In these dark essay-writing and intensely depressing times, where each and every one of us feels like throwing ourselves into Highfields Lake, we need good old-fashioned, extremely wacky reading material. And Belly Up!, billed as a magazine for dolphins who think they are human, does not disappoint. Impact Arts’ Anna investigates. 

I can’t believe it – they’re opening a gourmet café in Mordor. Imagine ordering your flat white with a Uruk-hai sitting next to you trolling down his bacon butty before going off in search of something more substantial like some ‘filthy hobbitses’.

“Maybe Theresa May should go through the Brexit Bill using interpretive dance?”

What else can I tell you that I learnt from Darren Allen and William Barker’s magazine? Oh yeah, they give very relevant and topical insights into current affairs, such as the EU. Apparently, things are looking up as ‘wordless song’ has been brought into the equation as a new form of self-expression; maybe Theresa May should go through the Brexit Bill using interpretive dance?

“You’ll have happily wasted a few minutes”

Anyone taking a subject with low employment chances – I’m looking at you English, Art History and Geography students – should have a go at Captain Unemployment’s Psychometric Test. For anyone feeling like the only area they excel in is being perfectly, beautifully mediocre then have a go at the quiz. With questions asking you if you have ‘nightmares about corridors’ or whether you ‘want to weep cleansing tears of togetherness with the call-centre girl’, at least if it doesn’t get you any further with life you’ll have happily wasted a few minutes that you could’ve spent doing an application.

“The articles take you on…many unexpected twists and turns”

Reading Belly Up! is a bit like being a guest at the Mad Hatter’s tea party, or heading to Scotland and going out on a Friday night with the Trainspotting gang. It might almost be reassuring to know that the writers of this magazine were massively into their psychedelic drugs, or that they’d been exposed to high levels of some form of radiation, or dropped on their heads shortly after birth. In any case, the articles take you on about as many unexpected twists and turns, as there would be if you were to shrink yourself and travel round the human intestines on a miniature tea-tray.

“The images are about as all over the place as a drunk boy’s aim whilst trying to piss”

Also, this magazine is every wacky illustrator’s wet dream. The images are about as all over the place as a drunk boy’s aim whilst trying to piss: chortle-worthy caricatures, fantastic comic strips and bizarre little monsters.

“Perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to have drunk that second coffee…where too much ridiculous reading material puts a bit too much strain on your poor, swollen bladder”

Maybe it wasn’t the best idea to read the written outpourings of the dark recesses of the human brain in a quiet carriage of commuters travelling from Nottingham to Norwich, surrounded by prim middle-class, middle-aged, cardigan-wearing Kindle users. Perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to have drunk that second coffee that leaves you at that uncomfortable point where too much motion or ridiculous reading material puts a bit too much strain on your poor, swollen bladder.

“I know of no other magazine quite like Belly Up!”

Rating this magazine would require something against which to compare it; unfortunately, I know of no other magazine quite like Belly Up!. For now, I’d say that for the eccentric and open-minded among you all, this is a magnificent whirlwind of battiness that should be discovered and cherished.

Anna Seton

Image credit: Andreas Ahrens via Flickr

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