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the long list interview – Harley R’s Ugly Mug

Find Harley online here

All art by Harley R and the House of Harley unless otherwise noted

Please note – I have a story in Ugly Mug 6

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ZL – Hi Harley! Thanx for agreeing to this interview, I’m really interested to find out more about you, your history in the small press and the history of Ugly Mug!

HR – Delighted to be asked.

ZL – It’s probably best to start with a bit about where and when you grew up and how you first got involved in the small press?

HR – Sure. I grew up in West London. My parents were Aussies who emigrated to the UK in the mid-‘60s.

I like to say that I was brought up as an Atheist with a Protestant work ethic and Catholic taste. Also, my dad has always applied himself successfully to many different types of jobs and activities with endless enthusiasm and vigour and I owe a lot to him for showing me that a busy life is a good life.

ZL – I wonder how your parents having come from Australia affected your childhood, did you find that they had a different attitude to life and culture from those around you and, if so, how did that affect you and how you felt about yourself?

HR – Well it’s handy to have two passports and be able to pick which team to support in the Ashes. I’ve got lots of powerful memories of visiting Oz as a youth (I haven’t been back as an adult) – such as the goods trains that used to hurtle through the field behind my grandma’s house like giant iron caterpillars, or the enormous huntsman spiders that lived in every corner of my uncle’s farm. I used to amuse myself at school by saying I could speak ‘Australian’ and then jabbering some nonsense. But to be honest I can’t pinpoint anything that made me feel significantly ‘different’ to people I grew up with in London. 

ZL – Tell me a bit about your time in school?

HR – The biggest impression my primary schooling made on me, outside of the actual lessons, was when our headmaster broke into the school at night, killed all the animals in the school’s science lab and blamed it all on ‘awful teenagers’ (a story recounted, with names changed, in Ugly Mug 4). 

He was a very strange and unpleasant man who for some reason had it in for Australia and used school assemblies to regale us with absurd and blatantly ridiculous reasons that no one should ever visit the country. So that taught me some healthy scepticism about adults at a young age.

ZL – My god, that must have felt fairly personal. 

So, comprehensive was better than primary school?

HR – In all I had a pretty typical and happy middle-class comprehensive school childhood. I went to the same secondary school as cartoonist Brett Ewins (RIP), although he was there some years before me. I often used to see him walking past the school, but I never got the courage up to introduce myself, to my regret.

Winding back a bit, my folks, unusually for Australians, had no interest in sport so unlike most 1970s boys who liked to spend their time kicking footballs around down the local park, I gravitated towards drawing and other solitary pursuits.

I can date my desire to be a cartoonist to September 1977 when six-year-old me saw a TV advert for a new UK Marvel comic called The Complete Fantastic Four. I pestered my dad to order it from our local newsagents but there was a mix-up and the first issue of Plug, a Beano spin-off which launched the same week, popped through the mailbox instead. I somehow persuaded my dad to let me get both – so right from the start I was interested in humour and superheroes/fantasy, which you can probably see coming through in Ugly Mug.

The splash page from my first exposure to The Fantastic Four, featuring a miserable and despairing Ben Grimm wandering the streets of New York, is indelibly burned into my memory. Something about the combination of bold visuals, larger-than-life characters and wild storytelling in both those comics gripped my imagination and has never let go. That’s when I knew cartooning was what I wanted to do, although lots of other things have been added into the mix over the years.

ZL – So where in the timescales does drawing and writing come? I’m guessing you could well have been drawing for a while by this point, but I’d be thinking you weren’t writing at age six, or were you very precocious? Actually, how easy did you find reading that comic? Stan Lee’s language could be pretty flowery.

HR – I was a keen reader and I don’t remember struggling with those early Marvel comics, although no doubt lots of it passed over my head.

It’s hard to remember when writing and drawing came together for me. My early creative outputs involved things like making elaborate paper railways which ran around the house or filming magic tricks using primitive stop motion on my dad’s home video camera. 

In English lessons at school I wrote a lot of rambling fantasy stories, which were bigger on imagination than structure or coherence. When I was nine I sent an outline for a Doctor Who story to the BBC which was rejected, unsurprisingly as it featured all my favourite villains and lots of spaceships being blown up and would have been well beyond the Beeb’s budget to film even if the story had been any good. (We still have the rejection letter).

ZL – We were chatting a while ago and you mentioned to me that you put Ugly Mug on hold when you went to university, so how old were you when you first started editing it and what spurred you on to put it out?

HR – I started it while I was still in high school and it ran for around four years. Although my dream at that stage was to be a full-time cartoonist, by the time I got involved in the small press I’d realised that it was very difficult to make a living out of comics. Credit to those that do, but in the mid-late ‘80s the mainstream comics world where I might have learned my craft just didn’t appeal to me. I never had any interest in being an illustrator or drawing things to order, although I have a lot of respect for people who can do that. So I made a conscious decision to pursue a career outside art – which I don’t regret and which has been rewarding in lots of ways. That has left art for my own time and means I have complete freedom over what I draw. Just not as much time to draw as I’d like.

Steve Way

ZL – How did you get to know that earning a living in comics was so difficult and how did that make you feel at the time you found out? Or to put it another way, what was it about comics that meant you weren’t put off from creating them by the knowledge that you couldn’t earn much from them?

HR – Another hard one to reconstruct forty years on, especially as it was mixed up with so many changes in outlook as my teens rolled on. But the aspiration to do comics is a given for me, it’s etched into my thought processes and it’s not something I ever sit and weigh up the pros and cons of. 

ZL – So what type of production was it, was it printed or photocopied and how did you get it out to people?

HR – The first three issues of Ugly Mug were xeroxed at local print shops, and the print quality was very mixed as you might expect, with lots of grey smudging on the pages. But at least they came stapled. For issue 2 I recruited some fellow A-Level art students to hand colour the cover according to the artist Ed Pinsent’s specification, which was also a good excuse to spend time with girls I fancied.

I think the cover price was in the order of a quid for the first two and two quid for the double-sized issue 3. The print run for issues 1-3 was probably a couple of hundred each and they eventually went, mostly sold via the Fast Fiction stall and mail order service, apart from a handful of copies I still have (available for purchase at inflation-busting prices via https://houseofharley.net/shop).

Leo Eze

For issue 4 I splashed out on professional printing which meant committing to a lot more copies to justify the investment in the (pre-digital) plates. It looked great, apart from the wrong tone of green being used on the cover and overwhelming Marc Baines’ brilliant drawing. I should have asked for a proof copy! Lessons learned.

Marc Baines

But the release of UM4 coincided with me moving away from London to go to university and having a whole bunch of new things in my life to think about. So I didn’t give it the focus it needed and consequently it didn’t make the splash I hoped it would. And that was the end of that for the next three decades.

ZL – Stepping backwards a minute to get some context, and throwing a bit of a twofer out there, what first drew you to small press comics and what drew you into making them?

HR – At primary school, some mates and I wrote and drew a regular comic strip for our school magazine, very heavily inspired by Tim Quinn and Dicky Howett’s loosely drawn and irreverent strips for various Marvel UK mags.

