Went to to an independent publishing fair organised by Publish & Be Damned yesterday. Self-publishing is a precarious business, but I was impressed by the range of work on display. If I’d been a bit more prepared, I might have taken some of my own work along, but it was very much a last minute thing. Although the quality of the publications was pretty varied, I’d like to recommend a number of independent/small press magazines.
Mustard is a not-for-profit comedy magazine that stood out on the basis of actually being funny. It has a good mixture of silly articles, comic strips, fake adverts and stuff, but is perhaps most notable for its featured interviews. The current issue (no.6) features a lengthy talk with Alan Moore about writing for comics, hallucinogenic drugs and learning magic. Previous issues feature Peter Cook, Douglas Adams and Michael Palin. Most of the content is available for free at their website, www.mustardweb.org, but I’d still recommend picking up the print edition if you can.
Diplo first came to my attention while trawling through the shelves at Borders and caught my eye due to the front cover shown here – Tony Blair in the classic Christine Keeler pose. Usually costing ?4 an issue, the very nice editor gave me a copy for free. It’s a very professionally made magazine, both in terms of content and design and it’s well worth a read if you’re looking for an interesting take on current events. There’s a high standard of writing throughout and the page layout manages to enhance the content, rather than obscure it. My one quibble would be that the font size used for the articles is perhaps one point too small, which can make it slightly hard to read. Still, it’s worth the effort, as it contains interesting material from around the world. Their website appears to be down at the moment, but they have a myspace page here.
Pen Pusher gets a mention mainly due to the fact that it’s produced near to my home and is running a campaign to support independent bookshops. I must confess that I found some of the articles a little tweedy for my tastes, but it has a clean, simple finish to its design and will no doubt pick up as time goes on. It’s distributed free to selected bookshops and libraries in London, or you can request a copy here.
Guestroom have released the latest issue of their annual publication, which includes a DVD of short films. Interlude is also worth a look if you’re into abstract, arty stuff. It has a hands-off editorial policy, with authors designing their own pages.
For more information about independent publishing, check out Indy&Ink, the international society of independent publishers. Their website has lots of information about independent magazines and joining the society brings all sorts of benefits if you’re thinking of publishing your own comic/magazine/pamphlet.