Ever wonder what goes into making your favourite LondonFuse-based print publication?

Each month, we put out another stellar edition of Short Fuse, and each month we try to raise the bar on the previous one.

Now that the September 2018 issue is all done and ready for printing (and delivery next week), I thought it might be fun to give you a glimpse of what goes into making each issue.

1 – Theme

Each month we come up with a different theme to base the paper around. For instance, September 2018 is our ‘Back to School’ edition, while September 2017, we went with a classic ‘September Issue’ fashion magazine theme.

This is September's theme - Back to School. I went with an homage to Degrassi High for the cover pic.
This is September’s theme – Back to School. I went with an homage to Degrassi High for the cover pic.

Some of the themes we’ve done in the past include:

March 2017 – Beer Issue

May 2017 – Idiom Issue

October 2017 – All Things Fall

February 2018 – Heritage Issue

Of course, my favourite comes every August – our Short Fuse Exclusive! It’s our take on the classic trashy tabloid.

2 – Assigning stories

We have a wonderfully creative group of volunteers here at Short Fuse who are always ready to provide fresh and fun stories to do with our themes. Sometimes, we assign them ourselves. Other times, contributors pitch ideas. We generally aim for about 6-8 written pieces per issue, in addition to smaller, fun tidbits (see number 7 below). We need to give you a decent read, after all!

3 – Banner and theme design

Our Front banner almost always has some sort of theme-based twist to it. Sometimes, it’s just a minor adjustment to the text itself. For Short Fuse Exclusive!, we use a dramatic slant to our headlines for that National Enquirer touch. For our 2016 Christmas cover, we crafted a strange snowman scene and took a photo.

For Christmas and New Years 2016/17, I made some neat photos for the front banner. Yes, I drew on each snowman's face by hand!
For Christmas and New Years 2016/17, I made some neat photos for the front banner. Yes, I drew on each snowman’s face by hand! And, double yes – that’s Jellybean the kitty ruining the shot (but making it great!).

In March 2017, we replaced the O in Short Fuse with a beer can, and so on… Now that we are full colour, we’ve been including colourful designs behind our name, such as the map for our ‘Neighbourhood’ edition or the colourful cityscape for ‘Summer in the City’.

Choosing fun fonts for each issue is heaven! Because we’re a not-for-profit, we don’t have fancy Helvetica Neue money, so I search out free-to-use fonts that add some spice. If you’re like me, you can spend hours searching, downloading and installing.

4 – Blocking

All of our layout for Short Fuse is done with Adobe InDesign, and the page size of Short Fuse is 12×9 inches.

Our back page, as well as our advertising spaces, are always the same sizes, so those areas of Short Fuse are always the last to be laid out. Our front ad space is always the same. So is the top banner. Not too much to think about there.

This is a screenshot of our May 2017 Idiom Issue. We paired local artists with writers for each story. You can see the artwork and advertising spaces blocked off.
This is a screenshot of our May 2017 Idiom Issue. We paired local artists with writers for each story. You can see the artwork and advertising spaces blocked off.

For the actual content itself, I like to make dummy boxes for both photos and stories and have them placed in advance, so I can gauge how much room we have and how much/little additional content we need. Most of our stories are between 150-300 words, so I make blocks accordingly.

5 – Layout

So, the stories are in, the ads are booked, and the photos are edited. It’s time to lay out the pages. Thanks to step 4, most of the work is already done! Sometimes, we make the advertisements in-house, but most of the time they are supplied by our amazing and generous clients. Ad sizes range from 2.9 x 1.75 inches to a full-banner 8.75 x 1.75 inches.

Here is the September 2018 issue just about ready to go. All the layout is done in Adobe InDesign.
Here is the September 2018 issue just about ready to go. All the layout is done in Adobe InDesign.

When it comes to content, our front page is usually given to our longest feature, and has a larger photo to accompany it. When we go all-out with our themes, the front gets a bit more complicated – a treacherous web of jpegs, pdfs, pngs and text overlays. Our January 2017 issue, for instance, was a whole mess of Zodiac signs, text boxes, photos and shaded panels behind the text.

6 – Pun and fuzzles

The back page is always dedicated to two mainstays – our comic and our crossword. Because of this, it’s usually put together last.

Our comics are all made by the hilarious and talented Sammy Roach. Each month, she creates a new cartoon based on whatever the theme is. For September ’18, she has outdone herself with a throwback to the scented markers of our childhoods. I’d post the image here, but I don’t want to ruin the surprise.

Every Short Fuse puzzle begins on paper. How quaint!
Every Short Fuse puzzle begins on paper. How quaint! This photo is of August’s answers. You didn’t think we’d give away September’s did you???

Our crosswords are made in-house by the handsome and mysterious Puzzlor. When we first began publishing Short Fuse in 2016, our crosswords were much smaller – a simple 12×9 grid (that’s 108 squares all told). As time went on and the Puzzlor became more adept, we took on a 15×15 grid (225 squares) – just like you’d find in your daily newspaper. Once it’s complete, it’s put together in Adobe Photoshop with a special LondonFuse template.

7 – Touch-ups

When space allows, it’s always fun to put in little extras like ‘Did You Know?’ boxes, jumbles, or anything else that is small but catchy. They are mostly designed in Photoshop and then imported as PDFs to InDesign.

Any additional text is added once it’s on the page. After that, we proof read, and proof read, and proof read. Even then, there is the odd shot that slips past the goalie!

8 – Printing and delivery

Once it’s proofed, it’s off to our pal Derek Armstrong at Blu Monster Print Media to be printed and boxed up. Then, we pick them up, and drop them off all around the city for all to read and some to enjoy!

Some fun facts:

  • Short Fuse began in November of 2016, as a way to keep LondonFuse active in the community while our web site was down for reconstruction.
  • We initially published every two weeks (we had more time on our hands – see above), and our last bi-weekly was February, 2017.
  • The stories are written by volunteers (aside from those written by Fuse’s two staff).
  • We initially printed in broadsheet format (lengthwise) on 11″x17″ sheets. In March of 2017, we switched to tabloid format on 12″x18″.
  • Our first-ever colour edition was March 2018.

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