In my early teens I aspired to work for 2000AD, spent lots of time copying drawings of Judge Dredd and co and got pretty good at it. But by the time I went to my first comic convention when I was around 15, I’d become interested in indie comics, especially Love and Rockets, and had just discovered Escape, which featured a lot of material by British small press artists.

At a small press panel at one of the mid-80s UKCAC events, I introduced myself to Glenn Dakin and Ed Pinsent and showed them some of my crude comic strips about a superhero called Captain Maroon, who spent most of his time arguing with supervillains and his girlfriend rather than using his powers which were never particularly well defined. I guess Glenn and Ed must have seen something in those strips because, firstly, Glenn put me in touch with the political cartoonist Steve Way, later the Cartoon Editor of Punch, and we had a mail correspondence which lasted several years. We actually spent most of our time talking about life in general rather than comics and he was a very welcome sounding board for my developing teenage view of life.

Secondly, Ed offered me a slot in Fast Fiction magazine which he was editing, and we ended up becoming great friends and eventually musical collaborators. It’s a sort of mentor-friend relationship which endures to this day, although we don’t get to see each other as often as I’d like. Ed introduced me to different ways of thinking about art which took me off the conventional path I would probably have gone down otherwise and I’m eternally grateful for that.

Harley (contents page), Ed Pinsent

With Ed’s encouragement, I self-published a collection of Captain Maroon stories and went swiftly from there to Ugly Mug, which was an attempt to create an irreverent regular publication in the spirit of the comics anthologies I loved, like Mad, Weirdo and Raw – encompassing personal, experimental work as well as humorous stuff. With an anthology you can take lots of risks – if someone doesn’t like a strip, there’s another one coming along soon.

It was published by the House of Harley, my answer to Stan Lee calling Marvel the House of Ideas. The HoH is a sort of fantasy publishing imprint which can be whatever I want it to be. It has proved to be a highly flexible and durable ‘brand’ which has grown to encompass (in my head at least) edible products, hotel chains and boutique fashion wear. It also helps draw a line between my artistic and personal life which I think is important.

ZL – How did you get to know and recruit other creators to contribute and what sort of request did you give them?

Tom Baxter Tiffin

HR – For several years I helped out selling small press comics on Ed’s Fast Fiction stall at the bi-monthly comic fairs at Methodist Central Hall in Westminster. So I got to meet lots of interesting artists that way. I also was a regular attendee of the fortnightly Escape gatherings organised by Paul Gravett and Peter Stanbury at the Duke’s Head in Great Russell Street, where I first discovered the joys and dangers of Tennant’s Extra lager (rarely seen now in London pubs) and became good friends with Tom Baxter Tiffin, Marc Baines, John Bagnall, Mark Robinson and other talented people.

Marc Baines

My ‘editorial’ policy for Ugly Mug though was simply to ask people whose work I liked if they’d contribute, and thankfully most of them said yes.

ZL – I often read a lot about the London Comic Mart and how influential that was on getting works out from groups like Fast Fiction so it’s interesting to know that you were a part of that scene. You mention meeting up and talking a lot, so I wondered what it was that inspired your conversations. There’s a lot of talk about the TV ad for Marvel UK titles, but I also see a lot more European comics influence in the works of Ed Pinsent or Phil Elliott who were both involved in Fast Fiction, so what was the cultural stew, inside and outside comics, that was feeding Fast Fiction, or at least, your experience of it?

John Bagnall

HR – An off-the-top-of-my-head sample of the cultural artefacts and artistes I was introduced to by the Fast Fiction and Escape crowd – Krazy Kat, Herbie, Bizarro Superman, Raw, the Butthole Surfers, Sonic Youth, the Beverly Hillbillies, Sgt Bilko, The Sweet Smell of Success, William Wyler’s The Collector, The Cat and the Canary (Bob Hope), Harvey (the rabbit), Kiss Me Deadly, My Neighbour Totoro, Kenneth Anger, Eraserhead, Raoul Servais’ terrifying animation Harpya, Stan Brakhage, Jean-Luc Godard, Gerhard Richter, Paolo Uccello

ZL – I’ve mentioned in a brief facebook review I did that this book really feels like a work made by the late 70’s early 80’s group of creators from the small press, it has the absurdity that is played very straight faced, but it also lacks bitter cynicism, maybe it’s more romantically cynical? (Have I just created my own definition there??) So, I’m going for another twofer here. Do you feel like you were part of a generation of creators and if so, who would you say were your peers? Do you feel like small press comics are a different beast now, with different tastes and a different blood running through its veins?

HR – I think there’s too much negativity, pessimism about humanity and general cynicism doing the rounds in wider society, so I’m very pleased you’ve said that. It’s hard to recall what was going through my mind when I was putting the original run together, but I have always liked a mix of sweet and sour, like life really. The ‘theme’ for Ugly Mug 5 was ‘optimism/pessimism’ – a tension which was very much on my mind during lockdown – and contributors were free to place themselves wherever they liked on that spectrum – so while there’s some very bleak stuff in there, there’s lots of light and humanity too.

As for the 1980s, I feel very lucky to have been welcomed and accepted by the ‘Fast Fiction gang’, and it was an exciting, inspiring time for me. But I also recognise I was ten years or more younger than most of them. I was immature in many ways and had a lot to learn about life and art. As Peter Stanbury observed back then, ‘Harley hasn’t lived yet’.

I confess I’m not that au fait with modern small press stuff. What I’ve seen in shops seems to be overly biographical or graphically experimental in a way that doesn’t particularly engage me. But I realise there may be great stuff out there I’m not aware of and reviving Ugly Mug has prompted me to think I should look again.

ZL – Pursuing that more, what do you think influenced you and your peers to make that work and do you feel that there were other streams of work around that were significantly different to what you were making?

HR – The artists associated with Fast Fiction and the small press scene were all very different, but if they had anything in common it was a) a love for comics and b) wide ranging interests outside comics.

For a long while I’ve thought that mainstream comics are too insular. By the time Jack Kirby and all those great Silver Age artists produced their best work for Marvel and DC, they’d grown up and been to war and worked in different industries and had drawn every type of comic you could imagine, so there was lots of different stuff feeding into those superhero stories. But by the mid-80s you had a generation of artists copying from those older cartoonists with, I would say, diminishing returns, and it went downhill from there as far as I’m concerned. I’m generalising a lot I realise, and possibly unfairly, but I find visiting comic shops these days a depressing experience. I buy what I’m after, have a quick look round to see if anything else grabs my attention, and get out as quick as I can.

Chris Reynolds

I should be clear that I think there is lots of untapped potential in comics, so I remain optimistic about the medium’s long-term future. But what appealed to me about the small press, apart from the sense of creative freedom, was that it was influenced by lots of other aspects of culture – fine art, literature, Hollywood movies, trash culture, experimental film, and life in general. And the aim was to use the freedom of self-publishing to say something personal and interesting. A Chris Reynolds or an Ed Pinsent strip or a Carol Swain strip are all totally unique, only they could have done them.

