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EXIT (ISSN 0883-9158) was a New York-based large-format alternative comic art and graphics magazine published from 1984 through 1992. It was founded in 1983 by George Petros and Adam Parfrey, with Kim Seltzer joining shortly afterward. Five issues were released; a sixth was partially completed. The magazine’s history is divided into two eras: the first, from inception through 1987, was characterized by the collaboration of Petros and Parfrey; and the second, spanning from Parfrey’s 1987 departure until the project’s end, was characterized by Petros’s work with J.G. Thirlwell, Robert N. Taylor, Michael Andros and Salvatore Canzonieri.
Science, science fiction, fringe politics and alternative history influenced EXIT’s graphic style. Some of the magazine’s contributors worked in a form they christened Serial Art, which adopts the techniques of timelines, graphs and diagrams to show changes, processes, and the flow of situations. Serial Art also appropriates techniques of comic art and film storyboards. Other contributors worked in a form they christened Propagandart, which adopts principals of advertising and propaganda in order to manipulate emotions and opinions. EXIT also presented alternative comics, photomontage, photography, poetry and incendiary literature.
EXIT reflected the confrontational punk rock and hardcore punk attitudes of the 1980s. It drew upon the prevailing nihilism of New York’s Lower East Side. It presented art and writing considered controversial from contemporaneous political and sociological perspectives. For example, some of the magazine’s content endorsed the eradication of boundaries between Left and Right. Notorious historical figures appeared in iconic form. Some of the magazine’s content dealt with psychopathic social phenomena such as serial killers and mass murderers. Disparate genres such as scientific illustration and pornography came together in graphic form.
In his introduction to the compilation The EXIT Collection (Tacit Press, 1998), George Petros describes EXIT as “… an outlaw Pop Art magazine in opposition to both the underground and the establishment. It was a forum for extreme ideologies and inclinations manifested as political pornography, psychosexual terrorism, scientific threats and infernal texts. It was graced by contributions from the best artists and writers in America — famous, infamous, and unknown …”
Staff and contributors
Publisher and editor George Petros was a writer, illustrator and graphic artist. Editor Adam Parfrey was a writer and montage artist. Associate editor Kim Seltzer was a painter and illustrator. Associate editor R. Bruce Ritchie was a writer and graphic artist. Editor Salvatore Canzonieri was a writer, graphic artist, musician and healer. Several contributing editors worked on the magazine: Michael Andros was a montage artist, poet and archivist. Nancy Keating was an art director and illustrator. Robert N. Taylor was a writer, illustrator, graphic artist and musician. John Aes-Nihil was a filmmaker and archivist. Among the many others who contributed to EXIT were Robert Williams, Mark Mothersbaugh, Genesis P-Orridge, Joe Coleman, Steven Cerio, Mike Diana, Alex Grey, Richard Kern, Lydia Lunch, Nick Zedd, Raymond Pettibon, Boyd Rice, S. Clay Wilson, GG Allin, H.R. Giger, Marilyn Manson, Nikolas Schreck, Zeena LaVey, Jim Blanchard and Jonathan Shaw. Notorious criminals whose artwork appeared in the magazine include John Wayne Gacy, Henry Lee Lucas, Richard Ramirez, James Earl Ray and Ottis Toole.
EXIT’s interior was black and white. Five of its six covers were printed in black, red and yellow; a sixth (issue #3) appeared in black and white and metallic mauve. Unlike most mass-market magazines available at the time, which measured eight-by-eleven inches, EXIT was printed at an oversized eleven-by-fourteen inches. This made it stand out but also limited its distribution since it often did not conform to display-rack sizes. Early issues were printed on 60 lb. paper stock; the final two issues were printed on high-quality newsprint. The magazine’s editors preferred for the title to always appear in all upper-case letters: EXIT.