Tuesday, February 19, 2002

From the Reading Pile VII

Artfly #3 -- 2002 comic book and calendar (summer 2001)
The brainchild of FC Brandt and Jesse Reklaw, this 365-panel and 32-page jam comic features more than 100 comic artists. Each month tells a story, and this rivals the Slingshot annual planner as the coolest calendar for Y2K2. I can't imagine the logistical planning this took -- the writing, assigning the art -- but it's amazing. Abe Lincoln kicks some ass, robots fight, movies are made, aliens are thwarted, and people die as folks such as Brian Ralph, Matt Feazell, Trevor Alixopulos (providing art hella better than that in Tenth Frame), Leela Corman, Jason Shiga, Jordan Crane, Tom Devlin, Kurt Wolfgang, and David Lasky lend their pens to the cause. Each month is heavily credited, FC and Jesse offer back story to the calendar, and outtakes -- panels that were overassigned -- are included. Buy this, the Slingshot pocket planner, and the Bizarre Bazaar's Rabble Rouser's calendar, and you'll be overprepared for a whole year. $8 to FC Brandt, 1915 Dufour Ave. #D, Redondo Beach, CA 90278.

Catching the Moon
One of Dan Moynihan's relatively new minis, this is the most lush item he's produced to date. With each page painted in watercolor, this is a 12-page story of a boy, a girl, the moon, and how the girl captures said moon in a teacup. A wonderful wordless comic, this mini blends creative production design with heartfelt writing, whimsy, and humor. Dan combines the fantastic with the mundane to arrive at a sensitive sense of serendipity, yearning, and completeness. Excellent. $3.

Go #3 (fall 2000)
The description of what the zine Go is -- the inside front cover -- is the best self-publishing manifesto I've read in a long time. Made me sigh. As the "DIY pop, counterculture, art, ideas, and information negazine for the video game generation," and, oh, so much more, Go takes a look at many of the things that make life worth living. This old 68-page issue considers baths, flea circuses, ramen, milk, ketchup, Burmese boy rebels, Mark Bode, and plagiarism. And it features some of the funniest writing I've read lately, drawing on the talents of such pseudonymomous folks as Barnaby Barnacle III, Johnny Ramen (with wonderfully varied and chopped-up English from Chef du Varre), Tony Maggot, Cyrus Pigeonboy, and Dr. Professor Babukaji. Oh! But the best? The interview with Toog, the Parisian musician and poet who answered Go's questions with drawings -- better than the Scott McCloud interview in Wired. More comics interviews, please! I'm sure there have been more issues of Go; it's too, too good. Zine of the batch! $3 to Go, P.O. Box 3635, Oakland, CA 94609-0635.

A collective effort by Joe White, Marc Overney, Nathan Stapley, Razmig Mavlian, Scott Campbell, and Graham Annable, this 36-page anthology collects 13 stories. Reminding me of the old Zoot comics, Hickee contains several highlights: all of Nathan Stapley's cartoony comedies (Jumping Jeffery even made me laugh out loud.); Stapley's fart joke-inflated appropriation of airplane safety instructions; Scott Campbell's lengthy tale of wishes, avoidance, and fulfillment; ad Razmig Mavlian's bittersweet take on new-found friendship. Almost animated in nature, this'd make a good companion read to Comb-Over. $3.

Mass Art Newspaper #1-5
This consistently eight-page project by the folks at Paper Radio is aimed at Mass Art students and other local fans of Paper Radio productions. Combining found art, coloring book reproductions, filled-in Mad-Libs, interviews about slang and cartoons, handwritten music reviews, to-do lists, letters, commentary on recordings of robots, an article on the Pony Patterns, poetry, photography, and assorted in jokes, each issue -- except #5 -- includes the same two-page insert. #5's insert name drops Pracky Pranky and the Pony Patterns, alluding to Paper Radio's musical groups. Among the obsessions: ponies and (again) Canada. While the zines are extensively collage-oriented photocopier art posters, there's little to do with Mass Art or news. Seems to be an on-campus hype organ, albeit mysterious and creative, for Paper Radio's projects and DIY sensibility. Not worth a buck a pop, but maybe if I keep writing about Paper Radio, Ben will start flowing Media Diet some freebies. $1.

