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Triple O.G.

2 June 15 words: Mark Patterson
"Like beautiful books, zines are for holding and enjoying, not for scanning with the eye on a laptop. In that sense they are resolutely 'analogue' products"
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Da Thirst zines
 

When Jake Kent and John Harris first set up their small enterprise, Triple O.G., they operated out of a tiny space upstairs at One Thoresby Street. They took on commissions to design graphic art posters and publications which included a collaboration with Nottingham graphic designer, Alex Walker, where they produced an A4-sized newspapery booklet to accompany the Jeremy Deller-curated exhibition All That Is Solid Melts Into Air at Nottingham Castle. They sold and distributed art zines. Art zine is an inadequate term labelling the vast range of independent magazines, comics and booklets that combine stylish and quirky cartoons, illustrations, graphic art, photography, text and occasionally some high-minded art - they are pouring out of studios and bedrooms across the UK.

Zines are not disposable objects. Because while they are relatively cheap to produce and buy, they are often gorgeous enough – and strange enough - that chucking them into the recycling bin with the Sunday papers isn’t an option. John says there are comparisons with the old punk fanzine movement of the late seventies, which is when rough-hewn but inventive publications such as Sniffin’ Glue and Strangled were literally photocopied and stapled together by hand.

But while the contemporary zine movement has a comparable punk DIY ethic, punk’s brutal collages and Zeroxed black and white pages look like archaeological material when side by side with the digital printing and slick, sophisticated colours of the more ambitious art zines. But many zines are not like that. There are many lo-fi publications using simple pen and pencil drawings and two-colour printing (like Triple O.G.’s own Jeremy Deller booklet). There are hand-made feminist zines, literary zines, travel zines, food zines, cartoony introspective zines and simple graphic art zines with titles such as Slutcake and The Purpose of Life (‘made in a couple of hours’). In fact, it seems as if almost anything goes.

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Dark Sands zine

What surely makes the scene a ‘scene’ and zines ‘a thing’ is that they offer precious independent creative expression outside mainstream publishing and distribution channels. Zines can indeed be seen as partners in the grassroots independent movements among coffee shops and restaurants, art galleries, bookshops, music labels, and fashion design and retail that are all attempting to resist the encroachment of corporate blandness in Nottingham - and the rest of the cosmos. But if they’re not available in your local WHSmith, how do you actually get your hands on a zine? Punk fanzines and the indie music zines which followed in the eighties and nineties could usually be found at gigs and record shops. For art zines - well, start with Google. Yet, while parts of the more flashy zines may translate well to the screen, a big part of zine appeal lies in their printed materiality, such as the texture of the paper, the inventive design across pages and all the extras that come with them - little posters and so on.

Like beautiful books, zines are for holding and enjoying, not for scanning with the eye on a laptop. In that sense, they are resolutely ‘analogue’ products. And to find them, you will still often have to track down a zine creator, attend a specialist zine fair or find a zine retailer, such as Triple O.G. As well as being fans of the zine scene, John and Jake have acted as sellers for a range of publications - first from their cupboard space at One Thoresby Street but latterly from their roomy new home at Backlit Gallery in Sneinton. Their current zine stock includes unforgettably titled F.U.C.K. I.T., Flabby Dagger, War News and Wowee Zonk. Extending their love of the genre in a logical direction, Triple O.G. have also staged a handful of exhibitions. The last one, at Backlit, featured the work of like-minded graphic artist Leon Sadler. More shows are planned. In the meantime we asked Jake and John to tell us about their top five favourite art zines...

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MOULD MAP 3
This is a super sick project - issue 3 is the best and most ambitious so far. It has 35 different artists in it and is printed using Pantone colours - really rich colours, silver, fluorescent orange and red, mustard, etc... The selection of artists and designers is so diverse, ranging from emerging to established and represented artists. It's really refreshing to see artists, cartoonists and designers brought together in this way. Landfill Editions has been publishing since 2009, and have just opened a shop in Nottingham, located inside Syson Gallery, opposite Nottingham Contemporary.
Landfilled Additions website

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DARK SAND
This is a risograph/digitally printed zine published by Bronze Age Editions. We got this through Good Press, Glasgow's best zine outlet. Dark Sand is 36 pages of glitchy, rendered castles and colourful landscapes by Alain Vonck. This was probably the best selling publication at Triple O.G. while we stocked it. It's really visually attractive and doesn't need to do anything else. It’s a good example of Bronze Age Editions as they always release nice, affordable, visually stimulating stuff.
Bronze Age website

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TRIPLE THREAT WRESTLING ZINE PACK
What's more to like than three zines all about wrestling from Shooting Stars Press? Each issue dips into a specific theme devoted to history within wrestling subculture. Single-coloured riso printed may not sound as exciting as Dark Sand or Mould Map, but what you get with these are beautiful, simple illustrations next to some really interesting short texts from various writers. Even if you're not a wrestling fan, this set is for anyone interested in subcultures - or who just wants something that's put together really well but retains a DIY aesthetic.
The Shooting Star Press website

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DISTANCE MOVER COMICS
A series of comics by a Canadian artist, Patrick Kyle. It follows the story of Mr. Earth who can travel worlds in his Distance Mover. Each instalment is self-published in A5 zine format, printed by Patrick on a risograph machine. All of Patrick Kyle's work is peppered with humour and accessible characters that echo people we all know, no matter how abstract they appear in his works. Koyama Press just published the anthology of Distance Mover. Check it out.
Patrick Kyle website

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DA THIRST
A totally insane various artists book, but it's a magazine. It's the collective efforts of Claire Boyd, Matt Copson, Rose Rowson and Alex Springer. We love this, it's funny, it's crass, it's clever. No description can do it justice so maybe just head over to their website and watch their promotional videos (we made a screenshot to tempt you). I think the message here is something like: have fun, make a publication and throw a party to celebrate.
Da Thirst website

 

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