In August 2023, John posted a video called "Up a Notch". I turned this video into a zine - which then inspired a project to create a series of 4 zines exclusive to the Project for Awesome.
The zines will be available for a limited time only during the Project for Awesome 2024.
They will be available both as physical 5.5"x8.5" booklets, and as PDFs as part of the digital download bundle.
"Up a Notch"
You don't get to decide the notch situation.
This was the first zine I drew and the one that started it all! This video really hit me in a way that inspired me to sit down with a sheet of paper and some watercolour paints and really have at it. I found the video both deeply sad and intensely comforting - and tried to bring that intensity and that hope into the words I chose for this zine.
The original zine was hand-painted in watercolour on a single sheet of A4-paper, such that when folded it becomes pocket-sized. Due to the format needed in order to print these out, this was then digitised using Procreate to make it a more suitable size for widespread printing.
I chose this video because when I watch it, I can almost feel the warmth of the sun on my skin. I can almost hear the birdsong and the sound of rushing water, the rustle of leaves in the trees. This video has strong imagery and feels like 'comfort' to me - it feels like home and like hope, and it fills my heart with appreciation for the world we live in.
For this zine I chose to use photos from my camera roll from the past year. Photos were taken in locations around the UK including East London, Richmond Park and North Wales. I chose photos based on the moments and memories they captured and the meaning they had for me at the time - they are of the types of sunset that make you walk around one more corner to get a better view. They are of the beacon of hope that is Plough Lane, and the small moments of beauty in the everyday.
Of particular note are:
Page 4 - this is the most recent photo of the zine, and was taken at Newborough Forest at the tail end of 2023. We'd spent the day driving across Eryri National Park on rain-soaked roads and had stopped off briefly at the foot of Tryfan for a packed lunch - the mountains were dusted with snow and their summits were high in the clouds, and it was the coldest, dampest day imaginable. Crossing the bridge onto the island felt like entering an entirely different world (where it was just as cold, but suddenly sunny) - we walked through the forest towards Ynys Llanddwyn, and watched the sun set over the distant peaks of the Welsh mountains, and I felt so spiritually alive.
Page 8 - this is a photo taken inside Plough Lane stadium on the day AFC Wimbledon faced Wrexham AFC. I'm from Wrexham originally so I entered the match feeling like I would be happy whichever team won, but when Wrexham were the first to score I felt my heart drop. I knew that in my core and my soul I wanted Wimbledon to win - and held onto that hope for the rest of the match.
"Eating Elf Pasta and Talking About Death"
This video takes a serious subject matter and combines it with spaghetti soaked in ungodly amounts of syrup. This video takes M&Ms and poptarts and chocolate sauce and combines them with musings about mortality and the hundreds of deaths that we experience before our final demise.
This video called out to be a zine in such a unique way that I simply had to do it.
This zine explores the step-by-step process of making elf pasta, eating it, and questioning all of your life choices. It captures this and the chaos of my messy kitchen and the image of Hank shovelling spaghetti into his mouth by hand.
It's certainly a choice.
"I don't have a good title for this video"
This video contains the line "I've been feeling a little stuck recently", which I chose for the first page of this zine. The irony is that this zine was also the most difficult one to draw - and was the one that had me feeling the most stuck(!)
There were 3 or 4 iterations of this zine. I kept toying with various ideas, struggling to figure out how to capture the depth of feeling that this video contains, when there was no clear imagery to use that would be representative of those things. I found myself spending hours on this one, trying to find the right way to capture the feelings of grief, and of joy, and of hope, and of pain.
I have felt a lot of those things over the past 12 months. It's been a difficult year where I've found myself having to navigate various types of grief and pain (the loss of my partner's grandparents, the resurfacing of my own decade-own grief, and navigating significant changes to my physical and mental health) while also experiencing huge amounts of joy (buying an apartment with my partner, getting engaged).
To try and turn those abstract but intense feelings into imagery was incredibly difficult. There is specific symbolism on some of the pages as detailed below:
Page 8 contains feathers - these have been included to represent "hope" based on the Emily Dickinson poem "Hope is the Thing with Feathers"; and to simultaneously represent "grief" by referencing Max Porter's book "Grief is the Thing with Feathers".
The concept of "harm" is represented throughout the zine by spiky shapes, while the concepts of "joy" and "love" are represented by rounded one