The High Life: Celebrating 10 Issues of The Canary Press

We knew very little about publishing when we started this magazine, except that it seemed to involve a lot of champagne and yachts, so we went down to the DMV to get boat licences. This turned out to be largely unnecessary. Our biggest financial achievement in our first year was being paid $30 by our landlord for catching the office mouse.

In our second year of operation we tackled our financial woes head-on by inventing a fake accountant called Linda McMackerson. She chased down overdue accounts and wrote stern emails with a disturbing combination of emoticons in the signature. We tried to create an aura of fear around her every time we mentioned her in public. We spread rumours that she had won a silver medal in the Olympic javelin, and that she was still angry about coming in second. And that she still had her javelin.

Earlier this year we were staring down a large print bill, when Bede arrived in the office wearing yesterday’s clothes, carrying a large net and a pellet gun. He said he’d been thinking about possible business models for the magazine going forward. We asked him when he’d last slept. He stared back at us.

‘Mice,’ he said.

His idea was that one mouse had netted us $30 in 2014, and that if we obtained enough of them at cost price, and recaptured them at $30 a pop, we’d be making a profit in no time. Susie said that it was a nice idea, but that it didn’t scale, and probably wouldn’t be enough to get us over the line.

Bede stared glumly out the window, thinking about youth, beauty, the vastness of being, and the inherent difficulties of running an artistic enterprise. Work shuffled on.

The next Wednesday we came up the stairs to find Bede and our landlord barricaded in the kitchen. They were shouting at each other from behind two overturned couches.

‘Look at the size of it, though! If a mouse is worth 30, then a rat has to be worth 50 at least.’

‘JESUS CHRIST BEDE THAT’S NOT A RAT IT’S A FREAKING BEAVER.’

The floor was littered with soup ladles and other projectiles. The table had a leg missing.

‘Well, whatever it is, I’m not touching it until we agree on a price.’

Susie sighed and herded the beaver into the broom closet, where it seemed to have a good time. She had left a high-paying arts job to work at the magazine, and was full of good ideas. But for the next three weeks (and I think she anticipated this with her sigh, well before I did), her prodigious talents were deployed in managing the fallout of Beavergate.

That was our January.

We have proceeded more or less in this manner for three-and-a-half years. The making of a beautiful magazine is not always a pretty thing. But we are now the proud and improbable parents of ten issues.

Things That Get in the Way of Drinking Champagne on Yachts

* Trying to get the wireless printer to print wirelessly.

* Catching trams in a gorilla costume because an intern was adamant it would be a great idea, and you’re unsure if they’re a genius or if they have fundamentally misunderstood guerrilla marketing.

* Not knowing anyone with a yacht.

* Shouting on the phone to representatives of the wireless printer company.

* Trying to fix a website bug with a large, technologically illiterate editorial team.

* Liking short stories.

* Having to repaint the floor and walls after a launch party.

* Trying to remove three-hundred litres of wrestling jelly from the upstairs premises with a single bucket and a hangover.

* Having to make an actual magazine.

The stories in this issue twist and turn. Numerous of them feature someone called Susan. One of them (by Carys Davies) so impressed my dad when he found my Advanced Reading copy that he came to find me in the pub to tell me about it. We have a new story from the wonderful Etgar Keret, and a host of Australian talent bringing us tales of strange deaths and love affairs; romantic trips to the Heretic Hot Springs; homicides, mayhem and big cats in Bacchus Marsh.

For this issue’s reprint we had a bunch of options on the table, but I happened to read this story by Dave Eggers aloud to a friend on a sunny afternoon. A week later she kept talking about some guy called Steven and about how squirrels are the worst. She said she’d been thinking about the story all week, and kept trying to tell her friends what had happened.

We have many hopes for what a short story might do, but it’s hard to ask for anything more than it getting inside someone’s head and heart and clanging around for a while.

This issue will close out the first chapter of The Canary Press – with a bang, we hope. We will be taking a brief hiatus so we can relaunch the magazine in early 2017. And so, to all of those who have written and illustrated for the magazine; who have stuffed and mailed envelopes, sold raffle tickets and pretended to be dead for tax purposes; who, dressed as 1930s villains, levelled fake guns at people in the name of art and said beautiful lines like, ‘You’ve just had your last gorgonzola salad, buddy’; who have DJ’ed, bartended and played at our launch parties; who have spruiked us and hand-sold us; who have dressed up as cheerleaders, bearded ladies, and pantomime horses; who have drunk beers or tumbled into the sheets with us: Issue 10 seems like the perfect occasion to say, Thank you.

These are exciting times. Though there are so many more people involved, it feels like it did when me and Andy were standing like idiots in the DMV; starting out in publishing, lining up for boat licences. Our answer now would be much the same as it was three-and-a-half years ago, when the elderly gent waved us over to the counter. He was trying to ascertain what sort of boat licence we’d need. ‘What do you want to do with it, exactly?’ he asked.

‘What do we want to do?’ said Andy, leaning forward onto the counter. ‘The only thing there is to do, sir: we want to sail the high seas.’