zine & comics
Apologies if you missed this column in the last issue, I had a late
summer break and popped over to New York to search out and track down
some interesting print creations...
Weird N.J. - Your Travel Guide to New Jersey's Local Legends and
Best Kept Secrets is a round up of odd architecture, forgotten theme
parks, urban folklore and just plain weird goings on in New York's ugly
sister state. Issue 14 features the Palace of Depression - a quirky
landmark built in the 1930s out of junk and old car parts - and has
a round up of boat-shaped buildings, a Cemetery Safari round-up, local
Pirate tales, Roadside weirdness, kid's attractions and telegraph poles
mysteriously adorned with sculptures. There's lots of lively input from
their readers - always the sign of a good zine - but it's odd that
they're not wise to the Andre the Giant graffiti campaign. Immensely readable,
Weird N.J. is an engrossing look at an American state that rarely receives
anything other than bad press.
Tuli Kupferberg, best known as a member of The Fugs, is an East Village
counter culture survivor. On previous visits to New York I've always spotted
him selling tapes and booklets on SoHo street corners, but this time around
he was nowhere to be seen, maybe Mayor Giuliani's zero tolerance policies
have driven him off the streets. Tuli finally gets his very own Teach
Yourself book, this collection of 200 collages and cartoons is called
Teach Yourself Fucking. It's idiosyncratic, loosely drawn and scrappily
thrown together - just like his booklets always were, but maybe losing
the sharper edge of his earlier publications and with a heavy focus on
New York politics. 'The old Fucks at Home' is his continuing series of
two oldsters trying to make sense of the world as it comes through their
TV. There's also the satirical 'Great Moments in the History of Politics,
Art, Literature, Journalism and Capitalism' cartoons. A couple of my favourites;
cockroaches standing around discussing the merits of 'People Motels - where
people check in, but don't check out' and Tuli's ad for the Village Voice
personal column; 'Beautiful Woman! I saw you walking down village streets
in the sixties. I should have spoken, but didn't. Please contact me.'
Public Illumination Magazine, celebrates 20 years of publishing
with issue 46, this 'non-occasional' print oddity is tiny - just larger
than a business card. Each issue is themed, 'Busts' this time around,
'Luxury' for the next issue, and contains a mix of bite size prose, drawings,
sketches and haikus. Originally New York based, editor Zagreus Bowery
has relocated to Italy and continues to assemble this cute curiosity from
works by contributors with equally unlikely, and obligatory pseudonyms;
Crispy Prawns, Rank Cologne and Gulley A. Rosebush all feature in this
issue. I've got a treasured collection of previous Public Illuminations
stashed away, picked up on previous visits to New York and bought here
in the 80s when copies were on sale in London, and look forward to rediscovering
them when I file this copy...
Cool (comics for you) is a free tabloid showcasing recent and forthcoming
books by some of today's most interesting independent comic publishers
from the US, UK and Canada. It's a collaboration between Top Shelf, Drawn
and Quarterly, Highwater Books and Slab-o-Concrete. The low cost newspaper
format means there's plenty of space to print sample strips from all of
the books featured, some in full colour. It's a great idea that they
could easily charge money for, and let's be honest, it's always better
to see work for yourself than have it filtered and part-digested by some
Vice is a freebie skate/hip hop lifestyle magazine out of Canaduh
& Brooklyn that distinguishes itself with a varied range of articles
to amuse, offend and puzzle. Interspersed between the ads for overbranded
leisure clothing and skate shoes for non-skaters (it is, after all produced
by a chain of clothing stores...) there's articles on 'The Joy
of Eavesdropping', an interview with a Strawberry Farmer (a real
farmer not a band name), A Backstreet Boys Impersonator, Horror Rap? (there's
a whole lot more where chart-topping 'Nem' came from), "I didn't
wear a shirt for a month", East Timor and Porno Reviews, plus there's
a glossy colour comics section with short strips from Kaz, Kochalka and
Fiona Smyth. Vice have a helluva lot of fun with their do's and don'ts
pages, featuring photos of cute guys and girls on the 'do's' page and
mercilessly picking on style atrocities on the 'don'ts' page. Vice embodies
an anything goes spirit, occasionally going too far, but they've got their
name to live up to.
Paper Rodeo, is another tabloid freebie, out of Providence, Rhode
Island. A collection of some of the most disconcerting, dream-like, tripped
out comics to be seen since the demise of Brighton's Watermelon Comic.
I honestly can't tell if the strips are all by the same artist or ten
different people! Ultra scratchy drawing styles are reminiscent of Gary
Panter's Jimbo and with a nice touch, the adverts for local Providence
cafes, galleries and bookshops are all done in matching styles. Apparently
they have a whole catalogue of other work by the artists involved.
Roctober is one of my favourite music zines, previous themed issues
have focused on Masked rock'n'roll, Monkey rock'n'roll and Midget rock'n'roll!
I missed the last few issues, so was pleased to find this one in the racks
at See Hear, New York's zine shop. Roctober #28 maintains their track
record for outstanding cover artwork coupled with refreshingly low production
values of the interior pages! This issue has a long feature on the risque
comedy records of Redd Foxx - who also starred in the US TV remake
of Steptoe & Son, and an exclusive interview with wholesome whitebread
crooner Pat Boone! Plus there's articles on Dolemite, The Dickies,
Andre Williams, Swamp Dogg, Maceo Parker and Brazilian superstar Xuxa.
Roctober has a knack for finding interesting offbeat musicans neglected
elsewhere and always has a dauntingly long reviews section.
