29 Oct 15 Self-Published Zines and Indie Publications from South Africa
The digital vs. print debate is an ongoing one and while we’re not about to pick sides (we do publish a daily website, after all) there is no denying the magic of print. Being able to interact with words or pictures by physically holding them is a completely different experience to viewing things on a screen. And, as much as things on the digital front continue to develop at a staggering pace, the steady popularity of a more DIY approach to print provides the reassuring proof that it is by no means obsolete. For the love of print, we’ve compiled a list of 15 self-published zines and indie publications which – artworks in their own right – celebrate local creativity.
Zines, books and comics by Jean de Wet
Jean de Wet is an artist, illustrator and a mighty fine zine/comic/book-maker. Inspired by nature and the “general strangeness of the universe and its fabrications”, the whimsical world of Jean’s drawings is populated with abandoned houses, hybrid creatures, monsters, swamps, melting mountains and gadgets used for telecommunication. At the end of each year he compiles a zine called Lunar Fog (the same name given to his fantastic tumblr) which is a personal anthology of sorts featuring previously unseen comics and drawings. A small booklet, Emperors of Space, contains drawings in black risograph ink on assorted blue and pink sugar-paper. Currently Jean is working on part 2 of a 3 part series called Snake in the Well which will be available to purchase soon through his online store.
The driving force behind Prufrock – a literary magazine started by Helen Sullivan (editor) and James King (creative director) just over a year ago – was to bring together, in one place, all of the pieces of South African writing that needed to be read. The magazine’s name is borrowed from the title character of the T.S. Eliot poem depicting a young, self-conscious writer who is very likeable and very human. All of the pieces are intended to be short enough to be read in one sitting (the time it takes to slowly drink a cup of coffee) and the selected submissions include short stories, poetry, non-fiction and photographs.
In the most recent issue of Prufrock, Simone Haysom rolls with the police in Khayelitsha, looking at vigilante violence and the problems with our police, while Liam Kruger meditates on running, writing and the open skies of the Highveld. Rosa Lyster contributed a troubling new essay, “The Flowers of the Revolution” – a must-read. There’s also a bombastic erotic fiction from Wamuwi Mbao and Nozizwe Herero, and poetry from new-old hand Eugenia Keke, veteran Douglas Reid Skinner, and the Caine-nominated Efemia Chela. Prufrock can be bought from selected stockists all around SA, or purchased online here.
It was last year that Illana Welman (better known to some as Lani Spice) became interested in photo zines and was inspired by creatives who were “going at it on their own” and independent publishing groups celebrating the beauty and life of print. Finding herself surrounded by plenty of talented artists she wanted to do something collaborative and so Tow Aways, a film photography zine, was born.
The first edition was launched in June and features the photographs of 13 South African artists including Black Koki, Ello Xray Eyez, John Second, Melissa Williams, Danielle Clough, Laura Windvogel and Andrew Turpin. The latest zine is Tow Aways: Boys Edition featuring Justin Poulter, Kent Andreasen and Thoman Pepler – 3 local male artists who share their world through analog photography. Each with a different approach, the edition is a beautiful collection of images and will be officially launched at Clarkes / The Pit for RVCA First Thursdays in December. Next, Illana plans to put together a girls edition with a similar focus.
Read an interview with Illana about Tow Aways.
Assorted zines by Lady Skollie
Laura Windvogel, aka Lady Skollie, is well-known as a stylist, film photographer and artist. She paints what she calls “slightly offensive watercolors”, which explore sexuality, and how people react to the depiction thereof. Last year she launched her first ever sex ‘zine called Kaapstad Kinsey and for this, she asked readers of her blog/friends/strangers 5 prying questions about their past sexual experiences, which she then interpreted visually. Her other zines include Ex Etiquette: a breakdown of breakups and I Once Dated: a retrospective of relationships.
Bikini Shark by Hugh Upsher
The Bikini Shark zine is sexy and dangerous in the same way a stampeding horse is, or a pissed up divorcee or, even, a shark wearing a bikini. With two volumes out so far and another to follow early next year, the project is Fine Art graduate Hugh Upsher‘s first foray into print and serves as a vehicle for him to deliver his “warped observational ideas to the public.” The zines each consist of thirty hand scripted pages which, apart from exploring the fine art of toilet humour, cover a wide set of themes including music, marketing, politics, notsalgia and sports. Bikini Shark is currently stocked at Clarke’s Book Shop (Long Street) and Clarke’s Diner & Bar (Bree Street) in Cape Town.
