Pitch In & Publish: Streetscapes

Last Friday we had our first Pitch In & Publish: City As Material session at the Proboscis studio, “Streetscapes”. In attendance were Giles Lane, Tim Wright, Anne Lydiat, Fred Garnett, David Jennings and myself. After some introductions and hearing participants particular interests, we started pitching, planning what we would like to see in our collaborative publication. Many ideas were inspired by personal projects, but the group soon gave birth to to some new, exciting concepts, (as well as a debate about when the first pineapple was grown in Britain) and after a brief interval of lunch to refuel, we set off to wander through the City.

From Smithfield we walked through Charterhouse Square, onto Aldersgate, and then into the Golden Lane estate. We must have resembled a tourist group; eyes skyward as the history of our surroundings was recounted by those who had tales to tell. By accident we stumbled across an unusual circular space, at odds with the towers of the estate. A haven to rest and exchange stories, we soon discovered the unusual acoustics of the circle, and formed a ring in the centre to test them. Tim recorded this unusual ritual, which you can view here, and David has also posted an audio clip, which you can listen to here.

We then headed through the Barbican, and into Postmans Park to read the plaques that form the “Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice”, poignant tributes to those that have died attempting to save others. This was an amazing place, one I had never visited before, and it served as a perfect end to our expedition.

Once back at the studio, and after numerous teas, coffees and fig rolls, we started to form our publication. We decided the brick circle in the middle of Golden Lane estate, which we deemed the “Unplace”, would be our focus – the eBook chronicling our journey there, and our experience within. Thus, the “Unbook of Disappropriation: Situated Moments From The City” was created. We liked the concept that this eBook would not just be inspired by the city, but that we would add to it as well, so we included a blank page for readers to write down their own experiences of the Unplace, then tear it out and leave it someone else. There is also a City As Material group on Flickr, and two hashtags on Twitter –  one general – #cityasmaterial, and one for Streetscapes – #ddiof, so we can continue the discussion.

Our next Pitch In & Publish: City As Material event, on the 29th of October, will be based on the theme of “River”, and our special guest will be Ben Eastop. Book a place here.


Diffusion Archive Review: Perception Peterborough

This set of Storycubes was part of a briefing pack for the Perception Peterborough workshops, set up to develop environmental initiatives and tackle green issues that Peterborough might be facing in the future. Created by Matt Huynh and Proboscis, these beautiful cubes were intended t0 visually display the themes in the project and kick start ideas. A set of eight cubes, linked together with stickers, they can be manipulated into many shapes, each formed side showing a set of illustrations with a common theme.

I love Matt Huynh’s style; wonderfully quirky and charming, they work so well on the small panels, almost resembling an abstract comic, or an illustrated Rubik’s cube. Whilst twisting the cubes into different forms, its hard to resist becoming mesmerised, as the different colours and shapes unfold inwards and outwards, kaleidoscopically.

It would be interesting to see comic authors working within this format, each set of panels representing short tales that can be switched around, letting the reader form the story by making different shapes. This relates to Hypercomics, which I’ve blogged about before, where different outcomes are possible with each read, shifting the reading experience from flat and passive, to three dimensional and interactive.


Pitch In & Publish: Streetscapes – Event Details

This Friday is the first of our Pitch In & Publish sessions based around the theme of City As Material, “Streetscapes”. For those who are already taking part, and for those who might like to, I thought I would break down the structure of the day, and list anything people might want to bring.

It’s best to arrive around 10:00 am, as we’ll be starting at 10:30. The first part of the morning will introductory, explaining City As Material, as well as our aim’s and background. Then we’ll be inviting everyone to get to know each other, and letting our special guest Tim Wright talk about his interest in the topic. We’ll then find out what people want to create, and any specific areas of the publication they would like to concentrate on, as well as planning any trips out around the area to gather inspiration and materials. Thus, commence creating!

Stuff you might want to bring:

– Ideas, images, source materials

– Things to inspire you and others

– Laptops, in case computer’s are busy

Hope to see you all there.


