Launching with the theme ‘Anger,’ the first issue of Anxy reflects the developing political climate, though editor Indhira Rojas writes in her introduction that they always intended this as their first topic, even before the events in America and around the world over the last year.
I’ve been looking forward to seeing the magazine ever since they hit their Kickstarter target. Promising a ‘bi-annual publication exploring mental health through an artful and creative lens,’ I was eager to see how it could apply an alternative angle to such a sensitive topic. Mental health has quietly become a significant topic in indie mags recently, from Manchester’s Nous zine to other recent launch Torchlight, while titles such as Doll Hospital, Polyester and Ladybeard have focused on the female experience of mental illness.
Anxy offers a broader perspective; the headlines are simple and inviting, the form is brief and the work is individual, inclusive and socially aware. The smart design, intelligent visuals and strong writing really explore the theme broadly. From shop workers (above, illustrated by Ana Popescu) to prisoners, everyone's experience is validated and heard. Throughout, there is a concerted effort to relate the internal problems so many of us face to the real world, and little jargon.
The theme is illustrated in suitably spiky fashion on the front cover by Jason English Kerr (top), and on the back (above) by Rose Pilkington (who also worked Ladybeard’s Mind issue).
The many contributors delve into recent news to what we can learn from our traumatic times. May Wilkerson’s piece about gaslighting (above) is a good example of this, intelligently tying together the general and the personal and reminding us that illness need not be self-inflicted.
A highlight of the issue is Melissa Spitz’s series of photographs of her mentally ill mother (above and below). We see how such illness can lead to alcoholism and really test close relationships; from an early age Spitz learned to cope with abuse. Her concise captions are tight and honest without being overly critical or exploitative. Through such work, Anxy is adding to the discussion, presenting accessible work that dispels stigma and make you rethink your assumptions.
Where the magazine stretches its theme a little too far for me is in a few lifestyle features, like this Taxonomy of Angry Music (above). I can see what they’re trying to do, to lighten the mood, but it feels a little thin and distracts from the much better material elsewhere. An interview with author Margaret Atwood is much more on point, her advice on managing anger genuinely useful as she refuses to bow to the easy narrative of anger against the new right wing leaders of the west.
At its best, Anxy helps us understand that mental health doesn’t have an on-off switch, and we can all learn from understanding better our responses to the pressures and situations we find ourselves in.
Indie mags are sometimes criticised for not getting the details right – unavoidably low budgets can mean poor detailing – but this one arrives punching above its weight, so is our Magazine of the Week. It brings together a great selection of writers, photographers and illustrators to produce a magazine that more than matches the Kickstarter promises.
Founder/creative director: Indhira Rojas
Editor-in-chief: Jennifer Maerz
Design and art direction: Alma Avila & Livia Foldes
magCulture Meets Anxy takes place at our London shop on 15 June. Tickets available soon.