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notts zine library

Updated: Jun 15, 2019

While at Nottingham Contemporary checking out the newly opened Elizabeth Price and Daniel Steegmann Mangrané exhibitions, I decided to nip into the Notts Zine Library to see what they'd got - although I follow their account on instagram I wanted to see the zines myself in person! I seemed to gravitate towards the illustration or graphic novel zines most; here are just some of my favourites and my thoughts on them!

The first zine I found really interesting was this one, La Mano Del Hombre:

I really love the whole simplicity and naivety of the illustrations here. They have a very rough and expressive feel to them, while still being really interesting; I also love that the character has a clear sense of identity and individuality purely due to his giant moustache, bald head and spear. I especially love the page of him jumping, flying and landing and how he is simply repeated over and over without being placed in separate panels- it's a really interesting way to communicate a montage like feel, or representing speed. This zine really helped me to think about simplicity and how things don't always have to be overly pretty to be a strong visual communicator. I also really love the added bonus of the more detailed portrait on the back of the zine- this helps to create a sense of what the character would look like up close without the creator having to draw him in such detail inside the zine. I also really appreciate the stripped back colour palette as it really helps to make the whole zine feel cohesive, while being more interesting than an entirely monochrome zine. The handwritten type also adds to the whole naive feel of the zine rather than contrasting it with computerised typefaces.

The next zine I spotted was Overload:

The cover of this zine stood out to me from across the room, so much so that I felt the need to reach up to the top shelf and grab it despite my lack of height. I really loved the striking colour palette, particularly as the cover was predominantly black, standing out from the other zines which had mostly white or light coloured covers. The pink stands out really well from the black though and completely drew me in given my love for all neon and bright colours. I love the range of illustration styles in this zine; particularly the graphic novel style of the cycling rat and and the abstract style of pink wobbly elephants. I also really liked the unrestrained nature of the zine: sometimes I feel that my work can be stiff or too restrained, especially in editorial work as I like to use page headers and footers a lot, whereas here there is no real grid system, page numbers or order to look at the pages in. This was a really inspiring piece, especially in encouraging me to work on group ventures such as a zine.

My last favourite was this one, Fat Wizard:

I'm a sucker for comics and graphic novels so when I spotted someone else reading this one and noticed the very defined panels, I knew I needed to take a look. Despite this being a purely monotone zine, I really love the illustration style and the use of shading to create contrast, drawing the eye to particular panels. I especially really love the page of 15 square panels with the wizard's face being repeated over and over again with slightly different expressions and objects floating around his head- it honestly looks more like an in depth storyboard than a comic to me but the fact that the time was taken to draw each panel is really admirable to me. Although this was probably the most uniform zine from the ones I picked up, I really love the attention to detail in the storytelling aspect here. Unlike other zines which are much more experiential and abstract, this one creates a strong narrative - and with little to no text, too. I really appreciate the lack of text here as it forces the reader to look at each panel and read the actions and emotions of the characters rather than being told what they're thinking through speech bubbles. It also means that more individual panels are required in order to demonstrate actions and movements so that they are understood properly, but I like this.

From my visit to the notts zine library, I've gathered that I definitely have a strong taste for comics that isn't necessarily being satisfied. I should put more effort into finding and buying comics to read more often- or just keep visiting the zine library and find more comic-style gems to read and appreciate, as I really feel that I would like to try and create a comic as one of my second (or third) year projects. Creating a comic is something which I tried countless times to do as a child but could never actually finish, so it would be a great accomplishment to do- but I need more inspiration and techniques to draw from first.

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