OK Festival: A Treasure Trove of Indie Magazines

Cover of a recent issue of Cut Magazine

This weekend, Villa Sonsbeek in The Netherlands hosts O.K. Festival: 3 Days of Magazines, an event curated by O.K Parking.  The weekend promises workshops, lectures, more than 100 independent magazines and a dance party at the event’s conclusion. The festival’s mission statement feels like coming home: “Under the title ‘Welcome Magazines,’ O.K. Festival presents the energy and the visual explosion of strange, beautiful and original magazines. One by one they present an answer to the uniformity of the mass media. The printed media are falling victim to increasingly strict formats. Sales figures reign. In the gaping hole they leave behind the independent magazine manifests itself. Everything that is excluded by the mainstream media finds its place here.”

Panels include “On the Value of Independent Magazine Culture,” “What Drives Magazine Makers?” “Editor vs. Designer,” “Ten Moments in Magazine History”  and, of course, “Surviving in Print.” There are also a couple of hands-on workshops, such as “Making a Magazine with Stencilprinting.” If only we’d heard about this festival sooner! If we’re lucky, recordings of the panels might be available on the O.K. Festival Vimeo page, which currently houses a couple of interviews with festival participants.

Even if you’re nowhere near The Netherlands, the O.K. Festival website is still a fantastic resource for discovering new magazines. A couple of new-found brothers and sisters:

At first sight, Sang Bleu is all about tattoos, body modification and fetish, but Sang Bleu offers more than that. It provides a precise insight into modern urban society. That is why art, fashion, sociology and literature are also featured in Sang Bleu.

Dabireh is a Collective of young Iranian graphic designers who share a passion for calligraphy and typography and have a keen interest in the history and theories of Persian language and writing system.

Lumpen Magazine. lum·pen adj. 1. Of or relating to dispossessed, often displaced people who have been cut off from the socioeconomic class with which they would ordinarily be identified: lumpen intellectuals unable to find work in their fields. A member the underclass, especially the lowest social stratum. 2. Vulgar or common; plebeian

Anorak. The happy mag for kids.

Many more beautiful magazines listed here! [via Courtney Riot]

Please Take Our Coilhouse Readership Survey!

Photo by Gustavo Lopez Manas. Design by Courtney Riot

Much is afoot in da’ Haus. Next Monday, we’ll be putting out a call for ads for our upcoming Issue 05 as part of our Small Business Advertising Program. On that day, we’ll unveil our brand-new, 2010 Media Kit (the cover of which you can see above).

Meanwhile, have you got a few minutes to spare? To complete the media kit, we’d like to ask you, valued Coilhouse reader, a few questions about your stance as a consumer and your spending habits in a  35-question survey. It’s secure and anonymous, and all of the questions are optional. We hope you’ll help us, as well as the many indie businesses that support us, by answering the survey as truthfully and completely as you can. [Update: the survey is now closed. Thank you to all who participated!]

Monday’s post will also include some very exciting news about Issue 05. Stay tuned.

Children by the Millions Wait for Alex Chilton

In honor of Alex Chilton’s passing, we’d like to publish this article written by Joshua Ellis. This article appeared in Coilhouse Issue 04. You can also view a PDF of this article, by a strange twist of fate, over at the official Pixies website. It’s not an article about him, or The Pixies, per se. However, we’ve been wanting to publish this article on our blog for a while now, and this feels like the right moment to do so. This article speaks to the heart of why we’re all here together. What’s that song? / I’m in love / With that song…

I have this memory, and I’m not sure if it’s even real–or if it’s real, if it’s cobbled together from a half-dozen memories, fragments of things that happened over the course of a year or two that began the summer before I started high school, in 1991.

In this memory, I’m sitting in the basement of a girl named Sara, who pronounced her name “Saah-rah” and had purple hair and smoked clove cigarettes. I didn’t know Sara very well, but she was part of a small collective of freaks and weirdos that I had congregated to when I moved that summer from my ancestral home of north Texas to the small mountain town of Hamilton, Montana.

I’m sitting in Sara’s basement with my friends: Jeremy, the pretty guy who wears big black woolen overcoats and Jamaican tam o’ shanters in bright yellow and red and green, and seems to have unlimited access to the panties of every single girl in the Bitterroot Valley; Wade, who perpetually sports Birkenstock loafers that look like inflated bladders and drives a white Volkswagen Beetle covered in Grateful Dead stickers; Nate, who is one of the best guitarists I’ve ever met and is a huge aficionado of what will later come to be known as “extreme” sports, like bouncing down jagged rock faces on a beat-up skateboard deck; Sarah and her sister, Jenny, who are both fond of dropping random giggly non sequiturs into the conversation when stoned.