Carol Swain

Fundamentally I like the freedom – and cheapness – of comics. All you need is a piece of paper and something to draw with and you can put anything you like on it. That cheapness also means you can take risks which are much harder to do with, say, films, which involve a lot of money, people and organisation to make, even when it’s an indie production.

After the comic marts, a loose group of us often retreated to Ed’s flat to chat about comics, art and films. Mark Robinson remarked that when he came to London he expected the small press scene would be like a group of wild Californian cartoonists indulging in plentiful sex and drugs, but it was more of an urbane gathering with tea and cakes – and that’s what it was like.

Mike, Darryl Cunningham

That small press spirit spilled out into Escape of course but also semi-mainstream publishers such as Harrier Comics and Fox Comics in Australia. But by the early 90s, the artists I liked had gone off to pursue other things, and I felt the small press was becoming a vehicle for cartoonists to build up portfolios and get spotted for mainstream comics, rather than to produce personal work which was interesting in its own right. It’s an understandable approach to CV building, but it didn’t appeal to me. I got much more interested in music which seemed to be more vibrant and experimental at that time.

Julian Geek

ZL – Just thinking about this further, how do you see yourself in relation to the history of small press comics in the UK? Is there a history that you feel a part of from the 70’s or even the 60’s. Or do you feel that the 80’s was where small press and alternative comics took off in the UK? Is it even that you see more of a link with the likes of DIY zines than you do with comics at all?

HR – I think there was something open-ended and outward-looking in the art I most liked from that time. I think honest personal takes on life are very important and are what people respond to at the end of the day. To be clear, by ‘personal takes’ I don’t mean dwelling on oneself, or minutely detailed autobiographical strips which are a creative dead end if ever there was one. There’s been a lot of bad art created in the slipstream of Robert Crumb, but the biographical aspect of his work is deceptive – he distils something profound out of his experiences.

As for me, I don’t delude myself that I was anything other than a minor figure in the 80’s small press scene, but I am always very pleased when I learn that someone has kept their collection of Ugly Mugs all those years. That said, I’m more interested today in looking forward.

Davy Francis

ZL – I guess the big question is, why did you come back and why now?

HR – Well, partly because I only got to publish the first four chapters of Ed’s Saga of the Scroll epic, and there were eight more episodes to go, six now. (Ed gave up waiting, understandably, and published the complete story some years ago, although with his blessing I intend to continue serialising it, meaning there should be 12 issues of Ugly Mug at least).

As far as my own comics went, it always felt like unfinished business. But it was a long process getting back to it, way too long really. I was seriously missing art after a few years at university, so I packed off for a month to the Cyprus School of Art Summer School to try to get the creative juices going again. As I discovered, that ‘summer school’ mainly involved hanging around with naked women, riding scooters around town on a fake licence and drinking Keo beer, all of which was a lot of fun, but no art was being produced. I can’t blame it all on the distractions – I was too bogged down in trying to find the perfect idea to work on.

When I got back to England I thought ‘this is ridiculous’ and started keeping sketchbooks, working rapidly and not caring too much about the result, just drawing whatever I was interested in (predominantly, but not exclusively, women). I had a full-time job and had to fit this in wherever I could – so for example I sketched fellow commuters on the tube journey to work, trying to draw everyone in the carriage before they or I got off. (I highly recommend that as a way to learn to draw people quickly, if not accurately.) And at home I drew from whatever printed material was around the house, mainly Sunday magazines and fashion supplements. I know that drawing from photos is considered to be bad form for artists, but if you approach it with a certain amount of irreverence and spontaneity, I think you can learn a lot about how to convey personality and draw clothes and the like.

Over time I got looser and looser in my sketches and began treating my source material as a springboard. I developed some intuitive techniques for abstracting drawings until unexpected and interesting results would appear on the page.

Around 2015 I also got involved in the London life drawing boom and went to as many sessions as I could for a few years. I really liked the different approaches of the groups, from traditional art nudes to burlesque and it was a brilliant way to loosen up even more as well as experiment with techniques and materials.

(Some highlights from my sketchbooks and life drawings have been collected into a series of House of Harley artbooks, available from https://houseofharley.net/shop)

So, I’d always kept drawing and posting examples regularly to my blog, and I developed a lot of different styles and approaches which I knew I wanted to put to use somehow. And life keeps coming up with stuff to respond to and comment on.

That urge to draw comics and tell stories had never gone away. On the rare occasions I had a day or two to myself, I would draw a comic strip just to prove to myself that I could still do it (and some of these pages ended up in Ugly Mug 5). But the ‘final straw’ that led to getting back into comics was turning fifty. I thought if I don’t get a move on now, I’ll never get back to it.

ZL – So why bring it back as a printed magazine, why not a website or e-zine?

Bob Lynch, Lightning

HR – I’ve always loved printed objects for some reason I struggle to pin down. Nowadays I spend too much time working on screens for work so digital comics hold no interest whatsoever for me as a format (however good the content might be).

ZL – Also, why continue with an anthology, what interested you in the first place about creating with others? I know back in the 80’s anthologies were much more common, but they’re quite rare now, and I wonder whether you thought about that when thinking about restarting Ugly Mug at all?

John Watson

HR – Well many hands make light work. I have a family, a day job and other commitments, so there’s only so much I can produce and I wanted this return to be a substantial piece of work. Beyond that it just seemed like a natural continuation of what went before.

ZL – Just to pull those two questions together a bit, was it more the fear of never getting to publish again, or a combination where; you’ve settled in your career, your family has got old enough to allow you time to undertake publishing? I guess what I’m saying is, is it just a matter that your age pushed you to it, or is it more that enough has changed to open your mind to the idea and your confidence in your own work is enough that it feels possible? 

HR – There’s never enough time, so it was a matter of finding spaces in the day to devote to the mag and then getting down to it. Other than that, there was a gradual accumulation of factors – most of which were nothing to do with comics – that led up to me thinking ‘I know how to do this’. 

ZL – I think we’ve also established my love of a two-fer, so, do you feel that being a part of an anthology gives a voice to a community? By which I mean that the grouping of like spirited works, works that are appealing to the central motivator (that’s you Harley in less obscure terms!) lets you situate your work within an artistic space? It’s like you’re carving out a space in existence not only for your own work but you’re also giving a home to the vision of your work by situating it with other works you want to see exist within the world. Does that make sense?

HR – I can’t say to what degree the artists featured in Ugly Mug comprise a community with a coherent voice. I haven’t even met half the people in the latest one. And the ones I do know, we disagree about lots of things. But I see what you’re getting at.

Mark Robinson, Martin Millard

Compiling the magazine is all very instinctive. I had a theme in mind for the latest issue which winds through it in different ways, but when it came to sequencing the stories, they fell into two obvious groups, so that’s how I organised it. This was totally unplanned and just leapt out at me when the final contributions came in. I’m not saying what those themes are, people will either pick up on them or they won’t and perhaps they’ll spot themes that I hadn’t even noticed. I like that creative serendipity and hopefully it means there’s more to Ugly Mug than ‘just’ a bunch of drawings and strips by people whose work I like. 

