Zero Lubin

Zero Lubin describe themselves as “a colourful yet precarious wonderland of intriguing characters and places. In a universe reminiscent of the charm of curio shops, caravan holidays and the garish colours of 50s advertising, we meet dubious characters who illustrate a powerful and enduring nostalgia for a bygone age, yet also highlight with exquisite subtlety, nuances of contemporary society.”



Poodle Faker


Hmm so the 50s thing sounds a bit too cool for us here, but actually this is more kitsch than cool. And kitsch I love. Zero Lubin remind me in that way of one of my absolute fave bands, The Candle Thieves – all Fisher Price keyboards and lyrics about death. There’s a playfulness to them -their shop sells kitsch sloganned handkerchieves, and on of the people behind the collective has an alter ego called the Poodle Faker – that’s just on the Ira Levin side of sickly sweet.

There’s also a book – Gerry King’s Lubin Tales, available direct or from Foyle’s and in a special edition – all of which are things we heartily approve of. There are quotations about it from some people who are deeply cool. But there’s also a quotation from Will Self which puts them firmly back in the field of kitsch. The actual physical book is very different from the jpeg – far from shiny and garish, what we have is a beautifully produced Ladybird-style hardback, whose slightly off-kilter illustrations share that 50s colour quality. The tales themselves, which King urges (we concur) should be recited aloud, are surreal little gems. The stand-out is Poodle Faker, a kind of Updike on acid deconstruction of the Marks and Sparks cardiganed caravaneer, who speaks like something from Twin Peaks. “If my thoughts were hand cream, I’d ring more often,” he greets us, elaborating when his interlocutor wants to know wtf “Oh, it’s just a saying I collected from one of my Barbaras.” Brilliant.

But what appeals most, as with The Candle Thieves, and Gupter Seo Services Puncher, is that here is a group that has created a world of their own and fully inhabit it. I do hear you – yes you, you at the back of the room – shouting Mighty Boosh. But seriously, these guys don’t come from Camden. Or Hoxton. And that’s worth a lot these days. It’s the difference between cool and sucking or kitsch and rocking.

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16 Responses to Zero Lubin

  1. Paula says:

    I love the way that Lubin Tales transports me back to a pre-celebrity world, full of intriguing characters, who remain slightly nebulous. Delicious.


  3. Tony TJ says:

    A superb collection of witty short stories and characters, making the other-worldly everyday and setting the everyday slightly off-kilter. The power of Gerry’s, often very short stories (or micro-fictions if you will) is in creating poignant and often surprising connections in the lives of his extraordinary subjects. Beautifully designed by Louise Burston, the sympathetic imagery makes this a perfectly realised book.

    That’s if you want to read a lot into it – it’s also really entertaining…

  4. Stroddy says:

    Gerry King sold me a copy of Lubin Tales whilst I was still under the influence of a particularly 1920’s smelling goulash. When I came round, he had delivered a set of Lubin Tales-themed cards that hadn’t even had anything spilt on them. I’m still blithely dizzy from the book’s joyfully intoxicating influence, unless of course that goulash was stronger than I thought. Go buy it – He will also make you a cup of tea. You heard it here first.

  5. danholloway says:

    wonderful comments – hmm, tea’s on Gerry then. Fantastic

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  7. Lubin Bisson says:


    That’s the verdict: “Everything.

    Let me explain.

    I have just spent this morning reading Lubin Tales for the very first time.

    Opened up the package on Thursday, like a kid at Christmas, and had to fight the urge to rush through everything.

    The beautiful, wonderful, intriguing cards – which I have known indirectly from pixels on the web – and now including your message in this early proof – made me want to take my time looking at them.

    Then this art-object in a slip-case: I was just so happy to see that the actual physical product surpassed any expectations.

    The design, the choice of colours, the actual size and feel of the book, being able to flip through images – again, some of them known to me, some of them new, all of them recognizable from your Zero Lubin aesthetic – ah, I was just so fucking happy.

    On top of it all there was the bonus surprise.

    Held together with the ZL-dot-Org seal of approval…

    Ha, ha – three perfect Proust-Madeline-like reminders of an era close to my heart (and my own development – yours too, I imagine) now brought up-to-date in Zero-style and all wrapped up with what I have now discovered is Chicagoan panache…

    “Without which there would be no…”

    Fucking brilliant.

    But with the weekend coming, and two full days of four-year old and seven-year old and forty-four-year old preoccupations…

    I knew I didn’t have time to read and savor Lubin Tales for the very first time as, somehow, I had the premonition would be appropriate.

    So I put it off till today.

    Now this Monday morning it is done and, as mentioned, here’s the verdict: “Everything.”

    Everything you sent me reflects everything I have been able to glean from our little Internet adventure.

    I cannot divorce the book from my own impressions discovering Zero Lubin through the Web site, the YouTube capsules, the Flickr photos, the ‘Comeback World Tour’ interview and the fun on Facebook, the blog entries, the myriad comments, postings and links tracked down over the past couple of years connecting online with you.

    Everything is there: in the photos/images, Paul’s posters, the incredibly fucking hilarious, Torquay teacher’s education committee letter, you-name-it.

    Having just read the book, I am overwhelmed by how just “everything” is there in the text, too.

    Turner and Performance, The Night Porter, Olympia Press, gun-metal, Elvistic, the ghost of Eartha Kitt, Kohl-eyed girlfriend, Chicago, and a thousand other touch-points that distil the essence of archetypal concepts, recycling them with humour to make them new, examining, contrasting and alchemizing common vernacular notions into deconstructive (or de-conditioning) insights… whew.

    I hope you get what I mean – the handling of ideas is unique.

    Lubin in Montreal

  8. kingfelix says:

    I picked up a copy from Foyles, Charing X. What I dig first off is the feel of the cover, that I have something recalling a Ladybird book in my hand. Standards, people, the standards of a bygone, but not surpassed age.

    If I may be so bold as to refer to ‘the contents’ of the work, I found it a polished affair, the Zero Lubin aesthetic has clearly been honed through prodigious amounts of heavy thinking, though the morning after reading The Poodle Faker I had no sign of an intellectual hangover. Such is its power.

    Who is this book for? Sir, with respect, I will not answer that question. But let me say who this book is not for, it is not for people averse to beauty, pained by the prosaic rendered into jewelled fragments, wary of wit, and, above all, deathly afraid of a good time.

    Now, please, my carriage awaits.

  9. tim bouquet says:

    Zero Lubin is the master chronicler of the unobserved and the discreet but telling details that others overlook, missing out on the wit, perception and perspicacity that inhabits his small but perfectly formed pages.

  10. Samson Ali says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading Lubin Tales whilst traveling on a big yellow bus. It left me wanting more and more. So I read it again. Now I can’t say that about most other books.

  11. Patrick says:

    Excellent boo.Picked up a copy from Foyles the other day on a recommendation. I most enjoyed ‘Lubin Tales’. A funny, intelligent book that is quite an original too.

  12. jimmyjoy says:

    Saw Gerry King give a staged reading of Lubin Tales at the Arnolfini. It was brillant and I want more.
    I very much like the way you see the World.
    I’m hoping another book is in the pipeline and it’s surely time for one of the National noospapers to give Dr. Lubin a weekly column instaed of all the usual bland narcotic twaddle.
    Wake me up when it’s all over.

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