The Adventures of Punk Bird
DIYFL Zine Feature! The Adventures of Punk Bird
by Tristan Komorny
Who's your favorite cryptid? The inexplicably handsome mothman, your state-appointed uncle the Florida skunk ape? For the Florida punk, it is the badass, Fest-loving Punk Bird who shares the adventures of her punk life in "Gainesville f-cking Florida" in a zine called 'The Adventures of Punk Bird.'
Our PBR-loving, patch-donning misanthrope gives a thoughtful and entertaining recount of hardships of a college-age punk in the 352. "All the characters, including Punk bird herself, are based off of typical downtown Gainesville kids." The creator explains. The origin of the zine was a conversation between two friends, one of whom embodied the idea of a punk bird. "In the back of my head I thought wow, those two words together sound pretty cool. I decided right then that I needed to draw this character having no idea what the f-ck I would do with it."
Flash forward six months later and Issue 1.0 was created. The result was a 15-page, incredibly-detailed fun as hell read that had me nearly snort-laughing many times thinking, "Hey, I know that place!"
By this time, there are four issues of 'The Adventures of Punk Bird', featuring additional characters such as Punk Bird's pet cat unmistakably and lovingly named Punk Cat whose origins are told in issue 4.0. Her roommates Theo and Clem also make notable appearances in issue 3.0. The current collection of stories is incredibly relatable and the resolution is sure to leave the reader laughing or happy. To see a punk, or, at some times, drunk bird navigate through topics that hit so close to home all with a no-f-cks-given attitude gives me so much optimism.
The focus on a locals perspective through the storyline is by no means understated, from Punk Bird's Against Me! and Wayward Council patches to the nods of the annual Fest barrage in downtown. To the author the reason is simple: there's unique history here that deserves to be written about. "Gainesville has a unique culture of house shows, DIY attitude, and amazing punk bands dating back forty years or so. This is not a normal town. We're tiny compared to a lot of places but have more bands in our pinky finger than cities five times our size. In a lot of ways punk has made Gainesville what it is. I just felt like that needed to be captured in a zine. Plus, I live here, write about what you know."
It is worth mentioning that the creator chooses to remain anonymous. This decision was initially meant as a way for the reader to see themselves in the story rather than as a fly on the wall. Over time the mystery became somewhat of a fad online and eventually almost every street corner on University was canvased with flyers puzzling pedestrians with the unanswerable; "WHO IS PUNK BIRD?" They explain, "The explosion of interest and conversation the first few months left me in a constant state of shock and paranoia. It was really then that I realized this isn't a one-off deal, people relate to my character, I have to keep doing this."
'The Adventures of Punk Bird' zines are sold around Florida and also found in New York City, London and Malaysia. The focus is primarily and intentionally local, where over 2,000 free zines have been distributed around Gainesville.
A quick side note, on zine culture: to those out of the loop, zines are self-published small-circulation prints typically featuring underground music, handmade art, poetry and a slew of other things. It is a beautiful community that is free to get involved in and the Civic Media Center at 433 S Main Street has the largest collection of zines in the Southeast United States. You can find Punk Bird's stuff there too and maybe find a new hobby or passion!
So, what's next for Punk Bird? The next release, Issue 5.0 will be the one-year anniversary and there's a rumor there will be a release party coupled with its release. More on that soon. In the meantime, be on the lookout for Punk Bird zines, they're absolutely worth the read!