Magazines are my lifeblood, but lately things have been a little lean. A combination of internet information overload and the general demise of the magazine racks have meant slim pickings for printheads lately. On the formally glossy side, what was once heaving with ad-revenue now feels like a pallid pamphlet next to its glory days. For no good reason, grot for gimps like Zoo (which actually has my selection of shoes in it this week if you’re in a shoplifting mood but I wouldn’t bother – it’s shit), Nuts and worst of all, Front, are stunting with bolstered circulations. It’s not fair, but then, as my old man used to say, life’s not fair. But I’m still panning for gold when it comes to publications. We must be due a new Fantastic Man any time now, though maybe their attention is on the women’s spinoff, The Gentlewoman.
There’s no end of style publications pimping pretence and tits-out anti-glamour, but as reads, (bar the old guard and Lurve) they’re a transient, fleeting experience. I need some substance in my life. The last seven days have been, compared to preceding months, relatively bountiful, with new issues of three favourites quietly dropping. Independent, bloody-minded and each pushing the aesthetic and vision of their respective editors, some in wilful lo-fi as the antidote to Monocle’s €90 soap trays and one as plush but dense with content as ever. They all warrant a browse and your support…not out of sympathy, but because they’re all very, very good.
SANG BLEU #5
Tattooist, hip-hop connoisseur, writer, font fiend and editor-in-chief of Sang Bleu, Maxime Buechi is evidently a man in love with print, and the publication (still thick enough to fend off the heftiest assailant if you’re subject to a sneak attack outside an arty bookshop on copping a copy) goes from strength-to-strength. Still playing with the medium, the usual fashion, fetish, body mods and philosophy leanings as heavyweight as the journal’s physical form are present alongside a lot of ink and skin. This is what can’t be translated to a computer screen sufficiently, though the blog is excellent.
Splitting issue 5 into two books – one matt, one glossy in the paper stock stakes, with a paper slipcase, this edition feels less fussy in terms of supplements and fold-outs but doesn’t compromise on content. Providing an uncompromising but accessible entry to a realm that’s got scant regard for new jacks or fly-by-nights, there’s a handful of great tattoo publications out there, but by remaining resolutely hardcore but broad-minded, this still gets the vote for being the best magazine on the market right now. £24 isn’t cheap, but taking into account the work behind this glorious mass of colour flash, black and white photography taken globally, custom typefaces and a great standard of writing, this isn’t a cheap one to publish. Good to see the homie Bert Krak repping Brooklyn’s Smith Street Tattoo too. Taking into account the burgeoning number of side project publications from the house of Sang Bleu, you should feel pretty lazy too.
Odd to think that Loaded was once a solid publication – and that’s not the folly of youth…maybe a touch of folly, but it’s better than the state of that rag now. James Brown’s Jack project was an admirable riposte to the then-state of men’s magazines, and it was a shame it lasted less than 2 years. Since then, The Idler’s touched on similar themes in an intelligent way, The Chap just feels like a smug in-joke, and the standard of GQ (where Manzine Kevin Braddock contributes regularly) and Esquire is patchy but much improved. There’s been a gap in the male market for the celebration of the mundane, hugely significant and the flights-of-fancy that the male psyche frequently follows. Enter the increasingly superb Manzine.
Small dog appreciation? Hand dryers? Ralph Steadman? Ginger cake? Lighthearted Monocle-baiting? Curry powder pictorials? Attractive female hairdressers? Recruiting a dream team of contributors, many with hefty job titles, possibly from the Condé Nast canteen, but all excellent, Braddock has created something great. Don’t let the 32 pages fool you – there’s a lot on offer here, and it’s earnest rather than whimsical – what could have descended into an ironic trip up its own rear is propelled by a wide-eyed excitement and some actual journalism. This just gets better and better, and for £2.50, it’s a necessity.
DODGEM LOGIC #2
The Northampton-based magazine that’s got no less a genius than Alan Moore at the helm, Dodgem Logic is an odd prospect indeed. At its worst, this periodical feels like the handouts at an organic cafe run by a middle class collective who eye you with suspicion for being with ‘the man”, all pig-faced cartoon coppers, anti council rants and anti fast food rhetoric, but that’s a minor. Like Manzine, Dodgem Logic is harking back to a period of print press that’s been and gone without getting stuck in the nostalgia trap. In this case, Mr. Moore’s harking back to underground press, and having covered the debut issue here before, it’s still pretty decent – naturally, you can dress it up all you like with burlesque kink but the man in charge is the real draw here.
His essay on anarchy is a solid supplement to his work, he promises an extra 24 pages for an extra pound (with an accompanying cost hop from £2.50 to £3.50) as of next month and he wrote and drew an accompanying XXX comic that doesn’t match Lost Girls in the eroticism stakes – it’s an altogether more knockabout affair where space helmeted dick people pleasure proto-fascist nymphos. It’s not Moore’s best by a long shot, but it is, according to the blurb, “The first and only comic book that Alan Moore has ever both written and drawn himself, for fairly obvious reasons.” That alone justifies picking this up.