These Raymond Pettibon Black Flag flyers have been part of my growing flyer collection since 1982. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay area and played in a band called the Drab when I was 15. Every weekend my friends and I would jump on the 60 bus out of Los Gatos and make our way into the San Francisco or Berkeley to skate, tear punk flyers off telephone poles, eat burritos and pizza, shoulder tap for beers, and see as many punk shows as possible. In those days we would often be able to get in to any venue using the “group rate” approach. Five people for 20 bucks instead of the usual five or seven bucks per person. It helped us money-wise to be able to see four shows in one night, witch was easy to do back then.
When I started designing my first book, Fucked Up + Photocopied, in 1999, I probably had about 20 Black Flag flyers I'd saved on my own. As I started getting deep into finding more stuff for the book, looking for flyers from all over the USA, my own collection started growing like crazy. What you see here are the Black Flag flyers that I found with Raymond's art. Some are non-official, but most are straight from the band Black Flag flyers. There’s no real guide to Raymond’s Black Flag flyers that I can find, but I’m pretty sure at this point I have all of them, although I did leave out two insane Black Flag pieces you can see in MOCA's new series, the Art of Punk. I don’t own them.
Back in the early 80s, the only real guide to what was going on was flyers. That, and word of mouth. I mean, there were a few great fanzines like RIPPER and SLUM WORDS, but most of the gig info was long out of date by the time those zines hit the streets. It took too long to make and distribute the mags. There was no internet, no telephone hotline, and no Bay Area Music Mag coverage of punk shows at all—flyers were the way we found out what was happening.
I first saw Black Flag at San Jose’s Briner Hall. That gig solidified my feelings that they were one of the best. To me, Black Flag’s image was something dangerous that couldn’t be controlled, like the Hells Angels of punk rock. Best name, best songs, best logo, coolest artwork—I knew it was heavy and I was drawn to it.
In my opinion, punk flyers should not be behind glass. All my flyers, thousands of them, sit in stacked piles around my office, all around me. I enjoy having people look through them the way I do—grabbing them from stacks, touching them one at a time. Sometimes you find letters written on the backs of them. I always put my favorite flyer on top of the stack to show it off: Black Flag, Husker Du, Vicious Circle and Double Cross at the Tool & Die on Jan 8th, 1984 is my favorite one right now. It's sitting one on top of the pile. my way of putting a frame around it I guess.
[Eds. Note: Bryan is responsible for Fucked Up + Photocopied, one of our favorite books about punk of all time. It collects flyers produced by the US punk scene between 1977 and 1985, and it's worth picking up. We got hooked up with Bryan through our friends at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. They've got a new show picking up today called The Art of Punk, which spotlights the design history behind punk's iconic logos. The first episode is about Black Flag, and you can watch it here. Stay tuned to moca.tv for features on Crass, Dead Kennedys, and more.]