’80s Ohio Fanzine “The Offense” Gets Book’d in Fine Style

A true legend and an indie-rock groundbreaking media outlet, the ’80s Ohio-based fanzine featured on Ohio television in “Cocteau Fever” (below), goes big with the 900-page “Book of Books” Collection, compiling the essential original print run. (Full disclosure: BLURT editor Fred Mills would become a regular contributor to the zine, and has no regrets whatsoever… )

If the tens of thousands of people who have viewed 10TV Eyewitness News coverage of “Cocteau Fever” on YouTube end up purchasing The Offense Book of Books, then its publisher will be very happy. Do you remember posting that video on your site a few years ago (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaOlNfC8_xQ)? Well, the Columbus, Ohio alternative music fanzine that was responsible for first spreading Cocteau Fever throughout the land can now be blamed for something else — The Offense Book of Books, which was released on January 3, 2019 and is a two-volume collection of all 888 pages of all 15 issues of The Offense, which appeared in its original “book” format from April, 1980 to March, 1982 before switching to a newsletter style and becoming The Offense Newsletter.

Offense publisher/editor/least-talented contributor Tim Anstaett: “My New Year’s resolution for 2018 was one way or another to get The Offense Book of Books out, which I had unsuccessfully attempted to do on several occasions in the past. And although at times this year the situation seemed to be quite dire, I never gave up, and ultimately the promise that I had made to myself for 2018 … ALMOST was kept!”

Tim’s involvement with the local alternative music scene in Columbus began in December, 1979, when he began booking bands from his own town and other Midwestern cities into Mr. Brown’s, a small club that was located a few blocks south of the Ohio State University campus. His stint there lasted four months, during which time the owner generously gave to Tim a total of 47 nights to fill. This represented quite a departure from what music fans in Columbus had by that time become accustomed to, and had sadly resigned themselves to, which was only being able to enjoy very-few-and-far-between opportunities to see good bands. Now, for the very first time, the music suddenly found itself gaining a true foothold in the city. And then only two weeks after the last show that Tim promoted at Mr. Brown’s had taken place, the first issue of The Offense was born on April 11, 1980. And two years after that, he switched to a morefrequentlypublished newsletter format and eventually resumed his booking of bands, bringing to Columbus such alternative music luminaries as Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (three times), the Pixies (twice), The Fall (twice), and yes, the Cocteau Twins.

The first issue of The Offense was completely handwritten by Tim, and he was its only contributor. It was rather sloppily put together and included scene reports that he had written about towns that he had recently visited with the Cowboys, a local Columbus band that he had booked into Mr. Brown’s many times and was now managing and mismanaging. However, by the fanzine’s eighth issue its looks had greatly improved, circulation had increased to 1,000, and four distributors had come aboard (Rough Trade, Systematic, Skydisc, and Important), which helped the publication to become nationally and internationally known. It was called The Offense because its mission was to go on the offensive and help spread the word about all of the great new music that was happening. The letters of its name were titled forward because the zine was moving in the direction that the arrow going through those slanted letters was pointing — ahead. Issues regularly included heated letters to the editor; freewheeling interviews; analytical record, cassette, and live reviews; and scene reports written by people who actually lived in the cities that they wrote about.

Tim Anstaett can be contacted at tkarunner2001@aol.com. He has organized a few book release parties/readings in Columbus for The Offense Book of Books, at which many of the fanzine’s past contributors will be reading some of their favorite published pieces that they wrote. These are the events that have been scheduled thus far (all times Eastern):

Friday, January 11, 2019   6:00-8:00pm   Lost Weekend Records, 2690 N. High St.
Saturday, January 19, 2019   2:00-7:00pm   Ace of Cups, 2619 N. High St.
Wednesday, February 13, 2019   7:30-9:00pm   Two Dollar Radio HQ, 1124 Parsons Ave.

The Ace of Cups event will also include live musical performances from some of the past contributors (Nancy Kangas, Ron House, Mike Rep, and Paul Nini).

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The Offense Book of Books is published by Biblio Publishing, 1091 W. First Ave., Columbus, Ohio 43212 (614-485-0721) and is now available through Amazon (at https://www.amazon.com/dp/162249458X a single book is pictured, but it is the entire two-volume package that is described) and also through the Biblio Bookstore (at https://bibliobookstore.com/Music/The-Offense-Book-of-Books-by-Tim-Anstaettagain, the price listed is for the complete two-volume set). Anyone who can order three or more of the two-volume sets should not click one of the above links but instead either call Biblio Publishing or send an email to info@zippublishing.com, as that will enable him or her to receive a 25% discount on the order and lower the cost of each set from $89.95 to $67.47 (plus shipping). At the two January readings in Columbus, two-volume sets will be available for $70 each, and the purchaser will also receive a free, original, mint-condition back issue of The Offense of his or her choice for each set that he or she buys (back issues of seven of the fifteen Offenses are still available at this time.)

 

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From ye olde editor: I’m Fred Mills, and I approve this press release. I count Tim (who we “Offense” contributors knew as simply TKA back in the day) as both a peer and a mentor, as he was among the very first music publication publishers to take a chance on my (admittedly tenuous grasp of) rock journalism and make me a published scribe. So now you know who to blame. Tim, you remain an inspiration among your fellow zine writers and editors, and I have no doubt that you are similarly revered among those artists and bands you selflessly championed early on, long before they had achieved any measure of recognition in America. Salute, good sir!

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