As one of the artists featured on our website, Jason Brewer reached out to me to ask whether I'd like to look at his first volume of his zine Oddments. Of course, I happily accepted the offer, and here we are! Even though I intend to support every creator as much as possible, Jason kindly offered to send me this zine for review for free. For the sake of being open and transparent, it is worth mentioning that, besides the zine, I am not receiving anything for this zine, and the views are entirely my own, and not influenced in anyway, but as you might expect from Jason - it's pretty darn good.
I'll begin where I usually do: the production of this zine. A lot of people often overlook this as "it's the images that are important". Even though there is truth to that statement, I unfortunately do judge a book by it's cover. I think that it is important as it should entice you to pick up the publication to enjoy. Oddments certainly fulfils that. The booklet itself has a lovely, glossy texture that gives it a premium feel in the hand. The images are appropriately selected. I particularly like that the colour image is on the front, and the monochrome image is on the back; I feel it makes the front more inviting. The zine has been bound with a glue of sorts, so you have this clean, staple-less spine. It's a clean and professional presentation. Also, I really like the dimensions of this zine. Unlike the average A5 dimensions of 5.8 x 8.3 inches, Oddments is roughly 5 x 8 inches. I really like the slight change in size; I think it's better suited to the size of my hands, and the tall and slim aspect ration reminds me of premium magazines, or even a book. It's subtle, but effective.
Then I wish to draw your attention to the narrative of Oddments. If, like myself, you aren't familiar with the word oddments, do not fear, as Jason include the definition as a little preface to this book:
"a remnant or part of something typically left over from a larger piece or set
bits and pieces, odds and ends"
I really like this idea as a narrative. The gathering of left over pieces that produce a single body works particularly well. Jason break this up into five sections: People Are Strangers, Sussex WI, Fair View, Utility and Where We Where. He speaks a little about these separate narratives in the feature he wrote for our website here. I have previously spoken about my appreciation for variety in zines. That could be variety in composition, format, colour, subject matter and so on. In this case, having these five different sub-narratives in the larger narrative of Oddments really captures my interest. I excitedly wait for Volume Two.
The paper choice is the next element I wish to draw attention to. I personally like a textured paper choice. I think it feels nicer and more premium than some glossy materials, though I feel that textured paper tends to make images appear flatter; the contrast often suffers. This isn't the case with Oddments. I'm no exactly sure which paper Jason has selected, or whether he's ramped up the saturation in anticipation of the printers, but these images look full and rich. The pages unquestionably bring out the great details of the image. I think the paper choice is great, and is worth recognising.
Then we come to the actual images. Of course, I've mentioned that I appreciate the variety in subject matter in the form of five sub-genres, but I also love the variety in colour. Some of the images are black and white, some are colour. Some are really saturated, while others appear to have the pastel tones we associate with film. There's generally a great balance to the collection of images. That being said, it is worth noting that not all these images are shot on film, some are shot on digital. Though it's tougher to spot which ones are which - I certainly struggled.
I'm not sure which of the sub-genres I like the most: I think it is between Sussex WI and Utility. In Sussex WI, the images leave me with a odd feeling. I get the feeling that the narrative is unfinished. There are subjects included in the frame that have a story of their own which could be explored, and I find myself filling the gaps in my head. Perhaps my favourite image is the following one. I like to appreciate this collection of images as a collection, though I feel this image can stand alone. I have no intention of sharing my political views here, though I thought I'd draw your attention to this image. As for Utility, there's a part of me that appreciates patterns and geometry, and this collection of images do that for me. I just have a soft spot for this sort of design.
As is undoubtedly apparent, I am a massive fan of Oddments Volume One. I really look forward to getting my hands on Volume Two once it is announced. If, like me, you'd like to keep up to date with the work of Jason Brewer, you can do so through his website here. You can get your hands on the first run of Oddments here. To follow him on Instagram, you can do so here, and lastly, if you'd like to learn a little more about this project and Jason in general, you can read the article he produced for our website here.