Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Zine Arcade #3

By Andrew Owen Johnston (and friends)

My handwriting is awful. Like super terrible, unreadable, I have a learning disability bad. (Any of you who have ever gotten a letter from me will know this. It is also the reason why all my zines are done on computers.) And so I can only look on in sadness and jealousy when people like Johnston not only have pretty nice handwriting but go out of their way to handwrite things for their zines.

I mean, hand writing stuff for your zine? Loads of people do that, this one even has bits striked out (and for some reason I actually kind of like it here), but Johnston has also written out interviews he’s done with Aron Nels Steinke, Lizz Lunney, and others. That’s a lot of effort (which, amusingly, Johnston actually calls into question in his introduction: “Why would anyone spend all their free time and money on something like this?”).

Johnston’s reason for all the hand written pieces are because, as he says in the introduction, this issue of Zine Arcade was created to look more “zine-like” after the first two more “professional” looking issues. The paranoid person in me now wonders if some of the mistakes in here are actually carefully calculated design choices, and on a major produced magazine I might actually believe that. However Johnston doesn’t seem like someone who would do something like that, so I’ll just forget that entire idea.

This issue collects a number of pages from Johnston’s sketchbook, but not just the usual drawings you would expect to find. Johnston has spent time to cut out and paste in pictures and images (sometimes reproduced in full colour) that he thinks are neat or that friends of his have created. There are also pieces of text (by both Johnston and others) ranging from the aforementioned full length interviews to tiny recipes for pancakes jotted in the margins to poetry.

It’s an eclectic mix, but it all works because Johnston has clearly put so much effort into the content. I know he’s been working on this thing for ages, and I think it shows; things flow together, and the notes for issue four that indicate that even before he was finished this issuehe was thinking about the colour scheme for issue four. How many other zines ever do that?

(Image by Paul O’Connell, I think.)

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