ZL – Just thinking about creators now and coming back to publishing, have you stayed in touch with your peers, I know you’ve said that you’ve not stayed current with other small press creators, but I wonder if there are a few that you are aware of and that you think share an aesthetic or creative spirit with what you are making?

HR – Yes. Ed Pinsent has always carried on making brilliant comic strips, but for a decade or so he and I made noisy improvised music together, recording albums and playing gigs as Mystery Dick (named after an old Dandy character). We also formed a trio called Pestrepeller with Savage Pencil. There’s some samples of our music on http://www.mysterydick.com/discography.html and we have two further albums in the can which I’m very proud of and still intend to get a proper release for. Also look out for Pestrepeller’s 40 minute cover version of the Bonzo Dog Band’s ‘Noises for the Leg’, coming to YouTube soon.

As well as Ed, I’m still in touch with many of the original Ugly Mug contributors and producing the new one gave me an excuse to track down some old friends I’d lost touch with.

But although Ugly Mug 5 featured a lot of familiar faces, I was determined that it would not be an exercise in nostalgia. All the artists have moved on in the three decades since the original run and their work has developed in different ways. The 21st Century Ugly Mug is a continuation of the little traditions we established back then but also contains, hopefully, a few surprises.

When I decided to revive it, I was watching Twin Peaks: The Return and I loved the way David Lynch and Mark Frost brought it back after a 25 year gap, picking up the story and producing something in the spirit of the original yet in many ways an evolution and improvement. Hence some of the Twin Peaks references that fans of the series may have spotted in Ugly Mug 5. And I also tried to emulate the show’s air of mystery and open-endedness. We need more of that in comics, and the world in general.

Other than that, I was thinking more about music like The Fall, B-52s, Sparks and Sun Ra. 

As far as other contemporary cartoonists go, I like the Hernandez Brothers, Ben Katchor, Robert Crumb, and Peter Bagge. I’ve just belatedly discovered Jason Atomic’s Satanic Mojo and I’m enjoying its totally un-PC British take on underground comix

I approached some interesting (non-comics) artists I’ve come across on social media about appearing in Ugly Mug 6 and I’m really pleased that most of them said yes. More about them in a minute.

I’m open to submissions too. Issue 6 came out in October and the intention from here on is that Ugly Mug will be an annual event. 

Some Ugly Mug contributors who are active online are Ed Pinsent, Chris Reynolds, John Bagnall & Savage Pencil

Ed Pinsent

ZL – Thanx for taking the time for this interview Harley, it’s been really interesting. Here at zinelove we always like to share the love, so this is your chance to drop three links for creators whose work you’ve found interesting recently and finally to plug anything else you feel needs plugging!

HR – Been a pleasure. 

I’m going to take the opportunity to mention a couple of artists who are featured in Ugly Mug 6 but, as far as I know, wouldn’t consider themselves cartoonists, so they may not be familiar to your readers.

Masaman is a mysterious and remarkably prolific Japanese artist who appears to spend his or her life posting bold and dynamic pen and ink drawings to Twitter (or perhaps they’re digital drawings, but I like the fact I can’t tell). Every time I look, there’s another addition to this crazy stream-of-consciousness visual notebook. The drawings are fascinating mashups of oddly designed monsters and semi-human figures, which could be made out of mud or jelly, with Escher-like visual conundrums.

Patricia Gaignat is a New York resident and enthusiastic participant in local art groups. She sketches evocative postcard-like nighttime scenes of quiet corners of the city, and fills folded paper booklets with drawings of the characters she meets in her art groups. These pen-and-ink folks all look the viewer direct in the eye, inviting us to join in the camaraderie. I think of them as the benevolent cousins of the Blue Meanies in the Yellow Submarine. She also draws lovely little nudes who look like they’re going to jump off the page and start frolicking around your kitchen table.

Patricia Gaignat

Finally, many of your readers will be familiar with Ed Pinsent’s comic strips, but perhaps not his role as a ResonanceFM DJ. His Friday evening Sound Projector radio show showcases experimental music from around the world as well as highlights from Ed’s extensive personal collection. Its motto is ‘Better listening through imagination’, a sentiment I wholeheartedly endorse and would apply to reading comics too. Many years worth of archives are available on the Sound Projector website, a real treasure trove.  

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content copyright iestyn pettigrew 2022

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Review – Hostile Take Over by Morgan Gleave

BUY IT HERE

This is a fun little comic.

This first issue is an A5 colour comic with card stock cover and glossy paper insides, with 16 pages of story and 4 pages of supplementary history.

It’s a fun read; a quick and silly story with stripped back stylised artwork that’s worth coming back to linger over for its lovely design work.

There’s nothing deep going on in the story here, just a slight jibe at the bloodthirsty nature of multinationals but dressed up all silly like Bond supervillains of old. I’m reminded of the 90’s here with the irreverence and gloriously silly violence and over the top anger on show. There’s something of early Tank Girl or Milk & Cheese in the atmosphere of the writing.

It’s heavily tongue in cheek and definitely a story to allow the drawing of lots of fun action, pretty shapes and great looking sound effects.

The art is fun, really fun in fact. Stripped down and heavily designed. It’s clearly manga inspired, sort of chibi style, but quite blocky and very much about designing shapes to portray action.

Just seeing how much fun the creator is having making this is a big reward. They’re having a huge blast making themselves laugh and impressing themselves with their drawing chops and it makes for fun to read.

Also, the cover needs a shout out (that’s it at the top), with its loose painterly look making a striking and attractive image.

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Contents copyright iestyn pettigrew, all rights reserved

Mini Comix Co-Op – Danny Ferbert interview

You can find Danny on facebook

ZL – Hi! And thanx for agreeing to this interview

We’ll get into the details about the Mini Comix Co-Op in a minute, but I thought it would be good to get a little background on you first of all, if that’s ok?

Where were you born, where were you raised and where are you based now?

DF – I was born in Nashua, NH. I grew up in Florida, primarily Margate and then in high school we moved to Port Saint Lucie. I currently live in Joplin, MO. I’ve been here since 2012 I think. Still weird to me to realize I’ve been here that long.

ZL – What is your history with zines and mini comix?

DF – I have drawn comics my whole life. It was the only thing I ever wanted to do. I drew a webcomic in high school with a childhood friend. I did most of the work. It was a total South Park rip-off we made up when we were in 4th grade. We did 2 10 episode seasons and then I got burnt out by the 3rd season.

My first comic I printed was right after finishing high school. My friend and I put together a convention in Port Saint Lucie and I did a fan comic, or doujin of a manga called Genshiken back in 06. Printed 100 copies and sold zero. Lost all the books in a move shortly after moving. I have 1 copy. It isn’t good.

I joined the web forums Whitechapel and Gingerbox after high school and those were basically my schools I used to improve as a cartoonist and was shown about printing my own mini-comix. I printed 3 zines before moving to Joplin and I released an additional 3 zines very quickly from there. After printing the zines I searched for places to get more exposure through zine shows like S.P.A.C.E. and FLUKE and I discovered the mini-comix co-op.

