Nozone magazine: Empire: Nozone IX, 2004

Nicholas Blechman

Location: New York, New York
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Nicholas Blechman founded the independent ’zine Nozone in 1990, during his senior year as a liberal-arts major at Oberlin College in Ohio. Blechman, the son of illustrator R. O. Blechman, had grown up knowing some of the world’s best illustrators and cartoonists. Nozone, published as a zero-profit venture on a tiny budget, attracted attention with its eccentric format, skeptical view of contemporary politics, and Alist contributors, including Gary Baseman, Joost Swarte, and Chip Kidd.

When Blechman became art director of the New York Times Op-Ed page at age thirty, Nozone fell dormant while its founder kept pace with the newspaper’s relentless schedule. Blechman left the Times in 2000 to focus on his independent design work, returning to the paper four years later to become art director of the Week in Review. He is now art director of the New York Times Book Review (2006).

In 2004, Nozone came back to life as a book, Empire: Nozone 9, which used illustration, comics, writing, and graphics to proclaim collective dissent against the corporate/military control of the world’s ecology, economy, and politics. Blechman defines “empire” as the diffused power of global capitalism, motored by such forces as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the United States government: “Billions drink its sodas, listen to its music, breathe its air, drive its cars, smoke its tobacco . . . pay its debts, and benefit or suffer from its policies.”

For Blechman, design is a collaborative enterprise. To co-author the book 100% Evil, Blechman and his friend Christoph Niemann each created a series of disturbing yet funny images depicting war, greed, and the needless destruction of self and others. The two sides meet at the center of the book in a devastating battle of mutual annihilation. Building on his roots as a do-ityourself designer and publisher, Blechman is authoring original publications while conceiving and commissioning art for one of the world’s most influential newspapers. He is a leading voice using design as an editorial medium that gives opinions a complex and memorable visual form.