They’re all here, or some of them, or none of them. We’re sitting in the dark, talking bohemian bullshit, maybe smoking pot. It’s the kind of night that gets put on endless repeat when you’re young and strange and condemned to spend your adolescence in some far-flung desolate shithole like Hamilton, Montana, where you can’t lose yourself in the noise or happily become part of it, the way you can in New York or Seattle or Los Angeles or Chicago.

I’m not as cool as they are. I don’t know about cool shit. I’m just this uptight kid from J. R. Ewing Land who talks too much, still wears Bugle Boy button-downs and M. C. Hammer pants, and has only the dimmest idea that there’s some entire world out there of cool shit that I know nothing about. I own a Jane’s Addiction album and I’ve vaguely heard of the Sex Pistols.

And in this memory, Sara gets up and puts a cassette tape into her boom box. It’s a time traveler from 1984, beaten and scuffed, with the inevitable broken-off cassette door, so you just slap the tape in and hope that the tape head keeps it from falling out, which will cause the relentless motors to chew the tape and unspool it like the entrails of a slaughtered pig. Sara slaps the tape in and hits play.

This song comes out–a slow beat, big and echoing, then a bass playing eighth notes, and then a guitar, dreamy and vibrating. It sounds like what I imagine sunrise on a beach would be like, like what I imagine doing heroin would be like, like what I imagine sex in a dark room with that awesome girl you lie awake and dream of meeting would be like. I haven’t experienced any of these things–yet.

And then a voice, a high husky man’s voice, gentle over the music.

Cease to resist, given my good-byes
Drive my car into the o-o-sha-hah-hahn

You think I’m dead, but I sail away
On a wave of mutilation, wave of mutilation
Wave of mutilation


“What is this?” I ask. Sara shrugs.

“It’s the Pixies,” she says in this memory that may not even be real, or maybe didn’t happen this way at all. “The song’s called ‘Wave of Mutilation.’ This is the U.K. Surf Mix. The real version is faster and louder.”

“I’ve never heard of them,” I said. “I’ve never heard this.”

“They’re pretty cool,” Sara says. “I think they’re from, like, Boston.”

I nod. Pretty cool.

Coilhouse Kindred Spirt: Yaso Magazine

Some more Serious Journalism from my time in Japan (see also: cat cafes). I previously mentioned Yaso Magazine in a post about Neon O’Clockworks – as promised in that post, here are some snapshots of Yaso for you to see! It’s a beautiful, hefty magazine with themed issues, published and distributed almost exclusively in Japan. I took some photos of three issues with the following themes: Vampire: Painful Eternity / Heartrendingness, Victorian: Influences & Metamorphoses of Victorian Culture in Today’s Japanese Sub-Cultures, and Sense of Beauty: Japanese Aesthetic. Other themed issues I didn’t get my hands on: Svankmajer (yes, an entire Svankmajer-themed issue), Gothic, Monster & Freaks [sic]. I also had a fourth issue called Doll, but gave it away to Ross because he is a doll fancier before I got a chance to snap some photos.

It’s a stunning magazine. Paging through it feels like like falling into a paper-fetish world that’s at once completely alien and intimately familiar.

The small pictures don’t do it justice, so click on through to the Coilhouse Flickr Set to see the full, annotated collection of images. This magazine cost around $15 in Japan, but I’m only finding it priced at $35 for those of us living in the US or in Europe. I’ve even seen copies appear and disappear for about $45 on Ebay. The magazine is almost entirely in Japanese, as is their site.

We are so inspired to see others publishing the kinds of things that we love, all over the word. We don’t know the people who do Yaso, but we are so, so grateful for them.

Tea and Cookies (And Housekeeping!) with Coilhouse

Kurt Komoda’s editor illustration for Issue 04 of Coilhouse. Tea and sympathy (and tentacles). Arsenic and old lace (and absinthe). Information, inspiration, infection!

Morning, sinners! That’s Warren’s line, but then it’s a Warren kind of morning (the kind of morning that all Coilhouse readers should begin with a bottle of whiskey in hand.) Because this morning, and all week, we’re taking your questions and answers over on Whitechapel! Step right up, ask us anything your heart desires. There are a lot of different beakers bubbling in the CH lab that we probably can’t discuss directly… but we can hint! And we can certainly get into more general chat: Coilhouse’s history, our personal inspirations, magazine theory, internet curating, etc. We’re basically game to discuss whatever parts of the process you’d like to hear more about, and we’d love to ask you some questions as well! What periodicals do you read? What you think the future holds for mainstream print? For indie mags? For tastemaking blogs? For fringe/alternative culture in general? If you’re a Coilhouse reader, what subject matter would you be interested in seeing more of in our future issues? Down the rabbit hole we go. Let the Coilhouse/Whitechapel tea party commence!

