o r e
SPEED WHEELS BY JAMES TURVEY
NONSENSE # 2
THE SKATE FAARK RADMIRATION MY TRIP SOUTH THIs IS
LET THE DAMN KIDS SKATE by tom Lutherborrow 61 IDENTITY CRISIS
REAPERS AND A RAT: THE INTERVIEW
JAMES TURVEY & MD
M I AT R
I present to you...
a group of individuals who I both respect and admire. My idols if I may be so bold. Whether it be for their contributions to skateboarding and the skateboarding community, for their creativity and originality in their respective fields of choice or maybe itâ€™s just because I have become so accustomed to them over the years of my obsession to skateboarding. Or maybe its just because theyâ€™re rad.
skateboard graphics and book covers of my youth drew influence from similar sources that it can blend into one big melting pot of ephemera if you don’t keep your wits about you.
very time I go into a newsagency, I think I see a copy of Speed Wheels #2 amongst the other magazines on the rack, but it ends up being some ridiculous title I’ve never heard of. There’s a magazine for every subculture; someone, somewhere is not only reading a copy of Snake Charmer’s Monthly, but has the entire back-catalogue and a current subscription.
On sleep-deprived mornings, in the library where I work, I think I see copies of Speed Wheels #2 peaking out from behind hardbound editions of To The Lighthouse, War and Peace, The Tree of Man and other literary greats. This is where I feel it belongs.
Whenever I go into a second-hand bookshop I search through bundles of musty old mags hoping to find Speed Wheels #2. Once I thought I saw it amongst the Mad magazines, but it ended up being an old issue of Surfing Life that someone had hidden to purchase at a later date. I held it to my nose, took a big whiff and imagined that it was the magazine I was looking for. Comics come close, but nothing smells as good as a vintage skate mag.
Speed Wheels #2 is a skateboarding magazine from 1988. I didn’t buy it then – it hit the shelves when I was six years old - two years before I got my first real board. I bought a copy of it second-hand in 1995 from Cooks Hill Books & Records. It cost me fifty cents. Today I’d be willing to pay fifty dollars for it. The skateboarder on the cover of Speed Wheels #2 was performing a layback slide or Bert on an embankment, similar to moves my cousin Tom would bust in the driveway next to his house while I practiced flat-ground on the footpath. The funny thing is that even for 1988, the trick on the cover was dated.
When I’m looking through my own bookshelf, my own comic collection or my own stash of magazines, I sometimes think I see the pink swirl of Tony’s 67mm, 93A Powell-Peralta TBone wheels from the back cover of Speed Wheels #2, but it’s just my mind playing tricks on me. So much artwork from the comics,
“I bought a copy of it second-hand in 1995 from Cooks Hill Books & Records. It cost me fifty cents. Today I’d be willing to pay fifty dollars for it.”
I can remember nearly every detail of Speed Wheels #2. I remember looking at a picture of a skateboarder called Rudolph doing a Ho-Ho plant somewhere in Manly. He was wearing tracksuit pants and the Airwalk Vics with the suede lace-saver. At the time I was skating in oversized jeans and Converse One-Stars and I recall thinking that his outfit was far more functional for skateboarding than mine.
Pretty much every other photo in the magazine was more cover-worthy than that layback slide. I’m assuming there was some kind of nepotism involved when it came to laying out the cover and that the guy on the front is actually the editor’s cousin. I would’ve put Tom on the cover of a magazine if I was running one back then too.
The poster in Speed Wheels #2 featured Anthony Simmons performing a Whiskey Twist, which is kind of halfway between an invert and a layback rollout with a finger flip thrown in. It took a year or two of looking at that poster hanging on my bedroom wall to figure out that Anthony Simmons was “Simmo,” the old guy that worked behind the skate counter at Pacific Dreams and carved around the park late in the afternoons. By “old” I mean he was twenty-nine, a year younger than I am now as I sit here writing this.
