Variant issue 24    www.variant.org.uk    variantmag@btinternet.com    back to issue list


Comic & Zine Reviews
Mark Pawson

Coleccion Golosina is a series of tiny books by a gang of emerging Argentinian illustrators and designers. The first three bite-sized 6 cm square books in this ongoing series are Jack Aviador by Juan Geist, Uniformis by Ariel Cortese and Infancia by Magali Mansilla. Each book is packaged as chocolate bar wrapped in silver foil with a paper wrapper round it and information about each designer given in the form of a 'Nutritional Information' panel. If the term 'Eye Candy' didn't already exist, it would have to be invented to describe Coleccion Golosina.

Crap Hound, the long out of print, totally unavailable zine that I get asked about most often, is back in print for the first time in 8 years, with a revised, expanded version of Crap Hound No.5. So it seems appropriate that I should revise and reprint what I wrote about it 8 years ago: Sean Tejaratchi's near-legendary Crap Hound is a 68 page extravaganza crammed full of painstakingly arranged clip-art culled from innumerable sources and several decades worth of graphic imagery. This issue's themes are Hands, Hearts and Eyes. Crap Hound is the equivalent of a Dover Pictorial Sourcebook for the post-slacker zine-producing generation, the fix for image junkies, the image-banker's image-bank, all your image requirements are here. Buy three copies, one to cut up and use, one to file away intact and another to lend to friends - you'll probably never see it again ...

Found magazine have compiled a special 'Adults Only' Dirty Found from all the stuff they thought was too raunchy for the regular Found magazine. Dirty Found is X-ish rated rather than XXX, with 80 full-colour pages of sexy, saucy, sleazy found material; photos - lots of Polaroids obviously, notes, letters, diaries, prison drawings, school essays and slave contracts. Dirty Found comes with cover quotes from suitably sleazy and sex obsessed celebrities: John Waters, Annie Sprinkle, Cynthia Plaster Caster. The magazine has proved extremely popular, it's already been reprinted and Issue 2 is on the way, and my inside source says "You should've seen the stuff people sent in that we couldn't print!"

Trodden Underfoot is a booklet that asks you to look downwards at the myriad different cast-iron grids, drain covers and electricity/gas pipe covers that we walk over each day without really noticing. Laid out like an I-Spy book, this grid spotters guide has spaces to note down the time date and place of each spotting.

Anthropology a Go-Go is a collection of Mark 'Wigan' Williams' 1980's drawings of contemporary subculture fashions and London night club tribes, most of which first appeared in i-D magazine. An active player in the scene, Wigan ran the Brain Club on Wardour Street, did numerous live painting performances and painted the enormous mural on the domed ceiling of the entrance hall to the Scala Cinema in Kings Cross. Wigan's illustrations in Anthropology a Go-Go are a unique mixture of Where's Wally? and social observation; clubland tableaux showing a dance floor melting pot of non-manufactured youth cults; hipsters and posers punctuated with speech bubbles and song lyrics. Look closely club kids, can you spot the Skins, Soulboys, Goths, Psychobillies, Mods, Casuals and B-Boys?

There's more incisive social observation in Sarah Doyle's book of illustrations, Helping You Find The Right Jewellery, which follows the journey of jewellery from the album sleeves of female hip-hop icons to the pages of the Argos catalogue and then onto the earlobes of teenage girls in Peckham. Prices and catalogue numbers are helpfully included to assist you in making those all important budget jewellery purchasing decisions. It's Elizabeth Duke as name-checked by Goldie Lookin' Chain we're talking about here, rather than Jacob The Rap Royalty Jeweller as mentioned by Fifty Cent. Each copy of Helping You Find The Right Jewellery comes with a different pair of enormous plastic laminated earrings - mine are 'Victorian style bow creoles'!

Leslie Stein's comic Yeah, It Is! is a real oddity with a unique feel to the illustrations - each panel is cut out by hand. Using just black, brown and white paper she illustrates a tale of a young teenage girl and her best friend starting to explore the wider world outside their school and families; shopping at the occult giftshoppe Harness the Moonlight, hanging out at the local weirdo beatnik coffee shop Cafe Depress and experimenting with bottles of Jack Daniels. I'm guessing that Leslie Stein is fairly young and that this comic is pretty autobiographical.

It was a surprise and delight to find David Heatley's Dead Pan #2 comic on the small press friendly shelves of Page 45 in Nottingham recently. Dead Pan #2 has beautifully painted full colour artwork throughout and definitely qualifies as a personal comic, the main story 'My Sexual History 1979-2004' is told in excruciating detail in teeny-tiny panels, 42 of them to a page (think Joe Matt - but nowhere near as annoying). It is backed up by several dream stories which feature sex and religion pretty heavily and 3 pages of touching mini comics about his dad. A truly unique comic talent, I enjoyed this so much that I paused when writing this review, surfed along to his website and ordered myself a copy of Dead Pan #1.
James Nash's In The Time of Your Life is a collection of his quirky one-a-day diary comics about college, girlfriend and work, alongside more composed drawings illustrating a 'Lifestyle Mantra' which he seems to feel pretty ambivalent about - pointing out the futility of such a positive life message. Ask him about his other publications.

