Small (press) oaks – Simon Moreton

Today we talk to Simon Moreton.

Simon is a mainstay of UK small press zines and comics, having been making for 13 years. I first saw his work championed by the late Tom Spurgeon on his much-missed site Comics Reporter. It was when he started posting images from his recently finished ‘Where?’ series that I started paying greater attention. The sudden shift in style really making his art pop for my eyes.

Simon’s DIY and community led attitude really impressed me as well as his incredible approach in Where? So much so that I feel quite deeply attached to following what he does and why he does it. He was, in fact, the first person I approached about discussing influences as he seems to have a wide sense of taste and be sure about what interests him.

 

You can find him here

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where4parts
All four parts of Where?

So, over to Simon!

 

Can you tell us a bit about the first creator whose work you recognised?

I’m going to say either Charles Schulz or Gary Larson in terms of comics. That was because when I was little, we had all these little Peanuts books that I would read again and again, and I loved the Far Side, too. Every year for a long time I’d buy my Dad one of those calendars where you tore off the page each new day for his desk at work. Each page had a cartoon on it, and at the end of the year, Dad would bring them home for me.

In non-comics world, for as long as I can remember I was excited by the visual art that was associated with sci-fi and fantasy games and literature, from 1960s paperbacks to the 70s and 80s album covers. Roger Dean and Rodney Matthews were early faves, but it was probably the Games Workshop artists that I first learned to identify. This was back in the late 1980s.

Games Workshop made – and still make – various tabletop and roleplaying games set in fantasy or futuristic settings, and paintable miniatures to go with them. They publish a monthly magazine called White Dwarf, which back then at least was full of illustrations, mostly black and white, by artists like John Blanche, Ian Miller, John Sibbick, Paul Bonner, and many more. Those were the first artists whose names I knew (and have now forgotten)

 

Which creators do you remember first copying?

Probably one of those Games Workshop ones, I would think.

 

Simon Moreton Ley Lines cover
Simon Moreton Ley Lines due out shortly

Who was the creator that you first thought ‘I’m going to be as good as you!’?

I’ve never thought like this, even as a kid. I’m not competitive at all. There have been artists I admired, but I don’t think I’ve ever thought I’d be ‘as good as’ anyone. Who’d want to be as good as someone else? Not saying it’s easy to see the strength in your own work (and gosh knows I’ve struggled with that) but other people? Nah – I’d rather just make work that’s mine and keep at it.

 

Which creator or creators do you currently find most inspiring?

I can’t provide one, but…. lately I’ve really enjoyed reading Max Porter (‘Lanny’ is A++) there’s a crackle in his prose that really is exciting. In terms of comics, it’s my pals and peers – Warren Craghead, Peony Gent, Maxim Peter Griffin, Brigid Elva and so on – that keep me on my toes.

 

I also saw a painting called Milltown Exit by Fay Jones recently that really kicked me into a different sort of brain loop with my figures and compositional stuff (one of the pages in my forthcoming book for the Ley Lines series is a homage to that painting).

 

Ooo and Bill Traylor, an amazing American painter, and also Rose Wylie. Both of their work is really stunning. Oh and Lynda Barry. ALWAYS Lynda Barry.

 

Which creators do you most often think about?

When I started making comics, John Porcellino was a big influence on me. As time has gone by, I feel my own work has taken its own path and that influence might not be so clear if you were new to my work. But what I do retain is a strong sense of the value of self-publishing, of following your own artistic instinct, of making community through what you do. So even if my influences have been expanding and my own art has drifted to new places, the way I do what I do is thoroughly indebted to John’s early influence on me.

 

Can you name the first three creative peers that come into your head and tell a little bit about why?

I’ve already mentioned a few, so I’ll add Molly Fairhurst, Stan Miller, and Carrie McNinch to that list.

 

 

Finally, can you tell us a bit about your recent work and yourself?

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Lettuce Bee

I’m a zine maker based in Bristol (b. 1983). I make comics, drawings, and also write prose. My work is largely autobiographical. I make a regular zine called ‘Minor Leagues’ which comprises prose, photos, drawings and comics. I have just finished a memoir about grief, childhood, and the landscape and history of a hill in Shropshire called ‘Where?’. I’ve has been making zines for 13 years.

Forthcoming: ‘The Lie of the Land’ part of the Ley Lines series, published by Kevin Czap and L. Nichols (May/June 2020, COVID-crisis-permitting)

Minor Leagues 10 (self-published May 2020) Out now!!

Where? (Serialised in Minor Leagues 6 – 9)

Lettuce Bee – an anthology of amazing work by amazing people

 

Thank you very much for taking the time to fill this out and let us into your mind.

 

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content copyright iestyn pettigrew 2020

Go Look – Sleepsutra

I saw a write up for Sleepsutra that sounded interesting so I went and looked up Won-Tolla

Sleepsutra

I enjoyed the artwork I saw and the ideas it raises, it looks like an interesting little project

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It deals with sleeplessness and the experience of insomnia, drawing upon the creators own life

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Go look – Lizzie Stewart

Lizzie Stewart Walking distance graphic novel comicbook from avery hill

I’ve posted recommendations for Walking Distance in a few places a few times because it looks so amazing visually, and what I’ve seen online has struck a chord with me.

Walking is a very significant part of my life, it’s a part of who I am and how I think. Walking Distance feels like it manages a conversation that’s equally as personal and meaningful. Aside from Walking Distance, though, I’ve followed Lizzie’s work online for a few years as her illustration features such good design with form and colour casually managing the eye on the page.

Avery Hill currently carry Walking Distance – here

Lizzie Stewart Instagram treasure island various illustrations book and comicbooks graphic novels posters drawing event
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Lizzie Stewart twitter various illustrations book and comicbooks graphic novels posters drawing event
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Lizzie Stewart Instagram treasure island various illustrations book and comicbooks graphic novels posters drawing event
website

 

The Short List – Tom Murphy, some of Colossive Press

Disclosure – Colossive Press published a zine by me and I have published two contributor only zines with one of the Colossive Press people.

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ZL – You’ve published a number of zines now, through Colossive Press, have you any plans for new publications?

CP – Oh yes! Putting out the first few things through CP last year was a bit like opening the floodgates to ten or fifteen years’ worth of ideas that I’d not had the opportunity or confidence to pursue. They’re all at a fairly nebulous stage, so I need to focus on one at a time and get it done – it’s easy to get a bit paralysed and not know which way to go first.

Ahead of the Sheffield Zine Fair on May 18th, Jane (my wife) has compiled Things My Dad Saw (But Never Bothered Mentioning) – a book of intriguing photos by her dad, Gordon Gibbens, who was also the subject of How Graffiti Saved My Dad’s Life (At Least for a While). As well as his street art photography, Gordon used to hunt down press launches, demonstrations, festivals, marches, etc. As a result, there’s a lot of splendid and strange shots in his archive.

Things Dad Saw cover 1200
Things My Dad Saw

We’re also launching 3:52 AM, an A6 zine of words and photography by our brilliant friend VJ Sellar, based on her experience of insomnia (and raising money for the Maggie’s Wallace centre in Cambridge). I like to think we’ve coaxed her into the world of zines, and hopefully there are more to come.

Given the time I’d also like to publish more things by other people, as a bit of a patron. I’d like Colossive to be a bit like Ghost Box or some of the small music labels I follow on Bandcamp, finding interesting work with a strong identity and bringing it to the world.

 

ZL – Do you remember the first time?

