– Reviewed by Steve Nash –
Martin Appleby, editor and architect of the punk-tinged literary zine Paper and Ink, shares his hope in the opening notes that readers will ‘enjoy the shit out of’ issue 4. Truth be told, it’s not hard to enjoy something that bears so many marks of the passion that clearly went into its creation. The D.I.Y. ethos is scrawled large across the mohawked heart of this labour of love, and for all its snarling aesthetic, the content proves surprisingly diverse.
In addition to the truly beautiful monochrome artwork gracing the front and rear covers, Alexander Brattell’s striking photography is peppered throughout the issue, and this juxtaposition of arresting culture and lowbrow humour, such as ‘my spirit guide is a bone-eating snot flower’ (not just me then?) makes for a pleasing pit of contradictions.
There’s a varied selection of poetry on offer, loosely themed around identity, and some sterling prose work. Personal highlights include Mark Safranko’s engaging melancholic tale ‘The Rainbow Connection’ and Terence Corless’ sparkling piece, ‘The Life and Times of the Infamous Mario Botticelli’:
I am Mario Botticelli, I am of no relation to the painter, I am a human being with feet (however one is larger than the other, I order my footwear from a specialist Korean shoe manufacturer called Suecomma).
The playfully laidback tone of the issue belies a deliberately structured publication, contrasting works placed where their difference is most clearly emphasised. Sonya Cheney and Akua Mercy make for an intriguingly playful collocation across a double page spread, thin columns facing off against chunky paragraphs.
Paper and Ink has been slowly growing in reputation, and for a what is still a very young publication it becomes clearer with each issue that there is a keen critical mind at work in the editorial process. Hopefully the zine will continue its growth and find itself garnering more submissions, giving Appleby a greater opportunity to flex his selection muscles. Issue 4 shows that there’s great promise here, and the passion that underpins the project is carved into every page.
If Paper and Ink were a dog, it would be a seriously misbehaved puppy, always trying to bite the postman and relieving itself in the hallway, but as soon as it fixes you with those big dopey eyes and starts wagging its tail, you’ll find it impossible to stay angry.