Create: AG23 Zine, Issue One (Please cue the symphony.)

I’m terrified of this little object. You might think I’m kidding but I’m not. This is over a year in the making and I’m frankly a little scared of this thing. What on the surface might not look like a big deal is actually the work of NINE talented contributors (see below), one uber designer, an offset print team (Blurb LOS) and two slightly crazy co-editors (Rick and Dan). Not to mention a creative agency and their design team who took on the two versions of the website. (Thanks to Jay and Nick!)

There were times when I kicked myself for taking this on, but that seems to be the case with most of my best projects. Moments of doubt, concern, frustration, etc. But at the heart was an idea of doing something different, trying something different, regardless of the outcome. Easy for me, I wasn’t paying for this. (Unless you count a year of my life.)

It began with a seemingly simple statement. “Hey Milnor, you and me, twice-a-year Zine.” “Huh?” Then came the “Nah, I work full time already, don’t need a second job.” Then came the friendly pressure and then came the cave in. “Okay, sure, why not?” And I’m SO glad I did. One look at this 60-page, softcover, non-precious Zine catalyst is enough for me to know one thing for certain. This project, and this object, hold promise.

First, a sincere thank you to all those who took the time to contribute. Zoë, Charlene, Frank, Andrew, Megan, Melanie, Michael, Lorenzo, and Brian. (Just take a look at these sites and tell me these aren’t people you want to know!)

We love what you do and want others to love it as well, and that my friend is the point. Zine as catalyst. See something, say something. A friendly QR code to get you to the online promised land of further explanation. Open it anywhere, take a look and see if you can’t learn something. Understanding through dialogue and art.

We have Australians, Americans, and Singaporeans via Kurdistan. We have stories about the Panama Canal expansion, coffee, plastic, Go and a wonderful piece about the photography book Geomancy. We have Old School, New School and a brief about multimedia delivered via print. And we have art from typography.

If I had to blame one person for this adventure it would be Rick from Beyond who was the creative pest that wouldn’t go away and the same person who wrangled the finances to pull this off. It simply would not have gotten off the ground without Rick and his relentlessly positive attitude. Once you get to know Rick and realize what he’s done in his life you understand where this drive and push comes from and you also realize you better just agree and get on with it because he isn’t going away. I wish many of my full-time professional photographer friends had the same fire he possesses.

Our goals are fairly simple but daunting in their own way. Promote understanding through dialogue and art. Yep, check. But we also want to build a community of like-minded individuals who we hope to become their own energy field. And we want to promote the work of contributors AND connect the contributors themselves. I don’t think many of the contributors in the first issue actually know one another and this should not be the case. So, we have our work cut out for us.

Rick and I will also be featuring the Zine and contributors at upcoming events. AG23 has now become its own brand so we are only beginning to play with how we can promote, share and connect. I am now having dreams about how we can further this idea, project, and Zine. We are planning on multiple issues in 2020. Also, importantly, the website has an open submission policy. If you have a story to tell, or if you have already told it and think we can help with amplification then by all means submit. We are not looking for portfolios. We are looking for stories.

Theme of Issue Two: Transition

One thing I learned from looking through the Blurb bookstore over the years is that there are A LOT storytellers out there, talented non-professionals who have something to say. In our minds, everyone is equal so just because you don’t make your living in the creative fields does not mean you aren’t worthy. You are.

The Zine is a 2000 copy, 6×9, softcover, offset printed, Trade Book with #70 paper and a matte cover. Simple, beautiful, non-precious. The Zine also comes in a beautiful, multi-purpose zippered slipcase. (It works wells as an art supplies case!)

Yours truly speaking about AG23 at Outdoor Retailer in Denver.

2020 will see additional aspects of the project. We can now offer collaboration stipends for contributors who make the Zine, which for me is no small thing. As for fulfillment, stay tuned. Like the rest of this project, we have specific ideas of how we are going to get this out and who is going to receive it. Don’t think traditionally…..and when the 2000 copies are gone they are gone.