Odyssey 7
Odyssey 7 Manchester

CP – At my age, most of my “firsts” are lost in the mists of time. However, I’d say that the first work in the print medium that really blew my mind was Bryan Talbot’s Luther Arkwright. As a teenager I was a casual and slightly ironic reader of whatever comics I could find in the newsagents of Chorley. However, when I landed a plum part-time job at Morrisons (in 1985), my horizons soon spread to Odyssey 7 in Manchester, where the world of comics opened up in front of me like a thousand-leaved lotus blossom. And one of the first goodies I picked up was book one of Arkwright.

Even though I was also getting into series like Swamp Thing, American Flagg! and Moonshadow, Arkwright totally captivated me with the intricacy of the narrative and the incredible craft of its execution. When, after a seemingly interminable hiatus, the second and third volumes dropped, Talbot’s mastery of the medium just seemed to expand exponentially.

Page from Luther Arkwright
Page from Luther Arkwright

As much as anything, the whole work implanted the idea that at their best, whether dealing with the mundane or the cosmic, comics could do stuff that other mediums couldn’t even dream of. That notion has kept me coming back, through thick and thin, for 30-odd years.

 

ZL – Given an unlimited budget and all the time in the world, what would be the project you’d make to be remembered by?

CP – Ha – I’d have no idea what to do with a budget! I guess a full-blown Croydon Spaceport visitor experience somewhere in the town’s now legendary Whitgift Centre, complete with historical artefacts, audio-visual displays and – naturally – a lavishly furnished gift shop.

Ad Astra cover 1200
Ad Astra

ZL – Ad Astra is an alternative history story, what was the initial trigger for that idea?

CP – Oh blimey… I think that somewhere along the line, during a period of creative paralysis, I had an idea for a series of one-page text-and-image concoctions under the overall title Going Somewhere, Going Nowhere, based on the idea of travel and journeys. Little one-shots I could aim to wrap up quickly.

One of the notions I had was a voice remembering when the 119 bus used to go as far as Croydon Spaceport, how it used to be packed with people going to see the launches etc. I think that came about from the heritage work being done at the site of Croydon Airport – the very first London airport – and the sort of faded sci-fi, “lost future” feel that some of the town gives off.

Anyway, one of the benefits of my characteristic procrastination is that the idea had time to germinate in my noddle into something a bit richer. I started to come up with a more detailed timeline and cast list for the short and ultimately disappointing history of Croydon’s municipal space programme.

Another influence was a bit of street art that thousands of people walk past every day without even noticing. Underneath Blackfriars Bridge in London, the pedestrian underpass is decorated with tile displays showing alternative plans for the bridge, scenes from its construction etc. However, some enterprising ‘guerilla historian’ has dug out the Letraset and staged a bit of an intervention to come up with an alternative history involving flat-pack bridges from Argos and lost instruction manuals. I loved the element of absolute toot being delivered in a very straight-faced way.

The final piece of the jigsaw was the discovery of Flickr Commons, where various institutions make their image archives available with no copyright restrictions. With NASA and the San Diego Air and Space Museum among the participating institutions, I soon found plenty of images that lent themselves to gags or unlikely developments. Once I’d cracked the format, it kind of wrote itself.

 

ZL – You’ve had a lot of success and good feedback from ‘How Graffiti Saved My Dad’s Life…’ As that’s such a personal book, what does that feel like and mean to you?

CP – We’ve both been blown away by the response to the book – and we’re very proud on Gordon’s behalf. The initial aim was to showcase some of his photographs and the brilliant work of the street artists he admired. But Gordon was such an amazing man that Jane just had to tell his story.

Gordon was effectively written off when he received his second terminal cancer diagnosis in July 2016. but within weeks he was out with his camera again. Although he was clearly very frail, nobody on the graffiti scene really knew how ill Gordon was or what he was going through. Many of them have only found out recently through the book – something we now regret in a way.

There’s been a massive wave of affection and admiration for Gordon from all over the world, both from those who knew him and from complete strangers. We always knew what a brilliant person he was, of course, but it’s been great to spread the word. And although she’ll kill me for saying this, I’m pleased that more people now appreciate what Jane went through and what an amazing support she was for her dad.

All profits from the book are going to St Christopher’s hospice in Sydenham (south-east London), from where Gordon set off on some of his final graffiti trips. With a little help from our friends – including Steve from London Calling Blog, who organised a charity street art walk in Penge – we’ve now raised more than £1,300, and we hope that figure will continue to rise. (We’ll also be donating the profits from Things My Dad Saw…)

We’re very pleased and proud to be able to support such a worthy cause in return for all the help St Christopher’s has given our family. Jane’s mum Pat was also cared for there, and following Gordon’s death, Jane received bereavement counselling through the hospice. Its work is absolutely vital to the local community, but it remains alarmingly underfunded.

Ultimately, the message of the book is: find something you love doing then find a way to carry on doing it. That’s one of the driving impulses behind DIY culture, and it’s what we’re both trying to do with Colossive.

 

 

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content copyright iestyn pettigrew 2019

The Short List – zines.need.you

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ZL – What is your history with zines and how did that lead to zines.need.you?

 

ZNY – I began writing zines as a teenager – as a kid I’d make my own little magazines but didn’t realise that zines existed until I was about 16 and got into mailart through the internet. I made 20 copies of my first zine on a photocopier in a newsagent in 2001 and gave it to my friends. I’ve been making them intermittently ever since – zine fests help foster a community of zinesters, and more recently Instagram is good for seeings what’s out there. I’m not particularly prolific in terms of making zines but I think about them a lot and love them as a way of sharing experiences and ideas. Zines Need You is a new project that came out of thinking quite hard about who doesn’t get heard in the zine scene and how that can be changed. I’ve been involved in DIY scenes for 15 years and wanted to use that familiarity to open the door a little wider. I’m a middle class white punk and zine fests often feature alot of people like me – it can be a little too comfortable and I would like that to change. ZNY seems like a low key place to start – its a small project to help get zines into print that might not otherwise be published. We’re keen to do a good job with a small project rather than promising the world and half-arsing it – we’ve committed to printing a zine a month for 2019 then by the end of the year we should have some idea of whether its sustainable to continue.

 

 

ZL – What sort of process do you use to decide on recipients for the zines.need.you monthly publishing deal?

Helen Dearnley @helendearnleyillustration
Helen Dearnley – second zine published under the scheme

ZNY – There isn’t much of a process so far as it’s early days, and certainly no standard criteria for inclusivity. We are keen to avoid people feeling like they have to list all their points of marginalisation in order to get our attention so we’re largely trusting them to decide for themselves whether they need our help or not. We also don’t want people to feel like we’ll only print things they’ve written that focus on their experiences of oppression because we want them to be as free as anyone else to write about whatever they like. Some of my favourite zines are hilariously frivolous and making those shouldn’t be a luxury, you know? I think there’s a danger that those financially supporting projects can end up expecting to have influence over what is created, so in this project we’re trying to be mindful of that dynamic and so far staying out of people’s creative process as much as possible. That said it’s been really cool to get lots of queries about different parts of zine making and nice to be able to share knowledge about printing, cut and paste, mini zines, zine fests and so on.

We are bringing our experiences and knowledge of anti-oppressive practice to this project so there is a core ethos to who we are interested in hearing from. We’re keen for this project to show solidarity with communities of colour, disabled creators, neurodivergent folks, working class makers and so on, and especially the people who live in the overlap of those identities. There have always been rad zines being made by these folks but there are more that haven’t been printed for lack of funds and encouragement and that’s where ZNY hopes to offer a signal boost.

 

 

ZL – Do you remember the first time?

