Axiom Magazine started life, like most concepts, as a mere thought that woke me up at 4am one morning. I had been writing for various publications in Japan for around 18months, but I had yet to make a real name of myself, or brought any real attention to the articles I had written. Even so, Microsoft invited me to the Tokyo Gameshow, after being added onto their press release following an article I had written about computer games. Not having a publication I could represent and having a rather constrictive day-job, I had to turn down their generous offer…which I sincerely hope they will extend once again next year (please!).
I had known Jimi Okelana for a mere 6 months, but I knew he was someone I could see myself working with, not only is he a talented and determined designer, he is modest with his talent, neither boastful or overly confident, two qualities I truly admire. We also get on very well, and although we come from very different backgrounds and have different views on life, we both have a very similar work ethic, but more importantly, a near identical sense of humour (although mine is slightly more sophisticated).
I told Jimi that I thought there was a huge gap in the market for an English publication based in Japan that was concerned with computer games. The original format was to be a magazine split into sections of developers, with sub-sections for previews, reviews and interviews. I gave Jimi the original pitch in a cubby-sized-kitchen at the preschool we were both working at, Jimi injecting some caffeine into his bloodstream via a Blendy Stick and me manic with excitement. We had no idea what to call the publication, but we both knew it was something we wanted to invest into, besides, how hard could it be?
We met often after that and every spare minute at work we mulled over our concept. Jimi really pushed the idea that gaming should be just a section of our focus, an idea that has really paid dividends today, but scared me at the beginning. We had no writers, no one backing us, not even a publisher, how could we effectively cover the entirety of Japanese culture?
I scouted around and some good friends seemed happy to help: Andrew Lavigness wrote a cool article about Nintendo games and Rajib Ali submitted not one, but two pieces. Jimi and I did the rest, filling up 28 pages of pure content, which Jimi made look amazing on our meagerly budget of ￥0. We printed off a trail version of the zine at Kinkos, full colour, gloss cover…it looked awesome!
Next came the help of Tom Langford and Steve Allen, who helped us organize a launch event at R-Base, a trendy café/bar. Before long we had several other DJs signed up, including the phenomenal Justin Miller. Local VJ artists, Cube, also helped us out, as well as the unique talents of Ryan Barnes. We were set for a night to remember.
Days before the event we went back to Kinkos to print the zine; we calculated that if we printed every zine in full colour, we would be losing around ￥500 per zine, per ticket sold. We acquiesced and printed in black and white, which ended up adding to the home-made feel of the zine. Mere minutes before the event, Jimi scrambled together some articles and created a Tumblr account, forming our first attempt at a website, which, I thought, looked amazing, even though it was a mere scroll of articles, one after the other.
The event went off without a hitch, many friends and co-workers coming out to show their support. Event organizing is not our forte, but we love meeting our potential readers and there were more than we expected that time around!
One small complaint we did receive at the party was that there was very little in the way for female readers. Jay Tang also approached us about writing for the zine, soon after which he fell asleep on the sofa, only to be woken up by the management at 1am. As Jay stumbled out, Jimi and I were left behind to clean up. Jay called 40minutes later to tell me that he left his jacket, inside of which were his house keys. Jimi, being the saint that he is, cycled cross city at 2am to deliver Jay’s coat. That night was the first time those two met, not the best first impression for your potential editor!
Month two saw us cut back on the computer game articles. Andrew failed to submit in time (still waiting on your next article mate), so Raj stepped up and filled his shoes. Jimi wrote a recipe article in an attempt to please the ladies, and I added a puzzle. Although a clear step up from the first issue, I am personally very proud of issue three, which saw us gain two very talented writers.
Jay remained sober long enough to write a really fun little article about iPhone games, unfortunately I was so dazed and confused whilst putting the zine together, I got his name wrong, even though I’d known him for over a year! We also gained our first female writer, Mitzi Akaha, who was very keen to write about Japanese literature, which she does with true grace.
With myself, Jimi, Raj, Jay and Mitzi all contributing a different voice for the publication, I felt for the first time that we had a nice balance, which would appeal to a wider audience. This surge in confidence was no doubt boosted by the success of our website, which Jimi had earlier overhauled and improved 10-fold.
Over the next four months, we would work with local and international artists, pro-wrestlers, authors, photographers, DJs, VJs, actors, singers and good friends. Our video collection swelled and we had some huge hits that neither of us saw coming. Besides gaining 10,000s of hits due to our coverage of Saturday Night Live Japan, we were also quoted on some huge sites, like Reddit and the New York Times, “A must read” no less.
As Axiom Magazine moves forward, we want to thank everyone who has offered us support. We have had our fingers burnt on several occasions, but luckily not by anyone within the country (read: within throttling range). Our current website has only been up and running for a short time and last month we were contemplating a party to commemorate our 10,000th hit, now we are looking at celebrating our 200,000th.
As it is a true celebration, the party will be free to enter and everyone is welcome. The new magazine will be there and that will be free too! You will have to buy your own drinks, but everything will be 500yen or less. There will be the best DJs in Japan, live music and maybe a surprise visit from the Axiom Ranger. The party will be held on December 10th (Saturday), doors opening at 8pm and it will run till late. No theme, no customs, no gimmicks, just plain, old-fashioned fun with friends. We look forward to seeing you there!