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5 Magtastic things: February

5 Magtastic things: February

Here’s the second monthly contribution from our man in New York Andrew Losowsky.

1 / Pillow case talk
2 / A German thing in a box
3 / Printers Row
4 / You've got mail
5 / Quarterly

1 / Pillow case talk

Wayne Alan Brenner is an ambitious man. For this, the third (and apparently last) issue of his annual zine Minverva's Wreck, his annual zine/compilation of Austin-tatiousness is a beaut. It arrives in a pillow case, on which is printed a poem about sleep. Inside continues with the lyricism: inserts small and large, from a sketchbook of waitresses to a CD and a genuine piece of a giant artwork. The main body is a huge-format magazine inside which is a button, a limited edition artwork, interviews, inserts, short stories, poems and best of all, Brenner's own writing.

For though the graphic design is anarchically serviceable at best (and always readable), the man can write. Witness this opening to his interview with master designer Tim Doyle:

He's not a robot; he's not made from the same material as those giant Transformers he enjoys so much. But Tim Doyle, ladies and gentlemen, Tim Doyle is a fucking machine.
That's why the man was able to run three difference comic-book stores at once. That's how he could take the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema's Mondo Tees store and guide it to become the successful, internationally acclaimed graphic-design venture it is today. And that's why, post Alamo, he's achieved the same thing with his own Nakatomi Inc. while helping his wife raise their son and infant daughter and ride herd on what seems to be a constant flood of stray and/or adopted cats.
Because the short, hefty, raven-haired and quick-witted artist, curmudgeon, and serial entrepreneur is a machine.
"Brenner," says Doyle, shaking his head, scooting another cat off his busy drawing table. "I'm not a machine. Dude. I'm just as human as you are."
"Tim," I tell him. "Metaphorically, Tim."
"Brenner," begins Doyle, but… is distracted as two more cats, appearing as if from some eldritch portal, grab hold of a still-wet paintbrush.

And on it goes. There are only 250 copies of Minerva's Wreck issue 3 in existence. I have no idea how much they are, or how you'll get hold of one, but trust me: you want one of them.

2 / A German thing in a box

My first reaction at Bella Triste was "what the hell is this?" My second reaction was, "What the hell IS this??" and, almost simultaneously,‘I like it.’

To call it a German McSweeney's would be to do some of its sensations an disservice. While I do love McSweeney's, I do feel sometimes that its quirkiness is a little cultivated. This box, however, is utterly barking mad. It contains a small cotton bag of two-sided playing cards, a door hanger, various kinds of paper, translucent plastic, posters, a thin-papered poetry selection with varnished fake white-out. One card-based piece has a ball of cotton poking throughout, and one of the pages actually sang at me when I opened it.

Google Translate informs me
that this is Issue 31 of this German literary publication. More La Mas Bella than the Literary Review, its cover price is 15 euros. Even if, like me, you don't speak German, it's worth every penny.

3 / Printers Row
Having identified book lovers as the kind of people who enjoy printed objects, the Chicago Tribune is trialling an interesting idea: a special, printed books magazine as part of membership to a special literary club. I haven't seen the printed version of Printers Row yet, but assuming it will actually happen, the e-version of their preview edition is extremely promising. Next challenge: introduce that thinking and aesthetic into the main paper.

4 / You've got mail
In reaction to the world of digital, there's a lot of interesting mail art that you can subscribe to out there right now. Here's some of the best from my side of the Atlantic to know about/sign up to:
Art Practical magazine is about to embark on an interesting-sounding Mail Art fundraiser throughout the year
Papirmasse sends out beautiful posters with articles on the back
Abe's Penny, the postcard magazine, is getting better and better. Now also available for kids under the lovely monicker Abe's Peanut
The Thing Quarterly is out of most people's budget, but they've managed to maintain their quirk and quality, which is more than I thought they would at launch. If anything, the concept is becoming more clearly defined.
– Excellent online mag The Rumpus will send you a letter written by a well-known author "almost every week".
Quarterly - actually this deserves its own entry.

5 / Quarterly
Zach Frechette was the first Editor in Chief of GOOD magazine, and he's a lovely man. I met him when he came out to Colophon2009, along with fellow beard Casey Caplowe. Zach is now post all things GOOD, and now places good things in the post. You see what I did there?

The premise of Quarterly is rather wonderful - you subscribe not to a publication but to a person. You can choose from a wide variety, and when enough people have been reached, you start to receive selected goodies from them, carefully wrapped in brown paper and accompanied by a beautifully designed explanation of what you're getting. I was fortunate enough to be on the Beta test list, wherein I received from Zach himself an obscure brand of Portuguese toothpaste, a hand-sewn toothbrush, some hard-to-find cocktail cherries, a cocktail jigger and excellent martini recipe, and, best of all for me, the first edition of GOOD magazine, filled with "Directors Cut" Post-It notes pointing out errors, telling skin-of-the-teeth behind the scenes tales, and generally pulling back the curtain with fond nostalgia on the first issue of what was to become a cultural phenomenon among a certain population, and also help lead some of the charge towards fancy infographics over the past few years.

Click here to read about the various, well-chosen contributors.

Whether or not you feel you get your money's worth (at $25 a mailing, it's not cheap) depends on whether you view the subscription to be purely about the objects you get, or the stories that explain them. I'm just sorry that there isn't a bulk rate to get them all.

Andrew will be contributing his monthly selection of finds plus other occasional posts.

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