Saturday, 16 June 2018

My Fanzine

The Vile Fanzine

This year, the Vile Arts will be producing some fanzines, with financial help from artists who will be featured. This page explains the idea behind the fanzine, and gives a rough idea of what it might look like.

Why am I doing this?

In the past, I have done a 'dramaturgy database' - free to be included, and all a company had to do was answer a series of email questions. It was a great success, allowing artists to speak on their own terms about their show, and giving me a really good idea about which shows were well-considered and vibrant productions, and those made by lazy chancers. I also found out that some PRs are really lazy and don't reply to theatre editors, despite claiming to represent clients.

I've stopped that now, because it was too much work for no pay, didn't get used enough on social media by the artists (a few did, but it was obvious in the number of hits who didn't), and I don't need it for my research anymore.

But I am keen to develop my publishing skills this year. So, the fanzine is a solution. I am giving artists a chance to support criticism, and possibly have a lovely souvenir of their time at the 'venal pit of depravity'. There are a few other reasons, but I'll get back to them.

What will it look like?

Ideally, each issue - I shall do up to four, depending on support - will be 24 pages long. The cover will be colour- and have a lovely illustration on it. The inside pages will be in black and white, to keep costs down.

It will be the size of a comic book.

Ideally, each issue will contain four articles of five pages about four companies. That gives me a spare page for a editor's note (by me or one of my critic pals), and sundry acknowledgements. 

The articles will be a similar format to the old dramaturgy database: email interview, press release... and no critical comment from me. It has the same intention as the DD - to let artists speak in their own voice. There will be pictures, too, and probably some of my comic book detournements.

This fanzine will be paid for by contributions from the featured artists. The payment is not for inclusion, but the cost of printing: they will receive a number of copies, proportionate to the amount that they pay. 

The cost to artists will be in multiples of £130. For each £130, the artist will get 90 copies of the fanzine, which they can distribute in any way they chose. They can sell it at their shows for a couple of quid or so, maybe £2.50. They can give them away in the street instead of flyers. And yes, they will be supporting themselves and the other featured artists. That is what I like: artists helping each other.

There are possible ways of doing this at lower rates: a couple of shorter articles, say 2 pages, for a lower financial contribution and less copies received (perhaps 45 copies for £65). But the important thing is that the payment is for printing and production costs: the fanzine is being made for the companies to distribute. Overall, I want to be able to do reasonable sized runs - it gets very expensive making runs of less 100 copies. 

The cash will go towards paying me a fee, paying other writers I ask to contribute and printing. I hope to give a contribution to Troy Deeney's Foundation, if it is still going, or another charity, but that will be small. I'd encourage artists who sell their copies to give the Foundation any profits, but only if they recoup their costs first. 

It is about co-operation!

I am not taking adverts, because they are better placed in The List. I won't be quoting other critics in the articles, either. But I like the idea that artists can make an effort to support a bit of critical experimentation, and get a nice thing to have as a kind of programme for their show, and can actually, by distributing the fanzine, show solidarity with other artists, whom they have probably never even met but with whom they will share the pain of the Fringe experience.

The Cost

I am worried about that - it might seem a bit steep. And I am not even doing much distribution myself (I might do a bit with the copies that I have myself, but it is not a skill I want to develop. It's the project managing and the design I am all about). But that's why I don't mind people deciding to sell them. That way, they can recoup their expenditure. But each £130 pays towards a print run of at least 400 copies. That means 400 issues featuring a four page (comic book sized) article about the show, and I reckon they are pretty rare in the Fringe. 

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