‘Punk’ Magazine’s Iconic Covers That Captured the Rise of the ’70s NYC Scene

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Artist John Holmstrom, publisher Ged Dunn, and journalist Legs McNeil started Punk magazine in 1976 as former high school friends looking for scene cred and free drinks. The cartoons meets rock fanzine captured the flavor of New York City’s Lower East Side and its thriving underground art and music world. Forty years later, gallery and performance space Howl! Happening is looking back at Punk’s colorful history with an exhibition commemorating the magazine’s first issue, featuring Loud Reed on the cover (drawn by Holmstrom). The show runs January 14 to January 30.

The inaugural issue was printed on just four sheets of newsprint and included interviews with Reed and the Ramones (the latter conducted by American Psycho and I Shot Andy Warhol director Mary Harron), a rant titled “Death to Disco Shit! Long Live the Rock!,” and a photo comic starring McNeil trying to pick up girls outside CBGBs. Punk’s contributors included artists like Robert Romagnoli, who replaced Robert Crumb at the Village Voice, and CBGBs door girl Roberta Bayley, who took the group shot of the Ramones that wound up on the cover of their first record. Debbie Harry, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Brian Eno, and the Clash were amongst the other luminaries interviewed. The magazine folded in 1979 after just 17 issues due to high overhead costs, but the art, editorials, and spirit of Punk captured a movement we’re still talking about decades later. See a preview of the magazine’s iconic covers in our gallery.

The opening event will feature Ken Weiner drawing “ugly portraits,” Holmstrom’s work from the CBGB film, artifacts like the Sex Pistols Puppets featured on Punk #14, original press sheets from the magazine’s first issue, and samples of the Punk clothing line from Japan.

©1976-2007 PUNK Magazine Inc.ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

©1976-2007 PUNK Magazine Inc.ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

©1976-2007 PUNK Magazine Inc.ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

©1976-2007 PUNK Magazine Inc.ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

©1976-2007 PUNK Magazine Inc.ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

©1976-2007 PUNK Magazine Inc.ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

©1976-2007 PUNK Magazine Inc.ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

©1976-2007 PUNK Magazine Inc.ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

©1976-2007 PUNK Magazine Inc.ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

©1976-2007 PUNK Magazine Inc.ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

©1976-2007 PUNK Magazine Inc.ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

©1976-2007 PUNK Magazine Inc.ALL RIGHTS RESERVED