Review of Our Zines

 


By the professor of Warwick University’s Small Press Publishing: History, Theory and Practice Module. We received a Grade 1 for the zines and lots of useful feedback!

“Dr Jonathan Skinner is Associate Professor and teaches on the English and Comparative Literary Studies program. His interests include Contemporary Poetry and Poetics; Ecocriticism and Environmental Studies; Ethnopoetics; Sound Studies; Critical Theory; and Translation. He is founder and editor of ecopoetics, a journal which features creative-critical intersections between writing and ecology. His collection of poems, Political Cactus Poems (2005), was printed by Palm Press using an ecologically responsible printing process.

 

MGC (My Goddess Complex): The Feminist Edition is a “brightly coloured, unapologetically feminine, loud and handmade magazine” that impressively synthesizes the lessons of the Small Press Publishing module. You successfully enact authorship as a social relation (rather than identity), aiming to create “a ‘safe space’ for people of all races, genders, origins and sexual orientations,” as well as “a small interlinked community of enthusiastic creatives.”

It is interesting how you note that, “The process of editing this zine and its articles required far more critical engagement.” Is it that, for instance, you had to think about how “to maintain legibility, one of the main principles of typography . . . while also allowing for a unique element of disarray and vulnerability that brings the reader and writer closer together by emphasising the publisher’s connection to their product”? Thus you “sought to mimic a typewriter’s font in order to associate the typographic dimensions of the project with the aesthetic and political movement of DIY zine culture and the ‘scrappy messiness’ seen in copies of Bikini Kill and Jigsaw.”

Or you thought about “the reader’s memory retention of afterimage” as you designed a layout where “the individual illustrations on the previous page are therefore interlinked into those on the following pages, compounding time and memory . . . to help create a concept of heavenly, mythical and flourishing imagery throughout the zine. It can be viewed sequentially, the middle pages can be spread into a whole piece, or the back two pages and the cover can be viewed as a whole illustration”?

You thought about how “its form is that between a magazine and a personal letter” but also how the “layout of the zine takes on a ‘bar menu’ format,” so that ultimately, “the object’s format and intersectional aim is also reminiscent of a pamphlet.” Of particular interest is your aim to “create a reading experience that is both informative, educational and artistic,” at the same time that “the fold of the zine becomes an implied cycle . . . and the visual aspect forms a totality.”

Thus MGC (My Goddess Complex): The Feminist Edition is a bundle of opposing if not contradictory tendencies, the linear and the non-linear–like the concept of intersectionality itself. It enacts what it aims to represent and in so doing attains a measure of critical publishing. There also might be a risk of attempting too much. Your review of precedents for the zine is suitably impressive and a good measure of your ambition. But can one create a “typographical alarm” that is also “a ‘safe space’ for people of all races, genders, origins and sexual orientations”? Sometimes choices have to be made, which can clarify the statement of a publication.

A more focused, targeted distribution plan (playing “hard to get”) can generate greater, and a greater quality of, interest. I love the degree of collaboration that MGC takes up. I was also impressed with the quality, scope and breadth of the contents. This is a terrific launch into small press publishing, and I wish you all good luck with future editions.” (JS)

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