Factsheet Five was a periodical mostly consisting of short reviews of privately produced printed matter along with contact details of the editors and publishers.
In the 1980s and early 1990s, its comprehensive reviews (literally thousands in each issue) made it the most important publication in its field, heralding the wider spread of what would eventually be called fanzine or zine culture.
Before the widespread adoption of the web and e-mail beginning around 1994, publications such as Factsheet Five formed a vital directory for connecting like-minded people. It was the literary equivalent to such phenomena as International Sound Communication in the period of cassette culture.
The magazine was originally published in 1982 by Mike Gunderloy on a spirit duplicator in his bedroom in a slanshack in Alhambra, California. The original focus was science fiction fanzines (the title comes from a short story by science fiction author John Brunner), but it included other reviews. Bob Grumman contributed a regular column on avant-garde poetry from 1987 to 1992.
Gunderloy later moved to Rensselaer, New York, where he continued to publish. By 1987, he was running a zine BBS, one of the first associated with an underground publication. In 1990, Cari Goldberg Janice and (briefly) Jacob Rabinowitz joined as co-editors. Gunderloy quit publishing Factsheet Five following the completion of Issue #44 in 1991.
Hudson Luce purchased the rights to Factsheet Five and published a single issue, Issue #45, with the help of BBS enthusiast Bill Paulouskas, cartoonist Ben Gordon, writer Jim Knipfel, and artist Mark Bloch, who had authored a mail art-related column called “Net Works” during the Gunderloy years.
R. Seth Friedman then published the magazine for five years in San Francisco, with the help of Christopher Becker, Miriam Wolf and Jerod Pore, until Issue #64 in 1998. Circulation grew to 16,000 during that time.
No other publication gave Christian Angst as much exposure across the alternative press spectrum as Factsheet Five. Seth Friedman was more than generous with his inclusion and tolerance of my inundation of submissions over a five-year period, and I’ve included some of our correspondence as a testament to that. The best part of this this post is all of the old zine reviews, which gives an indication of the dedication not only of the publishers of those zines, but to the tenacity of Friedman, who coordinated and kept the zine community internationally connected. RIP, FF.