In 1995, Rod Coronado was serving a prison sentence for conspiracy charges related to an arson at Michigan State University. During his incarceration he produced four issues of a wonderful cut and paste style zine called Strong Hearts.
I was a young anarchist living in Portland at the time, and obsessed with the writings of Alexander Berkman. Most notably, I was intrigued with his secretly produced prison publication known as Prison Blossoms. Written on various scraps of paper and clandestinely distributed to both prisoners and the outside world, there were no known copies available. One day, while discussing what treasures might have been held on those random bits of smuggled pulp, someone told me about Strong Hearts. I picked up a copy of the first issue at Reading Frenzy and felt like this time around I hadn’t missed out.
Rod’s writing was passionate and avoided much of the juvenile machismo that was endemic to the militant animal rights movement at the time. He bristled at single issue politics, and the magazine covered a spectrum of analysis, news, and tactics in the struggles for wilderness, wild life, women, and indigenous peoples. He was a prisoner, but the cluttered pages of Strong Hearts shined with the cheerful beauty of his intelligence and attitude. As each new issue came out those of us on the outside got a clearer picture of the author. We knew he was a warrior in the best sense of the word, and life behind bars had not yet taken his spirit of resistance.
Time has marched on, and whereas most of the old AR zines from this era seem dated, Strong Hearts largely holds up. The first hand accounts of the sinking of whaling ships, liberations of captive animals, and other direct actions are timeless, and when I fault much of anything about the rest of the writings, it is foremost their legibility. Most issues and articles managed to be inspiring without being fanatical, educational without being preachy, and accessible without being simplistic. Typically I would spend more time analyzing a zine like this, but Strong Hearts speaks for itself. I hope it brings as much to your life as it brought to mine.