Amy Spencer's DIY: the rise of lo-fi culture is impressive in scope, tracing do-it-yourself culture and self-publishing as far back as the 1930's, but whilst her accounts of recent events such as the '90's Riot Grrl scene (which I assume she was directly involved in) are interesting, the historical research is largely of the 'read and regurgitate' variety - she inappropriately and annoyingly applies the poorly-defined recent term 'lo-fi' to events taking place up to 50 years previously. Ultimately DIY: the rise of lo-fi culture is a major disappointment; when I saw the press release I was looking forward to it, but only my sense of duty to Variant got me through all 368 pages. Hmmm, I guess that's a bad review. On principle I try and avoid wasting time and space with bad reviews, but as this book comes from a highly respected publisher, was reviewed in the broadsheets and is widely available in bookshops, it seemed necessary to give my opinion.

Swindle quarterly is a new magazine from Shepard Fairey, best known for his long running worldwide 'OBEY/Andre the Giant' street postering and sticker campaign. Swindle aims high with a deluxe format and matching price tag, this magazine wants to stay on your bookshelf rather than being tossed out with the recycling next Tuesday. Topics covered clearly reflect the taste and enthusiasms of its Creative Director without being self indulgent - Music: DEVO, Dead Kennedy's & Easy E; Art: Richard Colman, Rebecca Westcott, Design; Band Logos that you drew on your school desk; Photography: Taco Trucks; and Politics/Activism: Northern Ireland Street Murals. Personally, I could have managed perfectly well without the 36 pages of sunglasses and poncey clothes.

Snazz has all the sections you'd expect to find in a regular magazine: travel, pets, shopping, fashion, celebrity interviews, horoscopes and advertisements. But in the parallel Snazz universe editor Tom takes his pet banana skin for a walk, fashion models are locked together in desperate embraces, horoscopes are horror scopes, the products on display in the supermarket get militant and start to revolt, the celebrity interviewed is a stroppy Satan and the pretty christmas card is from a Yeti ... This is all presented in Tom Mason's heavily worked style combining collage, photography, illustration and hand-lettered text into a distinctive multi-layered cut & paste layout.

My computer is strictly a game-free zone but Tetris the most insidious time-gobbling computer game in the universe, has still managed to reach me in the form of Tetris, an anonymously posted set of 4 interactive hand-drawn fold-out booklets, each one is different. I've enjoyed playing with the first 4 Tetris booklets and am look forwards to seeing the other 16 million in the series.

Don't Bother Magazine by Adam Burton is really a 'Together' - a collection of unbound pages of various shapes and sizes which tumble out of a screenprinted envelope for you to unfold, shuffle through, piece together and try to make sense of. My favourite component, a publishing first, is the poster which thoughtfully comes complete with 4 blobs of blu-tac, ready for your bedroom wall.

Bypass, the UK zines listing magazine, last published in the 1990's, has been resurrected in online form by Stephen Drennan, a long-time small press enthusiast/collector and zine-maker. It's fairly modest in size at the moment, but hopefully with the support of people sending in zines and also writing reviews Bypass will grow into a valuable online resource.
www.livejournal.com/community/bypasszine

Juxtapoz the long-running pivotal Skate & Surf Culture/Designer Toy/ Lowbrow Art magazine is upping the frequency and going monthly from Jan 2006. Juxtapoz Weekly in 2007?

Events

Small Publishers Fair 2005
Fri 21st, Sat 22nd October
Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, Holborn, London, WC1
www.rgap.co.uk/spf.php
London Anarchist Bookfair 2005
Saturday 22nd October
10.00am–6.00pm
The Resource Centre, 3 56 Holloway Road, London, N7 http://freespace.virgin.net/anarchist.bookfair
London Artists Book Fair 2005
ICA, The Mall, London
Friday 25th to Sunday 27th November
www.marcuscampbell.co.uk/lab05.html

Contacts

Coleccion Golosina, from Tatty Devine, 57b Brewer Street, London W1. www.pinia.com.ar
Crap Hound #5, £6.50 from www.mpawson.demon.co.uk
Dirty Found, $10, from MAGMA, London & Manchester. www.dirtyfound.com
Trodden Underfoot, maxwellverywell@yahoo.com
Anthropology a Go-Go, http://markwigan.com
Helping You Find The Right Jewellery, £7, www.sarahdoyle.co.uk
Yeah, It Is!, $5.99, lams1406@aol.com
Dead Pan #2, $5.95 davidheatley.com
In The Time of Your Life, jamesnash61@hotmail.com
DIY: the rise of lo-fi culture, Amy Spencer, Marion Boyars, £9.95
Swindle, $9.95, swindlequarterly.com
Snazz, £5.50, scribblefinger@yahoo.co.uk
Don't Bother, 4 Comfortable Place, Upper Bristol Road, Bath BA1 3AJ