The Lost Essays

After finishing Octopussy zine -- much sooner than expected, I might add -- I really didn't know what I should start to work on next. Kung Fu Grip! No.4 seemed like the logical step, but it also seemed like a new issue of KFG! would only step on the toes of Octopussy; I wanted the new sister publication to have its own time to shine.

The next article for Giant Robot is still a work-in-progress. It has already gone through three drafts since I started working on it in the last days of April. But it seems that I will just have to keep adding more clay and chiseling away at the piece until it finally assumes its proper form.

Like most other creative types, I usually have a number of projects existing at various stages of development. Most of them, however, are closer to their beginning stages than their completed stages. And every now and again, a project like Octopussy will come out of the blue and will move from ethereal idea to solid product in a matter of weeks! This while several other projects still have the dusts of years layered over them.

In the fall of 2002, I finished the first of a series of four essays, each inspired by studies that I had made into curious themes found in medieval European religious art. The first of those essays was an examination of the Black Madonna.

Since childhood I was mystified by the seldom discussed images called Black Madonnas, and I wanted to understand the reasons for and the meanings behind such images. By 2002, I had spent several years researching the subject; the study continues even to this day.

For reasons that I won't articulate here, 2002 marked a turning point in my life. More than ever I felt the need start pulling ideas and information from my head and to get them on paper. I also wanted to share these thoughts with the people whose opinions mean the most to me: my father, mother and sister.

Rather than printing my essays for them to be read in the boring format of college term papers, I decided to try to make something with a little more panaché. A small edition of my very first zine called Thirdrail was produced in 1998. Based on what I learned from that process, the booklet format seemed like the the best way to present my writings.

I only produced a half dozen copies of the booklet editions of my essays, and I was pleased with the results. I was even more pleased with the responses I got from my family members after they were received in the mail and read.

After sharing those essays with the nearest and dearest, my desktop publishing continued and moved in a much more secular direction with Kung Fu Grip! zine. But after the first issue of KFG! was done I found myself revisiting and expanding upon one of the religious art essays. In 2005, it was made into the zine In His Image: Haile Selassie, Bob Marley and the Second Coming of Christ.

A few nights ago, while moving a stack of books I ran across the copies of the three remaining staple-bound essays from 2002, 2003 and 2006. Reading through them again -- which I haven't done in years -- I finally knew in what direction I needed to go.

Next on the horizon for me is a collection of those essays with one other that has still yet to be written. To be completely honest, this last essay is something that I've actually feared writing. But it's something I have to do so that I can more widely share the lost essays... no, The Lost Gospel of St. Paco.


Notes From The Underground (Excerpts)

"Zines have always been more than just words or images on paper: they are the embodiment of an ethic of creativity that argues that anyone can be a creator. Professional newspapers, slick magazines, and academic journals, art galleries and television shows, regardless of their content, have a uniform message to the reader or viewer: you can't do this, you are not skilled enough , you do not have the resources, so just sit back, appreciate and consume the culture that professionals have made for you. A zine, with all its amateur, low-rent, scruffy seams showing, says something else to the reader: this is easy, you could probably create something just as good, now go out and Do-It-Yourself...

"The zine world, like all bohemia, is a ghetto. This sounds negative, but I don't mean it this way. For in this ghetto, we get to set the standards of what constitutes valid expression and creativity, instead of having these definitions determined by the academy, art world or the commercial marketplace of culture. We create an alternative culture. Self-publishing may have been democratized with the rise of the Internet, but within the zine scene Do-It-Yourself is more than just publishing practice, it is an entire way of thinking, being and creating; a shared ideal of what culture, community, and creativity could be."

– Stephen Duncombe



The best thing about subscribin' to the kinds of blogs that I've subscribed to is that they provide an endless source of information. I have always been an information junkie -- an information whore, if you will. And the blogs I follow have kept me up-to-date with all the cool (and sometimes even not-so-cool) things that people are doing and making.

The bad thing about the blogs is that -- in a creative sense -- I wind up just living vicariously off other people's work; living off the cool things that others are doing...and making.

So about a month ago I decided to do something to get my own creative mojo working again. I whittled my 70+ blog subscriptions down to the semi-essentials; mostly the shares I get from friends, as well as feeds from two magazines that I read.

Immediately after purging the feeds, I found myself missing the new music that I've grown accustomed to getting on a weekly basis via blog subs. But as the saying goes: you've gotta give up something to get something.

It was time to unplug.

With the exception of the article published in GR a few months back, it's been a long time since I produced something substantial. The last issue of Kung Fu Grip! zine was published back in 2007, and I think the bootleg of Count Dante's World's Deadliest Fighting Secrets was published later that same year.

So for nearly three years I've mostly been absorbing stimuli in the form of blog feeds, books, comics, magazines, movies and music. Nourished by all these sources, the 'brain batteries' have taken on a good charge, and it feels like its time to put the energy to good use.

Time to do something. Time to make something.