The Smudge vol 5, #4
This latest issue of The Smudge is a special about Beirut, conceived after last summer’s huge explosion that devastated a large area of the city.
Guest editors Perrin Drumm and Beirut-born Tala Safié are New York based, where they collaborated on Eye on Design among other projects. Feeling helpless in the face of the distant disaster, the pair launched the Beirut Editions campaign to raise relief funds (if you joined us for magCulture Live last November you’d have heard all about that initiative).
They approached The Smudge founder Clay Hickson and proposed this Beirut special of his zine.
If you’ve not seen The Smudge before, it’s a politically charged monthly risograph project from Los Angeles with a unique voice on what’s going on in the world. It uses comic humour and wears its point-making lightly, offering a platform for creatives to share their views. ‘We’re not activists, we’re not editors, but we have a printer and we know how to use it,’ is their line.
Other magazines might have more pages and thus more depth, but in the spirit of the sixties counter-culture press, The Smudge celebrates its single-minded messages with expressive zeal across its 12 pages.
Each of those pages feels urgent and important, as it swings from Studio Safar’s metaphorical use of an annotated diagram of a pressure cooker (representing the oppresive Kafala system of migrant slavery, above) to a written piece about Radio al Hara, a radio station linking an unlikely shared audience across the world (below).
Two comic strips highlight the subjective nature of truth in clever ways; Samandal Comics (above) contrast the excitement of raising money for Beirut with a disinterested first date partner (‘Anyway, so your profile said you’re a musican…), the other by Mazen Kerbaj (below) inserts the personal alongside a timeline of Lebanese political history (‘My first war as a dad!’).
Perhaps my favourite page is the cover. First, the Arabic rendering of The Smudge logo, and then the Raphaelle Macron’s illustration.
Like the rest of the issue, it’s printed in warm pink and green, and depicts a street of undamaged apartments with white birds perched on the power ables looping across the air. It exudes peace and optimism, the wishes of those protesting inside the issue.
Editors: Clay Hickson and Lians Jegers
Guest editors: Perrin Drumm & Tala Safié