From off the streets of Durham comes …

Cover of Mineshaft magazine, issue #44, by R. Crumb.

Now available for holiday giving, issue #44 of Mineshaft magazine dropped into my mailbox in a plain brown envelope a few weeks ago, and as usual it’s a magazine to spend a few thoughtful evenings with. (And you can impress your friends when you leave it on your coffee table.) Among the highlights are tributes to the late Aline Kominsky-Crumb and Diane Noomin from Bill Griffith and others; a new, haunting story called “Nostalgia” from Christoph Mueller; Mary Fleener‘s meditative “Between the Worlds” travelogue; a Skip James portrait from R. Crumb; co-editor Everett Rand’s ongoing saga of Mineshaft itself; and great new stuff from Simone Baumann, Glenn Head, Drew Friedman, and company. I wrote a little more descriptively about Mineshaft here.

Mr. Friedman has called Mineshaft “the best magazine being published in the 21st century,” and who am I to argue with Drew Friedman? Certainly it’s one of the few magazines to which I maintain a subscription (the others are Acoustic Guitar and The Syncopated Times, which shows you where my head is at these days). You can yourself join the illustrious Mineshaft community easily enough; the current issue is available here, and you can sign up for a subscription here. And while you’re there, why not give the gift of bemused alienation to someone close to you?

Below, The Mighty Millborough himself discovers Mineshaft, as told to Christoph Mueller in 2011:

A toast to Mineshaft

In many ways, I’m still an analog boy in a digital world, and when it comes to leisure material for reading, watching, and listening, I prefer the hand-made sort of entertainment, whether it’s mid-budget comedy movies from the 1930s or what’s generally become known as roots music. Books and magazines that suit my temperament are harder to come by these days, though.

Fortunately there’s still Mineshaft magazine, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Inspired by underground magazines and comics of the past, Mineshaft is a modest and resolutely hand-crafted periodical that’s issued about three times a year, published by Everett Rand and Gioia Palmieri in Durham, NC, far from the media meccas of New York and Los Angeles. Produced through the increasingly quaint offset printing method, the magazine’s prose, poems, and comics are resolutely free of cant and pretension. The Spring 2019 issue (No. 37) features recent work from veteran cartoonists and illustrators Drew Friedman (front cover), R. Crumb (back cover), Art Spiegelman, Bill Griffith, and Mary Fleener; poems and paintings by Billy Childish; and work by a number of artists who are unknown to me, such as Nicolas C. Grey, David Collier, and Noah Van Sciver. What they all share is a rootedness in the physical, not the digital, world; like the magazine, the work has a distinctively handmade quality, and the comics especially share a meditative and contemplative marriage of laconic prose and atmospheric inkwork pioneered by, among others, Harvey Pekar in the 1970s. There’s a melancholy that hangs over the whole, a feeling that the analog world it depicts is being lost, if it hasn’t been lost already. That the work has a particularly satiric quality, then, doesn’t come as much of a surprise, especially when it refers to the digital realm, and it’s not much of a shock to find, tipped in with this contemporary work, a reproduction of a detail from a painting by William Hogarth.

Both single issues of No. 37 and back issues are still available from the Mineshaft web site, and you can pony up for a subscription there as well. Obviously the magazine, itself a beautifully, lovingly produced object, will be an acquired taste for those who have drunk deep from the well of the internet culture; it’s not for everybody. But it is, in many ways, for me.