Zines unite!

NEW CROSS, LONDON: A south-east London boozer plays host to an international trade fair of DIY print culture

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Protests, talk of boycotting, and local shop windows declaring ‘No More Chain Stores.’ All this over a mini Sainsbury’s on Lewisham way. If you’re unfamiliar with New Cross there are two things you should know; the residents hate chain stores, and they like to get shit done. It was the ideal location for comic book-maker Dimitri Pieri to hold last Sunday’s South East London zine fest. Know for supporting the local arts community, the dimly lit Amersham Arms was chosen to house the event, and saw the entire bottom floor crammed with DIY enthusiasts keen to show off their stick and paste and photocopied and printed creations. Including Oregon-based feminist Alex Wrekk of Stolen Sharpie Revolution (a respected guide to zine making and zine culture) as well as plenty of UK self-publishers.

Peter Willis, an illustration graduate from the nearby Camberwell College of Arts and zine distributor, told Dazed Digital “I started making zines when I was about 12-13 because my sister wrote for fanzines and getting into punk introduced me to a lot of DIY ideas, opening up a world of kids in bedrooms writing down their ideas and trading them with people from all over the place.” He edits a journal called Limner, a stapled illustration zine exploring the art form from a more considered perspective. Amongst contemporary black and white drawings you’ll find critical essays on the teaching of illustration as well as its role in digital media. Willis says it’s the community aspect of zine making that really draws people in, and points us to Michael Crowe. Crowe is the author of the 40 page thick Mid-Midnight. Willis says it's full of “brilliant short stories that are unobtrusively clever, and often hilarious, and leave you with that satisfied smile when you read them.” We haven’t had a chance to read it yet, so you’ll have to find out for yourself. Crowe is also behind ‘Christmas Diaries,’ a collection of Xmas day entries from famous diarists, including Andy Warhol and George Orwell. A highlight: Samuel Pepys, who, on the 25th of Dec 1664, punches his wife, and doesn’t get why she’s miffed for the rest of the day.

From the 17th century and on to a zine about obscure punk bands and comic strips of oozing brains from Russell Taysom and Charlie Mellors. Flabby Dagger’s most recent edition contains cartoons such as ‘Teenage Mutant Chicken Nuggets,’ a gory homage to the fact that, apparently, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were, actually, quite twisted back in the early 80s. The chicken nuggets bit? “There are a lot of chicken shops in London.” Hey there, New Cross! While ‘Piano From Hell’ documents an exchange between Charlie and a bespoke luxury piano company, in which he sends them a sketch for a piano shaped like a giant penis. There’s also a sketch called ‘Keep Your Pants On.’ “Flabby Dagger is a name Charlie had for a band he and I were going to form. After a few practices we realised we hated each other’s songs so we started the zine instead. It means limp penis,” explains Taysom. “It's not that bad though - I bought a zine made by girls called Knob Vomit once.”

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