via LA Weekly
by Erin Maxwell
Back in October 1988, when the world was less likely to implode, L.A. zine Ben Is Dead launched its inaugural issue. Initially printed on newspaper stock and handed out for free at local coffee houses, galleries and punk stores on Melrose, the zine slowly became a bible for alternative culture in Los Angeles.
Started by Darby Romeo and Kerin Morataya, Ben Is Dead covered issues such as the L.A. riots, sex and death while taking aim at popular culture with shameless gusto. The zine was known for delving deeply, and sometimes disturbingly, into certain topics, with entire dedicated issues themed around a central idea, from money to celebrity to nostalgia. The latter was so popular it spawned multiple issues, with covers referencing ’70s kids mag/school book club favorite Dynamite and comics (the Incredible Hulk in rainbow leg warmers), not to mention stories that resonated nationally, such as Romeo’s obsessive coverage of Beverly Hills, 90120 and takedown of its most polarizing character, Brenda Walsh (played by Shannen Doherty), which also produced a book.
Many great writers and artists contributed over the years, including revered performance artist Vaginal Davis, artist Casey Niccoli, Lisa Crystal Carver and the L.A. Weekly’s own Falling James, penning personal experiences and wild tales as well as printed interviews with the likes of Mr. T, Anton LaVey and Duran Duran.