Jungle Jim is a bi-monthly illustrated pulp fiction magazine showcasing imagination-driven, genre-inspired stories by African writers – founded in 2011 by award-winning director and writer Jenna Bass and illustrator and graphic designer Hannes Bernard. The duo describe it as bizarre, provocative, thrilling and extreme and they seek stories that explore the collision between the visceral darling of pulp and the reality of living in Africa. Jungle Jim is a exploration not only of fantastic fiction, but of the boundaries of cultural mash-ups and cheap, creative DIY publishing. The magazine is distributed internationally in print and digital formats, promoting new stories and pictures from across the continent and diaspora. Find Jungle Jim at The Book Lounge, Clarke’s Books and Blank Books in Cape Town or online on Amazon Kindle.
Read an interview with Jenna and Hannes as part of our 2014 Young South Africa series.
AERODROME celebrates words and people: the people who write them, the people who edit them, the people who read them. They do so by publishing interviews, reviews, extracts and original creative writing online and, since September, in print as well. The first issue of the aerodrome/JOURNAL showcases their favourite pieces published on the site during its first year, as well as some fresh content that hasn’t been featured yet. In this edition you can expect to find feature interviews with travel writer Paul Theroux, novelist Damon Galgut and poet and literary agent Isobel Dixon. There are also interviews in which Zapiro and novelist Zoe Wicomb talk about their working lives, artist Judith Mason discusses her reading habits and Laurence Hamburger discusses his book of newspaper posters called “Frozen Chicken Train Wreck”. On the fiction and poetry side of things the contributors include Tendai Huchu, Nick Mulgrew, Faith Chaza and Megan Ross. And finally, there are plenty of book reviews encompassing everything from OCD and Cape Malay cooking to Zimbabwean fiction and eco-poetry. aerodrome/JOURNAL is stocked at Fourthwall Books (where a launch event is being held on 1 November) and Love Books in Joburg, and stores such as Clarke’s and The Book Lounge in Cape Town. A total of 300 copies have been printed and a few of these are available to purchase from AERODROME directly. You can find out more about stockists and how to order here.
Happy Circle: smart peddlers by Atang Tshikare
Happy Circle: smart peddlars is a zine by artist and designer Atang Tshikare, who recently hosted a zine workshop as part of Alphabet Zoo’s Johannesburg Street event. Atang’s ‘alternative cycling manual’ is filled with illustrations of imaginary bicycles – one that’s unusually tall, one optimized for delivering ice cream – and each drawing is paired with a short description or story.
The Lake magazine
Headed up by Stefan Naude, The Lake magazine is a bi-monthly publication that launched in August. Looking at South African creatives and what they do, The Lake aims to create popular culture rather than follow it. Going forward, the magazine will function as a platform for the multiple talents – young and old – across the cultural facbric of our diverse society.
The first edition titled The Office Smells Like Ink features interviews with Sannie Fox, Lorcan White, Gavin Morgan and Nic Grobler and showcases Lani Spice, Golden Animals and Ian Engelbrecht. The editorial content includes photography, vinyl reviews and investigative journalism. Their manifesto reads: “The time is at hand. The time is now. Let new ideas (as incomprehensible as they seem) take precedence over all for the future is a time for drastic change. Those not willing to strive for the new will be lost with the old.”
Graflit, “Urban Interiors”
Graflit is a collaborative enterprise, consisting of both a contemporary graphic literature publication and a closely linked exhibition/comic arts event – each aiming to promote local comic artists and develop a greater sense of comic art and appreciation in the mind of the South African public. Following the success of last year’s launch, the 2014 instalment holds the title of “Urban Interiors” and was compiled with the city of Cape Town as its theme.
The Graflit team consists of SA comic guru Andy Mason, artist Keda Gomes, illustrator Jean de Wet (who printed the interior pages of the anthology on his Risograph printing machine) and graphic novelist Su Opperman. A total of 100 copies in black & white only were made, containing approximately 20 self-standing graphic narratives from local artists like Gerhard Human, Ben Winfield, Theodore Key and featuring cover art by Hanno van Zyl. The coinciding exhibition was held at the Youngblood Gallery in September.