I have many Australian skateboarding magazines aside from Speed Wheels #2 that would mean more to others. I have the first issue of Slicks, a newspaper format magazine from the early seventies that is probably the first Australian Skateboarding magazine, the first issues of Slam, Australian Skateboarding and Skatin’ Life. I even have the first issue of Speed Wheels itself. They come close, but they don’t encapsulate skateboarding like Speed Wheels #2. No magazine does. Speed Wheels #2 was perfect. It was like reading a zine that had been made collaboratively by the closest of friends. The scene was small enough to make it seem like everyone in it knew each other – like they were their own community.
I cut pictures out of Speed Wheels #2 to cover my schoolbooks. I placed pictures of Five Dock bowl next to pictures of contemporary spots like Justin Herman Plaza (EMB). I cut out a whole series of Righteous Boards (an Australian board company from the late 80s) and placed them next to a series of Menace boards. I even had pictures of Mick Mulhall next to pictures of Henry Sanchez. I was trying to show that I knew my roots, but in doing so I cut my most prized possession into tethers and streamers of its former self. And no one cared if I knew my roots or not.
I’m not materialistic when it comes to TVs or jewellery, but I love any kind of memorabilia that holds nostalgic or sentimental connection to my youth. I can still remember the cars in the background of some of the skate photos and they’re the same cars from the car parks, intersections and traffic jams of my childhood.
WORDS BY JAMES TURVEY Aside from Blind’s Video Days, Plan B’s The Questionable Video is arguably the most influential skate video of all time. It changed everything - and Mike Carroll has a three song part, so that’s got to tell you something. Skateboarding was never the same again and Carroll played a big part in that. It also happened to be the first video I saw. I still pretend I’m Carroll skating at Embarco whenever I skate on paved or tiled ground. LONG LIVE NERD!
ing and tend to do their upmost to subdue it; however, you will occasionally stumble across urban terrain that seems purposely designed for the sake of shred, the kind of stuff fit for a Tony Hawk video game.
s a skater you develop an appreciation for fine concreting. Just like working in a commercial kitchen gave me a special empathy towards over-stressed wait staff, skateboarding has opened my eyes to the beauty of a nicely poured slab. It’s the little things mostly, nice smooth finishes and joints that sit perfectly flush. You start to look at your world different every time you leave the house. If you live in a city, your entire world becomes a potential playground. A walk down the street becomes just that much more interesting as you contemplate ledges and stair sets as new challenges or, as is often in my case, fantasies. When constantly engrossed in the pre-fabricated cookie cutter designs of the budget restricted local council skateboarding can actually awaken some fucking wonder in what is essentially a pretty tiresome environment. It gives you the opportunity to take that mundane day to day bullshit, turn it on its head and have fun with it, use it in a totally unique way. And even the budget restricted local council who share a similar view point for design as your grandfather sometimes pull off the unbelievable, for they’re often responsible for those skate spots deemed legendary. Of course councils rarely endorse skateboard-
Where there’s potential for skateboarding however, there’s the incessant plague of skate stoppers. I say plague because like locusts or rats to a farmer, to a skater these things suck. Those pesky little polygons of stainless steel protruding from that perfect fucking ledge that looks like it belongs in a skate park; who do they think they are? Jerks! They are like the spikes placed on the top of signs and awnings to stop the birds perching there; just existing to occasionally say “Hey, fuck you buddy. You’re not welcome here.” As much as skate stoppers bedevil the skateboarder, they go relatively unnoticed by the rest of society. To those of us who are familiar with those little stainless steel bastards, views are polarised. They’re either a never ending nuisance or a saviour for you and your property, forever keeping riff raff at bay. For everyone else they’re simply an arbitrary design feature warranting little consideration. Few
dictate how urban constructs are to be used despite the fact they are in public areas and funded by taxpayers. Imagine if it wasn’t like that, if councils were cool with people skating and occasionally even made features around town for skating. We wouldn’t be exiled into the skate parks where the elderly and conservative fear to tread. It’d be fucking awesome.
