What is always thought but never said aloud about zines—especially those released in 80s and 90s—is that no one who makes them have any idea how to put together a cohesive publication (especially concerning the subjects of punk and skateboarding). Most of them looked like they were made by cavemen using X-Acto knives carved out of stone. And therein lies their charm, so there’s no reason to beat around the bush. Just tell your friend that their zine about cloned ferrets or whatever looks like shit but is still intriguing on many levels professional publications are not.
My first attempt at putting together a zine was a total failure. I didn't know how to print on both sides of pages, and this was during a time when typing was still considered an actual skill, so I wrote everything by hand. I doubt any sane adult would have picked it up. It wasn't even "OK for a 12-year-old." It flat-out sucked.
While most of us were fumbling around with glue sticks for the first time, Larry Ransom was in Lockport, New York, knocking it out of the park with Pure Fun. The zine is exactly what its title promises: Kids from some town fucking around, inventing questionable hairdos, skaters wearing bulky high-tops not made for skateboarding, posing for photos that made it look like they could pull of tricks they couldn’t, hardly ever getting laid, eating fast food, and searching for Animal Chin. It was obvious from the photos that most of the ramps were cobbled together with wood stolen from construction sites; the spots are barely spots, and sometimes dudes are wearing gloves because it's so fucking cold out but they still can’t help but roll around on a skateboard. All of it is unquestionably pure fun.
The majority of the skaters featured in the zine didn't go on to professional careers or land energy drink sponsorships, the interviews are amateurish and uninformative (and fun!) instead of insightful glimpses of youth culture, and most of the tricks are pretty much what you and your friends were doing in a neighborhood cul-de-sac or behind a supermarket circa 1991.
Above all else, Pure Fun reminded me just how hard it is to take skate photos with shitty film cameras. Have you ever tried it? Timing the button-press is impossible, and then you have to wait a week or learn your way around a darkroom to to even see what you did wrong. Before I saw videos of people ollieing, I thought you were NOT supposed to level out but rather just shoot up like a rocket. I didn't realize my misunderstanding was due to a guy behind the camera clicking too early.
A zine's lifespan rarely surpasses a few issues, though Larry managed to put out nine, and he recently did the public service of compiling them all into book form. And lucky for you we got a sneak peek. Below are a few spreads from Pure Fun.
The Christmas deck is a proud yet bittersweet suburban tradition. This is due to the fact that in much of the country there’s too much snow on the ground to bother setting it up. If you do, your brand new board will be covered in salty melted snow in minutes.
Pure Fun was made in the 90s, so why did Larry randomly throw in this shot that looks like it’s from 1982? Actually, it was taken a few weeks before the zine was published. Occasionally some nameless ripper would leave his automotive repair job early, whip his shirt off, and show up at your house to skate your ramp with the same board he’s had for ten years. You never knew who told him about it and you would probably never see him again, but these dudes existed and always made you feel uncomfortable. If you did see him again in real life, he'd never acknowledge you.
Sixty pages into Pure Fun and two things jump out: 1) There's a rotary phone on the wall, and 2) There's a girl in the photo. I believe only one other female appears in in the book.
It's really easy to look cool wearing an expensive outfit while you're playing Street League, but how amazing would it be if Ryan Sheckler and Nyjah showed up and had to skate this park? I bet somewhere out of frame there's a random car tire just sitting there, too.
The great thing about being super young and getting into punk is that there's a decent chance you have no clue what's really going on and are impressionable enough to think just about everything your parents hate is great. Paul Frank, the guy on the left who absolutely did NOT invent that cartoon monkey, is proudly rocking the Suicidal hat. He is also deeply concerned about knee injuries hence the pads.
The hometown hero, the staple of any suburban skate scene, is usually light-years ahead of everyone—so much so that he quits skateboarding and gets into carpentry. Occasionally he'll still pop up at a skate park, talk about how he hasn't skated in years, blow people away, and then go fix something in an equally efficient and amazing way. Note the Bugle Boys, the closest you could get to army cargo pants if you didn't have an Army-surplus store in your hometown.
Sometimes you'd go to the local skate shop and they'd have a crudely made flyer announcing a pro demo. Often it’d someone you’d never heard of, and he would appear one day and skate your ramps that were way shittier than the ones they were used to in California, only to have the hometown hero show them up. Later you'd take them to a "spot," and they'd shrug and pretend they were tired rather than punish themselves on a curb that didn't grind. Salman Agah (pictured above) is still skating and also owns Pizzanista in Los Angeles, one of few out there that figured out how to make pizza that actually tastes good.
Once you really got into skateboarding, you'd tack tons of posters all over your bedroom and try to be messier than you really were because it was "punk." I'm fairly sure the only females who entered these type of rooms were family members. On the off chance a girl came over to study with you, nothing would happen and you'd wonder why a room plastered with pictures of other dudes and blasting loud cacophonous music didn't impress the normal chick from Spanish class.
I am not really sure why it was a thing to take these crew shots of everyone holding up their boards, but it just was. I feel bad for the guy with the Nash Executioner deck; it was clearly bought at a department store and his mom didn't love him.
There was always one lucky kid whose parents let him build a ramp in the family garage or barn. The usual catch with garage ramps was that they had to be small and short so that there was less of a chance of the ceiling giving you a serious concussion. You'd spend all winter freezing your ass off and learning new tricks that couldn’t be executed anywhere else because real ramps aren't two feet tall.
Order your copy directly from Larry here.