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Works of 'Outsiders’ housed in legendary Loujon Press collection

July 17, 2017 11:30 AM
 | 
Alicia Jasmin ajasmin@tulane.edu
  

Copies of "The Outsider" feature Louise “Gypsy Lou” Webb as the cover model for volumes 1 (left) and 2 (center). In the early 1960s, Jon and Louise Webb began printing "The Outsider" and books such as "It Catches My Heart in Its Hands" by Charles Bukowski (right) in their French Quarter apartment. (Images from the Louisiana Research Collection)

 

In the early 1960s, literary artists either fell inside or outside the metaphorical highbrow literary circle. Establishment writers who made the A-list were praised and published by major literary houses, but lesser-known writers—the outsiders—had to find other avenues to share their work.

Around 1961 in New Orleans, Loujon Press began producing The Outsider, a high-quality print publication whose mission was to pro­vide exposure to new, edgy, underground literature by these lesser-known artists in the burgeoning literary scene.

Loujon Press was an independent publishing company started by husband and wife Jon Webb and Louise “Gypsy Lou” Webb in their French Quarter apartment. Using a hand press, the pair printed, assembled and shipped the publications from their home. Today, a complete set of these volumes is preserved in the Louisiana Research Collection (LaRC) on the uptown campus of Tulane University.

The KnowLouisiana digital encyclopedia notes that The Outsider, far from a mainstream publication, was a “critical success from the very start, making a remarkable impact in the literary landscape of the 20th century.”

The brilliant “lowlife” poet Charles Bukowski is among the writers discovered by the Webbs. Bukowski’s first two books, It Catches My Heart in Its Hands (1963) and Crucifix in a Deathhand (1965), were published by Loujon.

Loujon Press published three issues of The Outsider, along with four books of poetry and prose. When Jon Webb died in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1971, the press ceased operations. Today, Gypsy Lou Webb still maintains a home in the French Quarter and is active in New Orleans’ art scene.

“The Louisiana Research Collection has a special project to preserve a copy of every Loujon Press publication,” said Lee Miller, head of the LaRC. “Anyone who has Loujon Press publications, or who has brochures, pamphlets or correspondence about the press is encouraged to contact us.”

LaRC is located in Jones Hall, Room 202, and can be reached by phone at 504-314-7833.

This article originally appeared in the June 2017 issue of Tulane magazine.