 

ZNY – The first zines I came across were ones that I got in the mail as part of art swaps coordinated online. The first few I got came from Australia and America and turned up in these wild envelopes covered in stickers or made out of x-rays. They absolutely blew my mind – looking back now the content wasn’t anything exceptional but the realisation that you could just crack on and make a zine and that there were other people out there who would read them was huge. Like I mentioned before I had been making these little homemade magazines since I was a kid and I’d always had this fascination with the form of magazines – free gifts and cut out coupons and letters pages. Finding there was a big scene of scrappy homemade versions of magazines was wonderful, and also tied into to other interests like anarcho politics, feminism, punk, etc etc. I grew up in the countryside and our house was down a long lane. Once I was home from college I was miles from anyone so my lifeline was MSN messenger until I found mailart and zines. It was the first time I felt connected to other weirdos and gave me hope that I could get to a city and find some in real life, which I did as soon as I could. So while I’ve read zines since that are more interesting or better written, those first zines will always be special.

 

ZL – You’ve just announced your first recipient hit on the heels of what looked like an extremely well received launch, how does that feel?

 

ZNY – It’s been very unexpected – we were hoping for maybe 50 instagram followers and to tick over quietly but then we got 800 followers in the first week and we’re still growing. The project was conceived as a small and self-sustaining project (basically we committed to putting our own money in for the first year) that didn’t need donations. So we didn’t think massively about getting attention other than trying to get the word out to people who might want printing. But now that people do seems to have noticed us then it’s nice to think that our featured zinesters might get some extra readers. And getting some donations has meant that we can increase our monthly budget which is really exciting.

 

ZL – You get to build the world’s most exciting web platform, people flock to see it, which five creators do you first showcase and why?

Jacq Applebee on WordPress
Written in Shadows by Jacq Applebee, first to be published by Zines Need You!

ZNY – First up would be Jacq Applebee, our February zinester, because they write about so many different topics with realness and humour and generosity. I would love a world where Jacq’s zines got left around on bus seats and in hotel rooms so that people who really needed them would stumble across them.

Then it’d be Saffa Khan who is well known in the scene but should really be a household name. She makes these exquisite and intimate zines that are precious and profound and beautiful – she has her own risograph machine and has really pushed things forwards with her use of colour and interesting layouts. I always want there to be a space for splotchy cut and paste zines but I love that there are DIY artists making things beautiful too.

Third and fourth is a double whammy of Holly Casio and Seleena Laverne Daye who each put out their own zines but  are close friends who met as penfriends on Teletext back in the day! They’ve been around zines longer than me and they kind of personify what I love about DIY – I first came across them as radical cheerleaders supporting The Gossip in 2003, since then between them they’ve been making art, zines, podcasts and loads of other shit. Since people are flocking to see my web platform I’d hope their showcase meant they could spend less time working and more time making glorious weird shit because it makes the world better. It’s hard to pick a final creator because I could go on forever so I’m going to pick a non zine wildcard, Kensuke Koike who is a collage artist I follow on instagram. His work is so simple and total genius, he manages to conjure humour, subversion and the unexpected out of a few cuts in old photos. It’s nice to run across people who spark off that sense of wonder and possibility with their work so I would recommend him to everyone, not that he needs my help!

 

 

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content copyright iestyn pettigrew 2019

The Short List – Nick Prolix

KICKSTARTING NOW

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ZL – I’m really interested to know the influences for your comic?

NP – I call it a slice-of-life in as much as the characters and their stories are imagined if not directly from real life, then from lives that could plausibly have been real. Will Eisner prefaced A Contract With God by saying that the book contained “stories drawn from the endless flow of happenings characteristic of city life. Some are true. Some could be true.”

Issue 4 detail page 7
Issue 4 detail of page 7

I would say exactly the same for Slang Pictorial. I’ve taken characters, incidents, stories and sayings from my own life and the lives of my parents, recollections of friends and relatives, events recounted in memoirs, plots borrowed from TV narratives and the best lines stolen from the pulpiest paperbacks and mixed them all up in a hodgepodge to such a degree now that I’d be hard pressed to be able to tell you what was true and what was just plausibly, possibly true-ish in the sense that Eisner identified.

In terms of specific formal, thematic and structural influences I’d point to Film and Television as being very central to my thinking, as befits my coming from an academic Film Studies background. Take a love of the French New Wave, mix it with a deep admiration for the ambition of Anthony Newley’s criminally under-rated creative endeavours such as The Small World of Sammy Lee and The Strange World of Gurney Slade, chuck in as much Sam Selvon and Colin MacInnes as you can read plus the long-form narrative ambitions and character-driven genre storytelling of contemporary TV like Fargo and The Deuce and I’d say you’ve got a good sense of the kinds of art that feeds my drive to keep making The Sheep And The Wolves

The Sheep and The Wolves
The Sheep and The Wolves

ZL – Do you remember the first time?

Iron Man 150
Cover – Iron Man 150 Copyright Marvel Comics

NP – For comics it would be Iron Man #150, the special double-sized issue in which Tony Stark and Dr Doom find themselves thrown back in time to the court of King Arthur. It had fantastic John Romita Jr visuals and a done-in-one story featuring sorcery and pseudo-science and an army of undead zombie knights that I read and re-read hundreds of times. I found the comic in a pile of my primary school teacher’s rainy-day comic books and so had no idea of continuity or who the characters were beyond what I’d seen in cartoons, but I was absolutely hooked and have been an Iron Man mark ever since.

 

 

 

ZL – Your cartooning style is very reminiscent of classic Belgian cartooning styles. Is the style influenced by the retro nature of the content, or is the content influenced by your retro style of drawing?

NP – I have a very binary brain and so as a child I was a Marvel reader which meant I didn’t read DC and I was an Asterix fan and so avoided Tintin. I loved the energy and dynamism of Uderzo’s art and the knockabout humour of Goscinny’s writing and compared to that Herge’s clean lines were always too clean, his characters too buttoned-up and the worlds he created too rigid, rule-bound and well-ruled in terms of everything being about straight-lines whereas Asterix was all curves and swooshes, architecture bending and straining to contain the lolloping limbs of these bonkers characters. I loved the historical aspect of the stories being a big ancient history buff, but I also remember wishing that Goscinny and Uderzo would do stories set in more modern times, with gangsters and spies and detectives, etc. I had no idea that there existed a slew of artists and writers working in the magazines Spirou, Pilote and Heroic that were doing just that sort of stuff, Franquin with Spirou and Fantasio, Maurice Tillieux with Gil Jourdan, Francois Walthery and Natacha, even Peyo and Benny Breakiron. I only discovered this side of the Franco-Belgian bookshelf when I came back to comics about six years ago and ever since I’ve just been steeping myself ever deeper into this stuff.

Issue 3 detail page 4
Issue 3 detail of page 4

 

ZL – You are gifted the opportunity to set up a new museum showcasing all the creators who have influenced you from birth to now. The first show is called ‘First, Formative and Now’ who do you pick and why?

Issue 2 detail page 20
Issue 2 detail of page 20

NP – I’d say First is going to be Dan Clowes, certainly not my earliest cartooning memory but very much someone whose work defined my return to comics in the early 2000s. I read Ghost World, David Boring and Ice Haven in pretty quick succession and each one seemed to progressively build on and transform what came before it. These were revelatory comics for me, both formally and thematically, in terms of what comics could be and say and how the interlinked craft of comics-making; of inking, hand-lettering and book and page design; all served to strengthen the kind of storytelling being showcased.

Formative is probably Franquin, a cartoonist I feel an affinity towards both in terms of his wonderful art style as well as, less positively, his psychology; but I am always trying to emulate and incorporate his character designs and world-building as well as to try and keep pushing myself to adopt new styles and techniques, adapting them hopefully into my repertoire in productive ways.