We want to say thank you to the contributors for taking the ride with us. Like I’ve said many, many times before, there is always a reason to say “no,” and a fair number do. That’s okay, we will do just fine without you. Personally, I’ve learned so many things in the last year, some of which really opened my eyes to things like industry, collaboration and even the hunger for something like AG23.

So far I’ve approached three people about submitting for the second issue and all three ran their hands over the first issue and said: “I’m in, I’m in, I’m in.” I can’t think of anything more perfect.

We have a long way to go but step one is complete. Stay tuned for a lot more.

24 Comments on “Create: AG23 Zine, Issue One (Please cue the symphony.)”

    1. David,
      We are working on fulfillment now. We should have a system in place soon. We are fulfilling through somewhat atypical channels in keeping with the Zine tradition but the more standard practice is being worked on now.

  1. no need to be terrified. it’s brilliant. and zoe is from another planet. i just can’t get over how good it looks. first couple of days i had it, i couldn’t read it. i just had to stare in wonder. it’s really really great. seriously, i love everything about this little book.

    charlene’s piece is my favorite. after owning andrew’s book for awhile, the insight from his journals is fantastic. everyone else who contributed is top notch too.

    and i’m writing. and editing. and writing. and editing. i’ve never been so stressed out about submitting anything to anyone. ever.

    1. Sean,

      Hahahaha. And with your piece, you might end up a watchlist…..Zoe is awesome. Charlene is too. I really like Megan’s too and her overall portfolio is so interesting to me.

  2. Admittedly I read this fast and may have missed it. I was scanning for the all-important “here’s how you get a copy”….

    1. Scott,
      We are fulfilling in a variety of strange ways, for now, but the plan is to make them available through the site very, very soon. At least in limited quantity. I’ll let you know.

    1. FBJ,
      Charlene’s copies are going to be sent your way as she requested…Denmark will never be the same.

    2. I click on everyone’s pages who posts in the Dan Milnor peanut gallery. Damn, your landing page is sick. (I’m too old to really pull off the word sick, but my younger cool kid Seattle friends say it, and it seemed appropriate.)

      1. Scott,
        It’s a fine line. Anyone over 40, it’s a slippery slope but when deployed correctly it can still work.

  3. It looks good, really good, but that’s no surprise coming from you.
    And, I like the “We can now offer collaboration stipends for contributors who make the Zine, which for me is no small thing.”
    My bete noire over the last decade or so is the “we can’t pay you, but it’ll be good exposure” line. Keep up the good work….now where did I put those postage stamps?

    1. Napper,
      Very happy to see this comment. This has been a major undertaking to get off the ground, not to mention tens of thousands of someone else’s money. The lack of funds for pay for the first issue bothered me but I also knew that many of these stories were either already complete or had been finished long ago and might not get out otherwise. Most people I reached out to, thankfully, said “Cool, seems odd, let’s do it.” I think people assumed that the Zine and site would be little more than pathways to either Blurb or Beyond but there isn’t anything in Zine or site that leads or even links to either brand. It’s a free zine so making money was never even in the discussion. Now when I show it, even after giving a fifteen-minute description of the goal I’m often confronted by “Where are the articles about clothing?” or “Where is the stuff about Blurb?” And when I say “There isn’t anything about clothes or printing,” people are confused. We figured out a way to offer stipends now. Not much but something, and we have way more in the works to build out funding even more. This ENTIRE thing, the Zine, the site, the merchandise, the marketing, the printing, the design, everything is because of Rick at Beyond. I’ve never worked with anyone like him and he just finds ways of getting it done. AND, he is new to the art world, photography world, etc. but his drive to understand, experience and learn is way above normal. I can’t imagine continuing this project and NOT running something of yours. Theme for Issue Two is “transition.” I already have a half dozen people lined up and the submission portal is already seeing action. On a selfish note, there is so much negativity and disaster associated with the industry these days that it feels great to work on something independent, something we can entirely control. I have three goals. Promote the contributors and their projects. Connect the contributors. And eventually, if possible, steer work in their direction. I don’t have the juice to take on commercial jobs at this point but I sure would love to connect those clients with people and projects I believe in.

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