Fred, upper left, with the rest of Hazel
Anne: In 1976-1978, you were the business manager for the Scribe. When the Scribe folded, did you continue in that line of work?
Fred: 6 months before the scribe folded, i tried to explain to the collective that if we didn’t sell more advertising, we would have to fold, but was advised that i was being capitalistic, and so i quit and began setting up an alternative paper to take its place when the inevitable came to pass.
an older “married” queer couple, buzz matthews and clay wing, respectively agreed to be ad manager and put up seed money. buzz had edited a nickle ads in klamath falls and clay’s source of income was mysterious – inherited, i think. also mysterious was their execution-style murder a month prior to the roll-out of the portland aeon. unsolved, but possibly connected to clay’s campaign to protect young men from lifers at the penitentiary in walla walla. i fled to the coast range.
i then parlayed having being secretary to pastor richardson’s ad hoc police-community relations committee into a job proof-reading and bookkeeping for rich and phillipa harrison’s typesetting shop, harrison cold type at 17th and SE ankeny, where i cringed to edit fred meyer vitamin ads and the boeing annual report and thrilled to the exacting tasks necessitated by the james joyce quarterly. who knew that there were centers of joyce scholarship in hawaii and oklahoma?
Anne: What motivated you to choose to work for the Scribe? What was your pay/did you get paid?
Fred: its anarchist politics, the money, and the challenge to go so far out of my normal comfort zone. for the previous 7 years i’d worked at an assortment of communes, collectives, and co-ops, largely connected to food co-ops and food co-op production collectives. since that time, the terminology has changed somewhat: what were called collectives are now termed workers’ co-ops, and co-ops were generally run by managerial collectives composed of staff, while now they are generally governed by boards of directors.
the money was of prime importance since i was a single parent with daughters aged 3 and 7. $250 a month to be ad manager, distribution manager, and bookkeeper. how capitalistic can you get?
Anne: The people who worked at the Scribe knew they were changing Portland’s cultural DNA by ushering in independent media making. They could foresee the Portland we live in today. Yes? No?
Fred: no. the madness inherent in putting out a weekly effectively obviates the long view.
Fred Nemo opened up his personal archive of Scribes so that David Chelsea and I could research images and information necessary to UNDERGROUND USA. Thank you, Fred!
UNDERGROUND USA is a public history/art education event made possible in part by a grant from the Kinsman Foundation and by a grant from the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation. It is presented by Oregon Cartoon Institute in partnership with UO Comics & Cartooning Studies and PSU Comic Studies, with support from Oregon Historical Society and McMenamins.
Comic City USA, the first exhibit to look at Oregon print cartooning history, is at Oregon Historical Society, 1200 SW Park Avenue, through Jan. 31, 2017.
“People who read them when they first came out remember the initial impact — like getting whacked in the head with a two by four.” Patrick Rosenkranz, on underground comics