Now is definitely Gus Arriola, a cartoonist who doesn’t get enough love or column-inches, but his Gordo strip is very much everything I strive to make Slang Pictorial, expressive and animated cartooning in a character-driven soap-opera set within a fully-realised and jazz-infused world that’s just the epitome of hip, mid-century modern comics.

 

 

ZL – You are currently Kickstarting and you’re offering a package collecting all previous issues as well as the current 4th issue of Slang Pictorial. I like the way that the whole of the work is being made available as a tier, by the way! How was it to have successfully achieved your funding within 90 minutes?

NP – It’s always amazing when you hit that target and you can breathe a huge sigh of relief knowing that the project is going to get funded. Slang Pictorial #3 hit its target in under 12 hours and that was huge for me as it was my first ever time on Kickstarter and I really had no idea how it was going to go. I won’t say with #4 I was specifically trying to hit that 90 minute target but I did do a lot of work before hand in an effort to try and beat that previous result. So I set up a pre-launch mailing list, did a lot of Instagram and Twitter promotion to start hyping up the launch as well as offering a couple of Early Bird only rewards for backers who pledged on the first day. The point of doing all of that was to try and get us over the line as quickly as possible, but the fact that the project funded as quickly as it did is ultimately all down to the fantastic folks that jumped on board and did such a great job sharing and spreading the word.

Issue 1 page 23
Issue 1 page 23

In terms of the logistics of this Kickstarter, the funding will go towards printing issue #4 as well as reprinting some more of issue #3, issues #1 and #2 were reprinted as part of the previous campaign. I always try and budget the funding ask to cover printing enough copies of the comics to fulfil the backer rewards and leave me enough stock to cover convention sales for the following year. After issue #5, which I hope to launch at the end of this year, I am going to have to think about perhaps a trade collection of the first five, as I can see that after a certain point, new readers might like to engage with the work in a nice chunk, however I am very much committed to maintaining the serial form of the single issues. The challenge is working out a balance between what to keep exclusively for the individual issues and what to put in the trades by way of back matter, etc.

 

 

 

all art copyright and trademark it’s respective owners.

content copyright iestyn pettigrew 2019

Review – Drawn Poorly Zine – Identity

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This is an interesting zine for me.

It’s one that’s as much ‘what I bring to the party’ as it is one that is about the work itself.  I’m going to get a mildly philosophical, political and personal – so be warned!

There’s a discussion to have here about the project itself, around purpose and worth. This includes the wider discussion about identity and what that means and is at points in life.

A separate discussion about the actual physical issue and its content is needed as well.

 

My identity and chronic illness, or; identity, it’s not for everyone

Oddly, for someone who’s pretty healthy currently, my life has a few eras of chronic illness that mark my identity. I’m not sure I should delve too much about these matters as that’s not really the point of a review, to talk about myself in detail, is it? Yet, considering the project, I think it is the point, will I find my reflection or feel left out?

There are pieces in here that are so close to the bone of my own experiences that I’m never going to manage any kind of distance to discuss quality. However, there’s an argument to make about the worth of that experience in itself, (which I’ll make shortly).

Starting at the macro then; philosophically I have an issue with the conception of identity in and of itself. It’s one of those reductive concepts that imply a person is a thing and a thing is a single whole. By which I mean, to be personal for a second, people often believe a way of feeling or an experience means you have AN identity. I’m a white, middle-class man. That’s apparently AN identity, except, I’m someone who has mental health issues and I’m someone with a history of chronic illness and I’m someone who parents a child with chronic illness and that child happens to have learning difficulties. Oh, and I grew up as the child of hippies in a working-class area, in the 80’s in Wales, in a post-industrial town. So where do I have my IDENTITY in that, as opposed to talking about the experiences that have shaped me as a person?

Also, there’s the opposite side of this which talks about the identity of a group as if it’s all the same for each one. What is the identity of those with learning difficulties, for example, it’s different for my child than it is for someone with autism or downs syndrome. I’m pretty sure the experience of a person in America is different from a person in the UK, especially, getting back to subject, when it comes to chronic illness, because at least we in the UK don’t have to worry about paying for our medication or suffering or dying because we can’t. That’s a real and true issue in America.

There’s the further issue of awareness outside of that identity group. I wonder how many people could even conjure an understanding of why I’d mention growing up in Wales in the 80’s without just thinking about neon wearing kids dancing to Duran Duran, because, you know THE 80’S. I’ll tell you, that’s literally NOT what it was like then and gives the absolutely the wrong image of what it was. So, as I say, identity is just a great way to allow stereotyping, misconception and failed understanding. Even with good intentions. I’ll also call out identity as a renamed bigotry in certain hands. Everyone knows disabled people are in wheelchairs, so only wheelchair users are disabled? Sound familiar? Thought it yourself? I encounter exactly that attitude every day.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that identity sounds simple, but I believe it is essentialist, reductive, stereotyping and exclusionary more often than not.

I’ve had a 6 month long stay in hospital because of a childhood illness, I’ve had nearly 9 months in a hospital hospice because of my first child’s initial health issues. So am I the parent who was a sick child, the parent of a sick child, the parent (who was a sick child) of a sick child. Where does my niche go and where does my experience fail to meet the description and purpose and in failing to meet that do I end up feeling like my IDENTITY is not true, angry at not seeing myself represented?

Mission Statement
Mission Statement

Am I seeing too narrow a stereotype or caricature and what is the impact of that being delivered to the public as well? Will they, the inexperienced, limit themselves by only understanding the issue as represented here?

That really is the matter for the project to consider and the yard stick against which to measure it. How does it deal with these matters of representation, of diversity, of essentially becoming a gate keeper simply by existing!?

That’s a heavy matter, particularly considering who it is trying to represent, people already suffering in life in some way, shape or form.

 

The Project

I can see why the first issue dealt with identity. It’s a matter of setting out your stall, delivering your agenda for all to see. It really does need to be up front, because it really does tell you whether you’re in or out of this project. I know I keep banging on about this, and I’ll get to it, honestly!

First though I want to talk about another matter of inclusivity outside of the politics of representation. Does the zine communicate effectively with people who have a wide range of need, including some who may have learning difficulties? Can it deal with all of these when it is a project that relies upon open submissions? Particularly when it’s dealing with the cross-over of chronic illness and artistic expression?

I think they’ve done some very clever things that mean that this project is accessible to a wide range of needs. I’m know for certain that some of these works by themselves would communicate to my child with learning difficulties. Yet the editorial approach has made the issues raised in those works accessible to them. I’m no mind reader so I won’t claim to know whether they planned that or came upon those solutions by other routes. In the end that’s not what matters, it’s accessible in a very clever and low-key manner. I want to pick up on that here, because I think it speaks clearly about the strength of this project, it’s humanity and openess.

On the second inside page they have a whole series of speech balloons summarising the content and opinions of those present in the zine. Pithy little comments that give quick insights into their experiences. It’s a clever way of priming people to the content they’re about to encounter.

Speech Balloon Summary
Speech Balloon Summaries

It’s also a good way of making some of the internal, often expressionistic or abstract work, more accessible to those who can’t understand complex abstract ideas. It means that, although certain work will never mean much to my child, I can still have a conversation around the subject that it deals with. It frees the art up to be expressive, whilst still highlighting the content in a way that’s not forced or invasive to the art.

I’m also pleased that it’s meeting its own criteria of talking about both chronic illness and art dealing with chronic illness. The art is served well, with good reproduction and the physical item itself is on lovely paper with decent printing. More importantly, to me, it’s cleanly laid out and well labelled with details of the contributors, so it’s easy enough to go and find out more about their work if you want to. Simply put, it’s a well put together package, well edited to make it as accessible as a resource as well as a magazine to be enjoyed in and of itself. The mix and pacing of image and text is also well handled.

