Founded by artist R.D. King in 2017, Extended Play is an independent small press based in Nashville, with projects produced in collaboration between King and other local and regional artists. For example, We Love You We Know You Always Watch We Will Try To Do Better Next Year is an anarchic send-up of Christmas-themed kids’ books featuring text by Nashville artist Matt Christy alongside contributions from sixteen other artists. King’s design for the book includes Risograph printing on thick sketchbook paper with hand-painted edges. It was published in limited run of 125 editions, along with an additional twenty special editions featuring crimson-colored Christmas covers. Another Extended Play project, Keeper, is a hand-printed catalog for Nashville painter Jodi Hays’s 2017 exhibition of the same name at Red Arrow Gallery. Keeper includes a removable collection of short poems inspired by the paintings, written by – full disclosure – yours truly.
In a single year, Extended Play has established itself as the go-to handcrafted book publisher for Tennessee artists looking to make their work available in painstakingly printed pages. The press’s latest offerings only add to its reputation for exquisitely crafted, affordable art books brimming with off-kilter content. Both of Extended Play’s new projects are collaborations between King and Nashville artist Jaime Raybin.
Car Crush is inspired by Ms. Bigfoot: A Fanfiction, a six-minute digital animation that tells a digital-era coming-of-age story about a teenage girl monster truck who undergoes a feminist awakening through writing fan fiction. Car Crush itself is presented a magazine for teen girl monster trucks. The magazine apes the glossy, candy-colored chaos of eye-catching teen publications, but here they’re nearly cranked up to Lisa Frank-level intensity.
The magazine’s visual craziness is equaled by its stories about embarrassing leaky oil changes or accidentally exposing your gas cap when you leave your little door open. There’s an interview with a band of teenage boy monster trucks and advice on a “seven-day biodiesel cleanse.” The subversive Ms. Bigfoot universe turns mega-macho monster truck culture on its head, and the genius of Car Crush is how it couches its unbridled absurdity in the deeply-detailed sincerity of its spot-on design.
Everyday in Magic anthologizes the card designs Raybin and King created for use in the game Magic: The Gathering – a magic-and-monsters contest fought with battling, collectible playing cards. I’ve never played the game, but I can assure you Everyday in Magic perfectly mimics the design of an antique edition of the Lesser Key of Solomon I once owned. King used digital scanning to achieve the marbled look on the black cover, and he even replicates the gold lettering and spooky sigils you often find on the covers of occult books from the turn of the twentieth century.
As with Car Crush, King’s commitment to impeccable design provides the perfect contextual foil to the zany content of Everyday in Magic. Though it looks like a spooky old grimoire of diabolical spells, this collection updates the Magic cards for use in contemporary adult lives. The results are hilarious, melancholy, and mad. In the world of Everyday in Magic, a “Circle of Protection” can be provided by a odor-masking bathroom candle, yummy MSG is a tool of enchantment, awful creatures can be summoned by an office paper shredder, chemical hair removal is high sorcery, and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is transformed into Legendary Oceanic Land. It’s all thoroughly cracked, and the book’s adult ennui is also shot-through with the kinds of conspiracy theories that thrive in times such as these, marked by a deep distrust of the status quo.
These books debuted in early October at a pop-up installation Raybin and King set up in the back of a moving van parked outside of the Packing Plant building, which also houses the artist-run galleries Mild Climate, Coop, and Channel to Channel. The back of the moving van was decorated to resemble “a crudely drawn 1980s Pizza Hut,” where viewers were invited to sit on giant purple and green tires to watch the Ms. Bigfoot: A Fanfiction video. While Car Crush is based on the video, and many of Extended Play’s projects connect to actual bodies of original works, this press does more than simply reproduce and collect affordable facsimiles between its covers. King’s inventive designs, disciplined craftsmanship, attention to detail, and deeply collaborative process mean that these books stand alone as objets d’art which enhance and expand the practice of the press’s collaborators, creating connections with bookish audiences who may be more likely to buy art for their shelves than for their walls.
Car Crush and Everyday in Magic, along with the press’s other titles, are available for purchase on Extended Play’s website.