From Iceland — That First Year Of Grapevines

That First Year Of Grapevines

Published September 17, 2009

That First Year Of Grapevines

Issue 01 2003 –
“Jackboots on Ice”
Notable: The fist issue, the only issue at the time. The only issue to be 28 pages, ever.
Jóndi: The first publication date was to set on June 6. Needless to say, by June 3rd, the set deadline day for that first issue, we really had nothing, a few articles by me, a few from random sources, a couple of ads sold by Hilmar and Eymar, a layout, a couple of photos by Aldís. Not enough to put out an issue, too few ads to pay for print.
We made a new deadline, and set it for June 11. The first issue should then be out Friday the 13th of June. Yeah, our lucky day.
By Monday the 9th, we were in trouble. Most the articles and photos were done, but the ad sales were still far from covering our printing cost. Tuesday morning, I decided that I’d try and do something about it. The first ad I sold was to a Whale Watching company in Keflavik – “Moby Dick”. During the next 48 hours, I sold enough ads to pay for the print costs. During the nights, I worked on the content, collected listings information by walking around town, wrote some articles and slept very little.
At this point most of us were not sleeping, and our diet consisted of cigarettes that the nice guys at Kjötborg store would lend us, and coffee. Also from Kjötborg.
I lost twenty kilos that month. And gained a nasty habit of smoking. You win some, you lose some. I guess.
The issue went to print late Thursday. And I went to sleep for the first time since Tuesday. I felt pretty bad. I also felt pretty good.
Then came a new problem to deal with. How do you distribute 20.000 copies of a newspaper, and where do you distribute them? I remember reaching the conclusion that I had to borrow my parent’s white Pajero jeep and drive it around the country to distribute to the rest of Iceland. I’m glad we just sent it by bus.
Some friends were called up. They showed up. We distributed the first issue. I was proud. By the way, you guys: Thank a bunch for that!
Oddur Óskar:
Ahh, the first issue. After spending forty-some hours awake, we took it to the press. After sleeping for about six hours, we had to fix some major bugs and a big part of the layout. But seeing the paper rolling out the printing press was amazing. It is fun to look back on the days leading up to first issue—honestly, no one in the staff knew anything about what they were doing. We were constantly solving problems, and after we had finished the first issue, our next problem emerged: How much space do 20.000 copies of a newspaper take?
The first issue was full of bugs, the biggest being that our listed phone number in the paper was wrong and, yes, I take full responsibility for that. I still remember changing it from right to wrong—but the mind can play tricks on you when you have been up way, way, way past your bedtime and have been on a staple diet of coffee and well… some more coffee.
High point: Getting this thing published.
Low point: None.
Achievement: Pissing off the whole US Army in Iceland
Favorite quote: “Men seeking women, women seeking men, men seeking men, women seeking women, man seeking small animal” Valur Gunnarsson, page 26. Classified ads.
Issue 02 2003 –
“The Return of the Pagans”
We kind of knew from start that the second issue would be even harder than the first one. It was kind of like what happens on the second show after the premiere. We were really stressed out in regards to get a good cover. When Aldís handed in the new cover I was convinced that it would almost impossible to do better than that. We were 100% certain that we had made the perfect cover. This would be hard to beat we thought. Yeah. We did think that at the time.
Notable: The cover is a “Photoshop masterpiece”
High point: Printing colour photo-graphs for the first time.
Low point: Receiving death threats for the first time.
Achievement: Our first ‘solid’ issue.
Favourite quote: “Heavy Special + French Fries & Coke: Kr. 1.095 ISK” (who said ad copy can’t be funny?).
Issue 03 2003 –
“Whales, harpoons and other weapons of mass destruction”
The whale issue. To be honest, we never really cared that much for this cover—it might be because the colours in the finished product are slightly off. But the only way to portray whaling was either to
a) hire a boat and stay around and try to get a epic photo of a whale, which was not really within our budget at the time, or
b) to get a someone to make a comic illustration of a whale and pay him for it—most probably in beer
High point: First illustrated cover. First (partly) actual classified section. Soon abandoned.
Low point: Printing a photo of boobs.
Achievement: The fist time we printed a photo of boobs.
Favourite quote: “Lonely co-editor seeks female company. Either individuals or groups. Preferably financially independent, but not a must. All enquires will be excepted.” Page 30, Classifieds.
Issue 04 2003 –
“Godlike genius, devilish grin”
Let’s face it—this is an awesome portrait of Megas. Everything on this cover fits neatly, good colours and a nice tagline. Judging by the cover one might think that the people behind this Issue in some way knew what they were doing.
High point: Megas
Low point: Making fun of a large sack of balls in print. Not mature at all.
Achievement: The first professionally looking cover, we think.
Favourite quote: On Bubbi: “Went to America to become world famous, was offered the part of Thor in some z-film on the conditions he did steroids, opted for cocaine instead, came home and went through in inevitable drug bender / rehab / mellow album about wife cycle.” Page 13.
Issue 05 2003 –
“Amusing the Muses”
The cover art by Aldís has always been a favourite. Becoming the official culture night listings medium was a huge responsibility and a huge honour. And a huge amount of extra work for no amount of extra money.
High point: Paul F Nikolov writes his first article on immigration.
Achievement: Being the official culture night listings medium.
Favourite quote: “A picture of the picture in question, notice the absence of burning crosses, indicating that this is not the Ku Klux Klan, contrary to popular belief.” Page 4, Letters.
Issue 06 2003 –
“Iceland vs. the World”
The summer was over. The experiment had ended, 6 issues. 3 months. It was back to school and hoping to have a return next year.
High point: Wulfmorgenthaler
Low point: This was the last issue of that summer. Hence, the next months would be a low point for the publishing industry in Iceland at that time.
Achievement: Getting through the first six issues with almost no casualties.
Favourite quote: “Since then I have invaded the American base in Keflavik, risked offending the old Gods by being drunk and obnoxious around their followers, seen and eaten many a whale in the interest of research, learnt, about the ultimate futility of existence through a three hour discussion with Megas, and, of course, gone horseback riding with a group of Swedes. My life has almost become what some people might call interesting.” Page 5, Editorial, Valur Gunnarsson. 

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