The project is also an interesting manner of dealing with chronic illness, dealing with aspects of daily life as well as more philosophical matters, for example, the second issue deals with having a sex life with a chronic illness. Identity is an interesting point, but it’s very BIG PICTURE. Sometimes you just want to know how to live through a day and the philosophy of it all matters much less.

I can imagine these being a great resource both online and within hospitals. A good library of these dealing with the philosophical and practical matters of life will make a good companion for someone dealing with chronic illness in their life, whether their own or someone else’s. Considering the subject, I think that’s important and appropriate. What’s the point in having this if it’s not a resource to help those it’s talking about.

 

The Issue

So, finally, to talk about what’s in here on both the macro and micro scale, by which I mean – how well do I think it deals with the issue of identity and the associated matter of representation and what do I feel after reading the contributions included in here.

Well, firstly, some pieces are privileged with the nature of my own experience reflecting their content. There are those that aren’t and are still fascinating and there are those that aren’t my sort of thing. That’s again a ‘me’ thing though.

There’s a diverse range of experience. There are pieces that are short and blunt, some more like memoir. What all of them have in common, is that they talk about the personal, not the abstract. These are about PEOPLE talking about their experiences. Really, that’s how it gets around the matter of philosophy and politics. Everything is grounded in people and their experiences. The editorial team also take great care to identify that they are trying to reach out to as diverse a population as possible. The content is treated with respect, but the editorial tone is light, open and welcoming. It’s an encouraging approach, not a distancing one.

There is a work in here that I found fascinating as an artwork communicating the intangible. It tries to make visible the invisible and uses such a beautifully simple idea it’s almost poetic. Considering that the solution is crumpled pieces of paper, I’m genuinely surprised by how visually interesting it is as well. I’m intrigued to see more, just because I can buy into that simple visual communication. It makes it very quick to get an insight into how day to day life can be for that person and for all suffers of endometriosis.

It also speaks of how different approaches can evoke different reactions in different people for different reasons. A piece like that, so abstract and so different from my experiences. My access into that is very much an appreciation of it as a method of communication, it’s an intellectual reaction entirely.

Very early on in this review I raised my own question about seeing myself reflected in pieces and how that skewed my ‘critical’ reaction to them, and what that meant within the context of this zine.

Front Cover
Front Cover – Indentity

Well, I think it speaks volumes that there are pieces, dealing with people’s experiences of illness that are not mine, that can still evoke or trigger recognition in me. In particular there is a very succinct piece (similar in visual style to the cover) that so sharply reflected one of the worst experiences of my child’s early illness that I was nearly shocked to tears at the memory.

I think it’s that recognition that gives this zine it’s power. I get to see someone whose illness, whose circumstances aren’t my own, reflecting my own feelings, so I get to see that not everything I experienced is niche, is my burden and mine alone. I think that I’m never going to identify with identity, but I can experience the sense of belonging to a community with shared experiences. Really, that’s the greatest comfort you can offer anyone who feels isolated and alone, the opportunity to recognise that there’s a community of people just like them in the world, even though they are not like them. This project delivers on that opportunity.

Review – Pocket Thoughts Annual #1

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Pocket Thoughts Annual #1

I love this little 16 pager in both thought and fact.

 

The Thought

It’s a gathering of a whole murders row of zinesters who gang about with each other online, by which I mean, there’s the core of a whole online scene here.  The thought that appeals so much here is the feeling that someone’s gathering up the troupe to put on a classic repartee performance for the audience. It’s the zine equivalent of a British ensemble cast. They all have their character they do so well that you never tire of seeing them do it. They’re all so good at what they do, they bring something new to it. They all like each other so much, that they just play together well and it’s damn fun to watch it all happen.

I love the thought that someone has finally put together this little scene as a physical object, it feels like the moment a notional thought has coalesced, a dream made reality is probably a step to far, maybe more a zine scene fest for your pocket?

The fact it’s a 16 pager of curated guests is as fitting as it gets really. Proper zine scene diy glory at its photocopied, immediate best. I should clarify why I say curated. Even if this wasn’t a by invitation production (by which I mean – I  have no knowledge of whether this was by invitation, or just ended up this way) you can still see who is in touch with who in this scene here. It’s really, as I say, a murders row of all the biggies in their scene. This isn’t some exclusionary thing though, just a gang of online friends putting a best foot forward for the fun of it to let people know what they’re at and invite them all in on it.

 

The Fact

It is a great little zine with everybody putting in a great turn. I literally liked everything in there. All killer, no filler is fair here – depending on your tastes of course. To expand a bit on that – this is just a great collection of zine creations. Its very typically zine; rough, Contents Listall about the personal. It get’s in there and talks quick and cheap or it speaks it’s own poetic idiom and asks you to meet it with your arms open. By that measure, everything is great because I feel that I get to know each contributor from their single page, there’s not one where I come away wandering what that person is about. As the zine is labelled ‘a showcase of zinesters from around the world’ you can’t ask for more.

For my own personal tastes, there are some that I connected with more than the others, but that’s more about me and my tastes and nature than it is about the quality of one over the other. I’m not going to go over them all, but 2 examples that stand out are Richard Larios’s (feral publications) piece, which is just so quick and blunt and to the point it made me absolutely smile. Literally the zine equivalent of a hardcore punk 30 second blast of rage. I don’t know if anyone knows who Steve Ditko is or what his later career after SpiderMan and Doctor Strange was like, but this had that same blunt, political smash of his later work (though a different political take). Latibule’s piece just struck a chord with its cleverly poetic image. What struck me was the way they both use the same language, but one is spitting and the other is singing (both in the best way).

To stop myself disappearing into a detailed little synopsis of every piece, what I want to say is that I like how the pieces have been ordered as much as I like the pieces. I like that there’s such a range of style and approach, but I also think that the individual pieces have been placed in an order that flatters each piece as part of the whole.

I’ve used the analogy of an album of music being about the whole rather than the strength of individual tracks and I think that this is the case here. What is all the more amazing is that this is the equivalent of a scene compilation but feels like an album and not a collection.

Really glad I got this and if you’re interested in zine scenes, this is a great little taster of this group.

 

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content copyright iestyn pettigrew 2019

The Short List – Tim Bird

NEW COMIC – Asleep In The Back

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Grey Area – publishe by Avery Hill

ZL – Why and when did you start making comics and how many comics have you made?

TB – As a kid I was always drawing – little cartoons of my friends and family, doodles, comic strips. My friend came up with a character called Pseudoboy and I drew some comics about him, but it never occurred to me to publish them or show them to people outside my friendship group. It wasn’t until I visited Thought Bubble in 2010 that I realised there was such a large community of comic book creators self-publishing their work and I wanted to get involved! I started doing diary comics that I shared online and began a series called Grey Area, which was published by Avery Hill Publishing. There were four issues of Grey Area, and I self-published a few short comics before I made my first graphic novel, The Great North Wood, which was also published by Avery Hill Publishing last year.

I’ve also made lots of other short comics for various anthologies like Dirty Rotten Comics, Over The Line and Off Life.

 

ZL – Do you remember the first time?

TB – I vividly remember my dad reading Tintin comics to me when I was very young, explaining how speech bubbles and thought bubbles worked, and how you followed the story by moving from one panel to the next. One image in particular stayed with me – a

TinTin
Tintin – Rascar Capac

character called Rascar Capac breaking through a window to throw a crystal ball full of poison at Tintin. It was terrifying to me when I was young, but I would dare myself to look at it and try and draw it.

