By Steve Larder
Just the other day I got an email from a 16 year old girl asking if punk was dead, and if I knew of any punk zines in the UK. One of the first to spring to mind (after thinking this email was one of the most adorable I'd even received) was Rum Lad, a zine of which I've enjoyed every issue I've read, and that I wish I'd read more issues. So I was excited when I recently found a copy of an older issue in the Anchor Archive Zine Library at the Roberts Street Social Centre.
While I would describe Rum Lad as a punk zine, it might not be what those words cause to immediately spring to mind. There are no record reviews, no band interviews, no political rants. Instead the main feature of Rum Lad are Steve's illustrations, which I really enjoy! Each page features one illustration and a bit of text jammed into it somewhere. The illustrations in this issue cover about six months in 2007, and it seems like Steve had a pretty busy year.
There are pictures from various towns and cities in England (including "the bleakest place I [Steve] I've ever been to"), Reykjavik in Iceland, Oslo in Norway, and Hoogeveen in the Netherlands. That makes me incredibly jealous, and a little sad that I live in Canada which is so big and unpopulated.
There are also pictures of bedrooms and record players, statues and punk shows, ferris wheels and grave yards. I really like Steve's drawing style, though struggle to say what it is about it that I enjoy so much. There are aspects of photo realism to his art, but also an organic element as there are rarely (if ever) straight lines, even if you might expect to see them on a shelf or a street sign.
The lack of continuity between the different pieces of art will leave those looking for some sort of coherent narrative disappointed. We don't know why Steve went to Oslo (or any other place really), and rarely know what he's really thinking when he goes to these places. But I find that I don't care, as the tiny snippets that are revealed help give some context, and with Steve's art that's enough for me.