ZL – I can’t believe that you lost nearly all of the copies of your first ever zine!

I think the experience of making a zine and then having nowhere to sell it may well have been a very common experience back then, without social media to help. I know I certainly had that experience, I made two and never sold a single copy and had no idea how to get them out to readers. I used to take them with me to the second hand book stall I worked at and no-one ever paid them the slightest attention!

By the time I found out about other zines that I could advertise in or contribute to I’d lost my confidence and given up on the idea.

I never really followed chat groups. I was nowhere near the internet at that time, so you’re part of a generation that had this much more interactive involvement with other zinemakers from around the world. How much do you feel that interaction fostered you and kept you making, or is it a more complicated picture of zine shows, letter swaps and forum friendships? I wonder if there are any groups where people network about zines in the same way?

DF – Oh yea. With my first book I was in high school and I didn’t know anything. I picked up little bits from the manga magazine Shonen Jump but it wasn’t until after high school and I started exploring being a cartoonist more that I discovered different tools to use and the forums were big in that. It also allowed me to collaborate with different writers and contribute to different things.

The internet is a different place now. You don’t see forums as much, there is reddit and Facebook and Twitter that have kinda homogenized the internet so you don’t have to go to as many places. I was big on Live Journal starting in high school and before that I just made my own websites and talked in chat rooms. The information is easier to access now though. You can just watch a cartoonist tutorial on YouTube now to find out the tools of the trade.

ZL – Did you regularly attend events before you Covid came along? How does it feel not getting to have those shows to go to anymore?

DF – I actually hadn’t been to a show in maybe 5 years before covid. I had difficulty with my home life for a while. My partner needed more of my focus so the art was coming out slower as I focused on life. I never completely stopped but I would have long stretches of no activity.

I have lots of social anxiety and I’m not a very good salesman so I was never that big in to selling at shows, but I knew it was necessary. It fills me with dread thinking about sitting behind that table by myself. Normally I would sell enough to cover my expenses. I plan to do a bunch of shows again when this pandemic is over and I have finished the book I’m working on.

ZL – I’m also interested in the fact that you’re linking yourself into the doujin culture around manga as I was reading about Comiket and how huge that fanzine culture and show is in Japan! That’s a zine show with ¾ of a million attendees!! Can you imagine something like that happening? 

DF – I’m still trying to visit Japan. I almost went right before the pandemic but due to some flight shenanigans I ended up stuck in San Francisco. It’s been frustrating. I also wanted to sell at a show there and I’ve looked at the applications for Comiket before to see if it would line up with my visit. I try to keep up with my zine making friend over in Japan, Ian McM, to see what shows he’s going to.

ZL – Circling back to the Co-Op, could you tell us a bit about what inspires you to run it, whether that’s a person, an ethos or a visionary utopian dream. Basically, I’m wondering what do you hope it will achieve and what triggered you to organise this?

DF – When I discovered the Co-op it was kinda defunct. Doug McNamara was running it but life happens and he didn’t have time for it. I emailed him interested in contributing and he told me he wasn’t really doing it anymore so I asked if I could take it over because it seemed like too good an idea to let die. He sent me all the books he had and even transferred the domain to redirect to the WordPress page I made.

I emailed everyone I had a book for who I could find online to let them know I took the Co-op over. I met all kinds of artists that way, like Everette Green who was running the Little Rock zine nite that I became a regular to and even designed a poster for. Unfortunately the show hasn’t happened for some time.

I liked the idea of the co-op because I think it’s an important resource for someone who is starting out. You mentioned earlier about not knowing what to do with your zines when you were starting out. I think a lot of people starting out don’t know what to do with their work and are just trying to get some exposure and make some connections. I get a lot of new zine makers, especially during the pandemic. I wish I had more resources to offer. I need to update the website with some of the new creators and stuff and I don’t really advertise the group that much. These are just the kind of things I struggle with doing for my own work. I can only do so much by myself.

ZL – Getting into brass tacks for a moment I thought it might be useful to get some extra details around the Co-Op. I’ve read the details on your site Mini Comix Co-Op and they make it clear, but I just thought it might be interesting to know a few extra things.

You mention only having to pay the cost of mailing comix but I was wondering whether that meant just the cost to whomever is sending their zine or whether there needs to be a contribution towards the return costs as well?

DF – A contributor only has to pay the postage to send their books in. I cover the cost of sending books out. I only get a few contributors a year so it’s not a huge burden on me or anything. I think it’s an important resource for the mini-comix community so I don’t mind.

ZL – If people did want to chip in towards the costs, is there a way of them donating towards those costs, do you have an account or are you happy to receive stamps etc?

DF – I have a PayPal ferberton@gmail.com. No one has ever offered that though. I just occasionally get extra books from people just for me which I appreciate as a comic fan. I just got a nice care package from Adam Yeater recently and Charles Brubaker is always sending me stuff.

ZL – You request at least 5 copies be sent in, does it have to be 5 of the same comic or can it be a mix of different issues?

DF – A mix is fine. The 5 is simply so that there is plenty in stock for the next contributors.

ZL – You also mention it being best to send 10 but are you happy to receive more than that and if not, is there a reasonable gap you’d suggest before sending in another batch, I mean, could you send in 120 and then say, send me 10 each month?!

DF– I have gotten some really big lots. There are only so many different books so if you contribute 10 books 30 times that’s 30 different books. I don’t know how many different books I have right now but that is pretty close. So I appreciate it if the book lots are limited and infrequent. 10 books once a year is more than enough honestly. I used to have a spreadsheet to keep track of who got what books so they wouldn’t get doubles but that laptop was stolen and I didn’t bother trying to make another.

ZL – Are there any types of content that you’re not willing to handle within the Co-Op and, on a similar note, are you happy to manage the content sent out to contributors if they let you know they may be triggered or offended by certain content?

DF–  I don’t put any limits on the artists like that. I’ve gotten stick figures, I’ve gotten gross out humor or graphic illustrations. I’ve never had anyone say they didn’t want any types of books but I’d be willing to cater to someone’s wishes. I don’t mind.

ZL – Taking a deeper dive and possibly stepping into controversy here, what do you class as mini comix, as within your remit and outside the remit? I mean, I’ve done what I class as a comic and it’s A6 in size but I’m wondering whether an abstract photo comic would be considered for inclusion in the scheme?

DF – I think “mini” comix doesn’t really describe what I accept. I want to share any work from any artist that prints their own work. I’ve gotten magazine size books. I’ve gotten hand drawn books. I’ve gotten photozines. If an artist is willing to take the time to make it and wants their book sitting next to other “mini” comix then they have a spot. I’m not super into a lot of rules honestly.

ZL – You’ve mentioned being happy to send work around the world, so I was wondering whether you had links to some worldwide creators that have been involved in the Co-Op?

DF – I don’t remember which one’s come from where so I don’t really know any, I just so happened to get a new mini just recently though that I am mailing out for now from @pkortjohncomix in the UK. It’s a fun mini, a French Ultraman fighting a giant monster. I remember doing something similar as one of my first comics.

