After an eight-year hiatus since the last issue of Le Gun in 2011, the team behind the narrative art magazine have regrouped for what may be its final release. Consisting of Matthew Appleton, Alex Wright, Stephanie von Reiswitz, Neal Fox, Robert Rubbish And Bill Bragg, the longstanding collective of illustrators joined forces once more back in 2017, after much time spent working on their own projects and exhibitions, to start putting together this sixth issue. Two years later, and it’s finally here.
Conceived as a response to the craziness of today, Neal says this latest instalment of Le Gun is “a reaction to the madness and extremes in our culture now, but not in an overt way.” This is certainly evident even from the first flick-through, as the reader is presented with a huge collection of beautifully unruly and often comical work from a wide range of artists.
Speaking on the curation process, Neal says they “put out an open call for submissions and got sent a lot of work, but only a small amount of the final edit comes from that.” They later reached out to old friends and contributors from years gone by, such as their former RCA tutor, Andrzej Klimowski, who provided the visuals for this bold and suitably mad sixth cover. Lastly was a list of artists they’d always wanted to feature, some of which made it into this release, like Will Sweeney, Jim Stoten, Tomi Ungerer, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Ralph Steadman. “The artists were all kinds of ages and places. The people we like are idiosyncratic, not following trends,” says Neal.
Inspired by Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly’s renowned RAW Magazine from the 80s, Le Gun is produced in a similarly large format that does the detailed illustrations inside it justice. Featuring high-quality paper stocks and bold type, the magazine is all about making a statement. Understandable then, that when brainstorming the eponymous name for their collective, the group landed on Le Gun. “It makes you think of something enigmatic form the past, like a surrealist group…it’s also a bit absurd and Franglaise like phrases Del Boy uses in Only Fools and Horses,” explains Neal.
Discussing their other influences, Neal says that long since defunct satirical magazines such as Simplicissimus and L’Assiette au Beurre which were “based around the power and immediacy of drawing and graphic art,” provided them with much inspiration. Whilst movements such as Dada and Surrealism also had an effect on the look and attitude of Le Gun, both in terms of the magazine itself but also on the collective’s other artistic ventures and the way in which they exhibit together.
Looking forward, Neal says that though he is excited to see this sixth issue in shops, it might be the last one they publish. Since the days of drinking and drawing together at the RCA, the Le Gun team have accumulated many more commitments, including “a swarm of a babies”. Though, if humans don’t completely abandon printed matter in the future, and everyone in the group forgets how hard it is to make an issue of the magazine, Neal might just “ride out on a horse, smoking a cigar, and round up the old gang in different far flung locations, knife fighting in Mexico and arm wrestling sailors in Marseille, and persuade them to get back together and make another one.”
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