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Inventory of the Records of The Body Politic & Pink Triangle Press
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Page 28 / Inventory Series 20
Design and production

Production of The Body Politic was initially handled by the collective as a whole. Founding member Herb Spiers is quoted by Gerald Hannon in the 10th anniversary issue:

There was the great concern that everybody who was part of the collective should be involved. It was felt that even if you didn't have any expertise or talent for something like layout or paste-up -- that didn't matter.

But it did show. Some graphic order began to appear at Issue 9 (mid-1973), with sections coherently arranged and identified by page-heading "flags."

Issue 20 cover. File bpcov20.jpg 122x166
Kirk Kelly's 1st redesign of TBP -- and its 2nd logo
Ottawa conference demo, Jun 1975; photo: Gerald Hannon
# 20, Oct 1975


Coherence was taken further in Issue 20 (dated Oct 1975, covering September and October and released in August), when designer Kirk Kelly produced a new logo and overall look for the paper. The physical format remained the same: a loose 11 x 17-inch newsprint tabloid, folded to give an 8 1/2 x 11-inch cover. The largest issue in this format was 48 pages; most were 36 or less. (Later issues averaged 48 pages, sometimes going to 56 and once to 60.)

Issue 47. File bpcov47.jpg 167x230
Kirk's 2nd redesign -- and the 3rd logo
Carl Bognar of Toronto Area Gays; photo by Gerald Hannon
# 47, Oct 1978


In another redesign by Kirk and with another new logo, issues from Oct 1978 appeared flat, trimmed and soon stapled. It was still newsprint and still large (appx 10 x 14 inches), but for the first time it felt like a magazine. Its banner even said so: "Body Politic / A Magazine for Gay Liberation." Disappearance of the "The" (earlier tucked into the B of "Body") was a design decision, one that led many people to call The Body Politic simply "Body Politic" -- sadly missing the intended allusion to a venerable colloquial phrase.

Earlier subtitles had been "Gay Liberation Newspaper" (through # 6) and "Gay Liberation Journal" (through # 47, Sep 1978). With a Jun 1985 redesign and another logo (by me and Robyn Budd this time, and with the "The Body" back in a big way: for an example see # 135 in the Introduction) it would end up "A Magazine for Lesbian / Gay Liberation." But we mostly called it "the paper." Or "The Beep."

Body text was first done on IBM Selectric typewriters. Issue 20 was partly typeset; from # 21 (Dec 1975) entire issues were, the work done at first out- of- house by a commercial service. TBP got its own phototypesetting machine, a $35,000 Compugraphic 4, in early 1977. It was replaced in Mar 1980 by a Compugraphic 7500 -- our first typesetter to have disk- storage memory capacity.

In 1985 came the next generation of typesetting equipment, allowing on-screen page composition. That machine cost more than $100,000. In 1988 Merv Walker bought it for his own graphics business. Xtra went on to be produced (very badly for a while) with a desktop publishing program run on a Mac.

All this technical data has a political point: this was the first time that marginal publications like The Body Politic could afford -- even at these prices -- to own and control technically advanced means of production. Before the advent of such machines, typesetting equipment had been beyond the reach of all but big commercial publishers. TBP also bought its own photostat camera in 1982.

The one means of production we could not own or control was printing. Issue 8 (Spring 1973) reports extensively on the refusal of Newsweb Enterprises, a subsidiary of The Toronto Star, to print The Body Politic -- after The Star had refused to print a classified ad for TBP.

Other printers were found, among them one whose chief work was a Hungarian newspaper. (Xtra would first be printed by a local Korean publisher.) From mid-1974 through 1976, TBP was printed at Dumont Press Graphix, a worker- owned shop in Kitchener, Ontario, nearly 100 miles away.

Later TBP's page- layout flats would go by taxi to suburban Scarborough, where Delta Web Graphics remained its printer for many years. (Not without some irony: Delta's owner had been manager at Newsweb when it refused TBP in 1973.) The relationship was cordial, but even Delta once insisted on removing pictures -- showing how to put on a condom -- before printing an issue (see TBP # 109, Dec 1984, p 31).

Through all this, production work continued to be done in-house, most of it by volunteers. Production coordination, design and art-direction came to rest with Merv Walker and David Gibson (to 1978), Rick Bébout (1977-1985), David Vereschagin (late 1983), Robyn Budd (1985-1986), Dale Bolivar (1985-1988), and Ian King (1986).

Material related to production coordination -- which necessarily meshed with editorial coordination -- appears in many Collective and staff minutes and memos (Series 1 and 2, Policies, planning and budgetting and Business and office administration). Graphics, artwork and some page layouts are included in Series 25: Poster and artwork. Only one item specific to production was found in 1988.

88-004 / 12
Production manual prepared by Robyn Budd, 1985.

Not listed in the 1988 Inventory
90-163 /01
Resumes for hiring in production coordinator position, Mar 1986.

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