ZL – It would be great to see what kind of comix you’re stocking right now, if you’re able to share any.

DF – Here is what I’ll be sending to that UK contributor. I try to give a wide variety of different creators and styles. Some of these artists I have multiple books from, such as from Brian Pepicelli who did the Fault Line book.

ZL – We have two traditions on Zine Love, one of which is to always ask people to share their love and tell us about three creators whose work they are loving right now. Who would that be for you?

DF – I haven’t been buying any new books recently. I’ve just been reading what people send in for the co-op and stuff I find in the dollar bins. Adam Yeater has been sending me some cool and interesting mini-comix lately. I always love getting a package from Charles Brubaker and seeing what he’s doing with his animation. Everette Green released a pandemic book and it’s as funny and gross as you’d expect from him. I’d also like to say my buddy Cameron Callahan has released his second volume to his anthology Built From Human Parts. Cameron is one of the first people I started talking to online who was making mini-comix like myself and we’ve been struggling through it ever since. He’s going to be taking a hiatus from his art and I know I’ve had to do the same several times, life just gets in the way sometimes. Get a copy of his new book while you can, lots of people worked hard on it. 

ZL – The other tradition is to always ask about what you’re up to right now and what you have available, so feel free to tell us a bit more about your own work?

DF- Last year I created a mini-comix for Halloween and this year I printed it with a new back-up comix added for Halloween with a sticker pack I did with my girlfriend. I’ve got a comic that will eventually maybe come out through a friend’s zine. Not sure when that’ll be. I am currently working on a submission for Antarctic Press.

Most of my books are still available on my website where you can also read the Halloween comic I made along with most of my comix that are in print are available on my website for free. I don’t work in any particular genre, you’ll find auto-bio, sci-fi, fantasy, humor, action, love stories, something for everyone.

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content copyright iestyn pettigrew 2020

Review – Texas Tracts by Rachelle Meyer

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I’ve come to realise that, as much as railing against the system or raising a fist to the sky feels like you’re making a big statement, sometimes the quiet voice plainly speaking its own truth is the most convincing. 

Texas Tracts are based on a conceit. You may have heard of Chick tracts; you may even have seen them or own them. They are little polemic comics stridently arguing against various social ills as perceived by a very right-wing American version of Evangelical Christianity. They’re held in high regard for the very extreme nature of their politics and the hysterical (with both meanings being applicable) way in which they depict such things as playing Dungeons & Dragons. They’ve become almost like Tijuana Bibles in their underground cache. Look them up online and you’ll easily find examples. 

Texas Tracts takes the format of these comics and subverts them entirely. What gives them their emotional strength is the lack of satire or derision of the originals. Instead of trying to knock down Chick Tracts, Texas Tracts dances around them, weaving something beautiful, artistic, and emotionally powerful, showing us beauty instead of spite. Rachelle Meyer uses the power of real experience and calm honesty to undermine everything about those hate filled, hysteria driven tracts. 

Drawn in an open cartoon style with plenty of detail where needed, the art is completely in service to the story. It’s got a lovely quality of design and communicates emotion very clearly. It manages to portray happiness without passing into cheesiness helping to add punch to the delivery of the three stories.

These comics detail aspects of her upbringing as a Catholic in Texas. She crafts these simple anecdotes about her experience and delivers them gently and artfully. Each tract builds on the power of those experiences until you reach the end of the third and, at least I did, when you get to the end that final message of hope feels both small, but genuine, hard won and incredibly meaningful. It actually brought a lump to my throat and raised goosebumps. The light tone of the storytelling, particularly the lack of didacticism or high-handed lecturing makes the stories much more human and accessible.

What Rachelle Meyer manages to do is gently and efficiently delineate the bounds of acceptance strictly laid down in the society around her. She makes clear the stakes and consequences faced when either conforming or rebelling against the strictures placed upon her. Then she gently drops the final story in the full knowledge that the impact of what she chooses to do will be fully appreciated by her audience. It’s a very masterful and very mature approach to writing polemical fiction.

We often hear about people talking truth to power and here you can see what power simple honesty has to reach your heart and engage your mind.  

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Review – Requiescat In Pace by Livor Mortis Zine and Cameron Zavala

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This is a grim zine dealing with loneliness, abuse and self-hatred.  It’s handled with an extremely dark humour. It doesn’t make light reading, but it’s got a pure angry voice that’s laughing whilst making you sick. It’s a classic underground comic, gross out, and in your face, but busily dealing with life at the extreme margin of society.

The zine mixes comic pages from Cameron Zavala with photographs from Livor Mortis Zine. These photographs have been used as a springboard for the settings of the story and it’s fascinating to see the original and the drawn version in combination. Impressive how such a loose and quick looking style managed to still take these references and render them so recognisable. But more interesting is seeing how a few images can inspire the creation of a story. 

I’m a huge fan of Livor Mortis Zines photos and these are great, managing to capture corruption, decay and out of time artifacts of fashions left behind, with a grimy beauty. The star of this zine is Cameron Zavala’s comic story. Riffing on the images and the mood within them he takes it and runs, making a story that delves deep into cruelty, absurdity and boundary pushing extremity. It scores its points against alienation faced by those rejected from love in their lives. It digs at homophobia and the othering and criminalisation of those outcast from mainstream society.

In fair warning though, it does this with huge amounts of depraved and cruel dark humour. The kind of bitter humour that isn’t so much funny as a cry of anger. Yes, it’s out there pushing your buttons (and this could trigger abuse survivors for sure) but it wants to because it’s damn angry about the cruelty being called out.

The art and the story are ugly and in your face, are crude and bitter and scratched out and it’s horrible. But it’s got a bleak humour in its hysteria and it’s making its points against the cruelty of making people outcasts from love and hope.

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Review – Adam Yeater – (I’m not going to tell you the name, because you should find it for yourself!)

Buy Adam’s comics here – big cartel store envy

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I love Adam Yeater’s art. For some of his work, like Blood Desert it’s simple and cartoony and unpolished and deliberately so. That bluntness, that getting it done and not worrying about the anatomy is what’s appealing. It’s the lines and storytelling that matters. 

But I love it the most when he takes that style and then just fills the space up with visual noise. He does this a bit with World of Knonx, but best of all are his big mushroom or plant paintings and images. They channel psychedelic art and that lovely scratchy line of black metal art.

This zine takes that visual noise and scratchy line and drags them through Where’s Wally to make a horror monster picture search. 

I personally hate doing Where’s Wally because I get bored with looking for things, but I love just drinking in those pages and letting details surface up. This zine is so much fun to stare at and see how inventive all the character designs are or to just let the noise drown you. 

A great little zine to pick up and drink in when you feel like it. 

I asked Adam why we are looking for little toads and he explained his reasons to me, which I thought were fascinating, so I thought I’d share what he said with you.

“It is a tribute to the Sonoran Desert Toad. Its habitat is in my local desert region here in Tucson, Arizona.

It is going extinct from people abusing them for the DMT in its poison glands. 