I haven't reviewed any of Mark Gonzales' zines here, much as I'd like
to, sorry Mark but at £20/$20 a pop they're too expensive, hey but
feel free to send review copies.
Paul in the country by Michel Rabagliati, is a delightful story
which intersperses memories of the author growing up in french-speaking
Quebec with a trip to the country, accompanied by his partner and young
daughter, to visit his aging parents. Beautifully drawn in a clear-line
european style, this is only the first comic book from Rabagliati-who
has worked as an illustrator and graphic designer for the past 20 years.
It's up to publisher Drawn and Quarterly's usual high standard, and on
the basis of this comic I'm waiting eagerly for Rabagliati's forthcoming
graphic novel Paul has a Summer Job.
Back in the UK now, Weird Zines, is a new reviews zine, Issue 1
covers some zines you'll be familiar with from this column (Infiltration,
Book Happy, From Parts Unknown) together with an unhealthy dose of zines
focussing on trash, sleaze and exploitation cinema. Titles such as Mansplat,
Streetcleaner, The Exploitation Journal and Cashiers du Cinemart give
you a good idea of what these guys are into! Just 22 reviews seems a bit
scanty, they could easily have squeezed a few more in here, but there's
plenty of illustrations, and heck its only the first issue. Publishing
a reviews zine is a thankless task at best, and previous attempts have
fizzled out or floundered under mountains of mediocre zines sent to them,
for this reason alone Weird Zines deserves your support.
Everything's a Pound, a survey of books weighing sixteen ounces
avoirdupois, is both a practical examination of the size and weight of
books (extremely pertinent to small publishers who rely on mailorder and
are at the mercy of postage costs) and a hommage to the Great British
Pound Shop - which these days seems to be a global phenomena with every
country having its equivalent, ¥100 shops in Japan and Americas 99¢
stores. Everything's a Pound is a balanced mixture of artists' books
produced specifically for the project and existing publications which
happen to weigh a pound or have been chopped down to size. Rodger Brown
contributes a set of books weighing 8, 4, and 2 ounces - which can
be used as weights, a slightly overweight copy of 'SPAIN-the rough guide'
has a corner sawn off by Martin Rogers to arrive at the correct weight
and in the process gets retitled 'PAIN-the rough guide'. Everything is
in the catalogue, including work that fails miserably to adhere to the
theme from contributors who couldn't be bothered to read the instructions
properly and work from metric-minded Europeans who don't know what a pound
is! This book weighs in on target but seems overpriced at £5.00.
UK small press comics' stalwart John Bagnall's A Nation Of Shopkeepers,
takes us on a walk down an early 1970's northern high street, calling
in at the supermarket, chip shop, butchers and boutique along the way.
Each tableau is crammed full of accurately observed period details and
hideous seventies styles, fish and chips wrapped in real newspaper, green
shield stamps in the supermarket, listening booths in the Record Shop,
Jimmy Saville hairdos, carcoats, tanktops and flares are regulation issue.
It's a very British and decidedly unglamorous trip down memory lane.
The latest book from the original badly-drawn boy, Scottish doodlemeister
David Shrigley, Grip, is his largest yet and even has a colour section.
This selection of drawings, ponderings, wonderings and meanderings seem
bleaker and loopier than his earlier work, if that's possible. Shrigley's
work deserves a book this size, so you can flick back and forth through
it several times choosing your favourite pages and gradually working round
to the rest of the book, just reading from start to finish doesn't seem
appropriate. Buy a copy so he can afford some more packs of felt-tip pens
off the market. Grip is published by Edinburgh's pocketbooks; steered
by Alec Finlay they've built up an interesting, eclectic list of titles
in a short time, several come with accompanying CDs, check out their catalogue.
A Nation Of Shopkeepers, John Bagnall, 16 pgs, A5, £1.50, Beechnut
Everything's a Pound, A survey of books weighing sixteen ounces avoirdupois,
84 pgs, A4, £5.00. RGAP, Britannia Mill, Mackworth Road, Derby,
DE22 3 BL. email@example.com
Roctober Comics and Music, A4 80 pgs, $4.00, 1507 E.53rd Street #617,
Chicago, IL60615, USA. www.roctober.com
Grip, David Shrigley, 200pgs, £7.99+£1.20p+p, pocketbooks,
Canongate Venture (5) New Street, Edinburgh, EH8 8BH. www.pbks.co.uk
Paper Rodeo, tabloid, 16pgs, free, send $ for postage & a catalogue,
Box 254, Allston, MA 02134, USA. Weird N.J.A4 80pgs, $4.00+postage,PO
Box 1346, Bloomfield, NJ 07003, USA. www.weirdnj.com
Paul in the country, Michel Rabagliati, comic 32 pgs, $3.50, Drawn and
Quarterly, PO Box 48056, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, H2V 4S8. www.drawnandquarterly.com.
Teach Yourself Fucking, Tuli Kupferberg, A4 192 pgs, $15.00, Autonomedia,
PO Box 568, Brooklyn, New York 11211-0568 USA. www.autonomedia.org
Public Illumination Magazine, $1.50, 24pgs. Casa Sorci, 06044 Castel Ritaldi
(PG) Italy. firstname.lastname@example.org
Weird Zines, A5 24pgs. £1.50+an S.A.E. Justin Marriott, 159 Falcondale
Rd, Bristol, BS9 3JJ Cool (Comics for You), tabloid, 28 pgs, free, 1536
West Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60607, USA. www.coolbooks.com
Vice, Free, look out for copies in likely central London Record shops,
or send £ for postage to Vice, 43 Lexington Street, London, W1R
3LG See Hear, 59 E 7th Street, New York