Alan Moore et al.
Knockabout ($5.95/each)

by Rudi Dornemann

Alan Moore tends not to stay in one place artistically. When he made a name for himself in comics in the early 1980’s, he reworked the conventions of science fiction and superhero comics. In the years since, he’s written extremely detailed historical comics (From Hell), highly artful erotica (Lost Girls), a novel in prose (Voice of the Fire), intricate performance pieces (e.g. The Highbury Working: A Beat Seance), and, of course, a varied collection of further comics (PrometheaTop 10The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen . . .). With the eight-issue run of Dodgem Logic he’s forged a path in yet another direction: magazine editor and publisher.

As to why a magazine, one need look no further than the first issue’s opening editorial, which includes the statement, “Clearly, what the world needs is a trippy-looking underground mag with a self-confessed agenda of aggressive randomness.” Randomness in a magazine is indeed a good thing. Much of the enjoyment of any magazine comes from articles you stumble upon: the more random a magazine, the greater the chance you’ll find something unexpected and wonderful. After all, who turns the page already 
knowing they want to sew a Feejee Sock Mermaid? Grow an urban guerilla garden? Puzzle out a cryptic, manic single-panel cartoon from artist Kevin O’Neil? Try a recipe for pumpkin risotto? Read a polemic on toilets, a World War II memoir from Michael Moorcock, an article on surviving the apocalypse, or an essay/interview by Iain Sinclair about the painting of a portrait of J. G. Ballard?

There’s a tension between randomness and the concept (ubiquitous these days) of curation. But in choosing to foreground randomness, Moore may be, to some extent, de-accentuating his imprint on the magazine. Dodgem Logic does seem to have an attitude and voice of its own—one that may be related to Moore’s own, but certainly isn’t identical with it. Part of this derives from the fact that the magazine’s contributors get to establish their own voices in their contributions without being melded into a common voice. A good example of this is Melinda Gebbie, Moore’s collaborator on Lost Girls and other comics, and now his wife, who contributes a number of very different, and often very personal, articles and stories.

Not that there isn’t plenty of Moore’s own presence; his voice is heard in articles and fiction, the transcript of a performance piece on William Burroughs, and even a little poetry. He doesn’t contribute as much in the way of comics as his legions of fans might hope—although there’s one that he not only writes, but draws himself, in fine underground comic style. And he closes each issue with a walking tour of some parts of his hometown in England, Northampton.

There’s in fact a strong Northampton strain in Dodgem Logic: a good many of the contributors are from there, a fair number of articles examine local events, the second issue includes a photo essay on the magazine’s launch party at Northampton’s Monk’s Park Workingmen’s Club, and every issue contains a local “Notes from
Noho” section. The Notes were originally a separate booklet within the magazine, intended to be replaced by special sections from other localities, but eventually just became a subsection of the larger magazine.

And “Notes from Noho” isn’t the only bonus between Dodgem Logic’s pages—other issues contain a CD, a mini-comic, an iron on transfer . . . In some ways, there’s nothing more random than having entirely separate objects contained within the magazine.

In the first article of the first issue, just after the opening editorial quoted above, Moore sets the stage for Dodgem Logic with a five-page survey of underground publishing from the 1200s to the present. He winds up what could be taken for a more serious version of a mission statement:

In the draughty, boarded-storefront landscape of the present day, when the most wild and radical ’sixties complaints regarding the environment, the government or the police have become commonplace mainstream public opinion, when we’re monitored to an extent that makes George Orwell seem an optimist and when the media serve up only regurgitated tinsel shit and naked propaganda, we would seem particularly needful
of the colour, sexiness and energy the undergrounds once offered. With regular society and culture clearly coughing blood, a counter-culture or alternative society might be things we could use right about now.

. . . There isn’t any reason why we shouldn’t have our information served up in a form that’s funny and intelligent and beautiful.

In a recent interview in The Guardian, Moore talked about Dodgem Logic returning to print at some point next year. With any luck, the relaunch will capture the same eclecticism, strong design sense, and combination of DIY ethos and high production values, and continue the original eight issues’ pursuit of the funny, the intelligent, and the beautiful.

Rain Taxi Online Edition, Fall 2011 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2011