HADRÖN – “The Flat Pack Particle Accelerator”

I stumbled across this gem when following an excellent Zines page on Facebook, run by Alex Zamora of Fever Zine. An A5, 15 page, black and white illustrated Zine by the Lindström Effect collective,  “HADRÖN” is a mock instruction manual for the Large Hadron Collider, in the style of IKEA furniture instructions.

The comical idea of using a self-assembly furniture guide for one of the most expensive and complicated scientific experiments ever is ludicrously funny, and it works so well as the diagrams and typefaces are spot on; there’s even a CERN logo in the vein of IKEA’s. I’ve never had to assemble any IKEA furniture, but I’ve heard many tales of frustration from those that have – the LHC might have turned out very differently if the engineers had followed this guide (I’m sure the Lindström Effect might even cite personal experience as inspiration for this Zine).

It’s available here, or here.


Diffusion Archive Review: The Collected Tweets Of Brandon Cummerbund

I’m going to be delving into the Diffusion archive to highlight my favourite eBooks and StoryCubes on a regular basis, in a bid to showcase how people have used them in exceptional and innovative ways.

First off is “Cummerbundery Volume 1: The Collected Tweets Of Brandon Cummerbund” by Russ Bravo, an eBook compiling various tweets from his Twitter comedy alter-ego, Brandon Cummerbund – a “Victorian wit, man about town and amateur taxidermist”. These hilarious, satirical and often surreal vignettes are presented very simply, (almost in the manner of a Twitter feed) and the contrast between Cummerbund’s ridiculous, outdated manner and activities, and the short functional format of Tweets, is genius. Some choice snippets:

“Fusty Montgomery borrowed putter. Twigs in the
marmalade. Mrs C went shopping. Staff nervous.
Eggs overcooked. Monkey of the day: gibbon. “

“Toast has its uses in hand to hand combat. Chum
of mine: Mangrove van Flagbutterer – well meaning
Dutch philanthropist. Breakfast: kedgeree.”

“Aged aunt coming to stay. Attempts to book
holiday in Folkestone have failed. Mongoose
acquired, named Wilf. Cheese: Red Leicester.”

This move from transitory digital messages, to a permanent print publication has an interesting by-product. When the Tweets are placed alongside each other in print form, they resemble diary entries, or, due to the lack of dates, verse; both forms befitting of a Victorian chap.

Brandon Cummerbund - A striking resemblance to Simon Callow?

events inspiration

Pitch In & Publish: City As Material – Streetscapes Notebook

I’ve just made a simple custom notebook for all participants of our first Pitch In & Publish: City As Material event, based on the topic of “Streetscapes”. It contains an overview of City As Material as a theme, as well as some suggestions and interesting locations to kick-start the creative process, and of course, blank pages for idea’s and sketches. It will be interesting to see if and how this notebook is used, as personally I never seem to plan any creative work, preferring to launch straight in. Obviously this affects how idea’s are formed, and often their practical application might suffer as a result, or on the upside, be far more fresh and exciting then I had ever anticipated.

The creative process, and the difficulty in expressing pure idea’s across mediums interest me, and I’ll be looking into how people are inspired to create, and the methods they use to do so, on the bookleteer blog in the near future. It would be great for it to become more than a one-sided blog, and become a platform for people to exchange ideas and advice via feedback, perhaps even collaborate; almost an online Pitch In & Publish session.

events inspiration

Pitch In & Publish: Writers- get involved!

Whilst researching the zine scene, I’ve noticed there seems to be a distinct lack of literary and poetry zines being produced, which pains me as they are my primary loves.  It seems odd, as the popularity of the zine owes a lot to the short, self-published books of poetry and prose by the beat generation, known commonly as “chapbooks”. These enabled anyone to distribute their work without the aid of a publisher, which would sometimes be impossible with the strict censorship and decency laws of the time. This D.I.Y spirit is the driving force of the zine community today, but the focus has shifted onto more visual outputs; inevitable with modern printing capabilities and the vast amount (and talent) of illustrators and graphic designers involved in the scene.

