“Because it folds snugly into the arse pocket of your jeans”
Independent magazines are a brilliant way to express passions, and newsprint is particularly good — relatively cheap to produce, easy to hand round, fold up, or squeeze into your back pocket. Newspaper Club is a company that lets you print your own newspaper (you can print in ‘broadsheet’, ‘tabloid’ and ‘mini’ size), making newsprint more accessible than ever.
We asked Sarah Belfort at Newspaper Club to round up some of the weirdest and most wonderful passion projects on her radar.
Girlfans is a football magazine that looks beyond the pitch and into the stands. More specifically, it looks at the sport’s female fans and what they wear to show support for their team. “With each issue, I try to find a story about one particular set of fans” explains editor Jacqui McAssey, a Senior Lecturer in Fashion Communication at Liverpool John Moores University. “It could be an uneventful season but I’ll observe the supporters and pick up on something that eventually drives the narrative.”
The latest issue focuses on Celtic FC, featuring ‘On The Ball’, a successful campaign by activists who petitioned the club to provide free sanitary products to fans in the stadium. Founded in 2013, after seven years in print, “the most unexpected result is that the project has inspired other women to create their own work around women and football,” says Jacqui. “That gives me the motivation to keep making them.”
Inspired by 1960s counterculture publications like Oz, Gulp is a broadsheet-sized publication “for anyone who wants to feel something good.” From the striking front cover, showing David Hemmings in a famous scene from Blow Up, to the back cover comic about a gardener who credits his plant’s growth to “a strict audio diet of extremely rare psych” — Gulp is a richly illustrated reading experience. The presiding theme is optimism: “It’s so important to us that we strive for more positivity,” explains Tomas Walmsley, who created Gulp with Natasha Kay-Sportelli, “especially when there is so much negativity ﬂying around.”
Photographer Joanne Coates created this publication to tell the stories of fishermen working off the north-east of Scotland, home to some of the most diverse fishing grounds in the world. Coates worked with creative agency Sail to design the newspaper, which she says is a way to connect the work with the community featured in it: “One of the aims of the newspaper was that fishermen would share it — display it in village halls and on their boats with crew”.
It was a chrome Manrose hand dryer, encountered in the toilets of the Isle of Man Sea Ferry, that first inspired the project that would become the illustrious South London Review of Hand Dryers (aka SLRoHD). Edited by Wedgeley Snipes (not his real name), the zine launched in 2019 and has since been invited by Dyson to review the new Airblade 9KJ, collaborated on a tea towel with artist @worry_lines and connected with a (surprisingly vast) global network of like-minded hand dryer enthusiasts, from the Facebook group Come Dry With Me to the newly launched Facility Magazine.
“Why do we go through the bother of printing on newsprint?” asks Snipes. “Because we can. Because it brings a bit more romance into the world. Because it feels nice when you touch it and it folds snugly into the arse pocket of your jeans.” And as for what the future holds for SLRoHD: “Who truly knows how deep the rabbit hole goes?”
Moviejawn is a quarterly zine for lovers of indie, cult and obscure cinema. After a few years as a DIY publication — printed at home by founder Francis Friel and assembled by hand — Moviejawn became a newspaper in 2019. The latest issue focuses on LGBTQ+ cinema with features on Chasing Amy, masculinity in horror films, and the work of Derek Jarman. “I love the unique voice that Moviejawn has and I’m so proud of the community we’ve created,” says designer Rosalie Kicks. “Being able to share work from people who may not otherwise have an outlet makes me incredibly happy.”
This newspaper’s remit is deceptively simple: it literally prints pictures of falcons and matadors. This genius pairing happened by chance. Photographer Brooke Frederick shot two separate projects — one about a master falconer and another about bullfighting in Mexico — and accidentally put the images side by side while laying out her portfolio: “I immediately knew that was it. I love its simplicity and hopefully people who receive it will choose their favourite images to pin up on the wall.”
Scary F*cking Times addresses the fears of students and new graduates hoping to work in the creative industries. Created by Louise Hardman, a graphic design student at Salford University, it features advice from Manchester-based professionals who have graduated from creative courses, covering issues like confidence, diversity and mental health. “After an overwhelmingly positive response, I’m hoping to share it as a resource for students and graduates,” says Hardman, who adds that she wants to develop the publication as part of a larger platform to support creatives.