Brand New Retro: Too Late Fanzine 1978 – 1982


Posted 2 weeks ago in Brand New Retro

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“Too Late was a Dundalk-based homemade magazine that was also sold in Dublin between 1978 and 1981. I asked its editor and publisher, Eamonn McMahon (yes relation) to reflect on his post-punk fanzine-making days.” – Brian McMahon

 

How did Too Late come about?

We were heavily inspired by the fanzine scene that emerged in tandem with punk in the UK, and to a lesser extent in Dublin and Belfast, during 1976/1977. However, by the time we finally got round to printing our own fanzine it was December 1978 and much of the energy and excitement around that scene had started to dissipate. The Too Late title reflects our own ironic acknowledgement of the belated publication of the fanzine.

 

What did you feature in Too Late?

Reviews of gigs, records, movies and TV shows, but it was our reviews of local pubs and nightclubs that proved most popular.

 

What was the production process?

Computers, scanners, or photocopies were not readily available back in 1978, so the first four issues were all handwritten with artwork and photos inserted into the page using a Pritt stick.

Over time, I started using copious amounts of Letraset which, while very effective, was prohibitively expensive. I also cut out letters and artwork from other magazines. I ruined first edition copies of The Face, Blitz and i-D Magazine doing this. A local printing press printed the pages which we then sorted and stapled by hand.

 

Did you sell many copies and how did you sell it?

It wasn’t available in the shops, so we sold it on the street and outside local nightclubs and pubs. We also sold copies outside McGonagles and other gigs in Dublin. The first issue sold 200, after that, sales flourished, reaching 1,000 by issue 5.

 

Was there much of a Dublin fanzine scene then?

New fanzines were popping up all the time in the late 1970s. Heat was the forerunner and the best, but there were many others before Vox arrived in 1980. Most of them, like Up Yours and Wimp Wonder, only lasted a couple of issues, but others like Imprint ran for years.

 

How did you get feedback?

Word of mouth. No mobile phones, email or social media then and we had no phone in our house. We did get some mail with one anonymous writer calling us big-headed, self-obsessed and opinionated.

We published it in the next issue with a job offer to the writer. A particular thrill was receiving a letter after issue 1 from Phil Chevron of the Radiators, praising the magazine and encouraging us to do more.

 

Did any articles get you into trouble?

We tried to be as tongue in cheek as possible, and poked fun at pubs and local celebrities, including a savage critique of Bagatelle. We got barred from a couple of pubs, but no one followed through with any formal complaint.

 

Why did you stop and did you ever publish again?

I gradually realised that we were running out of fresh ideas. Like being in a band or writing a novel, you have enough fresh ideas in your head to produce your first and second album or novel, but after that, unless you are really really good, you run out of ideas and simply start producing derivative versions of your previous work.

I did another magazine in 1984 called Jump which was effectively a grown-up sister of Too Late. It was higher quality and featured original cartoons, witty reviews of local schools, boutiques, coffee shops, sweet shops and had a vox pop section. By then I was 26 and beginning to feel a bit old to be ‘doing this sort of thing’. I’ve published nothing since – I think I got it all out of my system.

Words: Brian McMahon, Brand New Retro

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