Mid Strength, Max Satire

Jason Mangelsdorf is a Brisbane local who's been a regular host of art shows at legendary craft beer bar The Scratch. He has also combined his love for MAD Magazines and XXXX to create MID Magazine.

Crafty contributor and long-time Scratch dingus George Levi caught up with Jason to find out how MID came to be and wax lyrical about XXXX.


I shan’t lie to you, dear reader, I’ve consumed more than my fair share (zero), and certainly more than the recommended (zero) share of XXXX. The beer is a beautiful paradox, an absurd enigma. It does not taste good, and yet I would happily, and without remorse, murder an innocent man for a sip of a freezer temp XXXX on a sweaty summer’s day.

Is it being from Brisbane? Is it nostalgia for house parties past? A purely memory-driven dopamine surge rather than its perfection (or lack thereof) on the palate? Its apparent willingness to be mercilessly mocked and simultaneously worshipped by an extraordinarily broad demographic of Australians? 

Who gives a shit, I hear you shriek, your aggrieved curse floating on the wind, free from fear, free from social distancing, free as a freaking bird. Isolation, I reply, has given me brain worms, and has made it impossible to write without sounding like a fucking lunatic.

Hailing from the city of those big red X’s we all know and, well, know, Jason Mangelsdorf has been a consistent contributor to and supporter of the monthly art shows at The Scratch Bar since 2014. Barista by day and artist by night, his unique illustration style and willingness to mix mediums has been paired with his amusing obsession with the behemoth that The Scratch sits in the (only literal, thank you very much) shadow of: the humble XXXX brewery.

 

A few of Jason's favourite things, Stars Wars X(XXX)-Wings included.

 

From coasters to bar runners, painted tinnies to Star Wars X(XXX)-Wing replicas and a hell of an anagram for the Twin Peaks (I’ll let you work it out) art show, Jason has focused on keeping his beer art as light, breezy and funny as possible without straying far from the X’s. 

But it's “MID Strength Satire” that may be his most ambitious project yet, an eight page printed tribute to MAD magazine. From an extremely safe distance, we talked to Jason about his previous work, the zine’s release and the thought behind it.

Take care, wash your dang mitts and drink whatever makes you happy in these strange times. If it’s XXXX, that’s cool, and if it’s from a local independent brewery, that’s also cool (maybe even cooler?).


When did you start your XXXX satire quest and why?

In 2014, with the "Prost!" coaster for The Scratch’s Schlocktoberfest group show. There was no plan back then, other than just creating something for a giggle.

Later, I chose to continue making fun of XXXX as a commentary on the craft beer scene’s snobbery towards mainstream beer. It’s all in good fun, and no harm or disrespect is intended. I want all beer drinkers to have a laugh, particularly at themselves.


Who is your art for? 

I create these works for craft beer and pop culture fans. And myself (a craft beer and pop culture fan). A lot of the time, I have an idea that I want to see exist in the real world, and I create it as a challenge for myself. I’m not thinking too hard about whether others will like it. If I create it and I’m happy with it, then it’s a success.

 

Jason enjoying a beer (presumably not XXXX given the location) at The Scratch.

What’s your artistic process? 

With all the stuff for The Scratch, I start with the theme of the show, and the intended audience with whom I want my work to resonate. I spend time generating ideas around the theme, and if something sticks out to me, I continue to flesh it out. I like to step away intermittently and forget about a project, then come back to it once my subconscious or unconscious mind has processed it. This is when I am at my most creative.

For "MID Strength Satire", luckily, I had the luxury of time. I spent six months working on it, on-and-off, around my full-time day job. As much as this is a parody and a satirical look at the craft beer scene, I aimed to create a faithful celebration of MAD’s artists and writers.

I tracked down some old copies of MAD Magazine on Gumtree to research the right look, feel and tone of the art, design and writing. I grew up reading and loving MAD – it’s been a massive influence on me – but I’d stupidly thrown out my own collection.


How good’s an ice cold XXXX on a disgustingly hot, sweaty Brisbane afternoon?

Good as... what’s the opposite of gold?


You can check out Jason’s zine online or, if you’re lucky enough to be in beautiful Brisbane, the last remaining copies have been delivered to The Scratch for sale now that the bar is back better (and cleaner) than ever.


 

Jason's XXXX works

  • 2014 - ‘Prost!’ coaster - Shocktoberfest group show
  • 2015 - ‘May The XXXX Be With You’ assemblage - Star Wars group show
  • 2016 - ‘Ales Best Not Sip’d’ comic - One Page Horror Comic group show
  • 2016 - ‘The Scratch' bar runner - Bar Runner Design Slugfest group show
  • 2017 - ‘Bitter and Light’ painted bottle and can - Rick and Morty group show
  • 2017 - ‘Stranger Tins Brewing Co.’ can design mock-ups - Stranger Things group show
  • 2018 - ‘XXX (Keep It Tasteless)’ drawing - Send Nudes group show
  • 2018 - ‘The Gold Stubmarine’ assemblage - Deep Sea Darkness group show
  • 2018 - ‘Weak Pints’ double exposure - Twin Peaks group show
  • 2020 - ‘MID Strength Satire’ zine - solo show
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