Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Figurehead

Dodgem Logic (2009 - )

National treasure and Glycon snake cultist Alan Moore is unsurprisingly the mastermind behind a return to the 1960s style underground press.

WHEN Alan Moore wrote an article for OVR2U - a youth and community publication in his native Northampton - about a particularly deprived area of the Borough, the piece was rejected by the funding body on grounds that it was critical of the council. Consequently, Moore felt he couldn’t talk about the real problems people were facing without breaking free, and the seeds for Dodgem Logic were sown. Part entertainment and part grassroots activism, the first issue - released in November 2009 - contained the tagline “colliding ideas to see what happens,” which fittingly describes this free-wheeling enterprise. Dodgem Logic #1 contained a free CD celebrating 50 years of Northampton music, while #2 (February 2010) has an inserted mini-comic Astounding Weird Penises.

It has the luddite appeal, for those who tearfully yearn for the tangible fanzine. Whether it’s recipe pages or political agenda, Dodgem Logic resurrects the spirit of 60s alternative papers International Times and Oz, whose fanatical anti-war stance was flanked by gay liberation and extreme political views which now seem mundane but were frighteningly prophetic. There is also a real sense that this is a personal project for Moore; there are rumours that he delivered a batch of Dodgems to his local comic shop in person asking “Does Frank Miller do that?” But Dodgem Logic is by no means a one-man show: think of Moore as the curator of an varied display of talent, sincerity and open-mindedness.

Dodgem Logic #2 contains Melinda Gebbie’s article on Burlesque, past, present and future.

But no matter now earnest Dodgem Logic strives to be, it cannot begin to compare with the tempestuous and influential period International Times or Oz were published. In 1970, reacting to criticism that they had lost touch with the young generation, Oz’s editors invited school children to edit an issue. The opportunity was taken up by mostly Public School students, and one of the resulting articles was a sexualised Rupert Bear parody created by pasting the head of Rupert onto the lead character of an X-rated cartoon by Robert Crumb. Oz’s offices had already been raided on several occasions, but the conjunction of school children and what some viewed as obscene material set the scene for the infamous obscenity trial of 1971.

Forty years on, however, the status of the printed magazine has changed radically. Since the World Wide Web, publications have been rendered redundant by their online counterparts, with websites offering free content (often reproducing the exact same articles that you’d find in the magazines themselves) and delivering news in a far timelier manner than their printed counterparts. Similarly, the bonifide fanzine has been reborn as the WeBlog, with Facebook, MySpace and Twitter mirroring the society’s fixation with texting, as the morons wallow in their world of self-gratification and zero substance. In this context, the launch of Dodgem Logic seems even more brave, and it is gratifying it has been so well received. At just £2.50, it represents superb value for money.