Dodgem Logic is, according to Alan Moore, ‘the 21st century’s first underground magazine’. There have been five issues so far, so it seemed like an opportunity to compile my thoughts on it.
My reason for reading is obviously Alan Moore – he may have left comics but he’s still writing. He writes an editorial each issue, ‘Great Hipsters In History’ (little information snippets in card form), and a lengthy article: the first issue was about the history of underground publishing, the second issue was about anarchy, the third issue had a particularly fascinating article about the nature of magic (and reality), the fourth issue’s article was about science fiction, and the fifth issue had heroic couplets. It’s great reading Moore’s overview’s of a topic; he’s a well-read, intelligent chap with a great clarity to his prose. It’s not all serious – the insert in the second issue was a comic book written and drawn by Moore called Astounding Weird Penises, about Astro Dick, which is … certainly something.
It’s not all Moore – he has gathered a lot of contributors to help, including Graham Linehan talking about Twitter, Josie Long about whatever is on her mind, Robin Ince on pointless anger righteous ire, Melinda Gebbie on various subjects, Steve Moore (no relation) on whatever he wants to write about, and a page of illustration from Kevin O’Neill. There are also various regular items, such as recipes, articles on guerilla gardening, post-civilised theory and scavenging. There might be an article about crafting or health or civil planning or genetically modified seeds, or even some fiction. It’s certainly a diverse mix, with a lot of local input (there is also an insert for a supposed local-interest pamphlet, but I’ve only seen the Northampton version in the issues I’ve bought) and the quality of writing can seem uneven compared with Moore’s pieces.
The underground feel of the magazine is seen in the design and the typesetting: each piece looks completely different from the next, and even pages within the same article change their design and typeface from one page to the next (which I find rather distracting – the decision might be a reaction to the conformity of design but it gets in the way of actually reading the words; design and typography choices do exist for a reason). Although there were very few typos within the magazine, it seems that copy-editing and production editing are not part of the underground ethos, another distraction for me (particularly the hyphen, my personal obsession). Still, I suppose it makes it feel like the genuine article; the first two issues were especially old-fashioned and rough around the edges. However, with an increase from £2.50 to £3.50 at the third issue, it has taken on a more professional edge and the binding and quality have increased; the fifth issue takes this to the extreme and mimics Vanity Fair in design and layout on the front fold-out cover.
Dodgem Logic is unlike anything I’ve ever seen, which is one of the reasons why I don’t mind buying it. But would I buy it if Alan Moore wasn’t contributing so much to it? Probably not – I don’t think there’s quite enough in it without his input to justify my requirements, but I’m very happy to keep buying a copy as long as he keeps putting out this seemingly personal project.