 

 

 

 

 

ZL – I currently own only one of your comics, but really treasure it, ‘Rock & Pop‘. What impressed me was the way you took many short anecdotes and wound them into such an emotive narrative. How did you work how what would be in the story and how to pull it together?

Rock & Pop
Rock & Pop – Great little comic

TB – Rock & Pop started as a webcomic. The idea was to draw and post online one comic a week about a song that had inspired me or that I felt related to an important moment in my life. I started with songs that had felt important to me as a child (like Belinda Carlisle!) and continued through being a teenager, moving to London, meeting my wife, and having kids. The narrative all comes from my life, being interested in music. Just growing up really. People really responded to the webcomic, so collecting them for a print edition seemed like the right thing to do. Since self-publishing it, I’ve asked other people to send me comics based on their own responses to songs important to them, and have been posting them online – various-artists.co.uk (I’m always looking for new contributors for this!)

 

Various Artists
Various Artists – Tim’s music anthology website – Always seeking contributors

 

ZL – You’ve recently had your first graphic novel published, ‘The Great North Wood‘. I know you’ve published smaller works prior to that. What was the main difference between the two experiences?

TB – I tried to be more disciplined when I was writing the Great North Wood, making sure I had all the pages fully planned before I started drawing. With my shorter comics I often start drawing without really knowing where the story will end up, but with this longer project I thought I’d run into problems if I tried to do that. I spent a lot of time doing research for the book – studying the history of the area that the book’s about, and reading about folklore associated with forests and woodlands.   15    I think the fact that it’s a longer a piece of work, and took longer to create, means I invested more into it emotionally, and feel really attached to it. A lot of my comics are about a feeling of connection with a specific place, and spending so long writing about south-east London for this book has increased my bond with the area. I’ve recently finished a short comic called Asleep In The Back, and it’s been nice to feel a bit less involved with a piece of work – to put it down and move on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ZL – Which one creator you love seeing do you feel the world knows too little about, and what would you like to tell us about them?

TB – I don’t know about in comics – there’s so much good work being made right now that I don’t think I can pick just one creator to tell you about! In music though, I’m always surprised Debsey Wykes isn’t more well known. She sang backing vocals for Saint Etienne and has fronted two bands – Dolly Mixture and Birdie. They’re both great!

 

 

 

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content copyright iestyn pettigrew 2019

Review – Coffee & People 1 & 2

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I don’t intend doing this often but Craig is someone who promotes zines and zinesters very effectively on his instagram account five o’clock zine – go follow that link and check out all of his reviews.

 

 

 

Review – Coffee & People 1 & 2

Two classic mini-zines this time round. A7 single pagers, typed and pasted up then photocopied and stuck down.

A lovely, immediate and simple format.

Coffee & People
Coffee & People – the perfectly formed mini-zone format

A format perfect for the two little stories told in these zines.

It’s very easy to say (and imagine) that such zines are just quickly thrown together, with little thought and can be quickly consumed and thrown away with little thought.  In truth the medium prevents great depths; the content likewise, is seemingly small and inconsequential in the grand scheme. All of this is true. All of this misses the whole point of the worth of these items.

These little zines are the hand of friendship reached out from another world, reaching a stranger in a strange land. They’re a conversation on a bus or bumping into the friend of friend you barely know. You may share the same proximity, but not the same world. They are in essence, one of the reasons I find great virtue in zines. They open ways of seeing I never knew existed and focus my eyes for a few minutes on existence as I’ve never seen it before.

Coffee & People
Coffee & People 1

Coffee & People works this well, keeping the language simple and clear, getting out of its own way and letting it be a conversation, rather than a didactic exercise or the florid flexing of some personal neuroses. What recommends these to me is getting to sit and experience a life never lived in a world I know nothing about, (something I’m always going to immediately like, it’s my current jam).

Coffee & People
Coffee & People 2

Of the two, issue 2 is my favourite with it being more focussed on what it’s telling us. It satisfies more, even though (or maybe because?) there’s less in it that I recognise from my own life.

 

I also like how inexplicit it is when coming full circle at the end.

In the end, these stories will not rock your world, they will not plumb the depths of the human soul. These stories will open your eyes to another human life and let you see what it’s like to be alive as that person, even if it’s only for a few minutes. If that’s your jam, then indulge with these homemade lovelies.

 

 

————————————————————————————————-

Previous Review- Warglitter 1

 

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content copyright iestyn pettigrew 2019

Warglitter Review

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Warglitter Issue 1

 

I believe in coincidence.

I know as fact that things just happen BECAUSE. Because being my personal truth, (personal truth – the little white lies that cover the cracks). BECAUSE meaning the millions of things that are always happening that you know nothing about, refuse to acknowledge, don’t want to talk about, aren’t interested in as they’re just not important enough to waste life time on, etc.

BECAUSE being like this – Did you know microwaves were first created in the late 40’s? Not really popular until the 80’s BECAUSE. You could list cost, acceptability, blah, blah, blah. It’s just easier to accept that it was BECAUSE and get on with life. Is that the same attitude you want to take towards your future, your relationships?

Because is a default for the shoulder shrug, the pulled face, the ‘a butterfly’s wing flapping…’, the defeatist ‘oh who can be bothered’. I say or think BECAUSE as it’s so hard to face the thing I’m becausing about. The question is, is that how to live a good life (by which I mean attain contentment), (Happiness and the search for it, is a GRAIL quest, the modern search for eternal life).

Getting back to track. BECAUSE, then, is the enemy of a reviewer really. It is too often treated as a friend though. I guess that comes down to space and TL:DR. Too often a reviewer states that you’ll like a thing, rather than discussing what it does and why that should matter. It’s the gatekeeper mentality – I’m cool and I’ll tell you what’s cool, not argue why it’s worth your time.

It’s what I’ve been fighting with when thinking of a review for Warglitter. My urge is to say – get it BECAUSE it’s AWESOME, (another catchall for – too big to tell you).

I mean; it’s true, but it’s not honest. Yes, the two can be exclusive. Honesty requires the commitment to fullness, truth requires you don’t lie. I am not believer in truth, personal or universal, in case it wasn’t clear from the above. I’m going to be honest and say, I believe any search for TRUTH is the opportunity to avoid personal honesty and responsibility.

Warglitter Zines

 

Now, you’ll be thinking, why are you telling me all this? (I like the sound of my own thoughts?) Well, because Warglitter – the person, not the zine – has crafted an amazing work where she’s starting to be honest with herself and maybe leaving the search for Truth behind. She may not even know it…

My evidence? Well, Warglitter lays out her purpose up front. She writes about why she writes a journal and tells us what commitments she made. She gives me all my clues right up front and right out clear.

These things are telling, to me at least.

  1. write down beliefs and personal truths – having beliefs and personal truths next to each other sounds like someone being honest and then hiding a truth they don’t want to witness, saying ‘they’re not beliefs, they’re personal truths…’

A new addition to the list

  1. dismantle your defence mechanism persona –having to go back and qualify and talk about personal psychology, about defences, seems a change in understanding. Time has given a gift of new understanding. Like 5 is the knee jerk reaction and then 8 is the slow dawning realisation of the Honest facts.

If that is the case, then these

  1. keep up a regular tarot practice and dig deep
  2. creating my next niche
  3. work through depression and learn from it

are the pendulum swinging between how to be Honest and how to hide from it.

  1. decorate this journal – make it a sacred object –says it all, fetishise that Truth. Then again, those later additions take it back down to earth – back to magic, down to earth. Pendulum swinging, swinging.

Being honest – why is this amazing?

There are so many echoes of what matters to me right now, what I’ve struggled with.

For me, this is a timely piece of work to appear before me.

