Founded in 2009 by two LA comedy writers and funded through a popular Kickstarter campaign in 2010 – satire magazine, The Devastator, releases its sixth issue on Tuesday, October 16. The multimedia zine -known for working with the crème de la crème of comedy writing and cartooning – is taking a swipe at all things hip(ster) in this issue, aptly titled "Indie".
As with any anthology there are highs and lows in The Devastator #6. What marks the difference between the successful and unsuccessful contributions is how creatively the tenets of "hipsterdom" are handled by contributors.
There's only one certainty about the word hipster – that people don't like being called one. However: The components of the hipster stereotype are pretty well established. To be hipster, one must possess esoteric tastes, ironic detachment and unfortunate facial hair – amongst other qualities non-hipsters surely don't understand.
The weaker pieces in this issue merely enumerate hipster traits and rely on their mention as the punch line. The successful contributions take the fixed gear bikes and the taste for vinyl and present them in novel and entertaining ways.
"Robocop in Poetic Justice" by indie cartoonist Tom Van Deusen is a good example of the type of material we'd like to see more of in future issues of The Devastator. After forced retirement, Detroit's favorite crime fighter prints a poetry chapbook and takes it to the Portland Zine Symposium with ironically tragic results. This is a fun premise which is efficiently and engagingly executed in just one page byVan Deusen.
Another highlight (and a personal favorite) is "Barry's Time Machine" by Miki Grover and Matt Taylor. In the midst of a pissing contest over which of his friends liked Neutral Milk Hotel first, the title character decides to jump back in time. Along the way, Barry makes sure to like anything and everything before everyone else. (This, of course, given the rules of the space/time continuum backfires on Barry and causes him to be the last to like everything.) The story is a fun and creative twist on hipster elitism.
The indie stereotype on the whole is fairly overstated and muddled in popular culture these days. Does shopping at Whole Foods qualify you as a hipster? What's the status of ironic t-shirts these days? It is this state of generalization that contributes to some of the missteps in this issue.
For example: "Service with a Smirk" -a collection of comment cards from fictional indie stores- is an example of a piece that reads like a list of random hipster-esque traits with no real punchline. Where the successful pieces in this anthology take the established tropes of being a hipster and twist them in some unexpected to elicit comedy – this piece is just simply too meta to work – which makes it into that which the issue should be making fun of.
This magazine is formatted to be equally comprised of both text-based contributions and comics. The most ambitious of the text portions is the B-Side (a staple of the magazine, starting with Issue #2) titled "Invasion of the Klostermen." This is a War of the Worlds style tale about alien zombie clones of novelist/essayist Chuck Klosterman attacking and razing the city of Chicago. The bearded, bespectacled beasts lay waste to the city while spouting semi-obscure pop culture analysis. While Klostermen is overly rife with the mention of things all things hip, this choice fits with the over the top tone of the parody and combined with the great pulp style cover is easily one of the best parts of the issue.
While it's not all gold, it's pretty clear that the contributors at Devastator are creative, talented, funny folks who put together a great looking final product. (We're definitely looking forward to seeing Issue #7, which is due out in the spring of 2013.) In the meantime, Issue #6 "Indie" is a densely packed read with a variety of fun to be found page after page. Despite a few missteps, this is a promising issue, and we here at Bleeding Cool HQ are looking forward to watching the evolution of this publication.
Despite his extensive ironic t-shirt collection, writer Tom Gronkowski, is not a hipster. Tom served on the front lines of comics retail in Chicago, Illinois for five years. You can't fan him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter, but chances are if you stake out the "craft beer" tent at the Pitchfork Music Festival, you'll see him there staring off into the distance, full of ennui and pale ale. He's not a hipster… really, he's not… we swear.