Of DIY and Dino Porn

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Of DIY and Dino Porn

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Spencer Gordon (left) and Arnaud Brassard (right) of Ferno House. Spencer holds a picture of Andrew Faulkner and Leigh Nash of The Emergency Response Unit, the other half of the Dinosaur Porn DIY dream team. Photo by Arnaud Brassard.

When that perennial desire to reject what has come before strikes a young artist’s heart, there’s something to be said for not throwing the baby out with the bathwater. It’s an idea that seems not to be lost on a subsect of the twenty-something population who are increasingly clawing their way back through a cloud of tweets and other ephemera and grabbing onto older modes of production. Call it the “This ain’t your grandma’s” movement: artisan hipsters who knit sweaters, pound out sourdough, or, in the case of two-man publisher Ferno House, cut, score, and perfect-bind books from home, hot glue and all.
Born in the early months of last year, the spanking-new Toronto-based publishing house is run by editor Spencer Gordon and designer Arnaud Brassard. “It’s a slow, laborious process,” Gordon says of Ferno House’s production method, “The way we make books is like taking the scenic route, even when the big noisy highway cuts over your head and can get you there in a fraction of the time.”


If you’re thinking that this nostalgia for the slow and steady might be accompanied by an old-fashioned or demure aesthetic, think again. A labour of love funded out-of-pocket by Gordon and Brassard, Ferno House marries a kind of raucously ironic, hang-on-by-the-edge-of-your-teeth quality to their privileging of care, quality, and a beautiful finished product. Witness their latest project: a yoke-up with Andrew Faulkner and Leigh Nash of the micro-press The Emergency Response Unit to produce an anthology themed around dinosaur porn. Seriously. “It was a way to inspire writers of various traditions and disciplines to write in ways (and about certain subject matter) that maybe they wouldn’t consider doing under normal circumstances,” Gordon says. “We encouraged creative responses to the theme. Is dinosaur porn material that would titillate dinosaurs? Does it refer to old, outdated modes of pornography? Is it an investigation or study of dinosaurs that is in some way pornographic? In other words, the sky was the limit in terms of what we were looking for.”
It’s also a way to take the piss out of something. The mainstream lit scene, Gordon points out, loves itself an anthology. Dinosaur Porn offers a way “to elevate the absurd and the nutty without sacrificing literary quality, and a way to bring people out of their comfortable press-table shells. To have a laugh. For shits and giggles. To lighten some of the mummies up.” Though they are trying to breathe life into a culture that can sometimes feel stale, Gordon is clear: “we aren’t trying to thumb our nose at mainstream culture. We are a product, and reflection, of that culture, as much as we are a product of the small-press scene.”
Still, they promise something different for the launch of Dinosaur Porn. “Have you ever been to a reading that feels like you’ve stumbled into some ancient mummy’s tomb? Dust in the air, silences deep and ominous, all things as serious as the grave? The word hallowed chanted with chilling monotony? Our launch will not be like that.”
Dinosaur Porn (Ferno House/The Emergency Response Unit) launches this Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Supermarket (268 Augusta Avenue). Copies of Dinosaur Porn will be on sale for $15.

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