Once you go black...

The last half-dozen times that I needed to make some photocopies, ol' Cinderella at the day job crapped out on me. Well, she was actually crappin' out on everybody. I was just one in a very long line of heartbroken suitors, desperately hopin' to rekindle some of the old magic so that I could get what I needed. (You know how guys are.) But it was not be.

When I got back to work today, after having to go back to Chicago for a week, Cinderella was gone. In her place stood Black Beauty. It was love at first touch. (See that touch screen!?)

And while I know that I'm not gonna be the only one that Black Beauty is givin' it up to, I'm certain that nobody in that building is gonna love her like I will.


Metal Messiahs [Teaser]

By Paco D. Taylor

Ever since the giant protector known as Ultraman first punched his way out of television screens in 1966, Japan's live-action giant robot shows have been popular with audiences both in Japan and around the globe. As well as Ultraman, other programs featuring super-sized superheroes found equal favor with the global audience. These include shows like The Space Giants (1966), Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot (1967), Spectreman (1972) and Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers (1992).

From the time of my early introduction to giant robot shows, I was a big fan. But, like many others who tuned in to watch their larger-than-life adventures, I never once gave any thought to what might have inspired those over-sized superheroes. All I knew then was that they captured my imagination like nothing else on television.

Recently, though, while flipping through an old book on Japanese tourism that I found online, I ran across a photograph of a now largely forgotten giant Buddha statue that once stood in Tokyo's famed Ueno Park. Though I had never seen the statue before, something about the figure in the photograph seemed familiar.

As you've probably guessed from the picture -- or from the obvious trail of bread crumbs dropped in the previous paragraphs -- it wasn't very long before my brain made the connection to giant robot TV shows. Much like those giants, the super-sized statue in the photograph captured my imagination. And it made me wonder, was there any connection to the over-sized superheroes of Japan?


I'm still working on this article...and it's still working my nerves. Writing this feels a lot like putting a puzzle together -- while at the same time playing a side game of scavenger hunt to track down missing puzzle pieces. Eventually, though, it will all come together. And, as it is with any good puzzle, I can't wait to see what it's going to look like when it's done.


I Remember Redpaper

I was reading a fellow poster's blog on We Make Zines, and something about its tone made me remember the now long defunct website Redpaper (redpaper.com). It's been a few years since the site closed its cyber-doors, but from time to time I still find myself lamenting its passing; I miss the site, and I miss the people I once interacted with there.

Surely someone else out there also used Redpaper when it was around. For those who've never heard of it, Redpaper was an online community for writers, artists, photographers and musicians to sell access to their works for a nominal fee.

I'm talkin' chump change.

Redpaper was essentially an experiment in micropayment retail commerce and social networking. The idea was that you create an account with a minimum investment of about $3, money that you could immediately use to purchase the intellectual properties of other users. After setting up your account you could also begin to sell your own creations.

Prices on the site usually ranged from as little as 2¢ or 10¢, up to a few bucks. Properties sold for a quarter and under seemed to do best, though. And while you might not think it would be worth it to sell your work for the cost of coins with the profiles of Lincoln, Jefferson and Roosevelt, it was always a thrill that someone was buying your work.

Much more than the retail aspects, though, it was the interactions you had with fellow readers and writers that made nearly every transaction on Redpaper priceless. Since someone had paid to read what you had written, they frequently felt obligated to leave remarks on the work -- unlike today's blogs which people (even myself) usually read with selfish anonymity.

My father is the one who told me about Redpaper. He had read a small article about its launch in the newspaper, and called to make sure that I knew about its existence. I hadn't heard about the site. Hell, at the time I don't even think I was doing any writing.

In fact, up to that point I had never done much with the written word at all, save for a spiral notebook full of poetic musings and a rant-filled journal from high school. I had always seen myself as an artist, and went to school to study graphic design. Though it was something I could do, I never thought much about my own writing.

My father obviously did.

Thanks to my dad and to the community at Redpaper, I began taking writing more seriously. And when the site folded -- quite unexpectedly -- it actually drove me into getting more actively into zine making, perhaps with the newfound confidence that I could produce something even more substantial that people might buy.

Now so many years later, from time to time I still find myself hoping to run across some of the other writers I once connected with on Redpaper. And I hope to learn that they too are still doing something with their gifts, whether it be magazine articles, newspaper columns, poetry chapbooks, blogs or zines. Just something.

For me, Redpaper was a gateway drug to the power of the written word. I hope that it was the same for others who took part in that experiment too.


