July 1, 2016
Minchō, an Illustration & Graphic Design Magazine from Spain, made its way to my lazy (only lazy by crazy Mumbai standards) suburban office on a Monday. As we crunched away on our keyboards for the week, somewhat ready to be distracted, it called out to me into a world of surrealism, wonder and psychedelia. And I was right to not have picked it up on a Monday, because it would have held me captive with the many stories that lay inside its folds for hours to come.
Minchō, is a perfect companion for those who 1. think graphic art and illustration are pretty pictures only, 2. are sick of branded corporate work (although no doubt, commercial work is deeply satisfying too), 3. need to escape into an alternate universe where bizarre shapes and muddled, imageless stories are perfectly acceptable.
Minchō Issue #8, a magazine that is a clear departure from the usual “visual communication”, brings to me a refreshing perspective on visual storytelling. It tells me a story of the makers, instead of stories of make belief. Poetry apart, Minchō is categorically divided into sections: 8 in number, namely Illustration, In Motion (animation and moving images), Comics, Art & Design, The New Contemporary, Have a Nice Book, Spanish Texts and To See & Be Seen. Within these 8 sections, it holds some invaluable articles on artists of supreme quality by writers who pursue such artists with equal passion and obsession.
The theme for this issue is Psychedelia and the stories range from short fiction, to thematic editorial pieces on psychedelic art, on to full blown interviews with artists. In each piece, the editorial possesses a grit and clarity that perhaps comes only with absolute command over the subject, many a times causing one to pause and re-read in order to grasp its meaning in the same entirety as has been written.
That being said, there is nothing casual about this magazine. Neither the selection of images, nor the text. There are no advertisements, advertorials or promotional interruptions to reading – something that reassures us of the power of content.
For me, the most impactful sections of the magazine were reading the short, humorous, totally bizarre fiction from Miguel Calatayud at the beginning of the issue, titled Setting the Mood: The Cactus of the Gods, followed by an extremely engrossing, detailed discourse on the work of Jack Kirby, the iconic comic books artist for Marvel Comics and how his work showed signs of unintoxicated psychedelia, in The Father of Psychedelia.
In various references, this issue of the magazine brings up the effects of acid or LSD not concealing it in any manner. It is a known fact that psychotropic drugs have always been a major influence on visual artists, but much to the surprise of many, icons such as Kirby have created art without the influence of any narcotic.
The other most impressive section of this issue is a review of the works of the legendary children’s book illustrator and designer, John Alcorn, nicknamed “golden hands” by Milton Glaser himself. In Have a Nice Book, Minchō brings us closer to the process, the life and the works of Alcorn, which to this day, looks just as bit balanced, appropriate and appealing as in the day.
In addition the magazine also educates readers on the works of acclaimed illustrators and artists such as Micah Lidberg, a resident of Birmingham, Alabama in Having Talent and Dogboy, a pseudonym for Philip Huntington, a London based illustrator who works in “alternate reality” as he calls it, among other artists in The Amazing Inner Reaches of Outer Space.
Minchō, is a must-munch-on, and if you haven’t gorged on it from cover to cover yet, you ought to. It doesn’t require you to be a critique, a designer or an expert, but only an observer and appreciator of art. And needless to say – even the colourful blobs will make sense, if you add a tinge of psychedelia to it. A bit of a visual trip, is always good for the mind.
This new series is being produced in collaboration with Paper Planes, who are just as big an addict of cult indie magazines. Thanks Paper Planes for educating us on what lies out there in print, as unexplored. To buy a copy Minchō Issue #8, or to say aloha, drop in a line to firstname.lastname@example.org.