There was a lot of interesting points raised during a recent meeting with The Poetry Society, one being the difference between publishing online on a personal blog, and being part of a publication with a bigger picture. Whilst promoting the Pitch In & Publish series of events, I’m hoping writers in particular get involved, as bookleteer has a lot of potential for those who may not be blessed with a wealth of design skills or self-publishing know-how, and being featured in the collaborative zines produced should definitely build budding writers confidence.


Pitch In & Publish

Over the next few months we’ll be hosting a series of one-day zine making events at the Proboscis studio, entitled “Pitch In & Publish”, where anyone can take part in making a collaborative zine using Bookleteer.  The first series will be based on the theme of “City As Material”, explained below by Giles.

“The city has increasingly become not just a stage for creative activities to be presented on but also the material with which creative works are made. Its flows and fabric are now rendered legible by new technologies and social participation that in turn foster diverse conceptions of citizenship and inhabitation. These processes highlight the mutability of “public” and “private” and the sometimes subtle, sometimes swift transformations of social space.

This series will comprise collaborative publications that investigate, intervene within, project upon and play with the notion of the city as material. Each of the events we host will focus around a specific topic as a sight-line for a cross-section, a lens through which to perceive a layer of investigation or framework to play within.

We invite you to join us in a collaborative attempt to peer beneath the surface of the city and explore the forces shaping and shaped by the urban fabric, its inhabitants and energies. In addition to a collaborative publication produced around each topic, we will be encouraging all the participants to create their own personal publications to add to the series.”

Each issue will be inspired by one of these topics: Streetscapes, River, Skyline, Underside and Sonic Geographies.

Tickets to participate are available from here.


single sheet zine

I’ve been focusing on zines with unconventional formats recently, so I thought I would go the reverse way, and share a simple, traditional method of making a mini-zine from a single sheet of paper, with no glue or binding methods needed, just like Bookleteer. I’ve used A4 in this example, which makes a tiny 8 page booklet, perfect for short comics; each page is around the same size as a traditional comic book panel. You can make a 16 page book if you use both sides, but the reader needs to unfold and reverse the paper to read it all.

Start by folding the sheet of paper in half lengthways, then unfold and fold in half the short way, so the creases are along the dotted lines as shown above.

Then fold the edges in towards the center crease, and unfold. There will now be eight panels on the sheet, each one a page.

The bottom left panel will be your back cover, the next along your front cover. The layout of pages one through six are outlined above. Create your work on this template, then photocopy, or scan and print copies, and fold each sheet in the exact same way as the template.

To assemble, cut a slit lengthways along the middle, spanning two panels, as shown. You can use a scalpel, or simply fold the paper in half and cut the length of of one panel with scissors.

Fold the sheet lengthways so the bottom panels are in front, and bring the edges in so it takes the shape of a book.

Ta-dah! Now share.


The shapes of comics to come

The cube comics I looked at in my last post used non traditional page formats, and had an emphasis on physical interaction. Web comics can allow the reader to digitally interact with the story – clicking back and forth between pages, displaying animation and emitting sounds. Those that make use of these features are often dubbed “Hypercomics”, and can even have multilinear yet interrelated storylines. The current exhibition at the Pumphouse Gallery in Battersea Park, London, “Hypercomics: The Shapes Of Comics To Come”, places this digital concept in a physical art gallery, set across different levels, where visitors can actually walk through the story and branch off into multiple storylines.

Dave McKeans piece, “The Rut” uses a wide variety of media to describe a violent assault seen from three perspectives, the story becoming more ambiguous as you are led through the gallery.

This section, particularly the cornices that almost resemble StoryCubes, caught my eye, as it’s yet another example of a three-dimensional comic, this time even moving beyond paper as a medium. The “Shapes” portion of the exhibition title suddenly seems very relevant. I wonder how many more comics will make the transition from printed media to sculpture or gallery installation, and whether it would still be accurate to describe them as comics?