Trevor Blake is the editor and publisher of OVO. OVO is a collection of new works in the public domain.

OVO was not my first publication. I made my first collages around 1977, arranged them into a booklet around 1978, and had the idea that the booklet could be photocopied around 1979. Unfortunately my 8th grade teacher confiscated my 1979 zine before it could be published and no copies exist. My first zine that did make it to print (around 1981) was a series of one-page recommendations for books I liked, and art by myself and my friends and influences. Every zine I've published since follows that form.

I had already published two zines (ADD and Surreal Estates) by the time I was ready to publish OVO. OVO had three main influences in the first fourteen issues: Mike Gunderloy's Factsheet Five, Chris Gore's Film Threat, and V. Vale and Andrea Juno's Re/Search. Factsheet Five made hundreds of other zine publishers available to me. The sense that I was part of something larger than the small Southern town I lived in was quite a motivator to make zines and get them out into the world. Factsheet Five was my main motivator for the zines before OVO and for issues one, two and three of OVO. I made zines to get zines in trade.

Meeting Chris Gore, publisher of the movie review magazine Film Threat, was an inspiration for the next few issues of OVO. Although we only met once and only briefly, his account of expanding his work from a zine to a small magazine to a mass market magazine was an inspiration. I had seen through Chris' example that with dedication I could make OVO be whatever I wanted it to be. What did I want it to be? I knew I wanted it to be 'about' something. So OVO now needed to be about something and there was no limit to how big it could be.

Re/Search magazine was and remains a central inspiration for OVO. Until 1992 I lived in Knoxville, Tennessee. Publications like Re/Search let me know that not only were there other people interested in the topics I was interested in, but that they knew each other and formed a 'scene' (it's called a community these days). At least that's how it looked from where I was living at the time, and to who I was at the time. Finding people who thought like I did, being part of a scene, taking public risks related to self-identity; all were important to me when I was in my twenties.

I knew I was a publisher among many publishers, I knew I could make OVO anything I wanted it to be, but I had little faith that I could document the sorts of people and activities found in Re/Search (which was no small part of what I wanted to do). I didn't have access to the exotic lives of people in San Francisco, Los Angeles, London, New York, Tokyo, Paris, etc. I was stuck in dumb old Knoxville. Around issue seven I had an idea: while I might not have access to the 'scenes' I was interested in, I did have access to themes that were of interest to me. The first few themed issues were clearly influenced by Re/Search. If I'd known about semiotext(e) or Colors magazine I might have felt less clever about following themes instead of scenes; they had done just that and much better for some time.

I use the name OVO it because I like how it looks, and in reference to the surrealist magazine VVV. Later I learned ovo was a kind of chocolate drink in some European countries, and later still Peter Gabriel released a CD named OVO in association with a performace at London's Millenium Dome. In itself OVO means nothing.

OVO saw the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union. When OVO was first published, George Bush was in the White House and the United States had just won the Gulf War. Now that OVO has been reprinted and new issues are in progress, George Bush is in the White House and the United States has entered another Gulf War. And so OVO is not alone in its nostalgia.

Earlier issues of OVO were created on an electric typewriter. Later issues were created using an IBM XT computer with 640 K of memory, VGA graphics, a 20 MB hard drive and a 5.25 inch floppy drive. I used Geos Ensemble v1.2 and a Star SG-10 dot matrix printer for text and address labels. Now I use OpenOffice running in Ubuntu Linux or on an iMac. Only one issue of OVO was created using Windows.

I used scissors and glue for the layout of the first fourteen issues of OVO; publishing software was available but I didn't have any. I believe learning how to do it by hand gave me an advantage when I later learned how to do it using a computer. I have yet to learn how to make collages on a computer – I still do it by hand, with scissors and glue and photocopier.

From issue five onwards, OVO was printed at next to no cost. I had a friend who worked at a local publishing company on the graveyard shift. He gave me the computer I used and let me come in at night – all night – to print the zine on company photocopiers. The company 'supplied' me with not only photocopies but tape, glue, scissors, paper, hobby knifes, and if I was lucky food and drink. I printed, collated, bound and packaged each issue by hand. My supplies and printing were free but I never found a free source of postage – it was my only expense.

I made my first calls to BBS such as Factsheet Five and Baby Brain while embezzling from that publishing company. Obtaining and storing information electronically was a revelation. It was amazing how much text could fit on a 5.25” floppy disk, and that I was able to copy that disk myself. Computer stores at the time had boxes of floppy disks with public domain programs and files on them. I was excited by the idea that I could join in that data exchange. But learning that all that information and more could be put on a BBS for anyone in the world to access for just the price of a long distance telephone call was a genuine miracle. It seems that the next stage in OVO would be to make a BBS. More than twenty years later, OVO is a Web page.

A few stores carried OVO, even one in my home town, but most issues were distributed by post. People learned about OVO mainly through Factsheet Five. I had a few paying subscribers, many people who received the zine in trade for their work, and some friends and family that I sent it to as a gift. Eventually OVO was distributed by Tower Records as well as several smaller distributors. I had enough paid advertisers that my postage expenses were covered. OVO broke even by issue fourteen, which seemed as good a time as any to suspend publication.

When OVO was first published there was exactly one zine store in North America, See Hear (New York City), and a few anarchist or political bookstores that stocked zines. There were a few magazines that had a zine section (Maximum Rockandroll and Anarchy being the ones I was most familiar with) and there was Factsheet Five. Access to inexpensive photocopies made zines possible in the late 1970s, but it was Factsheet Five that allowed all those publishers to find each other and create what looked like a zine scene. Distribution of zines and finding zines was a matter of knowing someone already involved, and that human dialog fostered the sense of a subculture. Now many of these authors (and thousands more) are only a click away on the Web. I am fortunate that I was able to see the end of samizdat photocopy publishing in the USA.

When I started publishing OVO I was just a self-important hayseed living in a small town making a dumb little zine among thousands of others. But OVO did accomplish a few things in the first fourteen issues. OVO was the first to publish several essays by Hakim Bey that later appeared in his book T.A.Z. The Temporary Autonomous Zone. OVO published work by Mike Diana long before his work drew the attention of State and Federal employees. Photographs of body piercing appeared in OVO two years before the Modern Primitives issue of Re/Search. The phrase 'phone tag' appears in print for the first time in the first issue of OVO. 'Liberating Wednesday' by PM, author of bolo'bolo, appears here for the first (and only) time; this is nearly a decade before and fifty-two times more radical a suggestion than 'Buy Nothing Day.' Crop circles and the Men in Black are referenced at a time when they were still obscure. The first appearance of Ride Theory in print occurs in Ignatz Topolino's contribution to OVO. And OVO was aware enough of the outer edges of scientific ethics to mention gene patents in the same year they first were granted.

OVO has a second life in the 21st Century. New issues that take advantage of the distribution capabilities of home computers, the Internet and print-on-demand are available. But the contacts and content that informed the original photocopied editions remain active. Hundreds of thousands of pages have been distributed online, and new issues are in production.

“At every turn in its thought, society will find us - waiting.”

- Trevor Blake.