people notice their presence let alone give any thought to why they persistently turn up on ledges, rails and footpaths everywhere you turn. They’re like the ridges in Solo Cups. You know those red cups you see in every party scene of just about every Hollywood film? I’m sure you are familiar with them, but did you realise the ridges around them are actually measuring lines to assist in pouring exactly one standard drink of various kinds of beverages? I know I didn’t until just a short time ago. I didn’t even notice they were there. Their true purpose seems to go mostly unnoticed by teenage drinkers, just as the skate stoppers go mostly unnoticed by pedestrians. For the skateboarders though, they are impossible to ignore and a persistent source of irritation. It’s not just that irritation of finding a good spot only to be disappointed by skate stoppers that bothers me though. It’s the way they perpetuate the notion that skateboarding is not an acceptable activity, that skateboarders aren’t welcome. More importantly, it’s the way they deny the possibility of finding alternative ways to have fun with your surroundings. I hate that there’s actually a whole fucking market for these little stainless steel fun-destroyers, and that there are people who think they can
Life would be like a Tony Hawk game. Walls wouldn’t be confined to ninety degree junctions with the ground, and ledges and hand rails would be left nice and smooth. I’m not saying the world should embrace skateboarding in every facet of urban design, but do we really need to devote this much attention to subduing a relatively innocent past time? It’s the same with the birds. Sure, they shit everywhere and make a bit of a mess, but they live here too. They occupy these spaces just like everyone else and they need places to sit and take a dump just like everyone else. At this point I feel the need to say I can totally empathise with not wanting your brand new concrete ledge damaged by the group of teenagers who hang out on your block. It’s quite
where people think it’s fine when companies and property developers have the final say on the aesthetics of our world and constantly bombard us with their advertising and ugly constructs, but when a citizen decides they want to look at something nicer on their way to work and paints over an ugly concrete wall it’s crime. Or when someone wants to skate a ledge in a public area they get kicked out. Fuck that. Fuck that doubly when unpainted council built surfaces are off limits. They don’t belong to anyone but the people as a whole. These structures exist to serve us, and us includes the skateboarder, and it includes the casual pedestrian, the businessman or woman, the guy using park benches as bedding and anyone else who chooses to occupy that space. Those who disagree can take their ideas and shelf them. And I don’t mean to metaphorically put them back on the shelf in place of better ideas; I mean shove them up your arse.
likely they are the bunch of douche bags you thought they were, with no respect for your property or anyone else for that case. Similarly I can understand the frustration of someone who gets their freshly painted store front tarnished with graffiti. I think what’s important here though, is drawing a distinction between private property and what lies in the public domain. I wouldn’t really expect all property owners to embrace skateboarding, but when the council builds a series of raised concrete garden beds with tax payer’s money in a public area and those garden beds are just begging for a backside blunt, I’d say you’re well within your rights to give that ledge what it wants. Why not? Durable constructs are well within our limits. Skate parks don’t fall apart, after all. Plus they were paid for with your taxes. But this isn’t just about skateboarding anymore. It’s about people holding onto this notion that the average Joe has no place in designing our physical world. With the increasing privatisation of almost everything once considered a public asset, the creative control of the citizen over their environment is even further subdued. Everything is out of bounds. There seems to be this consensus
Let the damn kids skate.
There are a lot of good illustrators out there at the moment. Log onto tumblr and you’ll see all kinds of crazy shit. But odds are you’ll forget the majority of it before you even close the browser. The modern era of instantaneous, digital self-promotion has allowed mediocrity to flourish. The re-blogs of a thousand appropriated images can be coma inducing.
Marcus, where did the name Malade come from? Malade started about two years ago. I was sitting around with not much to do and wanted to get busy. I was putting words into Google translator that were already cool. Sick in French is Malade or however the French say it. Je suis malade. “Malade” sounds cool though with the Aussie twang.
Then, out of nowhere an image catches your eye, or in Marcus Dixon’s case the red-hot tip of a reaper’s sickle reaches from the page and burns the image onto your cornea.
Yeah, everyone has their own interpretations of how they want to say it – “Maladey”. So you came up with the name?
