I don’t know whether people still produce fanzines or not, but Kek-W is so tired of writing online that he has decided to produce one. Or rather, as he calls it, an analogue blog.
Titled Kid Shirt, this is basically a physically constructed fanzine involving actual cut and paste, which has then been scanned as a PDF for anyone to download. He sets out his rationale in the first pages:
Just like fanzines of old, this analogue blog contains lots of musicians you’ve probably never heard of. However, worthy of note is the strange hybrid between digital accoutrements and physical form, and the over laps in different media that Kek-W has deliberately exploited. For example, posts become pastes, and ‘previous’ and ‘next’ buttons simply indicate what direction you need to go in: they aren’t buttons at all. Further to this, comment fields remain empty because the PDF you download is a static, non-interactive document.
It is interesting to note the “proper writing” comment in the introduction, (see below), as I wonder whether the lack of audience right to reply to the text, frees up the writer. It could also be considered in direct contrast to the Guardian’s current Open Journalism campaign, which is something I could applaud if I hadn’t read many of the idiotic comments left on the Guardian website by knee-jerk reactionaries.
Aesthetically, Kid Shirt completely shreds any signs of slickness, despite the whole having a lo-fi sophistication. This, in my opinion, is all part of the publication’s charm. On his digital blog, also titled Kid Shirt, Kek-W states: “Download it, print it off, staple it together, read it like a fanzine… Or…if you’re a MediaKid, use a PDF-reader, dump it onto your tablet, whatever,” before going on to vehemently disclaim any responsibility for it not working on different platforms because his call for testers was ignored. The punk attitude he displays is more than a visual style, evidently.
In fact, it is with this in mind that I was reminded of an article in Eye 82, whereby Rick Poyner wrote about British artist Laura Oldfield Ford’s Savage Messiah fanzine. He stated that the, “visual style is a kind of reclaimed punk that recalls the anarchic graphics of Crass,” (while completely forgetting to name check Gee Vaucher, the artist behind Crass’ visual output, in the process). Well, while there are similarities between Savage Messiah and Kid Shirt in terms of the crude nature of the layout and artwork, this is much more intriguing to me, as the narrative of online publishing has been used which takes this beyond mere pastiche, as could be claimed of Ford’s work. While much less political in terms of content than Savage Messiah, Kek-W is more oppositional as these virtual signifiers are détournements, that add a critique of contemporary publishing, something that affects all who dabble in online social networking. Ford’s anachronistic visual style potentially distracts from her important messages, where as Kek-W’s is at its heart.