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Green Light in the City

Hand Job Zine

1 August 14 words: Robin Lewis

We speak to the creators of the best named zine around

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Treat yourself to a Hand Job

What made you start up Hand Job?
We started Hand Job mainly because of the content that goes into literary magazines in general. You seem to get either bored middle class people writing poems about knitting and bullshit or pretentious arseholes writing words that sound nice and poetic but in the end are hollow. So really, we looked at the magazines desperately trying to find something good to read and contribute to, but in the end we came to the conclusion that we could do it better ourselves.

Why a zine? What can you do in a zine that you can't do anywhere else?
The zine format is cheap and easy to print and produce ourselves, we make it in this format so the writing does not get drowned in the internet, because when you read something online you don't really take it all in. You are bombarded with information and adverts everywhere, making it hard to concentrate on one thing, whereas when you have a hard copy of a zine you can sit down and really enjoy it.  But also, the fact that we print and produce the zines ourself means that we can say what we want to say without having to dilute anything. We can distribute them anywhere we like, you could find one just as easily floating around a pub in Notts as online.

What's the ethos of Hand Job?
The zine is presented as an anarchist literary zine but we don't play too heavily on the anarchist side, this isn't a political venture trying to push a view point down your throat. More a little slice of freedom in a barmy, repressed world.

We are trying to get as many voices from around the UK as we can to represent the fairly unheard of. Coming from a small mining village on Notts I get this big style. The pits were already closed directly around me growing up, we lived in the shadows of this tombstone. It's such a symbol, such a scenario to be set in but sadly not seen or represented. This is just one example but there are so many more things that we need to show.

It's all very DIY and we're not in this for any money. We enjoy putting it together and getting them out there to help our contributors and show the world good writing.

What's your favourite thing you've put in an issue so far?
It's hard to pick just one thing as we carefully pick our writing and artwork and truly care about what goes on our pages. One thing that sticks in our mind though is one of our regular contributors, Raif Mansell, his style is very fitting towards our zine in its starkly realist representation and observations of life. One of his Skaters and Soldiers is in issue four. It focuses around a man watching the general happenings of a street from a coffee shop as it all erupts into chaos.

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Issue 2: Crackin' Hand Job

Talk us through the process of putting an issue together. How much elbow grease is involved?
We start by selecting the writing from the submissions we receive, and from that it's all pretty much cutting out and pasting by hand. We like the zine to have a real hand-made texture to it, 1) because it is and 2) to make the reader feel like they are holding a piece of graft, something that has been produced by real people like them. Sometimes we get artists to illustrate stories/poems, other times we get standalone pieces. It's a lot of work just deciding which piece will go where so that the zine flows evenly and works best for our contributors work. Once the master copy is put together we then individually scan each page (which sounds nothing but with a bunch of flimsy cut outs of paper that do not want to lay flat, can be difficult) then move on to printing each zine on our little HP office printer (there is a lot of flipping involved). Lastly we hand stitch all the zines together using a sewing needle and some thread, sometimes hundreds at a time, which can be a real ball ache as well. But we wouldn't change it for the world.

You went to the Nottingham Zine Fest last year. Is there a thriving Nottingham zine scene?
With things like zines there is not so much of a 'scene' as much as people doing their own thing, there are these people everywhere you just have to look harder to find them. We have recently been involved with other literary zines across the UK that are doing the same thing but they are few and far between. This year Nottingham zine fest is moving to a bigger venue with readings and generally more stuff happening so hopefully we will get to meet even more local zine makers.

Do you have some submission guidelines, or does anything go?
Anything does go within reason. If it's too long then obviously we won't have the space, but we don't want to put a cap on things. I hate when a magazine has a stupidly low word limit, like a thousand words, so if you think it'll fit send it over. We're not really into knitting, pornography (despite what you think with the name) or experimental stuff to the extent that it's just meaningless words put together. We like writing that either has something to say for itself or is just a nice story, really. We're not the kind of people to say 'Well, what did the character learn?' Sometimes in life interesting shit happens and it don't change you one diddly!

The main guideline is that it's UK submissions only.

Where can people pick up a copy of your zine?
Online is your best bet, we have distributed a load here and there. We're hoping to get them going in a few independent shops but so far we've had a few issues with the name (cry-babies).

Just drop us an email and we'll send you a Hand Job!

What's in the next issue?
So far we've got a poem about the acid house era by Joseph Ridgwell, a fantastic cockney writer. We're still receiving submissions as it's not long been the release of issue five, but it will be coming together slowly but surely over the next month. People can keep up to date with the process on wordpress and if anyone has anything to send us over please feel free to. We'd love to see what you have to offer.

Send submissions to h[email protected]

Hand Job Zine

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