Comics, Cubed

In my last post I looked at how handmade zines could be made in ways that were impossible to recreate digitally, which led me to discover a handful of comics that exist in three dimensions.

Warren Craghead’s  “A sort of Autobiography” is a comic spanning ten StoryCubes, each detailing a decade of his life, and possible future life. Its interesting that this was reviewed as a comic in its own right by Warren Peace, despite being hosted online by Diffusion, rather then distributed in print.

“Pandora’s Box” by Ken Wong, retells the Greek Myth on a cube which readers must open to continue the story.

Contending with the rise in popularity of web comics, and the theory of the “infinite canvas” (i.e the size of a digital comics page is theoretically infinite, allowing an artist to display a complete comics story of indefinite length on a single page),  these works make use of space, a concept that can be imitated, but not recreated, on a computer screen. Whilst web comics allow readers to digitally interact, readers can physically interact with and manipulate three-dimensional comics; an entirely different reading experience.


Handmade Zines

Although the new digital age has made making a zine incredibly easy, especially with tools such as bookleteer, I thought I would take a look at the other end of the spectrum; handmade zines. Many still continue to design and assemble their zines by hand, some eschewing a computer entirely, simply photocopying pages, or even reproducing every copy by hand, often resulting in some amazingly intricate and unique creations. This opposition to the digital format seems to inspire a much more elaborate aesthetic, and many zines would be impossible to recreate digitally, save for the new wave of pop-up e-Books and iPhone apps, recently featured by Karen.

Some exceptional examples of handmade zines…

Abbey Hendrickson, Andrew Neyer, Evah Fan

… and pretty much everything else in the handmade section on Book By Its Cover. Beautiful.

Obviously, the only way to distribute these is by hand or post, and therefore swapping zines with other makers is a staple of the scene. Knowing firsthand the amount of care and skill that has been lavished on these, surely adds another level of appreciation for the work, something I doubt sending an eBook zine could match, sadly. I’ll be writing about the impact the digital format has had on the zine aesthetic, and how they are shared, soon.

publishing on demand

Physical Vs Virtual Library?

Hello! I’ve been at Proboscis for just over a month now, under the Future Jobs Fund placement scheme. I’ll be contributing regularly to the Bookleteer blog during my time here, mainly topics relating to my own interests; independent literary publications and the D.I.Y attitude that inspires them.

During my research into how Bookleteer might be used in the D.I.Y publishing community, particularly zines, (independent publications with a small circulation) I stumbled across several zine libraries, collections that have been created by, donated to, or purchased by the curators. These prove to be a fascinating archive of creativity and talent, often perfectly capturing the zeitgeist at the time of publication. A zine library is an important concept, as zines are generally not designed to be preserved. Most have very small (many in the hundreds at most) one-off print runs, due to costs of production, small specific audiences, and their transitory nature.

Zineopolis, housed within the University of Portsmouth, was started after a group zine project by Illustration Degree students. Although currently only accessible by students of the university, there is a comprehensive online index, with previews of the publications.

The Women’s Library at the London Metropolitan University has a collection of zines created by women, spanning a wide range of topics, particularly feminism, and has some examples of the Riot Grrl movement.

56a Infoshop Social Centre has an archive of zines related to revolutionary politics, women, and gay issues.

These are all physical collections, and can only be read on-site, unfortunately. If these zines were scanned and uploaded to the Diffusion library as eBooks, they could be read and recreated by anyone, then recirculated, either via sending the file, or by print. Future zine creators, using Bookleteer, can offer their zine as an online eBook, sharing it with interested parties or sending to distant locales where it can be distributed, in places where large scale printing and binding is not possible or viable, or the content is hampered by censorship.

I’ll be exploring how the digital format will impact the current zine aesthetic, as well as looking at zines that are already being produced as e-books, and their reception by the community, in the near future.

Zines at Zineopolis