Marcus is a workhorse: Between designing for Malade Pathetics, a clothing company that he co-owns, finishing his Visual Communications degree and doing various freelance illustrations, he still manages to show me a new zine or comic strip every time we meet up to go skateboarding.
Yeah I just wrote a list down and pitched it to the others involved at the time. I guess it was just the obvious choice. Who else is part of the Malade Collective? Currently it is myself, Michael Langenegger, Ryan Littlejohns and Cameron Locklee. As well as everyone else – the Malade family, the crew.
The Progression of the label…
How did you guys get together? Did you see them as like-minded people and wanted to do something to get your work out there?
Yeah and that was when I met Michael at uni. I was like “Hey dude you’re a pretty rad drawer, do you want to draw up a shirt or something?” He drew up a smoking goat with a beer and spray paint and shit. We printed it up and it was just obvious that Michael needed to be involved, so we got him onboard. Then later we got Cameron on board too. We were good friends with Cam and he is always doing killer shit so that was a natural progression too.
Yeah, I guess. We all study together and went from that to hanging out because we were always into the same sort of thing. Just seeing other brands at the time that were doing some pretty cool things. It was meant to start out as a beanie label. Just Beanies? Just beanies. It was actually influenced by Josiah Gatlyn’s brand, USKO. He’s a super rad skater, but he’s also super religious. USKO means “faith” in Swedish or something.
So it was just you and Ryan to begin with?
But that’s not really you guys, so you kinda flipped that on its head with “Sick” being a bit more bad arse I suppose?
There’s no beef with him not having anything to do with it? Like the guy that was in the Beatles before they were famous?
Yeah at that point it was just three of us. We got some beanies, did some labels and put that all together. We sold enough of those to print some tees and stuff, which is rad to actually see. Like, you’ve got one thing and it expands into multiple things.
Haha, nah. It’s kind of his fault.
Ryan and I and another friend who kind of just faded out.
Aside from the Malade stuff, you also do freelance illustration and design work. You recently did some work for Zoo York. How did that come about?
Last year some time we got an email from Mike D saying that he was in to what we were doing and that he wanted to help us out in some way by doing some photo work for us. We were all big fans of Acclaim magazine and he works for Acclaim so we were really stoked on that. Then we went to Melbourne a few weeks later and met up with him. We instantly clicked and now he’s a good friend of ours. Through him we met Blake and it was just through him that we got to do some work for Zoo York. He liked what I produced for them so they put it on some fuckin’ t-shirts.
see how quickly or efficiently I can make some rad little production that I can just print out myself or go get printed up.
What other brands have you designed for?
That was actually what I started out doing. In year twelve I was doing a lot of photography and even had a little stint of work experience with a local newspaper. I did some photo work with them, but I was still drawing the whole time. Different to what I’m drawing now, it was more realistic shit. I got over the whole realistic thing pretty quickly because it was so time consuming.
So it’s like a by-product of all the little things you’ve worked on that are sitting on your computer and it’s also satisfying that creative urge to make something right then and there. Definitely. It’s a good chance to take photos too. Have you always been into taking photos?
Michael and I have done a few projects with The Hungry Workshop from Melbourne. They’re a rad letterpress printing place. A couple of UK labels. Broken Teeth was one. Blacksmith Skate Company, NCAC, 50/50 skate, um… I can’t really think right now. You’re into making zines and stuff too. Is that a big part of your design work?
Were you ever shooting skate photos? No, I don’t know what you would call what I was shooting then. It was always staged stuff.
Yeah when I’m in a period where I can’t come up with an idea for a drawing, I’ll jump on and
Not like what I’m shooting now, it was always staged and I had an idea of what I wanted to shoot.
old skate graphics. With the bold skulls etc it’s similar to someone like VCJ in particular. Is that kind of thing a big influence on you?