Additionally, this a courtesy post is to let all readers know that Issue 04 is almost gone. Issue 03 is walking out the door pretty fast as well (we had more 03’s in stock originally), but Issue 04 disappeared at an alarming pace that even we weren’t prepared for. 800 copies are gone since we put it up on sale on December 21, and 200 copies remain (with about as many copies left of Issue 03). So for any stragglers who were on the fence about buying one or both issues, now’s the time. Now or never, because we’re not in the position to reprint. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. This one’s pretty special to us, so we hope you get a copy. You can pick it up in our online store, at Wildilocks in Australia, Barnes & Noble and Borders in the US, and Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles. An exact list of store locations will be posted today or tomorrow.

Top row: Caryn Drexl, Elle Moss, Katie West. Middle row: Hilary McHone, Diana Lemieux, Zoetica Ebb. Bottom row: Laura Kicey, Natalie Dybisz, Rebekka Guðleifsdóttir.

Finally, there’s a self-portrait competition in the last days of voting with several members of the extended Coilhouse family in the running, as well as some talented folks we’ve not encountered before. The artist who wins the popular vote will receive a $1,000, and the grand prize is a residency in Manhattan. We’d like to urge you to support an artist by taking the time to view and vote for their portfolio. The contest’s site unhelpfully does not list a guide to the portfolios entered, so we’ve selected a few artists who we believe deserve your time. Photographers Caryn Drexl, Laura Kicey and Katie West should be familiar to anyone who’s read the blog long enough; our articles about their work appear at the bottom of this post. Additionally, our very own Zoetica has entered the contest with several phantasmagorical interpretations of reality. Other photographers whose work we found fascinating include Elle Moss, Hilary McHone, Diana Lemieux, Natalie Dybisz, and Rebekka Guðleifsdóttir. This list is by no means exhaustive, so if there are other entrants we should be aware of, please let us know in the comments!

On a related note:

Fräulein Ehrhardt: Equilibrium and Elasticity

In the past, I’ve talked about how, with a few bright exceptions, the term “fetish photography” has pretty much become an embarrassment in the past decade, about the pornographic banality that eventually killed risk-taking publications like Skin Two. In an alternate universe, Skin Two No. 64 just came out, and this was the cover. Balanced, graphic, authoritative – not too dissimilar from Irving Penn and vintage Vogue. Image by Fräulein Ehrhardt, modeling by Koneko.

Issue 04, Materialized!

FINALLY. Issue #04 of Coilhouse has taken corporeal form.

It’s haunted, you know. Or maybe it’s possessed. Or it could be we’ve got a grimoire on our hands.

All we know is, at some point during our editorial process—which normally involves very little cauldron-stirring or eye of newt, despite whatever “coven” rumors you may have heard—#04 took on a life of its own, and has since become a small, seething portal of the uncanny. It’s all a bit magic-with-a-k. We may giggle and wink (“O R’LYEH? IA, R’LYEH!”), but that doesn’t change the fact that these pages are spellbound. You will read of channeling and scrying, of shades and shamans, and phantoms both fabricated and inexplicable. You will meet reluctant oracles, occultists, and ghosts from the past.

Issue 04 is now available in our shop. For a limited time, you can purchase Issues 03 + 04 together for a discount price of $23! Click here to buy. Without further ado, the contents of Issue 04, below:

This issue’s Inform/Inspire/Infect section headers, crafted by Zoetica, are all about communing with animal spirits. Below: the INFORM header, titled Stork Whispers. The section header below also contains almost all the design motifs that creative director Courtney Riot conjured throughout the issue: smoke, burn holes, aged paper and tattered lace.

The Tarnished Beauties of Blackwell, Oklahoma
In mid 2008, we were captivated by the imagery Meredith Yayanos shared in a post describing her visit to an obscure, careworn prairie museum in a small Oklahoma town. More recently, Coilhouse enlisted one of our wonderful readers, Joseph A. Holsten, to return to The White Pavilion, where he archived dozens of high res portraits of long-grown, long-dead children of pioneer America. They are reproduced here in an extended version of the original Blackwell photo essay.

