Monday, 22 November 2010

Post 3 of 3: Opinionated Geordie Monsters!

Opinionated Geordie Monsters Review the Local Band Scene



This fanzine is going to be a quarterly for Newcastle upon Tyne.

So far I have 4 pages submitted by other people (4 monsters, 4 reviews), and lots by me. My hope is that, over the next year, this fanzine will become a familiar and loved feature of the local band scene, in which not just my thoughts but the thoughts of all sorts of people are converted into the drawing of a monster saying something about a local gig.

It's not big, it's not clever. It's easy to contribute a monster review, so send one to me at

Post 2 of 3 - the Footprint Zine Fair

Last weekend, Leeds University Student Union, I did my first ever solo zine stall, yay! It was the first time I've ever asked for money for my zines, but it was a very loose thing and I still gave most of mine away.

I fashioned a stand out of a biscuit box, and borrowed my house's radiator hangers to help make my stall.

I made a series of 3 cut-out comics from a gaelic language guide (highlands & islands, not Ireland) , on the themes of drinking, women, and work and enveloped them up.

I was happy to be REPRESENTING Newcastle and the North East, with Mayday and Classwar Classix pamphlets from County Durham (sold a few, gave more away); anarcha-feminist zines advertised from Newcastle (several people copied down the details and I feel good that I've helped spread that); small press comics from Newcastle and Teesside, borrowed from the Paper Jam Comics Collective; William Pilgrim's latest and a few spares that I found left over, which people had sent me for DIYAye 2010 (Lather Rinse Repeat; ).

I also gave out some of the out of date mars bars that my housemate liberated from a skip, and had my collection of North East zines available for any real fans. Interestingly, I met a lot of people who at one point had been in Teesside and I learnt a lot about the shit that went down there in the late '90s, and how the DIY scene has recently re-emerged with a smile and youthly beauty, yay! I also realised I have NO zines from Sunderland. Durham, check, Ashington, check, Sunderland, no. Am I missing out?

(I did an interview for Dissident radio which is here, in which for some reason I totally misrepresent the guy who started the Wor Diary project, as if he was incapable and trapped in his house, when he so isn't. Beware mouths running away with themselves! Other than that I don't mind what i said, oh, except I also gave a way-too-low estimate of the costs of printing wor diary it's at least twice as much.)

I had some great conversations with other people at the fair, swapped contacts, got offers, got a load of zine and comic swaps, and then I did a comic drawing workshop.

8 of us drew a page each around the theme of 'making tea' and then passed our page to our left, giggled at what we saw and tried to do a follow-on page. Some of the random results are below, each page done in less than 5 minutes! Great fun.

Here's a page from one:

This one was called "Copper Tea is Theft":

This one went down a politicised surrealist avenue:

This one featured the adventures of Grannny Smedley:

This one featured the hero, "Random Dude":

And finally:

Post 1 of 3! - the clearout

Since my return from Siberia, I have spent a lot of time sorting through the piles of things boxed up and forgotten in bags in my room, attic, etc...

I have tried to get rid of all my spare old zines in order to clear a space in which to do new ones (and especially the anarchist pilgrimage mega-zine). Still my two bedroom tables are covered in drifts of paper but I WILL clear them this week, I WILL! The Footprint zine fair in Leeds was great and it let me give out, sell & swap lots of zines. Since returning from there, I have established that I have SEVEN copies of each of the following seven zines:

secret anarchist history of newcastle (spring 2008)
examzine (summer 2008)

george zine (2008?)

bothy zine (autumn 2009)
Roman philosophers (early 2010?)

beach zine (summer 2010)
mongolian cartoon diary (autumn 2010)

I also have dozens more of the bothy and anarchist history zine, but these are not intended for zine swaps and stalls. Instead, they will continue to be left out in the spaces which they refer to: bothies and newcastle. (Incidentally, I am glad it is these 2 that will persist, because they are the most 'weighty' of my contributions in the last 2 years, most of which are pretty frivolous!)

Also I had 8 copies of george zine left, but serendipitously Matt came round and said he'd lost his copy and did I have any spare. So good, down to the magic number 7.
I have a few extra exam and roman philosophers zines, which will continue to refill the free zine boxes (1 is permanent on the bar of the Star & Shadow Cinema, no.2 is roaming and comes with me to gigs, where I leave it in a well-lit spot for punters to go 'oh, free zines!')

So what about these SEVEN? Well, today I am wrapping them up into bundles, and I will be sticking a price on them. Not to make any money, but to ensure that they only go to someone who's new to them and keen to see them. So I hope they will remain with me for at least a year, and then at some stall in the future or some encounter with someone perhaps newer to zines, I will flog them for £3.50. I just made up that price, 50p a zine, sounds alright to me.

I reckon this blog post is about the most boring I have ever and will ever make, but it is somehow satisfying to put into words where I am at with this side of my life. I have got really a bit over the top at zines in the last year or two, and loved it, really loved it. But it means I've got loads of oddities and leftovers and I've got a bit lost in what I've done, so it helps clear up your mind if you clear up the debris around you. I'm also very happy that zines of mine have gone off to exhibitions and libraries in Denmark, Australia, New York and Germany. And Alnwick this week! Through my unbalanced enthusiasm, quite a few people have encountered zines for the first time through me, especially amongst bothy-users and people who go out in the evenings in Newcastle. If I stop now and find a new hobby, like stamps, I will still have done a little bit for zine culture and so today I'm feeling quite happy about that. Coz making zines is a beautifully pointless thing to do. People occasionally suggest I should do stuff 'properly', get funding or try and make cash out of it. But I've been doing it for the opposite reason: because I love doing stuff amateurishly without planning, without corrections, when my heart is urging me to do it; and because fanzines are about fandom, about enthusiasm, NOT about career-building or commercialism. It's this other side of life that I want to be part of. Love, outpouring, messy experimentalism, temporary collaborations, not knowing how things are going to turn out, all that 'lifestyle anarchism' stuff!

And if in future I return to look at this zine blog of mine, finding it all dusty and a part of the past, remember this Mr.Mike:

- in Wainhope bothy last month, during the 'any other business' part of the meeting, when you piped up and said "I did a zine about..." and the whole room turned round and said "It's YOU!" and gave such love and appreciation for it.