People dry and smoke the poison. I have seen them when it rains. I have never been on a toad trip but I heard it is very intense.

I did the comic as a tribute to these magical toads.”

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Review – Cui Shirts

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Cui Shirts is an online project and zine that documents t-shirt slogans gone wrong. It’s a fun project with a big task. It’s squarely aimed at making fun of bad design, poor translation and the sometimes genuinely weird slogans on the fast fashion of Asia, but at its heart it wants to show the hollowness of that consumerism and the lie that it lets you be an individual. 

Fast fashion squarely sets its stall in sass and an ‘up yours if you don’t like’ attitude, with the occasional foray into ‘positivity meme’ territory. At its heart it’s crass, trying to sell individuals the sense that mass production can make them truly an individual. 

So, whilst there’s a little sense of harshness to laughing at awkward translations into a foreign language, there’s the balance of mocking such a hollow cash grab and the lying mask it wears. 

Cui Shirts latest zine really pushes into that thought by adding additional commentary in the form of the life costs these slogans carry with them. You can see its aim clearly, it’s about trashing consumerism and it’s fake ‘I’ll set you free to be you’ lies and not so much about  poor grammar or translation. 

I also love the shiny, textured paper that the zine is printed on, it looks and feels lovely. 

There have been previous issues, including my personal favourite that came hung on its own coat hanger. 

Cui Shirts is a touch of class in the trashy fashion slogan market. 

P.S. even the envelope is great, look at those seals!!

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Review – Purple Hate Balloon by Fraser Geesin & Laurie Rowan

Buy Fraser’s comics here – digital physical

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It’s hard to define Fraser Geesin’s humour, but it’s fun to give it a try. In all his work there’s a feel of the satire being spot on in an uncomfortable way. My favourite of his is The Cleaner where he’s doing humorous, gentle observational humour about his life. However, he’s excellent at handling farce, loves to throw in social satire and is often about pushing things to absurd extremes to make his point.  

Even when he does really push it, it still doesn’t have that sense of hysteria to it that absurd humour often does, for want of a better phrase it’s not zany or wacky, in fact, even with how odd it is, it doesn’t feel odd. The best way I can describe it is that it has a hyper real sense of absurdity. You know it would never happen, but it feels only one step away from being real. I think it’s the way he mixes farce with the absurdity that keeps it feeling grounded.

Purple Hate Balloon, co-written by animator and director Laurie Rowan, is working in that vein of believably absurd, too close to the bone humour that makes you laugh and bears thinking about afterwards. It adeptly makes its points, has a good plot whilst telling funny jokes.  It’s a fun read and it scores some good points.

It’s all helped with Fraser’s amazing art. A fine balance between realism and cartooning that just adds the feeling of being one step off reality. There’s a lovely rubbery realism to it that makes it good to look at and easy to understand.

This is a great little comic, like a Carry On for the angry online troll era.

I’d add in that there’s a nice one-pager from Laurie Rowan at the end. A lovely gross sight gag. Also, go and see his site as it has some very awesome animation to watch.

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Review – Not This House by Gareth A Hopkins

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Gareth Hopkins is really one of the main reasons I got back into comics reading and particularly became interested in the small press and zine culture.

His comics are not comics as you think of them, they’re not linear representations of actions and events. They are stories and his stories have become more linear and less like the broken poetry you’ll find in Intercorstal Extension. His art, though, remains mercurial and abstract, sometimes colourful and explosive, with pages broken up by panel shapes and sometimes, as with Not This House, like mists of lines and spots of black where suddenly something coalesces into almost the shape you’re reading about.

Not This House continues his moves towards prose storytelling and does so with great skill. There’s a sense of really manipulating what’s happening with the images, how they almost make scenes that illustrate the words on the page, in particular page seven evokes the sense of moving through tunnels in the dark, which feels deeply fitting for the story unfolding at that point of the comic.

There’s also the sudden tonal shift that hits home so very effectively with the change in lettering style and tone of illustrations. The shift, feeling sudden and, for me, emotionally affecting.

All in all, this work picks up threads from his earlier work, such as the use of poetic repetition of key phrases, but also adds a sense of intentionalism that is skilled and assured whilst also delivering some very powerful emotional tonal shifts within the story. That Gareth can manage this with the art, the story and the lettering is impressive in an inspiring way, that he can make this work as an emotional story, with emotional heft without any of the normal props of drama shows why I find his work so inspiring.

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go look – Robert Wells

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Rob manages to make bad puns and painful observations that make you laugh without relying on making you laugh at people’s suffering or to relieve the awkwardness. He has a great sense of character design; much like a name in Dickens tell you about the character, so the look of one of Rob’s characters, from their style to their body language communicates something about them.

He’s also very good at drawing dogs, maybe think about getting a dog commission from him…

May be an illustration of dog

Image of Love Her Madly & Other Stories + Print + Postcard Set

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May be a cartoon

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Review – The Blame by Jon Aye

A collection of short stories from Jon Aye.

Jon Is currently taking part in the digital Hackney Comic & Zine Fair.

Find him on twitter

I enjoyed this. A quick read that I think I could go back and spend some more time dealing with the bigger ideas it touches upon.

I often see these kinds of comic zines or this style labelled as experimental, but I’m not sure the label fits as well as alternative would. I feel there’s too much in the history of comics, I was immediately reminded of the cartooning on Dick Tracy as soon as I looked at this. The story approach is similarly easy to follow and parse, with its brevity seeming at points both dreamlike and histrionic, by which I mean there are strips where each line is designed to be dialogue delivering drama rather than naturalistic speech so it all seems like high drama pounding out the beats.

There are a couple of nice one pagers that amused me, such as the one below.

But there were a couple of strips that I found much more interesting, that got me actually thinking. They both deal with current society in its post-Thatcherite state, one obliquely and one more directly. Specifically ‘Disaster!’ and ‘Problem Solving’.

They’re both still short snippets, respectively four pages and one page, but together there is a personal thesis about post-Thatcherite UK society that I think bears expanding upon. It’s not so much that the thoughts are necessarily in depth in those stories but the combination of the two coming at the subject manages to make it so that we get a more rounded understanding of that thesis. It’s an interesting way to experience opinions without having to commit to reading a long heavy storyline exploring the subject.

I particularly like the approach to sci-fi in ‘Disaster’, it’s a very New Wave of Science Fiction attempt to look at matters, with a good use of ‘disaster’ as metaphor. I’d personally like to see that idea expanded as I think that world has some legs, but it doesn’t need expanding for the story to work as it is.

UKPLC also touches on current affairs in a nicely timed and confidently cartooned way. I like the visual approach and the somewhat abrupt approach to timing in the strips. Not all of the ideas work for me, either they’re a bit too pat  or didn’t have that much of a new idea (‘Writing’ and ‘New Name’), but the work itself is strong and individual whilst still feeling part of a contemporary comic scene.

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Internet find – How to find your way

This is a cool zine to download and print out yourself – I love it when people do this.