It’s not what I’d do to deal with these subjects.

Likewise, Warglitter does things and holds belief that I have no personal commitment or interest in. Yet, here she is talking about things I’ve spent years struggling with, talking about things I’ve finally been able to think honestly about. Saying them in ways and contexts very different to mine and so making them clearer for me to see.

If you asked to label it, it’s a perzine verfremdung effect – I love Brecht’s idea that to make something more obvious, you should first make it appear strange.

It’s what I’m always hoping to achieve, but here made simple where I would hide it in layers of pomp.

That’s what I like about this, it’s like looking at my life but as I’ve never lived or experienced it, so I don’t have to hide from the truth it reveals.

What I take from this may not be what is meant by this and may not be what you get from this, but it is why I think this is an amazing piece of work.

I see that there is no solution to who you are, or what you’re feeling – there’s only being honest with yourself and dealing with those facts rather than just excusing yourself with BECAUSE, (because no one ever loved me, I’ll be unlovable… because I keep getting hurt, I’ll push everyone away – they’re all TRUE and you’ll never solve that TRUTH, you just have to be honest, face it and deal with it every day, but by facing it and putting it out there each day it might just get easier to be that better person, get that step closer to contentment and kindness.

This is a brave work and a hard path and deserves your attention because of the reward you may get from it.

The Short List – Warglitter Zines Interview

Previous Review: Intercorstal: Extension Review

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content copyright iestyn pettigrew 2019

The Short List – Shuffleplay comics

Disclosure – I should let you all know that I have worked with Shuffleplay Comics on a number of contributor copy only zines and am currently working with Shuffleplay on a project currently slated to publish in June.

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ZL – Your work often uses songs as inspiration, what is it about interpretting these works that appeals to you?

SPC – I would visualise stories and ideas behind song lyrics when I listen to music. It’s been a natural habit since my teens, but back then, I didn’t have the technical skills to implement my ideas. Now that I’m somewhat technically trained to make music videos, I just go at it every time I feel compelled to.

New Order - Regret

ZL – Do you remember the first time?

SPC – Oh wow, I can’t even remember. One of my all-time favourite illustrators is Tomer Hanuka and this picture has always stood out to me.

Tomer Hanuka
Tomer Hanuka

ZL – Given an unlimited budget and all the time in the world, what would be the project you’d make to be remembered by?

JR_08

 

SPC – I don’t have very long-termed projects nor do I want to be remembered. If 

I have unlimited time and budget though, I’ll probably hire people to build a huge sci-fi theme park. I’ll hire actors to play the roles of citizens in this made-up world. Everyone will have to wear space suits/dumb futuristic costumes just for the lulz. Only myself, my family and friends will have access to this place, muahahaha.

 

ZL – You’ve created a lot of high quality zines by now, which of these makes you most proud and why?

SFP – Hmm, probably Ghosting. The content’s kind of cringy now that I look back at it, but I’m amazed that I managed to stick to it for three months.

 

 

ZL – Which one creator you love seeing do you feel the world knows too little about, and what would you like to tell us about them?

SFPAdrian Tomine. He is already really well-known, but I’d always recommend his work, “Killing and Dying“.

 

 

 

previous post – The Short List – Livor Mortis Zine

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The Short List – Livor Mortis Zine

Disclosure – I should let you all know that I am currently at work on a collaborative zine with Livor Mortis Zine, release date TBC, and that I once won a competition for issue 3 of LMZ (a set of three beautiful zines).

IMG_7746

Livor Mortis Zine                                                                       stphnrttly

ZL – Why paper and not blogs?

LMZ – Being born in the mid-1980’s, I feel that I owe a lot to analogue in all formats; from VHS to vinyl, practical effects over CGI etc. Even though I use computers daily and understand the great advantages of digital outlets, however, I feel that a physical item is a lot nicer and more human. I specifically started LMZ based on glue, paper, scalpel etc and felt I should keep digital creation to a minimum. We can rely on paper a lot more as digital/technology is a lot more harmful towards us both physically and mentally.

With physical copies of a zine, you can distribute and interact outside, away from a computer. I am sure that most of the population like to touch what they can see, and I feel that adds greatly to the experience. Having physical copies on paper has led to opportunities I would have missed out on if I were to be blog based, like selling zines on a face-to-face basis.

This started with great assistance from Books Peckham (site & instagram) and DIY Space For London (DSFL site & instagram).

Their next zine fair is 17 thMarch 2019 @ 96-108 Ormside St, SE15 1TF.

Anyone that is interested in zines and DIY self-publishing should definitely visit.

One of my favourite zines of recent times was picked up (traded) at a previous zine fair at DSFL. It’s by Olga Writes Things and is titled ‘Body Hair: A Love/Hate Story’. Reading this really made me question how brainwashed our culture is by media. I would suggest reading this zine especially if you are open minded and not a sexist. I also appreciate how personal it is too, I doubt many people would be so direct and honest

 

ZL – Do you remember the first time?

LMZ – The first time I can remember really loving an artistic creation was probably as a 4/5 year old, whilst watching both ‘Ghostbusters’ the film and animated series. However, years later, the 2001 album ‘Mediocre Generica‘ by Leftover Crack really shaped me as a person and actually impacted my life for the better! It opened my eyes and ears to many different genres and styles of music. Before listening to that album, I was strictly into punk music and was quite ignorant and stubborn to entertain anything else.0045778043361.png.925x925_q90The album contains elements of ska, reggae, black metal, death metal and of course punk. It was definitely a great tool for mind expansion and propelled me violently into a world of mixing genres and breaking rules. Plus the lyrical content was perfect for my mentality as a teen; no pop-punk focused girl/boy relation dramas, just real talk and political anger. Without hearing this album, I do wonder if I would have ever spent 10 years running independent death metal record labels and if I would have stayed on a straight path and mixed with healthy society focused individuals. I do not really know many other bands that mix many alternative styles so well! Apart from the pre-fix of ‘Leftover Crack’, which is the band ‘Choking Victim’.
I can still listen to the album today and get wild enjoyment from it. ‘Mediocre Generica’ is not my favourite album, but it is totally an important release in terms of who I am today. I am sure LMZ carries some connection to the crack rock steady beat, away from the ‘INDK’ lyrics inside the front cover of issue 4.

 

ZL – Given an unlimited budget and all the time in the world, what would be the project you’d make to be remembered by?

LMZ – I literally had this conversation just the other day with a film maker friend of mine, we even started a script to be prepared for the day an unlimited budget comes our way! I won’t give away too much in terms of the overall direction, but the aim would be to focus on making a story to make people more aware and involved in stopping child abuse. I am sure I am not the only person who questions why the rich and powerful are always connected to extreme child abuse?! I know it is a nasty and emotionally destroying subject to even comprehend, but it is a vast problem all over the world.  If I could be involved in anything that would expose and shutdown child abusers and sex traffickers in general, I would be very happy. The budget would go on practical special FX (ideally Tom Savini ❤️) and getting really strong and respected actors/actresses involved so people would take notice.

Away from that, I would really like to be involved and remembered for something that would get Tony Blair and George Bush Jr executed for war crimes.
As the budget is unlimited, any leftover would be used to buy and delete Facebook.

 

 

ZL – Your images come from all around the world, where is your favourite place in the world you’ve never visited?