Bernd Preiml’s Exquisite Apparitions
Bernd Preiml’s photographs describe a world filled with magic and mystery, often coupled with a disconcerting sense that sinister forces may be lurking. Through his dark and shining visions, he weaves haunting tales that encompass violence as well as transcendence, beauty as well as wrath. Interview by longtime Coilhouse co-conspirator, Jessica Joslin.

Children by the Millions Wait For Alex Chilton: A Fractured Memoir of the Counterculture
Joshua Ellis returns to Coilhouse with a whip-smart personal essay examining his experience with alternative culture. Beginning with an endearing description of adolescent initiation-by-music and ranting its way into present day’s monoculture, “Children by the Millions” is an incisive evaluation of the death of societal revolution in our “been there, done that” world. Josh draws parallels between counterculture and ancient mysticism, while eloquently articulating a premise that’s been gestating in all of our minds since we first started discussing the living death of alt culture here on Coilhouse.

Calaveras de Azucar
Courtesy of photographer Gayla Partridge comes this toothsome autumnal fashion editorial inspired by el Día de los Muertos, with a corresponding overview by Mer on the festival’s historical and cultural significance.

Hauntings: The Science of Ghosts
Earlier this year, our Manchester-based correspondent Mark Powell traveled to a “Science of Ghosts” conference in Edinburgh hosted by esteemed psychologist Professor Richard Wiseman and other leading experts. Mark shares what he learned about the history, pathology (and quackery) of hauntings and spiritualism. With fetching spirit photos, daguerrotypes, and other vintage ephemera provided by archivists Jack & Beverly Wilgus.

Frog Prince

Kris Kuksi: Sculpting the Infinite
A substantial editorial featuring meticulous, hyper-detailed monuments to destruction sculpted by Missouri-born artist Kris Kuksi. In the coming days we’ll be posting an exclusive interview with Kris where he shares his thoughts on time, fixing humanity, and what might lie ahead. Introduction and interview by Ales Kot.

Still In The Cards: Alejandro Jodorowsky on King Shot, Comic Books and the Tarot De Marseilles
An informative, zany dialogue with one of modern cinema’s most iconoclastic masterminds, Alejandro Jodorowsky. The filmmaker who brought us The Holy Mountain, El Topo, and Santa Sangre speaks candidly about his past, present and future… as well as the roles that tarot, spirituality and comics have led in his more recent life. Article by Mark Powell.

Through the Mirror into the Forest: Kristamas Klousch
Our stunning cover girl’s self-portraiture explores a dark, kaleidoscopic array of facets; Kristamas is at once wild forest creature, fetish vixen, tousled witch, Lolita, courtesan, silent movie vamp and Voodoo priestess. Her ethereal photos race to capture each incarnation, just before the next comes out to play. Introduction by staffer Tanya Virodova.

Grant Morrison: Embracing the Apocalypse
Groundbreaking comic book writer Grant Morrison blows our minds with a massive ten-page interview that will gently squeeze your reality’s underbelly until you’re ready to take the future seriously. Grant sat down with Zoetica Ebb and Ales Kot for a three-hour talk covering everything from superheroes and interdimentional parasites to personal transformation and 2012. Featuring new portraits of Grant and his wife, Kristan, by Allan Amato.

Larkin Grimm: Advanced Shapeshifter
In a time when our culture seems to openly scorn –but secretly craves– magic, the musician Larkin Grimm is an unashamed and forthright power to be reckoned with. Interview by Coilhouse collaborator Angeliska Polacheck, as well as a review of the Musicka Mystica Maxima Festival curated by Grimm in NYC last fall.

Snake Charmer

Brave Old World
A  collaboration between Chad Michael Ward and  Bad Charlotte, this editorial takes the gorgeous model out of time and space, into a gauzy netherworld. With wardrobe by Mother of London.

CB I Hate Perfume: The Story of an Olfactory Architect
Christopher Brosius has been called “The Willy Wonka of Perfume” and is renowned for his eccentricity and passionate standpoint when it comes to both the art and the industry of scent-building. An intimate and inspiring interview about his work and philosophy, conducted by Angeliska.

Print to Fit: Mavens of Meatcake
What self-respecting, spellbound witchy-pooh magazine would be complete without paper dolls by Dame Darcy?! Featuring beloved characters from the darling Dame’s legendary long-running comic book, Meatcake.

Issue 04 on Sale Tomorrow! Cover Revealed!

At last! After days spent trembling in post-production anticipation, we’re unveiling the Coilhouse 04 cover. Words can scarcely express how happy we are to finally share a glimpse of our most ambitious issue yet.

