Magazine Review: The Reprobate Transmission #1

There seems to have been something of a resurgence in print media – alongside many other pre-internet media – in recent years; titles which had quietly slipped off the radar are back, and the indie press, which many folk had anticipated would have disintegrated by now, is ticking along rather nicely. Even we (that is, our previous incarnation, Brutal as Hell) have been at it, and a very enjoyable thing it is to do. I have to admit, there is just something compelling about the physical product; it calls to mind the old excitement of ordering, awaiting and then enjoying a magazine or fanzine – an excitement which is simply missing in the immediacy of the online world. And this isn’t simply blithe nostalgia, believe me; these labours of love tend to bring together disparate, but interesting voices. Such is the case with the new print project, The Reprobate.

Now, it would be remiss of me not to come clean here and state that I’ve been involved with The Reprobate for a while. Its editor, David Flint, had been considering the idea of a magazine for some time before the current project materialised, and I’ve long been kept up to speed on this; it’s no surprise, then, that I’ve offered up a couple of pieces of my own for the first transmission. Very pleased about it I am, too, but in an attempt to be as impartial as possible, I am going to ignore those features (one on beer and culture in Prague, one on the great British courtesans of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, if you were wondering) to concentrate on the others. We’ll start at the start.

The cover star of The Reprobate #1, a certain fellow by the name of Tom Six, will be familiar to many of you for his work on one of the most controversial, divisive series of movies of the last decade (a decade of film which, if it distinguishes itself at all, distinguishes itself via its core of deeply-controversial and divisive films). However, The Reprobate doesn’t focus on The Human Centipede series – the interview and photoshoot is much more about Six’s lifestyle, tastes, and general demeanour; as such I find it more interesting than having him asked for the millionth time whether he considers The Human Centipede a deliberately provocative film. For the record, I think The Human Centipede should be taken in the raucous and (ig)noble tradition of mad scientist movies, at least at the start of the series – but by far, I preferred reading about Six’s sartorial choices, his philosophy, his humour – the last two are closely connected – and his considerate ingestion of a hallucinogenic prior to the photos being taken. It’s more than most would have done.

There’s a lot in this magazine-book to get through so I’ll stick with my personal highlights, one of which is definitely the ‘reprobates in the news’ section. If you’ve ever wanted to utterly throw caution to the wind, or even if you have, there are few things funnier than reading about people who have decided to go full tilt against the world, even if their rebellion is short-lived. The world needs more sloshed vicars, ‘thirsty’ call-centre workers and Satanic graffiti artistes. Then, there’s a detailed feature on the British wrestler-turned-singer Adrian Street, the famous picture of whom, dressed in full glam regalia at a colliery with his family members and other miners in South Wales, sums up the bloody-minded eccentricity of the man and also the community he somehow emerged from. (And, believe me, you do need to be bloody-minded to survive the often introspective Welsh Valleys communities.) Anyway, Street was a ‘variable’ musician, but firmly in the ‘you need to hear this’ category, and writer Daz Lawrence details his dealings with Street, together with the long slog of trying to get his music re-released. Other intriguing ne’er-do-wells are featured throughout the magazine, as well as some engaging art content from Nigel Wingrove, Billy Chainsaw and a selection of rare exploitation cinema posters (the vast majority of the mag is in full colour, all the better to enjoy White Dolemite). You can also find pithy reviews of products, books, places, events, music and film, as well as articles on grooming and clothes.

The magazine is presented in A3 format, with a hard spine, runs to 164 pages and looks attractive on the bookshelf. Of course, this format means that, in light of what I’ve already mentioned above, the magazine is packed – the text is admittedly quite small – and it covers a very wide spread of what you could best describe, I suppose, as unreformed content. Indeed, the magazine is deemed ‘the magazine for the modern contrarian’ and this covers the spread of individual voices within; there’s no over-arching philosophy here, but isn’t that preferable in a world which is increasingly run – as Mr. Flint opines in his editorial – as an echo-chamber? An approach to life, by the way, which hasn’t done us much good of late.

Somewhere between delightfully seedy fanzine and culture mag, The Reprobate is a lot of fun. If your interest is piqued, then you can find out more about this venture – including how to order a copy – right here.