Factsheet Five was a periodical mostly consisting of short reviews of privately produced printed matter along with contact details of the editors and publishers.
In the 1980s and early 1990s, its comprehensive reviews (literally thousands in each issue) made it the most important publication in its field, heralding the wider spread of what would eventually be called fanzine or zine culture. Before the widespread adoption of the web and e-mail beginning around 1994, publications such as Factsheet Five formed a vital directory for connecting like-minded people.
(Compare to the periodical Sound Choice in the cassette culture.)
The magazine was originally published in 1982 by Mike Gunderloy on a spirit duplicator in his bedroom while he lived in an Alhambra, California slanshack. The original focus was science fiction fanzines (the title comes from a short story by science fiction author John Brunner). Gunderloy later moved to Rensselaer, New York, where he continued to publish. By 1987, he was running a zine BBS, one of the first associated with an underground publication. In 1990, Cari Goldberg Janice and (briefly) Jacob Rabinowitz joined as co-editors. Gunderloy quit publishing Factsheet Five following the completion of Issue #44 in 1991.
Hudson Luce purchased the rights to Factsheet Five and published a single issue, Issue #45, with the help of BBS enthusiast Bill Paulouskas, cartoonist Ben Gordon, writer Jim Knipfel, and artist Mark Bloch, who had authored a mail art-related column called "Net Works" during the Gunderloy years.
R. Seth Friedman then published the magazine for five years in San Francisco, with the help of Christopher Becker and Jerod Pore, until Issue #64 in 1998. Circulation grew to 16,000 during that time.
Gunderloy currently works as a computer programmer and farmer. He co-authored the book SQL Server 7 in Record Time ISBN 0-7821-2155-1.
In other media
Jerod Pore collected articles and reviews from the print version of Factsheet Five, and with them produced Factsheet Five - Electric, one of the first zines to use the Usenet newsgroup alt.zines. Beginning in the late 1980s, Gunderloy and Pore also established a substantial online presence on the WELL, an influential, private dial-up BBS.
Three books were published based on Factsheet Five: How to Publish a Fanzine by Gunderloy (1988; Loompanics), The World of Zines, by Gunderloy and Janice (1992; Penguin) ISBN 0-14-016720-X, and The Factsheet Five Zine Reader by Friedman (1997; Three Rivers Press) ISBN 0-609-80001-9. Until 1989, Gunderloy collected and, in turn, made available several versions of the Gemstone File. A number of Gunderloy's zine reviews from Factsheet Five also appeared in edited form in High Weirdness by Mail.
Full article ▸