Tomorrow, all Issue 04 articles will be revealed, and the magazine will go on sale. For now, huge congratulations to our cover girl, mysterious self-portrait artist Kristamas Klousch. Kristamas’ work is integral to the Coilhouse 04 concept and you can expect to see an array of her intensely haunting photographs nestled within the new pages.

Every issue, we try out a new visual effect in print. In Issue 02, we had a fold-out map. For Issue 03, we embossed the cover. This time around, we’ve experimented with a silver ink overlay. The tattered lace and title of the cover contain a subtle, frostbitten shimmer, as can be seen below.

We can’t wait to reveal the contents of this issue. Check back soon!

MagPlus and the Impending “Year of the E-Reader”

The Coilhouse crew makes no bones about being paper fetishists. (Mmm… the texture of pulp against thumb, the perfume of ink and fresh card stock, the printed tome as art object. Purr.) Because of this bias, I’m skeptical when discussing the ability of e-tablet technology to bridge more tactile, primal gaps between my print and digital reading experiences. However. The London-based BERG design consultancy is blowing my puny mind with their Mag+ prototype:

This could be a readable art object in its own right.

Unlike previous e-tablets I’ve seen, the Mag+ technology would run articles in scrolls rather than as “flipped” pages (an abhorrent digital gimmick, if you ask me), and placed side-to-side in what BERG is calling “mountain range” format. It’s a far less literal translation. More organic. Readers page through by shifting focus, tapping pictures on the left of the screen to peruse content, then tapping text on the right to hone in. Magazines are still presented as compartmentalized issues, without that sense of incompleteness created by an infinite webfeed. It’s… cozy, somehow. BERG says:

It is, we hope, like stepping into a space for quiet reading. It’s pleasant to have an uncluttered space. Let the Web be the Web. But you can heat up the words and pics to share, comment, and to dig into supplementary material.

The design has an eye to how paper magazines can re-use their editorial work without having to drastically change their workflow or add new teams. Maybe if the form is clear enough, then every mag, no matter how niche, can look gorgeous [and] be super easy to understand.

Watch the demo; it’s fascinating. I’m eager to see where they go with this. There’s a discussion board over at Bonnier R&D Beta Lab, if you want to give them direct feedback.

Student team’s CG “Wall of Knowledge” design proposal for the Stockholm Library. (via)

On a related note, the press is saying 2010 will be “The Year of the E-Reader”. We’ve never really discussed e-books here, have we? What has your experience been –if any– with portable tablets like Kindle, Nook or the Sony Reader? So far, bibliophiles I know have had really strong and varied reactions to them. My more tech savvy  (also, dare I say, somewhat more jet-setty and affluent) friends have embraced the digital format as a new and freeing medium. Other, more traditional bookworms reel in horror from the concept of spending yet more time staring at a pixelated screen. [edit: although, as Mark Cook just pointed out in comments, ideally, an e-book screen does not look pixelated.]

FakeAPStylebook Reshapes World of Journalism

Right around Issue 03, our lovely copy chief Joanne Starer sent all the editors of Coilhouse a condensed document of guidelines based on the Chicago Style Manual. It tells us to spell out whole numbers one through one hundred (unless they are percents), italicize titles of books, newspapers & magazines, omit spaces around our em/en dashes, and many other such useful things. That was all fine and good, until today: the day that FakeAPStylebook on Twitter shook the world of journalism to its very foundations. The feed has amassed over 8,000 new followers in just two days, and it’s no wonder why: all issues of grammar, capitalization & punctuation have finally been revealed. This incredible new resource finally provides clarity to crucial concepts that the heretofore-accepted AP Style Guide completely overlooked. For example:

  • Use the quintuple vowel to transcribe the utterances of small children, “Daaaaaddy, I waaaant a Pooooony!”
  • Since the 1986 edition, the plural of McDonald’s is officially McDonaldses.
  • “Batman” may be used informally (“let’s go, Batman!”) and “The Batman” formally (“Mr. President, this is the Batman”).
  • The word “boner” is not capitalized, regardless of size.
  • Use a possessive proper noun in front of a movie remake title to convey crushing disappointment. (e.g. Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes)
  • In the news industry, an ’80s celebrity sex scandal is known as a “trifecta.”
  • Do not change weight of gorilla in phrase, “800-lb gorilla in the room.” Correct weight is 800 lbs. DO NOT CHANGE GORILLA’S WEIGHT!
  • “Your” and “you’re” may be used interchangeably if you are an idiot.
  • Avoid using the letter ‘G’ as it is unlucky.
  • The numbers one through ten should be spelled out while numbers greater than ten are products of the Illuminati and should be avoided.

Via Xeni.