It’s from Gregoire Huret

find him here – twitter instagram facebook

This is a cool looking zine as well. I like street photography and I think Paris may be my favourite city. These are good portraits and a great idea to mark their positions on a map included in the zine.

go here for the downloads

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lazy sunday read – Lumpen Archives

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website

The Lumpen Archive is a digital catalogue of previously published experimental visual zines and comics.

There are zines from zine love favourite (and Broken Frontier 6 to Watch recipient) Miranda Smart

Well known alt comix creators such as CF and Lale Westvind and many others too.

Lots and Lots to check out – over 100 publications

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go listen – Funeral Kazoo

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they can also be found here: instagram (Kelly Crimson comic)

not a lot – 6 songs, but some really nice punky, rockish and enjoyable with social commentary to add to its worth. You could definitely sing these out loud drunk in a pub.

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lazy sunday read – Crafting A – Z (by Weekends in Maine)

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Weekends in Maine can be found here – website twitter instagram

an e-zine of crafting activities and ideas with an example for each letter of the alphabet. There’s some fun ideas here.

Read it here

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SHOP! – Adam Yeater

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Shop here

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Extreme and trashy. Pulp to 900%. For sure it’s full of gore. Adam’s currently cracking comics out in a blaze, focussed on Blood Desert, check it out below

Blood Desert- NUKE- Full Color Magazine #1

he’s also got a great range of other comics, mini comics and zines to try out. Top of my list is The Lottery

THE LOTTERY- Trade Paperback

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go look – Richard A Kirk

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website

Sinistral Sister2014, ink on paper, 12" x 8"

webshop

Compulsion (original art)

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go listen – The Newport Dolls, The Absolute Boundary Of The Entity

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This was created as part of the the 2021 Festival of the Photocopier. You can see part of that recording on youtube here

This is a lovely, calming experience for me. Folksy, spoken word and improvisational, but not meandering or purposeless. It evokes a sort of spiritual sensation, like monks chanting.

It features quite a few creators and instruments, with the typewriter actually being a surprisingly effective part of the whole.

It almost reminds me of the Velvet Underground or The Incredible String Band, but not touching either very closely. Maybe even Devendra Banhart’s early, just after being found busking albums or Black Mountains first ep might be even more apt as it features women vocalists with emotional voices.

My favourite track is Admiring Axl Rose From Across The Hall

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go look – nullset overdrive

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not active recently by the looks of things, but there’s a lot to look at and like in there

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lazy sunday read – Darling Zine

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header art by Rebecca Reed

Darling Zine focuses on promoting creative womxn whether in art, music or film. On the website there’s lots of music reviews and there’s also profiles of artists involved in the zine and some comment pieces. I always appreciate a music zine, because I’m always looking for something new to listen to. the print mag

website

Darling Issue Three

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SHOP! – The Comix Company

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Header image by Aaron Lange

The Comix Company is run by Dexter Cockburn, publisher and maker of underground porn comix. Featuring some great cartooning and lots of spunky action. He also publishes other creator such as Aaron Lange above.

You can also find Dexter Cockburn here –

twitter facebook (dexter cockburn) facebook (dexter J cockburn)

(any of the social media accounts may be currently suspended because social media isn’t keen on allowing porn cartoons)

webshop

SHOT WAD 3 - Dexter Cockburn Digital Comix

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go look – 16 pages

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Jean Philippe Gilliot in his publication Kermesse is one of the first places where I had work in zines.

He’s a great supporter of zines and art makers and I’m a huge fan of what he does to support others. A true gentleman.

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Comic Cuts, a review

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About 3 weeks ago I gave this as a recommendation and every Friday there’s been another episode to listen to which I have enjoyed immensely. So I thought I’d do a proper review.

This is a good show. Firstly, it’s funny, always funny and fun,. There’s an atmosphere, which certainly comes from some good decisions by Kev F Sutherland, of friendliness and openness that makes it feel inviting to listen to.

Secondly, these are good guests, willing to be involved as well as interesting in their own rights. It makes for good listening because they bring a bounce to the whole proceedings. They all have interesting stories to tell. It’s also interesting to see the breadth of people involved in comics as fans and creators. Without saying so, it’s putting the lie to the image of comic fans and creators as boring middle aged men pedantic about the smallest detail. I think this is deliberate in itself and nice to see.

Third and last, it’s a good format for the fun above, but also for getting little mini-interviews with the guests who are, as noted before, very interesting in their own right.

I think it was a tweet in which I compared Kev F to Nicholas Parsons, somewhat flippantly. It strikes me as the best possible comparison because this show reminds me of nothing less than a Radio 4 panel show, interesting people given something interesting to do with a host that pulls it all together and keeps it light and insightful.

Good work on this!

Podcast here

see the panel images here

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go look – Julie Hollings

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An alumni of Deadline magazine, great strips from that end of yuppie era

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go look – Artists Responding To…

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header image by Joanna Brown

website

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Cover by Lily Dean

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Cover by Tabitha Hall

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lazy sunday read – fanzines (including zine shop map)

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map here

organised by zines – who are on twitter tumblr facebook

on insta they do a good feed of zines to look through

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and on facebook they run the awesome ZINE CLUB group

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SHOP! – Strip for me (Douglas Noble)

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Douglas not only creates his own fascinating comics, he often works with a raft of other interesting creators including Sean Azzopardi, Jon Paul Milne and Olivia Sullivan who all produce amazing work of their own.

you can find him here: twitter instagram facebook

website

webstore

comixology

What We Know About Falling Apart

Sean Azzopardi

Black Leather #1

Jon Paul Milne

Get The Human Face

Olivia Sullivan

Mutton Chops

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go look – Owen Sherwood

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Sharkplant! Sticker

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zine library! zineopolis

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with a whole online collection of zines available to look through, this is an exciting online journey as well as being a physical resource in the University of Portsmouth

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zineopolis

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Check out the work of Jackie Batey, one of the curators, on twitter

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go look – Brett Hobson

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lazy sunday read – Artisterium

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This seems to be a new blog started by Miguel A. S. Correia of Ultra Violenta (great zine you should check out here) with posts about various museums and galleries he has visited. There’s only a few posts up, but they are fun. Particularly nice to see so many photos. I was led here when Miguel posted in the zinelove chat group we run on facebook.

This is the article and it’s about visiting the Fanzineteca run by Ogata Tetsuo, another member of the group. That’s a beautiful looking place and is definitely somewhere I’d love to see!

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SHOP! – Fraser Geesin

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you can find him here – twitter instagram facebook

Fraser Geesin’s humour hits a spot with me, drifting from nonsense to satire it aims squarely at humanity and hits the mark

physical comics

The Cleaner is both funny and dirt cheap, there’s not much more to ask than that

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digital comics

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foto friday – Brighton Shit Graf

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this isn’t about quality photos, it’s about the fun of watching humanity

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go listen – Mutiny by Damas Prospect

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Album is on Bandcamp here

Favourite tracks are

Recoil Effect – I always enjoy crackling radio conversation in a track and this is accompanied by some driving music; it’s giving out energy

Human Artillery – the start with its driving, repetitive rhythm is enough, but the out of time iron work and their meeting tempo is perfect doing music

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