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'Indie Press' relies on Cabell collection

July 19, 2013

Central Virginia author Dale Brumfield is set to launch his latest book this month. And on September 1, he'll be giving a VCU Libraries Presents talk sponsored by Special Collections and Archives at 1 p.m. at James Branch Cabell Library.

The library is a familiar place for Brumfield, who relied heavily on VCU Libraries collection of independent and alternative newspapers, weeklies, zines and magazines to research "Richmond Independent Press: A History of the Underground Zine Scene." 

According to publisher notes on Barnes & Nobel website: "During the political and cultural upheaval of the 1960s, even the sleepy southern town of Richmond was not immune to the emergence of radical counterculturalism. A change in the traditional ideas of objective journalism spurred an underground movement in the press. The Sunflower, Richmond's first underground newspaper, appeared in 1967 and set the stage for a host of alternative Richmond media lasting into the 1990s and beyond. Publications such as the Richmond Chronicle, the Richmond Mercury and the Commonwealth Times, as well as those covering the African American community, such as Afro, have served the citizens of Richmond searching for a change in the status quo. ... Brumfield explores a forgotten history of a cultural revolution." 

Brumfield draws clear distinctions between the monopolistic mainstream press (The Richmond Times-Dispatch and the Richmond News Leader) and the jaunty, nimble underground papers.

Some observers of the journalistic scene, he says, "may recall the underground press of the '60s and '70s only as a temporary deviation, choosing to emphasize the papers' divisions and their failures while de-emphasizing their successes. Richmond's 1960s underground press may have been short-lived but it did not fail. It achieved its purpose of giving a voice to radical criticism and social change.

"The legacy passed on by those gritty, early papers was the alternative press that rose in the mid-70s and the '80s, leading the way for longer lasting publications such as STYLE Weekly, now in its 32nd year."

Brumfield contributes to STYLE Weekly and the Austin Chronicle. He is the co-founder of ThroTTle Magazine, a Richmond indie publication. A VCU alumnus and MFA graduate student, he also worked on the Commonwealth Times. The book, "Richmond Independent Press: a History of the Underground Zine Scene," is published by History Press of Charleston, South Carolina.

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