As a lifelong journalist, I’ve struggled to come to terms with newspapers and magazines. They must exist in order to promote a free society. But it seems irresponsible to squander so many resources on something that might be glanced at for a week, a day or an hour.
Despite this, however, Lucy and I still get our city’s (very conservative) newspaper on our doorstep every day, plus The (very liberal) New York Times on Sundays. Old habits (and a balanced diet) die hard.
When Nick Gibbs’ new venture, Quercus magazine, showed up in the mail, I was torn. Nick and I go way back. There’s respect, jealousy, bad blood and all the other emotions that come from the life where you bleed ink from one arm and sap from the other. There have always been too many woodworking publications out there for the market to support. So everyone struggles. Do we need one more?
If the first issue of Quercus is any indication, the answer is yes.
All of the following statements are compliments. It is a bit sloppy but is readable, lovable and enthusiastic. It doesn’t give a crap about corporate this or that. The paper it is printed on is woefully thin – it wrinkles when you breathe heavily upon it – but Nick chose the paper for exactly this purpose. (It’s recycled and inexpensive to mail out.)
The articles are short and written mostly by enthusiasts who have more energy and passion than style. The experience level of the authors runs the gamut, from dead-nuts beginner to people who deserve a royal nod (Bill Carter and Richard Arnold in particular). I really enjoyed Derek Jones’ short article on the psychology of sawing, Barn the Spoon’s recollections working as a pedlar (“peddler” in the U.S.) and James Mursell’s thoughts on chair angles and what they communicate. Oh, and Rudy Everts (from our Chair Chats) and his miniature carved chairs are featured inside the front cover. Thanks for wearing pants this time, buddy.
Most of all, Quercus is deeply personal. Nick has always blurred the line between editor and confessor in his magazines (Living Woods and British Woodworking in particular). And so you laugh with approval when you see the wood-burning stove Nick’s made from a filing cabinet as you wonder why the hell Nick is showing you this wackiness in a woodworking magazine.
If you sign up for a magazine by Nick, you’ll get a lot of Nick in every issue.
Most of all, I hope the guy has the energy and focus to keep it going. After a life-changing bicycle accident several years ago, Nick had to start life from scratch. And as a long-time follower of his work, I’ve been impressed by his perseverance.
If you want to support this unlikely venture (as I do), you can buy the first issue here.
Cross your fingers for a second issue. And encourage Nick to keep going on Instagram.
— Christopher Schwarz