How The Lumpen Times Began

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In the fall of 1990 a group of students at the University of Illinois Champaign/Urbana started to organize against the forthcoming First Gulf War. After the war began in January 1991 some believed it was time to start a publication to share progressive news and cultural opinion in attempt to counter the lack of readily available media outlets that presented dissenting opinion on the issues of the day.

We met a few times at a basement cafe called Espresso Royale and decided to make a zine. Someone had friends at the new copy shop called Kinkos, and some of us had access to the new desktop publishing tool – the Macintosh SE – in the Honors Lab. We called our zine The Lumpen Times, inspired after the name the house some of us lived in on 910 S. Oak Street in Champaign.

After a few weeks of meetings and deadlines our first zine was produced with some short fiction, original essays about the war, free speech and foreign affairs. It also featured environmental activism resources and anti-war propaganda reprinted from The Progressive and even the New York Times!  The zine was sprinkled with original illustrations and collage art as well as a connect the dots of Roger Ebert, U of I alumn. Text was printed from the Mac SE in the Honors Lab. It was cut and pasted together, brought to Kinkos, printed for free and collated by a bunch of us. I think we made about 500 copies and distributed them freely around the coffee shops and dorms. It came out in the Spring of 1991.

These images are from the original issue. It shows the founders and original participants in the masthead. We went on to do six more zine style cut and paste issues over the next few years.

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