Octopussy Companion

Octopussy Companion: The Pocket Pussy promotional mini-zine. 18 page accordion fold booklet, limited to 38 copies. (There is a chance the edition size will be expanded to 58 copies, I haven't made up my mind just yet.)

Seven years ago, in conjunction with the first issue of Kung Fu Grip!, I probably made close to two-hundred copies of the One Inch Punch mini-zine. But I had no intention of going all out like that when I finally talked myself into doing another one of these in conjunction with Octopussy.

It's a fairly involved process cutting, folding and then gluing these little booklets into their covers – which also have to be cut.

Frankly, I really only made it to find a place for some of the cooler left-overs that didn't make it into Octopussy. I am happy with the end result, though, and therefore glad I listened to myself about producing another.

The accordion fold is one of the oldest forms of bookmaking. According to various sources (like this one), this kind of bookmaking is called the orihon structure in Japan, and it was heavily employed there during the Heian period (794–1185), particularly in the writing of Buddhist sutras.

Books made in the accordion fold format were also produced throughout Mexico and Central America by the Maya and the Aztec populations. And those books were typically made out of deerskin or amate, the paper made from the inner bark of trees.

Obviously, it's much easier making them with 8.5 x 11" paper, printer ink, a cutting board and glue – but still. A limited edition will more than scratch the itch that prompted its creation. Consider ya'self lucky if you get one.


House of Flying Zines Part 1

Just received an invite to have some of my publications included in a zine and self-published art mag exhibition at the Baltimore Book Festival in late September. Shout outs to Jim Lucio for the invite.

Amusingly, when I posted a few days ago about being invited to send some of my publications to the zine show in Istanbul, I was thinking to myself that it would be nice to get the chance to do that more often. I even started to post a comment sayin' something to that effect, but skipped it.

Nevertheless, a few days later I get another invite. So lemme' go ahead and put it out there: I look forward to participating in more exhibitions like this.

If you live there, or just happen to be visiting the city in late September, go check out the Baltimore Book Festival! Click the link below for more information.

Baltimore Book Festival


Your next stop, the Twilight...


It was Michael Jordan who helped popularize the term known as the "zone." That mental level of focus where you're able block out all the noise and any other distracting factor in your head that might prevent you from seeing the goal that is ahead of you.

I've kinda' been in the zone lately. I don't at all mean to suggest that I am anywhere near the level of those whose mental discipline truly allows them to function there. But I can...feel it. More than I have in a long, long time.

The image posted above is somethin' I ran across going through some old books in the Google archives a few days ago. I just printed it out and put in on the wall next to my desk because I thought it was cool. But each time I glanced over at, I felt inspired to just sit and play around in my head for a while.

It didn't take long for me to realize that I needed to start writin' down some of ideas that were quickly stacking up in my brain case. And over the past several days, those ideas have taken me to a good place.

My original intention was to post a preview of what I've been working on, but the draft version is on the computer that I use at work. [Shrug]

What I can say is that it's called "Metal Messiahs," and I'm having a ball on working it. It's pretty funny to hear myself say that, too, because for the first two days the article had me seriously questionin' why I even bother to call myself a writer.

But I've worked through most of the rough spots, and I'm having fun with the writing. It allows me to again put on the hat of a cultural anthropologist -- which feels more and more comfortable each time I put in on.

Okay, enough blogging. Time to get back into...


To Turkey With Love

I may be wrong, but I don't think I've sent any of my zines to Turkey before. In fact, I think that the furthest into that part of the globe I've sent a zine order was Slovenia. Well, I have sent stuff to Israel, which is just south of there.

Anyway, a guy named Gamze Özer sent me an e-mail asking me to participate in a zine show at an interesting gallery in Istanbul that he curates for. The e-mail was sent on the 3rd, but I just got it today...after poking through the spam folder, and just before hitting the purge button.

I'm not one to look for open calls, so I appreciate Gamze e-mailing me to make sure I knew about the show. Unfortunately, though, I'm only gonna be sending a couple copies of one of my zines. It would be too pricey to send one of everything like I did for the Anno Domini zine show.

I was already planning to mail a ton of stuff off next Friday, the official release date for Octopussy. I'd really love to send that one, since it's my newest baby. But it might be a lil' too sexy for that audience.

I don't know much about Turkey, other than that it's largely Muslim, so I'll probably just send copies of KFG!3.

