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Offal #1
Magazine of the Month

Offal #1

A magazine built of leftovers from other projects and designed using Microsoft Word may not sound the most exciting prospect. Yet new launch Offal demonstrates just how useful such limitations can be.

We’ve already featured the new magazine on the Journal with a parody At Work With post a few weeks back. This hinted at the strengths of the new magazine while also introducing the humour baked into it to balance an otherwise serious sense of purpose. I wanted to turn attention back to the actual printed object, so here we are with Offal as our Magazine of the Month for March.

The new mag is a collection of ‘leftovers and experiments’ that haven’t neccesarily found a home elsewhere in print. This means more than just found items, there’s a far more nuanced approach to sourcing than the description implies—the issue includes an excerpt from an overlooked book, a foreword from another book, a new piece of experimental fiction, and an offshoot from a collaborative project with Derek Jarman’s former partner.



Editors Mark Blacklock and Rod Stanley (last seen editing the brilliant Good Trouble) have pulled together this literary mix. It extends into AI experiments with a business proposal to Thom Yorke—‘to ghost-write a pulp sci-fi thriller’ for the Radiohead singer (above)—and a lovely reflection on success and failure from artist/designer Scott King (below), which has been published before, but Stanley explains only in an obscure place, ‘we see that as a sort of rescuing or re-presenting’.



The point of course is the mix: all moods are here. There’s poetry, opera, prose and more. Adhering to the direction of Kurt Schwitters’ rejoinder on the opening page, ‘Everything had broken down in any case, and new things had to be made from the fragments’, Offal is unlike any other literary/arts read we’ve seen recently, and avoids refering to that genre at all. It’s packed with surprises, there is no typical type of story here. A personal highlight is a good example of this: the lyrics to Pete Wylie’s song ‘Big Hard Excellent Fish’, a list (below) of people and things the singer dislikes (Adolf Hitler, the dentist, Terry & June…)


And then there’s the design. Printed only in red and black and presented at paperback size, designers Richard Turley (him again!) and Julia Schafer have limited their options by building the pages in Word rather than InDesign. ‘Driven by a desire for limitations in over-stimulated world’ is how the magazine describes the decision.



Self-imposed limitations can be really useful. Not simply by clsoing down options, but by encouraging the creator to push against the those options. As somebody that hates using Word, I was fascinated to see the results here and surprised by what ws possible. This is perhaps the most intriguing thing about Offal, the way Turley and Schafer have brought their pages to life in Word.



The basic structure of the design is similar to the Turley-designed magazine Heavy Traffic, which I assume is made in InDesign, yet is far simpler in layout. Given Word to work in, Turley and Schafer have taken advantage of anything they can make the word-processing program achieve: reversed out text, rotated blocks, coarse image reproduction. It’s like being limited by xerox or Risograph printing, making the most of a restricted palette (literally, in the way stories altenerate between red and black) and built-in aesthetic of the Word environment to produce something fresh, and best of all, fun.

So… a great read, intriguingly designed. What more do you want from a Magazine of the Month? But be warned if you like your magazines neat and lifestyle-orientated. As it says on the cover, ‘It’s not for everyone.’


Editors Mark Blacklock and Rod Stanley
Designers Richard Turley and Julia Schafer


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Offal #1

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