There was no comfortable position for punk in mainstream culture when it exploded in England in 1976. The mainstream media could not accurately speak for punk, and punk could not represent itself through the mainstream media without radically compromising its own nature. Misrepresentation was inevitable because of the particular nature of the movement. Punk declared: 'Stop consuming the culture that is made for you. Make your own culture'. It rebelled against established forms of expression and consumption; it was mainly expressed and experienced live.
Sniffin Glue, the first punk fanzine, was produced by Mark Perry in July 1976 a few days after seeing US punk band The Ramones for the first time at the Roundhouse in London. He took the title from a Ramones song 'Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue'.
The whole of that first issue was what I could do at that time with what I had in my bedroom. I had a children's typewriter plus a felt-tip pen, so that's why the first issue is how it is. I just thought it would be a one-off. I knew when I took it to the shop there was a good chance they'd laugh at me, but instead they said, How many have you got? I think my girlfriend had done 20 on the photocopier at her work and they bought the lot off me. Then they advanced me some money to get more printed.(Mark Perry quoted in Q Magazine April 2002).
Perry's fanzine was the perfect punk form. It reported the moment immediately as it happened, reporting it from an insider's point of view. Because Perry used everyday tools that were immediately to hand, Sniffin' Glue fit with the do-it-yourself ethos which was already an important part of punk culture. A flood of punk zines followed with identifiable cut and paste graphics, typewritten or felt tip text, misspellings and crossings out. Photocopying also contributed to punk zine look by limiting graphic experimentation to black and white tones and imagery based on collage, enlargement and reduction. Sniffin' Glue demonstrated that anyone could easily, cheaply and quickly produce a fanzine.
Punk zines not only looked like DIY but also encouraged its ethic in all areas. Sideburns, another zine, printed diagrams of guitar chords A, E and G ("This is a chord. This is another. This is a third. Now form a band.") and Sniffin' Glue told its readers: 'Don't be satisfied with what we write. Go out and start your own fanzine'.
Jon Savage, inspired by Sniffin' Glue, produced London's Outrage at the end of November 1976 after seeing the Clash and the Sex Pistols live. He produced it in two days. He took the name from an existing Sex Pistols' flyer, which he converted for the front cover:
'In the lunch hour, I sit on the bog attacking bits of paper with Pritt glue in a very real fever - got to do it now, now. 'It' is a fanzine. I need to give voice to those explosions in my head. Cut-up bits of the NME, 60s pop annuals, Wilhelm Reich and 'Prostitution' handbills, are slashed together around a long improvised piece about violence, fascism, Thatcher and the impending apocalypse' (Jon Savage, England's Dreaming).
Punk began to decline in 1977 when mainstream record companies, venues and media began to embrace it. Sniffin' Glue again mirrored the lifespan of the movement and closed having run for only 14 issues.