the barrel nut
Hey people! Radio Free Midwich is proud to present The Barrel Nut microzine.
Having been inspired by various small press, ‘artist book’ and zine(ish) activities, I decided to create a little something on paper myself. Keeping it as simple as possible, each issue was (usually) one single sided sheet of A4 paper folded into an A7, 8-panel microzine (the picture above is way larger than life). The six internal pages were filled with contributions invited from stalwarts of the no-audience underground and other affiliated parties, hence the clever tag-line: ‘art by noise’. Cool, eh? Physical copies were created to pass on to contributors, leave in gig venues and give to distros/zines to send out with their orders/correspondence. I also put up a pdf and jpeg of each issue on RFM so anyone could print out their own (see below for Blue-Peter-style assembly instructions).
Why do this? Well, this kind of thing is a lot of fun to put together and reminds me of happy hours spent making small-press comics in my teens. I’m also into the idea of showcasing the graphic talents of this pool of artists – perhaps an underrated aspect of our endeavour. Links were given on the back page, so picking it up might encourage the curious to check out a Bandcamp site or whatnot too.
The Barrel Nut ran for 14 issues before changing circumstances led to me reluctantly calling it a day. The final number was a (relatively) giant sized 8 A4 pages and, aside from a few paper copies for contributors, was only available digitally.
The first issue starts strong with artwork from Stephen Woolley of Joined By Wire, Dex Wright of Tape Noise, Yol of, err…, Yol and, *ahem*, Rob Hayler of midwich.
The second issue contains more line drawing and another performance score by Yol (‘like La Monte Young with ADHD’), some great upset typography (letraset jazz?) from RFM staffer and dictaphonic maestro Joe Murray of Posset, plus bonkers collage from Leeds noisters The Truth About Frank and Mark Ritchie of Hiroshima Yeah! zine
The third issue features cover collages by yours truly, a gag strip by Mark Wharton of Idwal Fisher, heroines of vintage porn sketched by Lee Stokoe of Culver, a jagged line drawing by shoutmonger Yol and more typographical jazz from Joe Posset.
The fourth issue is twinned with Spon #35: The Doodle Issue as both publications feature work created semi-automatically in blank or stolen time. Hence the dense, cartoony feel created by the scrawling ids of RFM’s own Joe Murray, Pete Cann (Half an Abortion) and Dr Adolf Steg (Spon) and the wry list of work distractions admitted to by Mark Ritchie in the poem that closes the issue.
The fifth issue contains pan-dimensional, hyper-signage by Stephen Woolley of joinedbywire and the last of Yol’s text scores (feel free to send recordings of your interpretation). Dr. Steg contributes a page of ballpoint mental cacophony and Dex Wright of Tape Noise concludes matters with a mysterious portrait in the naive style. Cover collage, ‘migrating birds’, is by yours truly, as is the freestyle sudoku on the back.
The sixth and seventh issues (published simultaneously) contain gnomic poetry and lollipop toting ghost children from Julian Bradley, the monarch of the glen being prepared to become ‘value’ lasagne and a comment on the moustachioed breed of hipsterism by Yol, a bleak sketch of a cell window by Gary Simmons and a collage made during his time incarcerated, poem-ish cut-ups by Gary’s fellow Hiroshima Yeah! editor Mark Ritchie and RFM’s very own Joe Murray, a double-page spread of elegant minimalism built from offcuts created whilst constructing photocopier experiments by Michael Clough, some paranoia-inducing, exuberantly worked, outsider Cubism by Dex Wright of Tapenoise and finally we are treated to an unnerving sketch by Lucia Foster, a Mexican based illustrator affiliated to Miguel Perez’s Oracle Netlabel/Agorafobia Tapes axis.
The eighth issue features more prison sketches from (now freed) Gary Simmons of Hiroshima Yeah! fanzine – his skilful draughtsmanship only enhancing the brick-bound despair. The centrefold is given over to two tremendous collages of detritus from friend-of-RFM Robert Ridley-Shackleton. Finally, we have two beautifully free autobiographical cartoons from Sophie Cooper. Lovely.
The ninth issue features austere pavement photography from Eddie Nuttall of Aqua Dentata proving, alas, that the streets of London are not paved with gold but instead awash with suspiciously milky discharge. The centrefold contains another hilarious four panel gag strip from Uncle Mark Wharton of the essential Idwal Fisher blog. This time the bald heads of noise enjoy a night in the pub doing what they like best: talking bollocks about music whilst quaffing the ale. That’s you that is. Finally, we have a tag team effort from the brothers of Hiroshima Yeah! fanzine. Gary Simmons provides a photograph of life literally imitating art whilst Mark Ritchie follows it with some sage advice for the working stiff presented in compelling collage form.
