• Steven Heller

Underground Comes Up For Air

Refine your in-house management skills today with the second part of this favorite series from HOWU

For three issues the helveticized underground journal Countdown a “subterranean” magazine in paperback form was published by none other upholder of capitalist values, Signet Books/New American Library (NAL), then owned by the very over-ground, pro-establishment LA Times. The McLuhanesque (a.k.a. Quentin Fiore) pocket book format reflected the turbulent 1960s through articles on The Black Panthers, the Vietnam War, underground comics, and the anti-Police state. This issue No.1 included articles on Allen Ginsberg, the Rolling Stones and more. Its graphic design was something of a hybrid of mid-century Modern restrained boldness. If that sounds contradictory, it is because the underground was shedding some of it DIY outer skin for a more contemporary (airy) approach.

Assembled by the Underground Press Syndicate Collective Countdown was issued near the end of the underground in June 1970.

The Underground Press Syndicate, also known as UPS, and later known as the Alternative Press Syndicate or APS, was a network of underground counterculture publications formed in 1967. The organization included alternative weeklies, underground magazines.

UPS allowed member papers to freely share and reprint materials. Membership was $25 annually. The result was an explosion of alternative publications as every small start-up could print the work of the top artists and writers in the field.

Shortly after the formation of the UPS, the number of independent and underground publications expanded greatly throughout North America. The Underground Press Syndicate was originally run by Tom Forcade, who later founded High Times magazine.

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