Dan Thompson – zines and artist books collection

We’ve recently been very lucky to receive a fantastic collection of almost 300 zines and artist books from artist, maker and collector, Dan Thompson.

Dan lives in Ramsgate and runs a studio out of Marine Studios in Margate. He works nationwide on projects centred around people and places. Below is his story about this fantastic collection. You can browse the collection here: https://archive.kent.ac.uk

A photograph of 8 publications, their covers facing the viewer.

A selection of Dan’s publications in the collection, 997-2022 (DTC/ART/01)

“I’m a collector. I have collected since I was a child (my mum is a collector, too, with a love of the 1920s and 1930s – my dad had collections of stamps and of cigarette cards – and my uncle was an antique dealer). I have collections connected to the First and Second World Wars, to the printing industry, of studio pottery, of 7” soul singles.

But sometimes, collections creep up on you.

A photograph of 3 issues of Gay Christian zine, each photocopied on to pink paper.

Gay Christian zine, 1983-1984, found by Dan Thompson discarded at the British Juggling Convention, Ramsgate in 2022 (DTC/ZIN/02)

Back in the 1990s, I worked with a number of bands – and knew many more – who were on the fringes of Britpop.

Britpop retrospectives always feature two iconic magazine covers, Select with an image of Brett Anderson from Suede and Vanity Fair with a photo of Liam Gallagher and Patsy Kensit under a Union Jack duvet.

But the bands that originally made up the scene were better represented in Fantasy Y Fronts, a thick photocopied zine made by two fans, Mel and Sal. (There were lots of zines around back then, and the best ones were made by women.) Who remembers S*M*A*S*H, These Animal Men, Tiny Monroe, Thurman, Compulsion, Mantaray and co? I do, and they’re all in here.

I used to correspond with Fantasy Y Fronts, in the days when you had to write and post a letter. Finding the best bands, and being part of the scene, took time and commitment.

I kept a couple of copies of Fantasy Y Fronts as a souvenir of that time (I wish I’d kept the correspondence, too), and they’re the foundation this collection is built on.

Photographs of the covers of two issues of Fantasy Y-Fronts zine, balck and white photocopies with images of bands alongside text and logos.

Two copies of Fantasy Y-Fronts in the collection, 1994 (DTC/MUS/02)

 

Added to them are thirty years of things I never consciously collected.

It includes more music zines, including a small collection given to me a few years ago by the manager of Welsh band 60 Ft Dolls. There are political zines and pamphlets, including copies of Occupied Times from the Occupy movement that echo 1960s publications like International Times.

There are things made by artists I’ve known and worked with, like Charles Tolfree and Alice Angus. I’ve curated exhibitions and programmed events across England, so these come in geographical clusters: Brighton and Worthing, where I lived, then Margate, and Stoke-on-Trent where I have worked since 2014.

A photograph of 7 issues of Happy Hood zine, their covers facing the viewer.

Happy Hood zine by Laura Graham and Paige Taylor, 2017-2018 (DTC/PLA/04/01)

There are publications like Happy Hood, halfway between a zine and a local magazine, produced by my friend Laura Graham in Northampton.

There are all sorts of things, from all sorts of places, in all sorts of formats. There’s poetry and photography, and creative writing and cartoons.

A photograph of the cover of GirlFrenzy zinie, blue cover with a drawn image of a woman playing a guitar

GirlFrenzy zine, 1998 (DTC/MUS/11)

It’s a mismatched collection because I never set out to collect zines. These are souvenirs of projects, reminders of places I’ve been, gifts or exchanges with people I know – a collection of moments in time. They all originally belonged to other loose collections but a few years ago, I realised that if I took those collections apart (Britpop, or Things About London, or …) the constituent parts made a new collection, of what could be loosely termed artist’s books, zines, and small press publications.

 

 

A photograph of the cover of a zine, featuring a portrait of an older man.

Cummerbundery (Vol 1): The collected tweets of Brandon Cummerbund, 2010 (DTC/ART/08/06)

 

As an artist, I like this reshuffling of knowledge, this reframing of things in different ways. And that’s why I am pleased to be handing the collection, well over a hundred assorted items, to the University of Kent’s Special Collections, where it will be a cornerstone of their growing collection of zines and artist’s books. Because it’s a pack of cards that can be shuffled many ways, and I look forward to seeing who shuffles it and what they turn up.”

 

Zines Zines Zines! New exhibition in the Templeman Gallery

Title of exhibition - Zines Zines Zines - written in a DIY ransom note font

Come and see our new exhibition in the Templeman Gallery about the history and development of zines, and featuring zines from the Queer Zine Library – which will be up throughout September 2023.

What are zines?

Zines are do-it-yourself publications – often in the form of photocopied booklets. They are either unique items or have a limited number of copies in circulation. They are cheap to make, require no particular skills to create, and have hugely varied content including art, poetry, cartoons, collage, interviews and commentary. The history of zines is rooted in radical political self-publishing and provide an opportunity for expression of views and perspectives outside of the mainstream press.

What is in the exhibition?

View of an exhibition case with two information boards to the left. The exhibition case contains a range of zines and small press publications with captions alongside.

Display of zines and small press publications from Special Collections and Archives that highlight the history of zine making and self publishing.

The exhibition features examples of zines and small press printing selected from across our collections in Special Collections and Archives – including from the British Stand-Up Comedy Archive, the Modern Firsts poetry collection, examples from our artists’ books collection, and our new zine archive donated and collated by Dan Thompson.

These zines provide examples from across the history of zine making from early 18th century pamphlets (such as ‘Common Sense’ by Thomas Paine) to Beat Poetry in the mid 20th century to zines created by comedian Josie Long in her Kindness and Exuberance tour in the 2000s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are also delighted to host a selection of zines from the Queer Zine Library – a mobile DIY┬álibrary celebrating radical LGBTQIA+ zines and selfpublishing. With huge thanks to Holly Callaghan, one of our amazing Divisional Liaison Librarians, who organised the loan of the material from the Queer Zine Library and provided the captions about each item on display.

And finally, we are also delighted to feature some beautiful and moving examples of artists’ books created by participants in the Open Book project, a book-making project organised by the Canterbury Festival offered to those living with dementia to express their experiences both visually and through text. With thanks to Amanda Sefton Hogg at the Canterbury Festival for providing these examples from the project to include in the exhibition.

Get a Free Zine and Make Your Own!

You can pick up a free info-zine about the exhibition, and even have a go at making a zine yourself at the making station. We can’t wait to see your creations! You can share a picture with us by emailing specialcollections@kent.ac.uk.

Image showing table in the exhibition space with three piles of free info-zines for people to take away, some paper and pens for people to make their own zine, and an information board about zines at the University of Kent

The making station in the Templeman Gallery exhibition space where you can make your own zine

Small black and white zine, standing up with the front cover visible showing the text "Zines Zines Zines! Templeman gallery A Block 1st Floor. Aug/Sept 2023. An exhibition about the history and development of zines! Featuring items from Special Collections and Archives AND the Queer Zine Library!" In the background of the image in soft focus are other copies of the zine displayed on the table.

Free info-zine about the exhibition. Come along and take one.