In the tenth issue hep cat Joe Murray takes the first two pages to cut-up jazz/beat style with some discombobulating appropriation. Funny, poignant, rug-tugging. The centre spread sees Yol present a percussive illustration/text score. Could be a transcription of a recent performance for TV remote control and laminate floor by my son Thomas. Finally we have contrasting photographs – one a glorious evocation of freedom through art caught by Gary Simmons of Hiroshima Yeah!, the other a mysterious, possibly squalid, record of Mirfield detritus taken by Paul Walsh of foldhead and early hominids. Who knows, eh?
In the eleventh – double-sided! – issue you will find cut-up collage by RFM’s own Joe Murray and Hiroshima Yeah!’s Mark Ritchie (big themes: space, god, death, n’ that) and proper art that looks like a Bauhaus photographic experiment by Mark’s co-writer Gary Simmons, plus an indication of his financial situation and a terminal film still from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Barrel Nut regular Yol praises King Coffee on the tomb wall and offers sage personal advice in the form of one of his rolling text scores/typewriter screeds. Dr. Adolf Steg of (the already much missed) Spon offers some vaguely dermatological doodling with newspaper headline addenda and finally Michael Clough gets an unheard of four-panel spread for an example of his unnerving scanner art ‘totems’ series.
The twelfth issue – also double sided – features more of Michael Clough’s eerie ‘totem’ works – the scanner art equivalent of EVP recordings, a photo-memory of Summer boozing from everyone’s favourite drunken uncle Paul Walsh, some Zennish cut up hoodoo from RFM’s own Joe Murray and a pair of pieces by Gary Simmons and Mark Ritchie, the brothers responsible for Hiroshima Yeah! Gary gives us a microbial starscape of indeterminate origin and Mark entertains with an uplifting ophthalmic DIY collage. Unfold and turn over for a full page ‘Bald Heads of Noise’ cartoon by Mark Wharton of Idwal Fisher in which the notion of the no-audience underground is skewered hilariously in six panels.
In the thirteenth issue – double sided is now the norm – you will find beaked appliances on the cover by me, a digi-kaleidoscope view of The Barrel Nun by Paul Walsh (fat-fingered Google search mistake treated as artistic opportunity), a hyperkinetic collage of speed and muscle by Dr. Adolf Steg culled (mainly) from the 2000AD comic strip Nemesis the Warlock – ever relevant satire on xenophobia, and and art/collage double-whammy cheerfully reminding us that life is full of pain by the Hiroshima Yeah! brothers Gary Simmons and Mark Ritchie. On the reverse, I am delighted to present a full-page poster by ace illustrator Jake Blanchard of Tor Press inspired by John Wyndham’s The Midwich Cuckoos (a key text for RFM, of course) and the film version Village of the Damned.
The final, fourteenth issue features, as ever, a cover by me, page two is more scanner/photocopier EVP phenomena filtered by Michael Clough, Dex Wright, a.k.a. Tape Noise, mauls ferric oxide on page three, weird symmetries by Zanntone’s Paul Walsh slide across page four, page five presents the collaged thoughts of Gary Simmons and Mark Ritchie of Hiroshima Yeah! zine, Stephen Woolley of Joined By Wire leaves tire tracks across page six, deep-fried brainwaves crackle up and down page seven, courtesy of Adolf Steg and lastly we have typographical and cut-up dada from Julian Bradley and RFM’s own Joe Murray to play over the credits.
Thanks to all!
Issues in digital format
The Barrel Nut issue #14 – The Final Issue
Individual pages as jpegs:
Individual pages as pdfs:
The whole thing as a pdf:
Assembly instructions for microzine editions:
Should you wish to construct your own copy of The Barrel Nut you will need the following: a print out of one of the files above and a craft knife or pair of scissors.
Don’t be intimidated by the incredible fanzine creator kit in the photo above – I’m a professional. First, if you’ve printed off a copy from the pdf, trim any black line or extra blank space from the long edge – this is an artefact of scanning that I can’t get rid of – then fold in half like this:
Then in half lengthways too:
Then open out and fold the ends in to meet the middle like this:
Open it out again and use your sharp instrument to cut along the long fold in-between where the two middle segments of each side meet (indicated by ruler, blade point placement):
Fold over along the long fold with the artwork facing outwards:
This is the spatial awareness stretching bit. Fiddle with it and refold a couple of lines until it looks like this:
Then squash into booklet form thus:
…and you are done. Peruse, enjoy then get to work on your contribution or, now you know how it is done, rival publication.