John Holmstrom

John Holmstrom

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Cartoonist John Holmstrom cofounded Punk magazine with Eddie “Legs” McNeil and Ged Dunn Jr. after attending the School of Visual Arts with Blondie’s Chris Stein, who became a regular contributor to the magazine.


New York Rocker and Punk Magazine


New York Rocker covered a wide variety of bands on the scene, much like the music weeklies Melody Maker and New Musical Express did in Britain. “New York Rocker definitely attempted to look at the personalities a little more deeply and to see how the music was put together,” Lenny Kaye said. “Whereas Punk magazine was very specific in terms of what they considered ‘punk.’ ” Many took a rather dim view of that magazine, which Kaye described as a bit “Johnny-come-lately” (Punk cofounders Eddie “Legs” McNeil, John Holmstrom, and Ged Dunn Jr. didn’t start their publication until the scene was in full swing). “Punk magazine, although I was friends with those guys, that never had much appeal to me,” Blondie drummer Clem Burke said. “I just really liked the New York Rocker. It was like our version of New Musical Express or something. They wrote about the music more in-depth, and they covered lots of different bands. Punk didn’t really deal as much with music. It was more like a lifestyle.” To build buzz for their new magazine, Holmstrom and McNeil plastered punk is coming! posters all around downtown in early 1976. “When those posters went up around town,” Gary Valentine recalled, “everyone thought it was some band from New Jersey coming to play in the city.” While Punk had its detractors, others—notably Chris Stein and Debbie Harry—became fans. “People went nuts for that first issue,” said Holmstrom, who attended the School for Visual Arts in Manhattan with Stein.

From Chapter 33 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore