All I Want(ed) for Christmas

All I Want(ed) for Christmas

It had been some time, maybe a year or two, since I last looked at "The Secret Santa," an essay that I wrote in the fall of 2006. This week, just a few days before Christmas, I pulled it out and read it again.

Not having seen the work in such a long time, it was great to read it again with fresh eyes and fresh perspective. I honestly think that it's one of the finest pieces that I've ever written.

Considering the subject matter, too, it's also one of the most important things that I've ever written.

There are a number of reasons why I hadn't looked at the essay in a long while. By the time it was done, the essay had come to symbolize many things, not the least of which was a significant sense of creative accomplishment ... and a mind-numbing sense of frustration.

I actually went through a depression when I finished the work.

For about two months, most of my nights and weekends -- basically the time that wasn't spent at my soul sucking day job -- had been devoted to the text. Lots of web searches, lots of reading, and lots of translating text from Spanish, Italian, even Russian websites.

And I loved it.

Before long, though, it felt as if I was splitting myself in two, constantly moving between the mental highs of a creative state at night time, and the mental lows of robotic repetition performed while at the day job.

And each night, while walking home from work I would find myself muttering variations of: "This is no fucking way to live," and "I can't keep living like this," and "Why do I have to live this way?"

I wanted to end it all, that ceaseless pattern of repetition; the peeling myself out of the desk chair in the wee hours of the morning, the going to bed and waking up just a few hours later, the getting in the shower, the getting dressed, the figuring out what to take to eat for lunch, the walking into work, the sitting at the desk, the logging into the computer and phone, and the answering calls with the scripted line:

"Thank you for calling ______. This is ______. How can I help you?"

I won't go into any of the dark details. But suffice it to say that due to the kinds of thoughts that I started having each night while walking home, I made an appointment to see a psychiatrist. I knew that it wasn't healthy to be thinking the way I was ... as often as I was.

It only took a one hour session, though, for me to realize that psychotherapy was going to be a waste of my time, and the insurance company's money. Talking to a shrink wasn't going to help me with what I was feeling every night -- not as quickly as I needed anyway.

What I really needed was a reality check. And so -- just as I have done for so many other people -- I gave myself one.

Sure, I thought. I had written something special, something extraordinary. Something groundbreaking. But I also had to acknowledge that the work created in my private time represented only a portion of my existence.

The other significant portion consisted of the work done sitting in a pod at a computer in a call center. That too was my reality -- a significant part of my reality. As mundane as it was, that's what was keeping the rent paid, the lights on, and food in the refrigerator.

Sure, my fortunes could all change one day. But those were the cards I was holding at the time. The cards that I'm still holding.

Anyway, after coming to grips with my ever more humbling situation, I decided that I needed to distance myself from "The Secret Santa," and anything else I was working on that caused me to think so far outside the box, and set me up with expectations that didn't come to fruition.

I should probably mention now that after sending out a few inquiry letters to magazines and a few websites, the essay was fairly close to being printed in a magazine called Trumpet, a nationally distributed religious publication out of Chicago, my hometown.

Coincidentally, it was a magazine that was published by the church that my mother, father, sister and an aunt back in Chicago all attended. At the time, then Senator Barack Obama and his wife Michelle were also members.

Yes, that church.

Unfortunately, though, like several magazines since, the Trumpet fell on financial hard times and suspended publication. Since then I haven't sent out any more inquiry letters regarding the essay.

Each year, though, around the month of September, I find myself thinking about sending out a few more inquiry letters. But then I don't.

Maybe the work is still just a little ahead of it's time. Maybe I'm still waiting for the rest of the world to catch up. Or maybe it's just not as groundbreaking as I think. (Yeah, right.)

Whatever the case, I'm proud of the work that went into crafting this essay. Of all the things I've produced, it's still the one that I would most like to see presented to a larger audience. I still think that it will happen one day.

In the meantime, I have formatted the text into a nice 20-page zine. One with a color cover and three pages of color illustrations inside.

Unlike my other zines, though, I don't think that I'm going to be making The Secret Santa available for purchase. Instead, maybe next year I'll just mail 'em out to family and friends as a 20-page Christmas card.

Feliz Navidad.


Octopussy Review in NPR #6

Kung Fu Grip! Special #1: Octopussy

When I wrote up a really cool zine called KUNG FU GRIP! back in issue #4, St. Paco, the creator of it, was going on zine hiatus and he did. When I recently heard from him I got the impression that he was going to publish again. Then before I know it I get this awesome OCTOPUSSY zine. It has the same look and style as KFG! And some similarities: amazing graffiti art, perzine style, the front cover parody of a Marvel comic. It's got that 70s vibe with old school ad pages for the Josie and the Pussycats Hostess Fruit Pie ad and an actual Sea Monkeys ad. A profile of 18th century wood block artist Katsushika Hokusai reprints some of his art including the color centerfold of an octopus performing cunnilingus on a Japanese maiden. That in fact is the motif of this zine: sexy women and octopi. The octopus woman on the cover, woman with octopus on the back cover, the girl in the "stripper haiku" pages with the octopus tattoo. What an insanely original and creative idea. This zine seems to have been made with such care and skill, it was meant to be a high quality work of art.

– Randy, Narcolepsy Press Review #6


Octopussy Review by Stuart Stratu

Octopussy #1

56 pages, $3.50 from Paco D. Taylor, 7730 East Broadway #925, Tucson AZ 85710, USA + stpaco(at)gmail.com

A quick flip through this zine and I knew it was a good one.

First up, Paco's confession that after a shitty break-up he distracted himself from the pain with booze and strip clubs. He wrote 18 stripper haikus which follow. Here's one of 'em:


Then four pages of graffiti art - really cool and wild stuff. [The] art collective Cum* from Ghent, Belgium covered that town's streets with their porno graffiti then got so renowned on the internet that their work became in-demand at real actual art galleries. This stuff is more explicit than the street stuff.

There's a section on Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) - it has been estimated that around 35,000 paintings, drawings, prints, and illustrated books were made by Hokusai during his lifetime. And it's pretty cool that he ranged so widely with his subject matter that Paco could select four of his works featuring octopi to fit the zine title. (There's an awesome colour centrefold of Hokusai's 'Octopi and Shelldiver'.)

There's a great piece about a cool girl, Erika, that Paco met through MySpace and formed a unique, long-distance friendship with. He sent her his zine, which revealed personal stuff about him, and in turn she sent him photos of herself and her bare ass, and other saucy type snaps. But! She had a boyfriend! I'm not gonna reveal what happened when she invited Paco to stay with them, so now you'll definitely need to order the zine! Heh heh.

Anyway, next up is a photo series of India's 'Kama Sutra Temple' (Kandariya Mahadeva) "adorned both inside and out with a mind-blowing assortment of eroticized sandstone figures."

Cool zine. I'll be looking forward to Paco's second issue.

– Stuart Stratu, Blackguard


Scott Pilgrim vs. the audience...er, "World"

'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World'

So...I finally saw Scott Pilgrim vs. the World last night. I really shouldn't say "finally," though, since it wasn't at all on my list of movies to see. The pickings, however, were pretty slim at Redbox last night.

Amusingly, the tag line for the film is "An epic of epic epicness." After seeing the film, I found it really ironic, because in terms of its audience appeal, this film was an epic FAIL of epic epicness.

Now, I didn't see the 2000 film Alexander, which -- with a $155 million dollar budget -- was supposed to have been pretty friggin' epic. Like Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, though, Alexander was an epic box office fail. Not having seen the latter, I'm not quite sure why it bombed. But I've seen Pilgrim and I know why this $60 million dollar movie failed: It appeals to no one.

Okay, of course it appeals to someone. But it's a very limited pool...or a very limited gene pool, if you will.

First of all, I'm sure that it appeals to the people who read the comic. The book has a justifiably devoted following; I've read one issue of Scott Pilgrim that I got on Free Comic Book Day a few years back and it was kinda' cool to see some of that issue reflected in the movie.

Secondly, it may appeal to the people of Canada, the home base of Bryan Lee O'Malley, the creator of the Scott Pilgrim comic book. There are lots of references to that mythical land of the North.

Thirdly, it must appeal to those people who liked movies like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. At the bottom of one of the promotional posters it reads: "From the director of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz."

And lastly, but most importantly, it appeals to Generation-X, Generation-Y and Generation-Z white males, Jewish guys (white ones), Gay guys (white ones) and Asians (non-white ones). I say this because those are the only human groups I saw on screen for the entire 108-minutes of this incestuous Hollywood fantasy-action-comedy.

Oh, and speaking of Hollywood incest, there are Seinfeld TV show references in the movie. Whatever the fuck the Seinfeld TV show has to do with the world of Scott Pilgrim, I cannot say. But I'm sure that fans of the show got dill pickle-sized hard-ons when they heard the oh-so-familiar music cues and the canned laugh tracks from the once mystifyingly-popular NBC show.

Even more mystifying (but not really) was the Hollywood decision to cast Michael Cera as the comic book's leading ladies' man. I mean, come. the. fuck. on. Not even in a testosterone-drenched comic book fantasy would this scrawny, alto-voiced actor have PYTs (pretty young thangs) like those seen in this flick throwing pussy at him.

I mean, there's nothing even subtly Freudian about the intentions of this film. Seeing women -- one of whom is Asian, I might add -- fighting over a guy like Cera is like watching a twenty-something's version of one of Woodly Allen's middle-aged wet dreams.

Saints alive! I could go on and on ripping this movie a new one, but I want to say that most of my beef with the film is over what it could have been. It was shot well and directed fairly well. It had good (although redundant) special effects. It could have been better, meaning actually good, if the director and the producers weren't so damned busy pleasuring themselves at the expense of an audience.

You know, come to think of it, "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" really is an apt title for this inbred fantasy world where the guys are white, the chicks are Asian, and the only music that anyone listens to is rock & roll. If Canada itself is actually anything like this, please remind me to never go there, because -- like the intended audience of this small-minded film -- I will probably cease to exist.

Grade: D


Revisiting Alfons Mucha

The Paper Dragon Press Edition of Mucha's Historical Paintings of the Slavic Nations was finished earlier this week. I just have to say that it looks even better printed than I thought it would.

That said, I also want to say that I love technology and I love computers. And you can say whatever you will about the impending death of print, and the joy of reading e-books and pdf files on your iPad, Kindle, or whatever-the-fuck newfangled doodad you use.

When it comes down to it, nothing beats the beautiful intimacy of words and pictures on paper. And reprinting this little booklet just drives that point home even further for me.


Reprinting Alfons Mucha

When I was a student of graphic design several years ago, one of the artists whose work made a significant impact on my ideas as a designer was Alfons-Marie Mucha (1860-1939), the Czech-born master of the art nouveau style. This was a guy who could seemingly design a wall mural as easily as he could illustrate a cigarette ad.

And for a student who was interested in graffiti art murals as much as typography and page layout, Mucha seemed to me like the designer's designer.

It isn't obvious in any way, but some of what I learned from studying Mucha all those years ago shows up in my work even today. In fact, the sticker art gallery in KFG!3 is a nod to an infamous design portfolio that Mucha produced in 1902 called the "Art Nouveu Style Book."

Two or so year ago, while combing through archives of out of print books, I came across a digitized copy of a rare booklet produced in 1921 called "The Historical Paintings of the Slavic Nations." It was made in conjunction with an exhibition of Mucha's paintings under that same title which were shown that year at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Brooklyn Museum.

According to the book's indicia, only five-thousand copies were printed. Heaven only knows how many copies have survived to the present day, but if I had to guess, I would say only a few. As far as I can tell, the book has never been reprinted.

Well, that is until now.

Factoring in my deep appreciation of Mucha's work, the small production size, and also its connection to the Art Institute of Chicago (a place I came to know intimately even before deciding to major in graphic design) a reprint of this booklet seemed like a perfect fit for my one-man production house.

And so, having found myself between projects, I started work on a reprint version of the book last night. Before crashing out a little after 5AM, the first the first half of the book was done. The other half will get tackled later tonight.

Some necessary design alterations had to be made for the cover, which featured only an illustration by Mucha, and was printed on brown card stock (below). Some of the beautiful art nouveau text from page five of the book was altered and formatted to provide a fitting new cover (top).

In addition to Count Dante's "World's Deadliest Fighting Secrets," which I reprinted in 2007, Mucha's "Historical Paintings of the Slavic Nations" is another book that I felt compelled to resurrect from obscurity. And like the former, it's something that I'm proud to see in an expanding list of KFG/Paper Dragon Press publications.

So sayeth:

St. Paco


The Mighty Paco in...

Haven't posted anything new in a long while, but I haven't really had anything going on worth posting. Well, I was interviewed a week or so ago by an arts publication out of Argentina. I was initially under the impression that it was an online magazine, but realized when they asked me for hi-resolution images from my portfolio that it is actually a print mag. Needless to say, I'll post more it once I know more.

One cool by-product of the interview is that it caused me to look at my entire portfolio of works produced over the past 6 or 7 years. And doing so inspired me to spend some more time workin' on stand alone pieces like the image above; an image that was partially completed a few years ago. I wasn't sure of what direction to take the piece, but after finishing the interview -- and looking at some of my most recent zine covers -- it was a very natural progression.

The piece could easily be used as a cover for a zine, but it's still just a paste-up design. Still, I like it so much that it may indeed wind on the back cover of something at a later date. You just never know sometimes.

Looking back at 2010, I realize that I did a lot of zine related work. I also got one of my articles published in my favorite magazine. Though I really don't see myself slacking at all on the writing and zine publishing front next year, 2011 will also see me producing more graphic art and graphic design.

And probably doing more interviews too.

So sayeth...

St. Paco

Click image to enlarge


"I got cha 'fro right here, baby."

Oh, yeah...

I forgot to mention in my previous post that I also received -- in addition to the Afrodisiac book and posters -- a DVD with a promotional video for the project that is downright out of sight. Go over and check out the super classy "Afro-Strut" video here.

You will dig it. I guarantee it


Good Hair Day

Monday was a good mail day -- No, a great mail day. I haven't had one of those in a while, and I really needed it too. I hadn't really recognized how down I've been as of late ... until I felt the upward surging mood-shift.

I received two packages on that day. The first was from Jim Lupio, who'd invited me to show my zines in the Baltimore Book Festival's "Creative Control" exhibit. The over-sized white envelope with the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts logo contained a nice assortment of self-published art books from other exhibition participants. Nice.

The second package was a BIG, 17" x 22" flat mailer with "Do Not Bend" written large across the bottom. Looking at the return address as I pulled the parcel from one of the postal boxes used for over-sized deliveries, I saw the Texas zip code and realized it was somethin' from my buddy Damon.

Somethin' afro-licious, no doubt.

Back inside my apartment, I actually opened the package from Baltimore first, knowing that the shipment from Austin would probably keep me busy for a while. I spent about 15 minutes flipping through the five publications made by people in different parts of the world and then eagerly reached for the other delivery.

First out the flat mailer were two beautiful 12" x 18" posters from Damon's recent "Afrodisiac" photo and book exhibition. The first had a rich chocolate background, and the other a white background.

I've really been diggin' the color red for some time now. Near my desk I have my red and gray signed Afro Samurai poster, and I've been looking for other things to complement it. The Ace/Afro of Hearts-style poster with white background, chocolate colored line art and red accents will make a fitting addition to my wall.

Reaching down to the bottom of the mailer, I got my hands on a copy of the Afrodisiac book that was also sent. My immediate impression was that it was a little smaller than I'd anticipated, about 6.5 inches x 6.5 inches. Opening the book, I quickly remembered the adage that big things come in small packages.

It would be no exaggeration to say that the book was in my hands for at least two to three hours after I pulled it from its cardboard shipper. And it's not in anyway text-heavy either. But the images are so numerous and so wonderfully produced that my eyes had to pore over them again and again.

Reading the forward that I wrote for the book on the first go thru, and seeing how it worked with the black and white image on the preceding page gave me a good feeling. In so many ways the image and text balance one another beautifully; Damon said when I first sent him the text that it worked out better than he could have imagined. I see what he meant by that now.

While I could go on and on (and on and on) about the beauty of Afrodisiac, I'm really not going to. A picture paints a thousand words, right? So instead of talking about it, I'll share a few of my favorite spreads from this sweet, 148-page softcover confection of afro-liciousness in a consecutive post.

I'm really glad to have had a tiny part in the making of this book, and I look fro'ward to buying copies for my mother, sister, and lady friends. Of course, when the books are ready for purchase, a link will be posted here.

Book Report


Monster Islands (Version 2.5)


By Paco D. Taylor

In the classic monster movies of Japan, three islands located in the South Pacific are home to three of Tokyo's biggest threats: Giant Beast Gappa, Barugon and King Kong. In real life, these remote islands are home to some of the biggest threats to anthropology textbooks everywhere.

One of the best anthropology lessons that I ever learned came not by way of a classroom, but while I was watching Japanese "dai-kaiju" (giant monster) movies on television. King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) was the first of three movies that kick-started my learning curve by inspiring what may be the single-most profound question a movie has ever inspired me to ask:

Why the heck are so many people in this movie wearing afro wigs?

Monster Mash

If you've never seen King Kong vs. Godzilla, the film opens with the owner of a drug company wracking his brain to come up with an attention grabbing pitch for a new ad campaign. At the same time that he's working on the campaign, a scientist tells him about a giant creature (King Kong) that is rumored to be living on Fauro, a small island in the South Pacific Ocean.

And everybody knows that in the world of Japanese advertising, nothing grabs peoples' attention like a giant monster does.

The company owner quickly makes arrangements to send two employees on an expedition to the jungles of Fauro. The men are charged with the task of capturing King Kong and bringing him back with them to Japan. In order to capture the beast, though, they must first gain the trust of Fauro's natives, who see the giant ape as an angry island god.

When Kong makes his way into the picture, he is promptly thrown into a skirmish with a giant octopus that has wandered ashore, probably attracted by the scent of a kava-like beverage the natives make from berries that only grow on Fauro. Kong uses some Judo moves, tosses some boulders, and sends the octopus packing. After that hearty workout, he quenches his thirst with a few pots of Fauro Island Punch, and pretty much gets a party started.

With the sound of tribal drums echoing into the night, dusky island girls in grass skirts and coconut bras shake and gyrate at Kong's feet. As the women dance around, they serenade Kong with a hypnotic chant that rock-a-bye-baby's the giant ape into a drunken slumber. Taking advantage of the situation, the company men have Kong tied to a giant raft and make way for Japan with their sedated captive...


The above is an excerpt from the 2.5 version of the "Monster Islands" article. It's actually still not finished, but I think I'm much further along with this one than any previous version -- And there are several previous versions. As mentioned in a previous post, the first attempts to write this started at least seven years ago.

With this piece, the hardest part has been finding a simple way to communicate complex concepts -- all within the confines of a brief article on anthropology. At the same time too, I've also wanted to come up with a more playful tone to take the place of the angry intellectual rant that this piece always turned into.

Finally, though, I think that I've found the way to simplify the subject and also show a sense of humor about it all. Though I'm still plenty pissed at both modern academia's and pop anthropology's silence on the subject matter, this current approach will be a "kindler" and "gentler" take.

I hope.


Even My Mum Can Make A...Video?

Thanks to futuristicdistortion for making this cool video documenting opening day of the Manzara Perspectives zine exhibit. According to Gamze Özer, one of the shows curators, over 300 people came through the gallery's doors that day to see the exhibit.


Annem Bile Bir Kitap Yapabilir // Even My Mum Can Make A Book

This past Saturday, Gamze Özer & Tim­o­thée Huguet, the cura­tors behind Manzara Perspectives' "Even My Mum Can Make A Book" exhi­bi­tion in Istan­bul (Turkey) uploaded a fantastic set of 46 photographs from opening night to Facebook. It was really great to find three of my four featured zines in several of the pictures, and to also see where my name is written on the window with the names of all the other contributors. My thanks to Gamze and Tim­o­thée for the invite, and for putting together such an excellent exhibit. Thanks also goes to Emanuel Mathias for taking a great set of flicks. (Click images to enlarge.)

Annem Bile Bir Kitap Yapabilir (Even My Mum Can Make A Book) runs from September 16th to October 15th, 2010. Please visit the Manzara Perspectives website for more information.

Creative Control - September 24, 25 & 26

On Friday, September 24th the book exhibition Creative Control opens at Baltimore's historic Mt. Vernon. Produced in conjunction with the 15th Annual Baltimore Book Festival, the show features the work of over 100 independent art book and culture zine makers from around the globe (including yours truly). Creative Control is curated by Jim Lucio, Visual Arts Coordinator for the Baltimore Office of Promotion.

Creative Control
An Exhibit of Independent Art Publications
September 24, 25 & 26
Mt. Vernon Place - Baltimore, MD


Old Zine, New Review

Kung Fu Grip! #3: When I first saw this zine (maybe in 2006) I got so excited, because it sure looked like it was cool: a confluence of pop culture obsessions like toys, kung fu and exploitation movies, graffiti and so on. Whatever that first issue was, #3 is absolutely all of these things in spades. And to illustrate how much I like it: the opening piece eulogizing Anna Nicole Smith is a poignant remembrance that made me think better of Smith than I ever have--and tapping that kind of emotion isn't easy.

- Clint, Zine World #29


Even My Mum Can Make A Book

On Wednesday, September 15th the exhibition “Even My Mum Can Make A Book” at Manzara Perspectives in Istanbul (Turkey) opens its doors. Gallery curators Game Özer and Timothee Huguet collected artzines, fanzines and art books from over 200 independent publishers from around the world for this exhibition -- including four zines by yours truly. So if you still just happen to be in Turkey celebrating Team USA's win at the World Basketball Championships, head on over to Istanbul and drop in on the show. They would love to see you.

Even My Mum Can Make A Book

September 16th – October 15th 2010

Opening: September 15th, 7:00 pm
Manzara Perspectives 

Tatar Beyi Sokak 26a · Kuledibi Beyoğlu

Istanbul (Turkey)


The Tao of Inspiration

Most of us know the oft' quoted proverb that says: when the student is ready the teacher will appear. This week, Professor Cheng Man-ch'ing (by way of author Wolfe Lowenthal) became one of my teachers.

I had actually purchased
Lowenthal's There Are No Secrets about two months ago. But when I cracked the pages and started reading, I knew that I wasn't in the right head space for its message. So I put it back on the stack of unread books, and picked out another one to read.

Needless to say, while catching up on my reading I've also been working on several other things, including the previously mentioned "Metal Messiahs" article. I started working on that piece during the first week of August and ran into something of a block on how I should end it early last week.

On Thursday, I finished the other book that I was reading (a second read of Russell Simmons' Do You!, actually) and picked up
There Are No Secrets again. This time, I felt that I was ready for its message. A few chapters in, the text even spoke to my then most present need:

"As for Tao in our lives, we have to learn to stop interfering with its flow. Take writing for example. Inspiration, the muse, is another way of describing the energy of Tao. You can't force it to come, but if a writer can let go of all the fears and fantasies that darken the creative present, learn how to get out of his own way, he finds that he is like a channel for that core truth in the deepest part of his being."

I read that passage three more times and meditated (or as it's said colloquially: "marinated") on it a little before putting the book down to write my article's closing paragraphs. Not surprisingly, it didn't take long to bring it to what felt like the most fitting end.

Now, whether the article clearly articulates its message won't be known until someone else reads it. But part of what was blocking me from finishing it in the first place was fear that it wouldn't achieve its purpose. I've since stopped worrying about it, though. The article is done, and I've moved on to other projects that still have to be written.

At the same time, I am reading There Are No Secrets. I have no doubt that there are other timely lessons to be found within.


Medium Rare Reviews

I don't write many reviews, not that I have anything against 'em. Maybe I don't write many because there are tons of people online and off who specialize in providing really thoughtful reviews, and I would rather just leave it up to them. Nevertheless, I do want to post a few reviews of some zines and some mini-comics that I've read recently and enjoyed.

First up is Kaiju Big Battel's Rogue Soup & Bug. Now, back in the early part of this decade, when the Kaiju Big Battel DVD series was surging in popularity, I visited the website to see what it was all about. I remember leaving the site with the impression that KBB was a pretty fun time for the people who were actually attending the Japanese monster-costumed wrestling matches, but maybe not something I would appreciate watching on DVD. I've always loved kaiju flicks, but WWF-style wresting was never my thing. Nonetheless, when I learned that a comic book based on Kaiju Big Battel had been made, it seemed like the kinda' thing that I could actually appreciate. This was proven when the copy of Rogue Soup & Bug (a play off the manga and film series "Lone Wolf and Cub") that I ordered made it to my mailbox.

Rogue Soup & Bug #1.

Spread between the covers of this fun-filled mini-comic is a sword-weilding soup can pushin' a wooden baby carriage with an infant that only a mother could love inside, some female ninja intrigue, and an amusing battle between the hero Kung-Fu Chicken Noodle (?!) and the evil Dr. Cube. The story is credited to Studio Kaiju, and the art chores are nicely handled by Jeremy Arambulo. If you're a fan of Kaiju Big Battel, I won't have to tell you to check this out. But if you, like me, appreciate comic book battles more than WWF faux fighting, check out Rogue Soup & Bug. [ 28 pages, 1/2 size, $5 postage paid ]

Oh, and I should also mention that each issue comes with a sketch by the artist inside the front cover. I got a very nice drawing of the "gorgeous but evil Tsuya of the Rippou Secret Ninja Clan Z," and I look forward to seeing what I'll get in the other issues that I'm planning to order.

Neon Girl #1

Next up is Dennis Pacheco's Neon Girl. This is a title that I ran across while browsing on Etsy.com for something interesting to read among the numerous mini-comics posted there. Call me a sucker for a panty-shot, but the full-color cover featuring two semi-costumed super-heroines grabbed my interest by the collar. The better-than-average looking illustration by Dennis Pacheco also had a lot to do with my choice too.

Only two pages into issue #1, the brawl between the chicks on the cover (Neon Girl & Atom Girl) begins, and it's 1 part brutal, 2 parts sexy, and 3 parts seriously funny -- which is a winning recipe in my book. I'm not really one for spoilers of any kind, but there's some really cool soap opera drama bubbling under the surface.

Neon Girl #0

That said, I also have to recommend you buy Neon Girl #0, a prequel issue that provides the backstory on the caped catfight. Unfortunately, it seems that Pacheco lost interest in his title character after only these two issues and moved on to making other minis. But I did like these books and I wish that he'd made just one more issue of Neon Girl. [ 28 pages, 3/4 size, $3.50 + P&H ]

My Time Annihilator

Next up is My Time Annihilator: A Brief History of 1930's Science Fiction Fanzines. It would be more than fair to say that I have a long list of geekish interests, but I place my interest in history near the top of the list. So when I learned about My Time Annihilator by way of a nice review in a recent issue of Xerography Debt, I made it a point to make it the very first zine in the shopping cart when I placed my last order with Microcosm. Christopher of Olly Olly Oxen Free (and other zines) plays history detective and gives readers a rocket blast into the days of 1930's and 1940's fanzines. Contained within is information on old school printing techniques, the (lack of) art in early fanzines, an "angry rant from Spacewarp #36" and more. If history is also one of your favorite subjects, My Time Annihilator is the zine for you. [ 30 pages, 1/4 size, $1 + P&H ]

Samurai Dreams #6

Last but not least is Samurai Dreams. This is a gritty lil' zine put together by a team of serious cinephiles: Greg, Andy, James, Kevin and Max. It's one of my favorite zines being made today, and the one that I always want to share with my film fanatic friends...but wind up keeping selfishly all to myself. Each issue of is chock full of witty and well-considered reviews of movies pulled from the very top shelves of video rental stores and the very bottom of the dollar store bin. Issue #6 of Samurai Dreams offers fifty-plus pages of razor-sharp reviews of flicks like Charles Bronson's Cold Sweat, the Frank Miller scripted Robocop 2, the Hammer/Shaw Brothers co-produced Legend of Seven Golden Vampires, the misleadingly titled Dracula vs. Frankenstein, the Japanese anime World of Hans Christian Anderson, and many, many more.

Whether you consider yourself a fanatical film buff, or simply somebody who wants to get a glimpse into the world of cult films and VHS culture, you should let Samurai Dreams be your guide. This zine has certainly become mine. [ 56 pages, 1/2 size, cool trades or a few bucks to: Samurai Dreams, 60, Fairgrounds Rd., Cummington MA 01026, samuraidreamszine@yahoo.com ]