The history of little magazines is extensive – and though it isn’t my aim to give you a history lesson, I feel it is necessary to at least set the scene. Short-term periodicals have been a staple of fringe literature since the late 1800’s and continue to act as a platform for all sorts of writers to this day. Historically, little magazines attract new or controversial writers, as well as those who experiment with structural forms considered less marketable. As a medium, zines and magazines are now ridiculously accessible and easy to produce, with webpages and blogging sites providing free accounts on which to host anyone and everyone’s content. So, there’s little wonder why little magazines are everywhere.
After learning about the important history of these small publications myself, partly through the Magazine Publishing module on my BA Creative Writing at NTU, and producing one at the end of that module, I found myself fascinated with the concept, and the possibilities of a self-made space. With no boundaries or limits set by a looming editor or financial benefactor, complete creative control was passed over to those of us who marshalled the work. The possibilities felt almost endless. So, as summer approached, I began the journey to produce a magazine that was wholly my own, born from the chaos of Uni life and my passion for the creatively absurd.
To give you some context, I must take you back to the start of my first year at NTU. We were at the tail end of 2020’s summer lockdowns, and a freshly 18-year-old me was trawling through the depths of the Facebook NTU Freshers page for others taking my course. After finding no one – but knowing plenty were indeed out there to be found – I created a WhatsApp group and posted an open invite on the Freshers page. Here spawned the Creative Bastards. The title is, I like to think, a moniker for all Creative Writing students in my year group, as well as honorary members who unfortunately (!) chose to study for an English degree instead – the two cohorts are quite close and share some modules. We attempted projects as a group through years one and two, though these lasted a few weeks each before fading into nothingness. The idea for a literature and creative arts magazine floated around in January 2022, when our module-produced magazines were publicly launched, and over the following months I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
This brings us to May 2022. With the help of my course mate Rebecca Eaton, we set up an email and social medias for the project and began to build up a profile – our aims, our goals, our purpose. I liked the idea of a changing theme for each issue, and we settled on ‘Monsters’ for the first. The theme gave way to numerous interpretations, from familial relationships to childhood fears to reinterpretations of Greek myth. With the help of in-house and public submissions, the concept morphed into something bigger than we could’ve imagined. By mid-July, I had submissions from all over – Nottingham, Canada, the USA, Belarus, and Iran. Once September arrived, I bit the bullet and got a student Adobe Suite subscription: a friend who works in Graphic Design sang its praises for magazine formatting. Who was I to turn down a professional’s recommendation? Over the course of the next month, the magazine began to take form. The staple yellow blobs adorned the pages, along with illustrations and artwork from skilled course mates. Before long the many, many elements merged to form a cohesive piece of visually stimulating art. Though I had aimed for the project to be finished before October, I would consider three weeks over the mark as pretty good for a first independent attempt.
I sent off for quotes on printing. The single most important thing at this time was for all the contributors to have a physical copy, be it to show their friends and family, or future employers. I ordered sixty copies. This may have been an ambitious move, but if I sold the extras at £5 apiece, it would make back the printing cost, and could be put forward to fund the next issue.
I can vividly remember the bright yellow covers, shiny, grand-spanking new in that little cardboard box. I shot a message off to one of my editors, Elle Jacobson, who had indicated her interest in organising a launch event. With the new term now kicking in at NTU, I accepted her offer, and after a few weeks, we were at The Playwright on Shakespeare Street, shouts and cheers making their way through the door as the first game of the World Cup played out one room over.
The event went great! Nick, Andrew, Antonia, Nathan, Elle, Rebecca, Megan, and I read out our pieces to a buzzing audience of twenty-five. My bones shook as I gave little speeches at the start and end, knowing that without the people in that room, the project would not have been possible, let alone successful.
Creative Bastards Magazine – Issue 1: Monsters, is now available via our website. Check it out at https://www.creativebastardsmag.com/
Elmo Moorby is a third-year BA Creative Writing student at NTU.