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Rubbish FAMzine #10

Rubbish FAMzine #10

The annual issue of this beautiful, hand-finished publication is always a highlight on our schedule. This tenth issue was planned as a reflection on the passing of time; the intended process was hijacked by the Coronavirus, but the issue is perhaps all the better for that.

Produced by the Lim family in Singapore – mum Claire, dad Pann, daughter Aira and son Renn – the publication has recorded their lives together for the best part of ten years. What started as a souvenir of their family trip to Tokyo in 2013 has grown issue by issue into an annual extravaganza of storytelling and finishing techniques.

The family collaborate on the themes, ideas and their execution; each issue sees the children grow up a little as the magazine acts as a supercharged family photo album sharing their lives together – favourite TV, films, food, music…

That first issue was to be repeated for issue 10, with another group trip to Tokyo; but Coronavirus prevented travel just as they were due to leave.

The solution? Bring Tokyo to Singapore, and use the original pages of the first issue as the basis for the new issue. Stickers and rubber-stamped messages are added, new images tipped in, all in typical Rubbish FAMzine fashion.

Subtitled ‘No Time for Melancholy’ the result addresses the potential problem of the children growing up and losing interest in the magazine head on, by having the entire family look back and respond to the original issue. Hence the Melancholy-tinged title.

This page (above) is typical; the paper has been carefully aged to imply this is actually an old, original, issue. The edges are tatty and faded, the base replicating exactly the original page: a photo of Aira is accompanied by a QR code linking to a Killers song on YouTube. A new flouro green sticker is attached, updating her preference to Queen, with a new link to Spotify.

Elsewhere, simpler updates using emoji stickers and mini portraits update the stories (above).

This image epitomises the fun the family have had looking back; the children recreate an image wearing the same (now tiny) jackets (above); lift the tipped in image to see the original (below). Note the word ‘Still’ added in front of the original caption.

Growing up is treated seriously too; here (below) the original story concerned a tiny Aira feeling (and looking) tired on holiday; the addition here shows her as a young woman reading with a coffee, a grown-up solution for tiredness.

Issue nine of the FAMzine was more flambouyant; this is more subtle. It shares the familiar graphics and typography – it’s instantly recognisable – but the mood is more gentle, a really intelligent step forward for the project. Not that it isn’t any less spectacular as an object – Pann tells me each copy took 40 minutes to put together, ‘I could only do about three zines in two hours lol!’

There’s a brief reference to Coronavirus (above), a rare example of exterior forces imposing on the family life the publication celebrates. Set against the original discovery of a Japanese accessories shop named ‘Claire’s’, the shiny gloss paper is at odds with the rest of the issue and reminds us, ‘C is also sadly for Coronavirus,’ with a brief explainer for future readers. Note the added rubber-stamped virus particles.


The issue arrives wrapped together with a series of miniature reproductions of items the family brought back from their trip to Japan (above), and a Rubbish-branded Casio digital watch, as brought back from Japan by Pann in 2013. The watch is used to seal the magazine closed.

The issue is a double-layered masterpiece. The original stories set the emotional tone – the delightful combination of wit and love – for subsequent issues, and still stand up today.

The additon of the second layer, responding to the first, enriches every aspect of the original edition, and is a brilliant reminder of the power of print. Would Pann, Claire, Renn and Aira have been able to revisit an eight year old website and respond in anything like such an meaningful way?




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