Copyright the artists 2012, LBM Dispatch #3: Michigan, published by Little Brown Mushroom
A couple of years ago at the LA Art Book Fair I acquired LBM Dispatch issue #3; Michigan, published by Little Brown Mushroom (aka LBM), an unusual zine that is the brain-child of Alec Soth (photographer) and Brad Zellar (writer). I had not really planned on reviewing it. Since I recently acquired a copy of Alec Soth’s Songbook (published by MACK; 2014) which incorporates images previously published in the various LBM Dispatches, I thought it might relevant to briefly discuss Dispatch #3 to provide a little more context to Soth’s Songbook.
First to be up front I may have a bias for a photobook about the state of Michigan as I spent too many years of my youth growing up in this state. Some good memories, others not, but to say that I left with my family very shortly after I graduated from college and we have now lived for many, many years in Southern California. We still have a lot of my wife’s family in Michigan, so we do return, but not too regularly, and over the many years, we have visited much of this State.
As collaboration, the LBM Dispatch zine is an interactive photo-journalistic creation by a pair of guys who seem to enjoy each other’s company while doing road trips across the country. It is a combination of Black & White photographs, captions and various quotes relevant to the State sprinkled thru out. It does make for a snappy read, not really a newspaper per se, but also not a hard edge, searing recreation of Robert Frank’s The Americans either, although there are some gritty elements present. Maybe this zine is more in spirit and trying to connect with the WPA photographic work of the 1930’s.
As Zellar states “We do not pretend to be real journalist, and though we don’t have a clear agenda when we set out, we do try to shape the narrative and round out themes that develop as we explore the places we visit.”
They came, they saw and this is some of what they saw and heard and what it made us think about. Interesting.
As a photobook zine, this has a softcover similar to a broad sheet, the entire publication is printed on the same weight paper, lightly scored gutter and folded, but not bound; loose. The paper has a slightly heavy hand, a slight off-white color and is not recycled newsprint as are most newspapers. Even with the high quality paper, the black and white images are printed a lower contrast with weak blacks, again frequently as with many newspapers which attempt to save a little money, going lighter with the black ink on the presses.
Btw, the Michigan Dispatch #3 is now Sold Out