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March 24, 2011

Reviews for Lubin Tales by Gerry King and Louise Burston

The Poodle Faker

Review Nude Magazine

Patrick Wray review for

Nude Magazine

November 2010 Winter Issue

Lubin Tales by Gerry King

“This is a welcome reissue of a curious collection of micro fictions, beautifully presented in the style of a Ladybird book. In it, the enigmatic Zero Lubin takes us on a tour of ‘small town debauchery and intercontinental dubious intent’. Fact and fiction are intertwined in stories that evoke some eternally rainy afternoon in a seaside town.

At times these stories recall the hidden histories of Iain Sinclair relocated to Weston Super mare or Torquay but, whereas Sinclair’s books are dense and sprawling, writer/artist Gerry King packs everything into short bursts, full of surreal observations and deadpan humour. King has a wonderful talent for evoking the past by combining pop culture references (‘watching Magpie anyone?) with accounts of true events all the while never letting the truth get in the way of a good yarn.

The text often has a scattergun structure that is no doubt rooted in King’s background in performance poetry; ‘she was svelte, sexy sensation-seeking scorpio – worked as a nurse and liked to get her fingers into the ward trolley for the dolly mixtures. He was a borderline-functioning, chemically-dependent criminal creative with interests in Brixton and Totnes’.

The closest literary connections to King’s style are poets like John Cooper Clarke and John Hegley and like those writers; Gerry King has an idiosyncratic take on life that is all his own. Lubin Tales introduces us to a cast of characters from the forgotten corners of British life such as the ‘Poodle Faker’ (pictured as a man with a poodle head in one of the book’s many memorable illustrations). King has actually performed dressed as the poodle faker (complete with poodle mask) during several live shows based on Lubin Tales; a spectacle so sinister it makes the characters from The League of Gentleman seem cuddly by comparison.

Inside the cultural bric-a-brac and holiday snapshots there is a dark and macabre subtext at work, but it is the tender moments that shine through the most. The glamorous mother of a school friend is recalled in ‘The Poodle Faker’, the moving story of ‘Paul the Continental Barber’ in ‘Something for the Weekend’; a story that is both sad and hilarious. Elsewhere, titles like ‘It’s Hard to be a Good Man and a Good Thief Too’ are worth the price alone.

Lubin Tales is a highly accomplished debut, and with warring factions Will Self and Stewart Home in agreement that Lubin is a winner; it might just be that it is a cult classic in the making. In the meantime, a collection of Zero Lubin greetings cards is also available in shops”.

Patrick Wray

November 9th 2010 Laura Cerwinske writes:


“A great example of a purely self-published project is a delightful book I learned about on the internet that was produced by a photographer/designer/ illustrator team in the UK, Gerry King and Louise Burston, who formed a company called Zero Lubin to produce and market their art and books. Gerry King’s Lubin Tales draws us in “a world of small town debauchery and intercontinental dubious intent.” Take a look at Everything about their effort is distinctive, edgy, whimsical, and highly professional. And they are very responsive to personal inquiry”.


September 24 2010 Dan Holloway writes:

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.”

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 handkerchiefs, and one 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 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.

“Just because someone is related to a war poet doesn’t make them trustworthy”  Gerry King

November 2009 Alice Revel writes:

“To enter into the surreal world of Gerry King and his Lubin Tales is to penetrate a colourful wonderland of absurd and intriguing people and places.  King is also known as Dr Zero Lubin, “cyber flâneur and trained observer of the spectacle”. The universe he creates in this entertaining pocket-sized book of micro-fictions is reminiscent of the charm of curio shops and the garish colours of Martin Parr’s photographs”. SEE MORE

November 2009 thisisSouthDevon

‘A life and work inspired by dad, a barber’s chair and fifties music icon’

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