Following yesterday’s post of U.S.–based US: A Paperback Magazine, the Quebecois underground periodical Mainmise is a parallel endeavor from north of the border. While The Electric Information Age Book focuses primarily on subject matter published in the U.S. (for the sake of completing the book in less than a decade), we came across numerous international examples of mass-distributed weirdness. Mainmise (French for “stranglehold” or “seizure”) is amongst our finer finds; birthed from the groundswell of Quebec’s l’alternative utopique, the publication carried ties to the Underground Press Syndicate, and purveyed counterculture subject matter through an imaginative and varied graphic approach.
Regardless of a switch from paperback to tabloid format after 20 issues, Mainmise had an impressive run from 1970 to 1978, concluding with issue 78. The entirety of this output has been graciously digitized in full by the National Library of Quebec. Features of the design approach include the incorporation of widely varied typography with hand-drawn elements; oversized and itinerantly placed page numbers; immersive full-bleed spreads; copious illustrations; meditation and yoga instructionals; excerpts from other alt-pubs including Crawdaddy, Los Angeles Free Press, Chicago Seed and others; alternating orientations of text; and coverage of then-contemporary music acts such as The Incredible String Band.