I’m thrilled to announce that my first hand-made, limited edition book Die Mensur will be premiering this weekend at my table at the St. Vitus Halloween Flea Market in Brooklyn on October 25 from 1pm to 5pm. I’ve finally been able to get my arms around the topic of the Mensur by collaborating with Gilles de Rais of Porta Nigra, and the product is this 32-page, illustrated book.
Mensur, the ritualized fencing technique still practiced by German fraternities, is veiled in mystery and controversy. This hyper-stylized tradition that’s part character building, part blood rite, and part male bonding is practically unchanged in over a century. Mensur a topic that has fascinated me for a number of years now, bobbing up to the surface of my consciousness from time to time and offering a morsel of information from a book, movie, or article. Through Gilles, I was able to interview two current members of a fencing fraternity in Cologne, and their generosity and candor finally filled in many of the missing pieces in my understanding of the Mensur.
Included in the book is a brief history of fencing fraternities, a discussion of the rules of the Mensur, an overview of equipment, and full-length interviews with fraternity brothers. There are eight full-page illustrations plus interstitials throughout (the result of essentially gluing myself to my drawing board for multiple weekends in a row–I have extremely patient and understanding friends).
I’ve gone out of my way to give the book a traditional feel, hand-trimming and hand-binding each copy. Title lettering was drawn by The joey Zone, who created beautifully lettered artwork for the recent NecronomiCon H.P. Lovecraft convention this past summer. The covers have been screen printed in metallic gold on black textured paper by a small-run, local artist and interior pages are printed on 32 lb. soft white Arturo paper imported from Italy. Translucent chevron-printed endpapers complete the vintage feel. Books are sewn by hand using black waxed bookbinding thread and spines are covered in black and gold handmade paper. I’m more than a bit of a fetishist when it comes to my materials selection and it’s entirely possible I went overboard here, but people of Taste and Distinction will appreciate the superior hand-feel on these books.
The edition is limited to 45 copies, and retail will be $15. Copies remaining after Sunday will be available for sale in the Heretical Sexts storefront.
Also: I’ll have a limited number of vinyls of Porta Nigra’s demo plus their debut album Fin de Siècle on CD at my table at St. Vitus. I recommend that anyone whose interests cross over between late 19th Century history and literature and sophisticated, extreme heavy metal swing by my table and grab some excellent listening accompaniment.