Chicago Seed (newspaper)

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Chicago Seed
Chicago seed v3 n4 cover.jpg
Cover of the vol. 3, issue #4.
TypeUnderground newspaper
FormatBiweekly tabloid
Owner(s)Seed Publishing
Founder(s)Don Lewis and Earl Segal
Staff writersAbe Peck, Eliot Wald
FoundedMay 1967; 56 years ago (1967-05) in Chicago
Ceased publication1974; 49 years ago (1974)
HeadquartersOld Town, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.

The Chicago Seed was an underground newspaper published biweekly in Chicago, Illinois from May 1967[1] to 1974; there were 121 issues published in all. It was notable for its colorful psychedelic graphics and its eclectic, non-doctrinaire radical politics. Important events covered by Seed writers and artists were the trial of the Chicago Eight, Woodstock, and the murder of Fred Hampton.[2] At its peak, the Seed circulated between 30,000 and 40,000 copies, with national distribution.[citation needed]

Publication history[edit]

After attending the March 1967 Underground Press Syndicate (UPS) gathering held in Stinson Beach, California, artist Don Lewis and Earl Segal (a.k.a. the Mole,[citation needed] owner of the Mole Hole, a local head shop)[2] launched the Seed and joined UPS.[3] The paper also later became a subscriber to the Liberation News Service.

Lester Dore took over the art direction when Don Lewis moved to New York to work for Screw magazine.[citation needed] Disagreements between Lewis and Segal led to the Seed's purchase by Harry Dewar, a graphic designer, and Colin Pearlson, a photographer,[2] who thought it had commercial potential.[citation needed]

The Seed was edited for several years by Abe Peck, who started as a staff writer in late 1967. He became editor soon afterward, and led the paper toward the Yippies (Youth International Party), a group that planned surrealistic-oriented events for the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Despite a split with Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin over tactics and transparency, Peck and other Seed staffers appeared in Lincoln Park throughout the August 1968 demonstrations.[3]

Skeets Millard, a young photographer and community organizer who was publishing the Chicago edition of Kaleidoscope, joined the Seed staff in 1969, at a time when all of the original founders were gone and there was no one working on the paper who had been there more than 12 months; Mike Abrahamson was running the paper in Abe Peck's absence.[4] Among the staff writers were Marshall Rosenthal and Eliot Wald.

While supporting various movements, the Seed remained independent of organizational affiliation. Although the paper was far left-leaning, it was known for its independence and impartiality on left-wing issues, not subscribing to a particular ideology, which was unusual for the time.[5] The Seed grew increasingly radical, however, and Peck left the paper in 1970.[3]

Design aesthetic and production process[edit]

The paper was known for its colorful printing, artwork and comix, with Skip Williamson, Jay Lynch, Jim Roslof, Robert Crumb, Karl Heinz-Meschbach, Paul Zmiewski, Peter Solt, and other Sixties artists contributing to the publication's unique look:

"Covers ... favored bold images that told a bigger story instead of everyday photos.... The inside could be just as striking, featuring poster-size pullouts with Day-Glo ink, gradient backgrounds, a wealth of major-label music ads, and intricate drawings".[2]

The Seed, along with the San Francisco Oracle, was one of the first tabloid newspapers to use Split-fount inking on a web press.[2] It was a real do it yourself operation: copy was set on an IBM Selectric and pasted up, negatives were made and stripped up for plate-making, and inks were mixed to take to the printer.

After losing its original printer in 1968, the Seed was printed for a time on the presses of liberal Wisconsin newspaper publisher Bill Schanen, who provided printing services for a large number of Midwestern underground papers that could find no other printer.[2][6]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Walt Crowley (1995). Rites of Passage: A Memoir of the Sixties in Seattle. University of Washington Press. p. 83. ISBN 978-0-295-97492-7.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Sisson, Patrick (July 29, 2014). "Nymphs, pigs, and Mayor Daley for Thanksgiving: The radical art of Chicago Seed". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2017-09-04.
  3. ^ a b c Peck, Abe. Uncovering the Sixties: The Life and Times of the Underground Press (New York: Pantheon Books, 1985).
  4. ^ Glessing, Robert J.The Underground Press in America (Indiana Univ. Press, 1970), p. 27.
  5. ^ "Chicago Seed | The Hall-Hoag Collection | Brown University". Retrieved 2017-09-04.
  6. ^ Felien, Ed. "Let a hundred Flowers Blossom, Let a Hundred Schools of Thought Contend", in Wachsberger, Ken, ed. Voices from the Underground: Insider Histories of the Vietnam Era Underground Press, (Tempe, AZ: Mica's Press, 1993), p. 305-312.


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