LMZ – Asia, especially the Far East! I would really like to go there and I am sure that I would never leave. In my head, it seems so alien compared to the world I live in, I’m sure it would feel like home. The level of excitement and fear is through the roof!
My passionate feelings towards the continent originated from Eastern cinema and anime. I remember watching films like ‘Urotsukidoji’ and ‘Hausu’ at a young age and being so impressed after getting tired of the typical Hollywood/Western film formula. The imagination and creativity out in the East is so rich, there is even a Japanese horror sub-genre which focuses on cat horror alone.
Another part of Asia I would like to experience is Bali, Indonesia. There is an annual festival that takes places there called ‘Nyepi’ aka ‘Day of Silence’.

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I do not think Google search results justify this festival, so take a look at the Instagram account @ogohogoh_bali

 

ZL – What single creation [book, zine, film, group, place, whatever!!] would you settle down with and just chill?

LMZ – I really chill with audio commentaries attached to cult Italian films such as Lucio Fulci’s ‘Gates Of Hell’ trilogy or any of Dario Argento’s early works for example. Last night I bulk listened to three commentaries on the early US slasher ‘The Burning’.

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I find it really fascinating to hear all the behind-the-scenes details relating to the production of the final product. It is nice to be able to just listen to something, rather than watch. I guess I should check out some more podcasts!

The Short List – Warglitter Zines

Warglitter Zines is our first responder in this twice weekly series.

We ask 5 questions aiming to understand the creator’s practice, aspirations and inspirations

Warglitter on youtube                    Warglitter Zines                      Order Warglitter’s Zine

ZL – You run a zine making group, how does that influence what you make and what made you want to start it in the first place?

WZ – I started a zine making club at the school where I teach. We had a rough year last spring and a coworker suggested I start a club. He said, on the hard days, he was always able to look forward to the club he runs because it was his time for sharing his passion with students who are actually interested. Late in the spring semester, it occurred to me that I should start a zine club. I talked it up in my classes and students are starting to learn about it by word of mouth. It’s pretty cool.

It does affect the kinds of stuff I put out there. I made the Carly Rae Jepsen Fanzine because I wanted to have an example I could show my students of different things you could try in a zine. I made the quiz and the mad libs because I remember seeing that kind of thing in teen magazines and enjoying them when I was growing up.

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I wrote Guilt because that was a story from my own life that I always wanted to tell and I thought my students could relate to it. Usually, my fiction comes out very sinister and I didn’t want to share any of those stories or my poetry with them. Because I started the zine club, I chose to follow some ideas that I wouldn’t have usually. I thought I needed something wholesome to show them, so I made the opposite of what I’m usually inspired to make, and I really loved the process and the final results.

 

ZL – Do you remember the first time?

WZ – One of my earliest memories is of the music video for ‘Take On Me’ by a-ha.  I was probably 3 or 4 years old and I was just transfixed by it. I didn’t see that video again until late at night in the mid-90’s. I think they actually showed it on Liquid Television, late night animation programming on MTV. There was no way I could have, but I felt like I had instinctively understood how that video was made as a toddler. Something about the live action world intersecting with the comic book world made sense to me. That moment when he reaches out of the comic book and the girl in the diner takes his hand is still just electrifying for me.

I really love music videos and actually use them in the classroom. There’s just something about that marriage of music and images that cuts me to my core. I can feel it in my solar plexus. A lot of music videos make me cry.

 

ZL – Given an unlimited budget and all the time in the world, what would be the project you’d make to be remembered by?

WZ – I don’t know, probably a one-night-only performance art event with some kind of giant multimedia collage and an interpretive dance routine going on simultaneously. And a lot of glitter. Barbra Streisand would stand next to it and she’d have to pretend to be very nice to people all night.

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Jens Lekman portriat by Warglitter

ZL – You’ve included a couple of drawings in the zines you have made and they’ve all been awesome, why don’t your zines include more art from you?

WZ – I think the Carly zine might be the only one I’ve made that doesn’t have something I drew in it, and that’s because I was really going for a more classic collage aesthetic but like the squeaky-clean version of that.

I doodle a lot, but I’ve never really had a good drawing practice. I kind of go through phases. Every once in a while, I tell myself I’m going to practice drawing every day and get REALLY good at it, but it never lasts long. I’ve always had a lot of different hobbies and creative outlets, but I’ve never really been aces at any one thing.

 

ZL – I know you talked a little about this on your initial Warglitter videos on YouTube, but some people may not have seen those, so, what made you want to do video reviews of zines?

WZ – I wanted to start a YouTube channel, but I never knew what to talk about. I felt like if I didn’t have something to offer people, no one would watch. Near the end of last summer, I started searching YouTube for channels devoted to talking about zines and I was really surprised at how few there were. And the zine videos with the most views weren’t even made by people with channels devoted to zines. I thought, ‘here are a few people who really care about something I’m interested in, and there aren’t so many people already talking about this that I would have to worry about getting views or filling my channel with content. We could just be a little community of people who are in it for love rather than money or notoriety.’ So the most obvious way for me to start, it seemed, was to review zines I was buying or getting from people through trades.

 

all art copyright and trademark it's respective owners. 
content copyright iestyn pettigrew 2019

Barking by Lucy Sullivan

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That it ends on a double page spread  suddenly rich with detail and therefore rich with real world context; but also rich with texture, gesture and general drawing noise, seems so apt. It’s an exclamation mark rather than a full stop or comma. It lands like a cliff hanger, but it is delivered visually; stylistically rather than through a plotted beat.

Why is it apt? The whole work is mood driven rather than plot driven or even a real world driven. This is a work all about feeling someone else’s experience, whether it’s the communication of how it feels inside the person experiencing these events or the bafflement of those viewing that experience. Barking shifts from first person suddenly to a bystanding outsider’s view and then dives back in to altered reality and differentiates between none of it. Whichever perspective is being depicted is still clearly a psychological view. Until that last panel when suddenly, the pages aren’t the paired down sets of a self-absorbed mind, they’re the detailed frame of reality. That’s what makes it a punch line, that even in the real world the nightmare still holds form. It adeptly captures Alix’s true escape from reality. She hasn’t left it, she’s inserted her fantasy as a true part of it.

Barking works so well due to the intense nature of the artwork. Cleverly designed, often layouts are echoing work from pages before. Knowingly designed, enough detail to situate the action, but managing to show the distance from physical reality Alix has travelled in her psychosis. This is a psychological landscape, where self-absorption means little of reality fixes Alix’s attention and so little of it appears on the page.

But this is not laziness or to expedite production, this is to open out what the situation FEELS like. You are not meant to impartially view this character’s experience, you are meant to be IN IT with them. You will be Alix from start to finish. That’s delivered clearly from the first page on through the whole work.

You don’t know what is happening in that first panel, but you’re there and you know what it feels like to be in that situation. That lonely foot splashing, both giving the physical experience whilst illustrating the fleeting and confusing emotional experience. This is a story starting right in there without benefiting you with an explanation to distance you from what is happening. You’re confused, it’s clearly frightening and that’s exactly what Alix is experiencing.

There is a rhythm to the work that reinforces the experiences you see as well. Page 1 running looking backwards, page nine running looking backwards. Both real, but 1 is a big black dog, 9 are police officers, you believe the police are real and the dog is not, but you can’t tell that there’s a difference and you’re not meant to be able to, the two call back and forth just like Alix has mixed reality in her head.

Many people refer to world building as one of the fun things to see in Science Fiction or Fantasy, yet here are the same skills used to build the psychological world of the main character. This is modern Gothic using the landscape and the nature of the world to illustrate the psychology of the protagonist. Just like Gothic literature, this work is ‘sturm und drang’ drama, shadows growing and warping into giant spirit animals, death wishes lived out again and again. Both the art and the feeling are relentless and breathless. Nothing to lose yourself in, except those frenetic lines and smeared fearful mess of life.

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all art copyright and trademark it's respective owners. 
content copyright iestyn pettigrew 2019