A journal I’ve been super psyched about since I first learned of it last year (though it’s been around since 2012) is Nat. Brut. I intentionally left it off my dazzling and comprehensive 2015 Year-End Review List because I wanted to sing its praises separately.
Then! I received an email from editor in chief Kayla E. inviting me to join Nat. Brut’s board of directors. I learned more. I agreed. Now I’m not just on board, I’m on THE board (!) (or will be when my term starts, I think in March) of one of the most thoughtfully and beautifully made journals around.
Have you seen it? It’s stunning…
…and activating, energizing, invigorating. Nat. Brut is pro-art, pro-social justice; it publishes art across media and genre, centers marginalized voices, and promotes environmental sustainability.
Issue Six (Fall 2015) was my intro. I bought a copy mainly because Meghan Lamb, whose work I follow, contributed to the supplement, a comics zine. More on that below.
Issue Six assembles a generous, diverse collection of fiction, poetry, features, and visual art, plus a foldout comics poster called “Early Edition.” Among my favorite pieces are:
- Afabwaje Kurian’s “Butter,” which deftly explores tensions between black African immigrant and African American communities through the story of a Nigerian girl’s fraught relationship with a classmate, and her first, confusing encounter with the n-word.
- Elise Liu’s “John and Mary and Jenny and Mike,” an equation-based reworking of Margaret Atwood’s “Happy Endings” that pluralizes not only the available storylines, but the original couple, recasting them as a range of characters with different social and national identities.
- Morgan Jerkins’ “Asha,” a succinct and compelling fabulist parable about Black women’s domestic labor and the exploitation of generosity.
- David Rice’s “On the Murder of Nicola Teensmah,” a story in the form of an essay on a fictional film—convincing, unsettling, surprising, oddly funny.
- I’m spotlighting the fiction because I was so impressed with/excited about the range; other highlights include poetry by Justin Wymer, Margarita Delcheva, Talia Lavin, and Adam Fitzgerald; Kayla E.’s interview with Jayson Musson, the artist behind the ART THOUGHTZ YouTube series; and Chitra Ganesh’s She the Question, a comic that reconstructs from a feminist perspective images from the Amar Chitra Kathas comic book series for children (published in India and distributed around the world).
- And so much more.
As a supplement to the issue, Kayla E. created and illustrated All of Them Witches, a zine of four comics that rewrite sexist horror comics from the 1950s, written by Meghan Lamb, Stine An, Carrie Guss, and Ashley Keyser, and edited by RL Goldberg. Sharp, funny, pulling no punches, these four “re-mixes” do exciting work to resuscitate the pulpy, perverse sensationalism of their originals, while correcting—with triumph—their insulting misogyny.
Much of the journal content is available on the website, where Nat. Brut also publishes original content, including this terrific roundtable of women and nonbinary comics artists responding to the erasure of women in this year’s list of nominees for the Grand Prix de la ville d’Angoulême.
From 2005-2008 I co-published a zine called Mildred Pierce and Nat. Brut is sort of what I envisioned that project growing into: a beautifully printed yet somehow sustainable journal/magazine that publishes smart, fresh literature, art, essays, and comics; art and ideas that are in many ways resistant and thoroughly politically and socially engaged. Nat. Brut is doing all that — & more! I’m eager for Issue Seven. ❤