Come to think of it, that issue has Laila Ali on the cover (haha), which is kinda cool. It also has the 18 page sticker gallery, so people who don't read English will still have some cool stuff to look at.

Manzara Perspectives


I Against I Interviews: St. Paco

St. Paco is the editor of Kung Fu Grip! zine, as well as author of In His Image zine and other photocopied classics. Before the release of his newest zine Octopussy, I Against I took some time to chop it up with zinedom's one and only 'kung fu pimp.'

IAI: Your new zine is called Octopussy. What's that about?
SP: Octopussy is a special edition issue of Kung Fu Grip! zine. It's something that gave me a chance to explore subject matter that was much too sexy for a regular issue of KFG.

IAI: Like what?
SP: Like pussy.

IAI: Okay. What else?
SP: Octopus-es.

IAI: Okay. What else?
SP: Some good stuff actually. There's some porno-graffiti and an article on a street art collective from Belgium called Cum*. There's a series of 18 haiku poems I wrote which are dedicated to strippers in Arizona and Mexico. There's a short feature on the 18th century manga artist Katushika Hokusai, and a color center-fold by him that pretty much guarantees Octopussy will live up to its name.

IAI: Octopussy almost sounds like it could be a porn zine.
SP: In many respects, Octopussy is an erotica zine.

IAI: Hmmm...why make erotica zine?
SP: Because I was too chickenshit to make a porn zine.

Seriously, I just needed something to push me beyond the limits of my comfort zone. Even with my limited portfolio I've somehow still managed to write about subjects ranging from the mundane to the sacred. Octopussy was a chance for me, through my writing, to embrace the profane.

IAI: Embrace the profane. I like the sound of that.
SP: I bet you say that to all the guys.


IAI: How long did it take to put this issue together?
SP: Amazingly, it was slapped together in just over a month. Image selections, page layouts, writing and editing were all pretty much done in a 30-day period. That is a first for me, probably never to be duplicated.

IAI: Why not?
SP: Octopussy, like my other zines, is 56-pages long. It usually takes a while to generate enough content to fill up a publication this size. Some really cool zines out there have 16 to 24 pages of content. Some even fewer. Comic books, which have a noticeable influence on my stuff, are usually 36 pages long. From the very beginning, though, 56-pages seemed like the right target I should aim for with my zines. More bang for the buck, nah mean?

IAI: Speaking of comics, let's talk about this cover. It's clearly a nod to 1970s Marvel Comics.
SP: Sez' who?

IAI: Sez' us.
SP: Yeah, the cover of KFG! always carried the price blurb that I proudly bit from old school Marvels. As a design element, it has always had deep sentimental significance. When I started working on cover treatments for Octopussy, I had originally planned to drop the price blurb and go in a completely different direction. In fact, the first cover featured an image by an artist named Jonny Doomsday that's now on the back.

IAI: What inspired the change?
SP: I'm a hack with no original ideas of my own -- fuck you think?


Well, I'd had the previous cover done for about two weeks and I was 90% happy with it. But one of my homeboys came down from Phoenix and I was showin' him a box of '70s comics I have stashed in the closet. Around midnight, when I was working on this issue again, the style of those books came back to haunt me. Less than an hour later I had designed a whole new cover with an image by my Flickr-friend Dres13 that felt 100% right.

IAI: "Wise decision, Mr. Roper."
SP: Aw...you're droppin' the "Enter The Dragon" quotes? Me love you LONG time.


IAI: What's next for you?
SP: Hmmm... Good question. The fourth issue of Kung Fu Grip! is kinda' on the drawing board, as well as another article for Giant Robot magazine that I need to finish. I've had a zine called Love Letters to the KKK in mind for some time now. Who knows when I'll actually get around to it....but it will be good times when I do.


IAI: And who knows, you may just wake up one day with a hard-on to do a second issue of Octopussy.
SP: Oohhh...I have a hard-on for some more Octopussy right now.

*Interview taken from the forthcoming (but still very much a work-in-progress) desert culture zine I Against I.


Black East

I mentioned some time ago that I was going to upload scans of the "Black East" article. Obviously, I'm just now getting around to it.

Now, if I was nice I would've made the pages bigger so that you could actually read 'em. Too bad I ain't nice.

Nah, anybody who didn't have the chance to pick up the mag but wants to read the article, just drop me a line and I'll e-mail a zip file of the larger page scans.


GR 64 - Cover

GR 64 - Page 76

GR 64 - Page 77

GR 64 - Page 78

GR 64 - Page 79