital. For me, things were looking up.”
The Nasty Oh-Dear – Piltdownlad Zine #4
“The Nasty Oh-Dear” is about moving from East LA to Alabama in the eighties and ending in state custody. Also explores self-publishing and perzines, including a meditation on the first perzine I ever read, the pondering of truth versus fiction and the origins of the name “Piltdownlad.” Typewritten • 4.25″ × 7″ • 40pp. • Free shipping.
The Murky Realm
My parents never should have gotten married. But even though my father was gay and my mother was chemically imbalanced, this was the 60s, when single men in their forties did not identify as queer and people with personality disorders were rarely diagnosed, much less treated. And marriage was inexorable. The tragedy, of course, is that, besides ruining their own lives, five children came out of this unhappy coupling. But that’s not the point of this story. That comes later. “The Murky Realm” is about how these two people got together, fell apart, came back together, then fell apart again only to get back together again…
The Murky Realm – Piltdownlad Zine #7
A biographical sketch of a tragic union with some creative engineering. This is the story of how my parents got together. All my troubles begin here… The text is typewritten on my Olympia Manual. The size of this zine is 5.5 x 7 and the cover is black cardstock with a handwritten title piece glued on. The page count is 44. Shipping is free.
The Cult of Teddy Ruxpin
“The Cult of Teddy Ruxpin was the brainchild of Brett and Vic. As the outcasts of Saks High, they found great pleasure in being contrary. Since the Christians were always talking about devil worshippers and cults, they decided to start a cult of their own. The stuffed talking bear was the most absurd icon they could think of to worship. They scrawled ‘Teddy Ruxpin Rules’ all over school, on desks, cafeteria tables, their lockers and the bathroom walls. There were slight variations, such as, ‘Teddy Ruxpin Is God,’ ‘All Hail Teddy Ruxpin,’ or ‘Teddy Ruxpin Is My Savior.’ But the message was always the same. They knew it was stupid, but it alleviated the boredom. And it pissed off the Christians. So that made it worthwhile.”
The Cult of Teddy Ruxpin – Piltdownlad Zine #8.5
“The Cult of Teddy Ruxpin” is the story of losing religion, discovering punk and making true friends after moving from LA to a small town in Alabama. It is a story of teenage rebellion and resisting conformity. 4.25"x5.5" • 40 pages • typewritten text • illustrated • staple-bound • Free shipping.