Coping with Dumb by Martin Mezzabotta
Aside from having a ridiculously fun-to-say surname, we don’t know much about Martin Mezzabotta other than these facts: he studied film and media at UCT, regularly comments on evolution, he draws very well and, he’s more than proficient in the art of zine-making. Case in point is Coping with Dumb, a 20 page black and white ‘lowbrow parody’ zine with a 3-colour hand printed cover. The zine includes the business secrets of the Pharoahs, plans for a working fartorium, a rap song written at the age of 16 and a set of trump cards featuring pageant moms.
Artwolfe is a self-published zine about art and performing arts in Namibia. It was born out of a desire to create something inclusive, something that would allow people to air their views on the crazy, cantankerous, young and confusing art scene in Namibia. It’s a pretty striking view and, with very little being done to document it, Artwolfe is stepping in to fill this gap. Each black and white printed issue contains reviews, articles, pictures, features and interviews – co-ordinated by a small team of 4, who are currently split between Namibia and SA. They are: Helen (who does the layout), Nicky (who handles everything online), Katie (who proofreads and corresponds) and Rob (who writes and encourages – they call it “Robitism”).
As the Artwolfe team have backgrounds in different disciplines themselves, the zine covers visual art as well as all forms of performance to highlight the variety that exists in Namibia’s local art scene. “Artwolfe is a collaboration,” they say. “It exists only because multiple parties want it to. Writers want to write, readers want to read, and we want to make zines and get them out to people. We get a thrill from the thrill people get when they realise they’ve been published – yes, appearing in Artwolfe counts as being published. We also get a thrill from the criticisms and compliments we receive on a daily basis, because they let us know that we’re causing some kind of stir.” Artwolfe is sold all over Windhoek for 5 Namibian Dollars and will soon be available in Cape Town, or you can read the articles online.
Bat Butt & Eurovision 78
With its first issue brought together by Shaun Hill, Candice Bondi, Jarryd Kin, Daniel McCauley and Jesse Coetsee it’s unlikely that Bat Butt & Eurovision 78 could have been anything but awesome. The 30 page, A6 zine is filled with comics and illustrations and though issue 1 is now out of stock the second issue, which is halloween themed, will be out soon. Keep an eye on Bat Butt and Eurovision 78 on Instagram for sneak peeks and updates.
In 1995 Garth Walker published the first issue of the experimental design magazine ijusi – a passion project in the truest sense which aims to encourage and promote a visual design language rooted in our own South African experience. From its onset ijusi showcased a burgeoning South African visual culture, which has come to be recognised for its quality and diversity worldwide. Each issue since has contributed to the ongoing discourse surrounding representation and identity in South Africa, specifically within the context of Graphic Design, Illustration, Typography, Writing, and Photography. Despite having a print-run in the low hundreds, ijusi has attained something of a cult status and has a worldwide following.
A few highlights over the years include Issue #6 (V8 Power), which was created in Garth’s mind while doing a workshop with Milton Glaser in New York. Another, Issue #11 (Typografika 1), won a Grand Prix at the Loeries and of it Jury Chair Brain Webb remarked, “I came to South Africa to see something I’ve not seen before. And this is it.” Issue #24 (South African Stories) published stories by local writers and designers. Issue #29 (The Mandela Issue) is the latest and pays tribute to our nation’s iconic hero. Snippets from each issue can be viewed online here.
In 2010 ijusi magazine formed an ongoing collaboration with Rooke Gallery, launching the limited edition ijusi Portfolio which are comrpised of 10 printed lithographs comprised of key works by selected artists featured in the magazine.
Read an interview with Garth Walker about founding Africa’s first experimental design magazine, ijusi.
This list wouldn’t be complete without Alphabet Zoo – a grassroots, Jozi-rooted street culture zine which began in 2010 and is run by a duo of traditional printmaking artists: Minenkulu Ngoyi and Isaac Zavale. The project invites collaboration from talented young artists, illustrators, publishers and designers through regular events like Make More Zines and most recently, Johannesburg Street at the Goethe Institute which included an exhibition, silk screen and illustration workshops and zine reviews.