Good Reads: Us of America, The Smudge & Posterzine

Our latest round up of noteworthy magazines includes two that react to America’s political climate, and another that may or may not be a magazine

Us of America – Issue 1

The very first issue of this bi-annual magazine opens with the story of Sikh Captain America, who roams around Brooklyn dressed as a superhero spreading the message of peace. There’s something about that story that made me think … only in America.

That’s what Us of America hopes to achieve, says Editor in Chief Nicole Nodland, a mood of ‘modern nostalgia’ inspired by the likes of Life and Nova. “I really wanted to show all the facets – good and bad – of America; to celebrate its beauty and achievements, but also to acknowledge its battered spirit and issues,” she says.

US of America

The magazine seems to romanticise the ideals of the American way of life. There is a certain timelessness about the imagery and choice of stories – it’s hard to place the magazine temporally. It feels current, yet could have been made a few decades ago and will make for a good read even few years from now.

The highlight for me is a section called State-by-State which, in each issue, will focus on a different region; the first one is about Florida and zooms in on the peculiarities of the state. The next issue puts the spotlight on Minnesota. It’s nice to see attention turned away from California and New York, and an acknowledgement of the diversity that exists within the US of A.

The Smudge – Issue 3

“The election happened and all of a sudden it became very clear what we needed to do,” says Clay Hickson, co-founder of The Smudge. “Since then, there has been real sense of urgency in the air. Everybody we’ve talked to is struggling to figure how to proceed and what actions we can take to make our opinions heard.”

It was out of this urgency, after the recent US election, that monthly zine The Smudge was born. The objective was to provide readers with some advice on how to get involved in their communities and fight for causes they believe in. 

Made in a tiny apartment by Hickson and Liana Jegers, the words and visuals for the zine have a distinctly underground feel – and looks like the sort of newsletter that would have been passed around in Haight-Ashbury in the 1960s and 70s.

The Smudge has some great columns such as Are We Mad Yet? Readers can send in anonymous questions, one of which is answered in the following issue in an agony aunt-esque fashion. Nothing’s off the table really; ‘Is stasis a form of self love?’ asks one reader.

The makers of The Smudge have responded to the Trump administration cutting funding to many social services by dedicating each issue to a different charity. All proceeds from issue 1 went to Planned Parenthood, from issue 2 from ACLU and the current issue is dedicated to the National Women’s Law Centre.

Posterzine

This isn’t actually a magazine. It’s a poster with editorial content on it, but is classified as a publication by the British Library because of the way it folds. So, maybe it is a magazine, you decide.

Each month the People of Print produce an A1 poster, which folds in on itself to masquerade as a publication: hence, Posterzine. It’s essentially a mini monograph; an interview or feature about the creator printed on an object they’ve designed.

The zine hopes to strengthen relationships between creatives, studios and brands within the industry, and provide subscribers with insights about talented and established professionals. Eike KönigAnthony Burrill & Colophon are among the creatives who’ve been featured in past issues and the magazine is now in its second year of publication.

Posterzine also departs from traditional publishing with a Netflix-like subscription model where users pay a monthly fee (£4.79, which includes free shipping) to receive a copy and can cancel at any time.

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