Does that tie into the kind of illustration you do now? You say you moved away from realistic illustration. Your photos were always staged and the kind of stuff you draw at the moment doesn’t really exist in real life…
It’s only over the last year or so that I suppose I’ve developed a more recognizable style. Before that I was all over the place. I was doing some digital work and as I said before, some realistic shit. I don’t know, I couldn’t tell you when it was that I decided to start drawing some reapers and gnarly shit. It just seemed like the right way to go, you know, from having that addiction to skateboarding.
Yeah… You do a lot of reapers, skulls – stuff that is really linked to old school skate art and underground comics as well. Do you think that ties into the staged work with the photos, like you’re creating a deliberate otherness?
Like you were on the right track all of a sudden. Yeah. I mean, generally when you get into illustrating or something you don’t have a set place where you want to be. That’s what it was like for me anyway. Options open.
Yeah I suppose. I’ve just never really put it like that. It’s just creative control. But you don’t seem like a control freak though?
Do you think you’ve found your style now? Um, yeah but it’s constantly evolving.
No, I’m not a control freak. I’m down to collaborate.
Your drawings are definitely recognizable to anybody that is familiar with your work. Was
A lot of your illustrations are reminiscent of
some photos in there. The Skate Faark too, which is a little skate comic. An exhibition in Brisbane in October where Michael, Cameron and I will be exhibiting as well as painting a big wall in the gallery, another exhibition in Sydney late September. A wall commission coming up in Newcastle too. Oh and Look See which is a sweet exhibition they have here in Newcastle that’s coming up in October. Always drawing for myself as well. Curbed…
it a deliberate attempt to market or brand yourself that helped you obtain that style ? I think that studying design, where they’re always forcing this bullshit that everything has to be laid out to a set format and how it has to be set out to be successful, made me rebel. I was just figuring out the folio I had to submit at the end of the year and I realised that I didn’t want to submit things just to make them like it. I wanted to submit something that represented what I really wanted to do.
You were saying earlier that when you started out you didn’t really have an idea of where you wanted to go, We’ve spoken before about guys like Spike Jonze and Andy Jenkins making a really conscious effort to work hard to get where they are. Is that what you want to do? Do you want to be someone in that whole related skate industry?
So it’s like you were killing two birds with one stone – you were getting marks for it, but also using the work in the real world. Yeah. You’re a diligent worker. Aside from Malade, are you working on any other projects at the moment?
It is sick knowing the kind of industry I want to be involved with. The whole collaborative side of it – working with like minded individuals is sick.
A book to exhibit my work in an alternative way to the way I have been. A tangible way to show people what I’ve been doing. Illustrating your stories and there’s another guy that’s writing some stuff for it too. Mike D’s going to have
Is skateboard industry the industry you’re talking about? Is Andy Jenkins’ job something you’d like to do?
bugs. My new rat bleeds from the eyes and recently it has been chewing on my fingernails and even started biting my thumb pretty ferociously. I hope it doesn’t start sizing me up. I feed it well.
Yeah that’s the dream. Andy Jenkins is the dream (laughs). Being the Art Director of a super rad skateboard company. You’re on your way.
Is there anyone you’d like to thank?
One last question, You have a pet rat that bleeds from the eyes, was that a deliberate attempt to surround yourself with gory stuff in order to influence your work?
The majority of them should know who they are. But if they don’t a few would be my girlfriend Hayley, you for translating my hungover slur, Malade crew for the constant inspiration, Mike D for being a lord and The Bowery crew too. Do reapers get death wobbles?
It was completely coincidental (Laughs). I had another pet rat and it was super gnarly in a different way. It was on a table one day and a huntsman crawled up onto the table. The rat didn’t even hesitate, it wouldn’t have even seen a huntsman before and it just grabbed the spider and chewed its legs off one by one. It just left it as nothing but a spider head. I was like “That’s pretty intense”. Well watching a rat eat a spider is pretty gnarly. People think of rats as little scummy bastards but I think they’re cool and cute. It went from being a little mouse-sized thing to this gross hairy ball of teeth. After that I kept feeding it
www.marcusdixondesign.com www.marcusdixon.tumblr.com firstname.lastname@example.org