Johanna Drucker's Artist Books
An online repository of facsimiles, metadata, and commentary

Dark Decade


Project Statement

Dark Decade extended the play with narrative tropes and fictional conventions that had, in part, motivated Against Fiction. The text is dark, ironic, and mixes imagery from mass media, contemporary life, and fantastic images of dystopic fiction. In short, it was meant to be an accurate portrait of American culture in the 1980s, though it was still all too apt when published in the 1990s. The fragmentary pastiche of plots, sketches of characters from imagined tales, popular and pulp, and the textual heterogeneity were echoed in the images.

Production Narrative

Gary and Martha agreed to publish this book some time in the early 1990s. They were in charge of the layout, format, and all production. We consulted about the cover and design, and I sent them the images and of course, the texts. I think by the time we were doing this that I must have sent the text on disk.

Critical Analysis

Design Features

typographic: Fairly straightforward, text blocks, text size, legible, nothing special.

imagery: Hand painted collages of news imagery made grotesque and fantastic, with a weird expressionistic cast.

graphical: Clean design, straightforward, very small press.

Critical Discussion

This book is most compelling for its writing, the mix of genres, and the heteroglossic character of its sensibility.



Johanna Drucker

type: initiating


Gary Sullivan Detour Press

type: other


publication: 01/06/1995

note: Gary and his then partner had been typesetters for a magazine in San Francisco in which an excerpt of this text appeared. They had contacted me with enthusiasm. I wrote back to see if they might want to publish the work in its entirety through their own imprint. They agreed.

Publication Information

publisher: Detour Press

publication: 1995-00-00

publication history: A single edition of this work was produced in 1995, paperback, offset.

Aesthetic Profile

United States Politics and Government

themes: The darkly grotesque condition of American culture.

content form:
narrative (local)

publication tradition:
small press (local)

inspiration: Real life, the news, tabloids, pulp fiction.

related works: Against Fiction, the Current Line, Deterring Discourse, Damaged Spring and From Now are all related in spirit, style, and substance.

other influences: Terry Gilliam's Brazil, George Orwell, Nathanel West.

community: other Poets and artists, as usual.

Related Documents

manuscript type: texts

location: artist's archive

manuscript type: mockups

location: artist's archive

note: The mockups are originals of images, not layout.

General Comments

title note: Written in the 1980s, published in the 1990s, the decade referred to switched, but remained chillingly relevant as the political and cultural times got even darker.


Publication Information

edition type: editioned

publisher: Detour Press

place: St.Paul, Minnesota

publication: 1995-00-00


horizontal: 5.5 inches closed

vertical: 8.5 inches closed

depth: .3 inches closed

Production Information

production means:
offset (local)

binding: mashine sewn (local)

bookBlock: paper

ink (local)


format: codex (AAT)

cover: Red and black cover with an oval depicting a detail from a painting by Johanna Drucker.

color: no


pagination: paginated 128 pages

numbered?: unnumbered

signed?: unsigned



Related Documents

manuscript type: correspondence

location: artist's archive

note: Correspondence with Gary and Martha about the production, schedule, money etc.