Forecast is the latest in Nicholas Blechman’s “Nozone” series. It’s a bit like an issue of The Economist, but authored by some of today’s best cartoonists and graphic designers. As listed by Blechman’s PR sheet: “Ward Sutton imagines a nation divided into a red and a blue zone; Paula Scher maps out the Northern Hemisphere of 2100; Elizabeth Amon interviews New Yorker journalist Elizabeth Kolbert on global warming; and Tom Tomorrow looks back on the legacy of Bush-Cheney.” So it’s still a ‘zine, but rather a grown-up one.
Blechman is principal of Knickerbocker Design in New York City and art director of The New York Times Book Review. He is the editor of Empire and co-author of Evil, both published by Princeton Architectural Press. All images © the author, all rights reserved. Images courtesy of Princeton Architectural Press.
Can you give us a brief rundown on the history of Nozone?
Nozone began in 1991 as school project at Oberlin college. The first issues were hand-made and distributed through an anarchic network of independent music and comic book distributors. More recently Princeton Architectural Press has taken over publishing and distribution (much to my relief) and I’ve been focusing entirely on editing.
The key to putting an issue together is finding a theme that excites me, that is topical and that all the contributors get inspired by. “Forecast” is perfect because it is open ended yet perfectly coincides with the ecological crisis we face. Almost every other article in newspapers and news magazines is about the future, whether it be about growing corn or bio-engineering. We live in very uncertain times.
What is the state of the ‘zine world these days? Are the kids still at Staples, abusing the copy machines?
I think blogs are the ‘zines of the 21st century. Those still doing the Xerox thing are nostalgic for the 80s. But I’m by no means an authority; the DIY movement is in our blood, its part of our American entrepreneurial heritage.
Was there ever a golden age of political cartooning? Is there a period or a certain title you particularly admire?
Some would say it was the Sixties when underground comics took off with Robert Crumb, or even earlier in the Nineteen hundreds and Twenties with satirical publications like the Masses in America, L’Assiette au Beurre in France and Simplicimuss in Germany. I was most inspired by the comics’ scene of the Eighties with Art Spiegelman’s Raw magazine and political publications like WW3.
What are you working on now?
On a series of drawings called 100% with Christoph Niemann. The latest issue came out a few years ago, 100% EVIL. We’ve just become fathers and are working on 100% DAD. But don’t worry, it won’t be as cute as it sounds.