Mattel Psychedelics
I have either two or four editions of this collage-art poster zine from the folks at Paper Radio. One is a two-page poster featuring collage art, found text, a child's note about tracing (How much of this is found, and how much is concocted? I can't always tell.), and word play. There's a Masters of the Universe reference. The second "issue" might be three editions and an insert or one complete edition. I don't know. Regardless, there's more Masters of the Universe fetishism, found text, iconic record reviews, comic book reproductons, ponies, handwritten letters, Pracky Pranky references, Kool-Aid Man, handwriting practice pages, Real Slow Radio record cover reproductions, and cryptic comics featuring drugs, music, and Jesus. Where do they find this stuff? I have a Pracky Pranky CD somewhere. Must... put... it... on. This is mostly interchangeable with the Mass Art Newspaper in terms of form and content, but the more I read Paper Radio's stuff -- and the more I email Ben -- the less I'm able to distinguish between their art and artificem much less practice and prank. Wonderful, wonderful stuff. Free.

Product Brainstorming
I think this purges the last of the Paper Radio-related zines and comics I have in the reading pile for now. Fear not, there will be more, I'm sure. Countering my commentary on previous questionable and throwaway releases, this simple, 16-page mini is an awe-inspiring assortment of names and near-descriptions of products that don't exist but should. It's a facile concept for a zine: Make a list of almost 200 fake products -- and publish it. For the most part, this is an exercise in word play, but some of the ideas are priceless. Examples: Rude 'Tude Talk Back Talkers, Orangatangitude, "ABC, E!: A Guide to Rave Culture," the Psalm Pilot, and Hobo for Hire. Some are products, some are books, and some could be businesses. Venture capitalists, alert! An example of how the Paper Radio gang just keeps throwing out ideas until something sticks.

Radical Def #6 (summer 2001)
Published by the Anarchist Agitprop Collective, a recognized Southern Oregon University student club since 1996, this 72-page Slingshot-meets-Lookout! zine is heavy on the reprints, as well as on spirit. Drawing on other sources such as the Drug Reform Coalition, the Anti-Fascist Informational Bulletin, and the Michigan Citizen, ths also includes original content, both addressing topics such as the Lomakatski Restoration Project, ski development on Mt. Ashland, propaganda, student group budgets at SOU -- perhaps one of the best articles in terms of use on the local campus -- and local Green Anarchy organizing. Kind of an activist's hodgepodge, Radical Def definitely serves up a local flavor of activism but not much unity of purpose. Several patron saints are invoked -- Kropotkin, Peltier -- but I get little sense of the editorial personality or mission. Still, if I lived in Ashland, Oregon, or went to SOU, I'd read every single issue of this. $1 to Anarchist Collective, 1257 Siskiyou Blvd. #471, Ashland, OR 97520.

A Reader's Guide to the Underground Press #16 (summer 2001)
Formerly Zine World, this is a zine I used to review for. It's an extremely valuable zine review resource -- more valuable than Zine Guide -- that's run by volunteers, a wide-ranging collective of folks with different approaches, opinions, and viewpoints, much less voices. Featuring news about free speech-, privacy-, and micromedia-related news, this 88-page issue also sports a report on See Hear's shoddy consignment sales practices, letters of comment, columns (including a Fred Woodworth-penned analysis of the now-defunct Fine Print Distributors -- also RIP to Puppy Toss, Wow Cool, and Spit-and-a-Half!), classifieds, and reviews, reviews, reviews... ARGttUP's (awkward!) bread and butter. With almost 300 reviews, this is a bargain at $4. P.O. Box 330156, Murfreesboro, TN 37133.

Snow Monkeys #2
The best example I've seen so far of Small Publisher's Co-Op's printing, Megan Whitmarsh's 68-page 2000 comic features some friendly comice art akin to Allison Cole and Dan Moynihan. Dotty and Oslo write King Kong and Tin Tin, go on vacation, visit a haunted house with some squirrels, dream of organic chemistry, eat breakfast, watch TV, drink tea with birds, dance, consort with robots, and share their love with a ghost cat. More cute brute comics for you and your girlfriend. Mellow, clever, and sleepy like a Sunday morning. $3 to Tiny Industries, 4782 Pasadena Ave., Sacramento, CA 95841.

Soapbox Vol. 2 #1
The 12-page October 2001 issue of this progressive student-run paper, also from SOU, addresses university complicity in deforestation, the campus union movement, bias in student group budgeting, omissions by the Ashland Daily Tidings (a letter to the editor and an ad), global activism, 911, and local activism-oriented events. Thinner but probably more frequent than Radical Def, this is a must read if you live in the Ashland area. The Media Collective, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Stevenson Union #333, Ashland, OR 97520

No comments: