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 ]


Afrodisiac "Quatro"

Bebel Gilberto - All Around (Telefon Tel Aviv Remix)

It just occurred to me to mention how, as it is with a lot of other creative types, music plays a tremendously big part in my creative process. There were a number of songs that I listened to while workin' on the Afrodisiac piece, but none more so than Bebel Gilberto's "All Around." The Telefon Tel Aviv Remix (above) is my favorite take on the song, but I also reverted back to the original version to prevent myself from overdoing it on the one I really wanted to hear.

I would say that I couldn't even begin to guess exactly how many times these songs were played as I worked, but I don't have to guess at all. I just checked the number of plays in iTunes, and it seems that the regular version was played 32 times, and the remixed version was played 64 times (exactly twice as many times as the other).

If something is working for me, I obviously stay with it. And even though I'm now done with the piece, it seems very likely that those aforementioned numbers will rise a few more digits before the night is out.

Afrodisiac "Tres"

Last week I blogged about being asked to write the forward to my buddy Damon's upcoming book Afrodisiac. I said that I was gonna start penning some thoughts within a day or two of that post, but inspiration struck about an hour later and I actually wrote it before going to bed that night/morning.

The next day, after Damon read what I'd written he dropped me a line to thank me, and also sent a pdf file of the page layouts. Looking at the pages, I couldn't believe my eyes. Afrodisiac was everything I thought it would be, but 100-times better. I was glad that, without even having seen those pages, I managed to come up with something that spoke to the heart of the project.

Yesterday, Damon dropped me another line to say that the book is being sent to the printer later this week. I'm immensely happy for him, and doubly honored to have had the chance to be a part of his project; in addition to my forward, the first issue of KFG! zine makes a surprising appearance on a few different pages in the book. (Right on!)

The forward that I wrote is posted below. I'll blog more about the amazing Afrodisiac again when the hard copies are available.


Afrodisiac "Dos"


Before you begin casually perusing the pages of Damon Daood's Afrodisiac, I feel the need to offer all the gents and a few of the ladies a word of caution: Be prepared to lose your hearts. Seriously. Whether it's 'Mink Pantha', 'Zenobia Dào', 'Schakolad Shiva', 'Yummi Roll', 'Foxy Mamacita', 'Maya Corazon', or another one of the Afro-coiffed angels in the pages of this book, you're probably gonna lose your heart to at least one of them. In fact, if you're a sucker for an afro and a pretty face (like me), you may lose a small piece of your heart to every single one of them. I certainly did.

Okay, that's not entirely true. A not-so-small piece of my heart was already lost to one of these afro-haired foxy mamas five years ago, right after meeting Damon by way of Myspace. I'm not revealing which one of them it was, but one of the first times I saw her was in a photo by Damon. Her face framed by a fluffy 'fro, she was sitting in a bar with a wine glass held up to her lips, hiding a smile. It was an unforgettable image by Damon, just like many of those collected in the pages of this sumptuously photographed book.

Now, if you don't already know this, let me be the first to tell you that Damon is a genius behind the lens. He also has a remarkable eye for seeing things that many of us can't see. I am not just saying that because it's the kind of thing you should say when writing a piece like this. I'm saying it because I have followed his portfolio over the past half-decade and I believe it to be true. Fortunately for me, though, you don't just have to take the word of a struggling writer for it. Within the pages of this book, Damon's skill, talent and passion for photography has made real a world that has existed in his mind for years.

Welcome to a colorful, candy-coated dimension where it's "all afros all the time." A place where TV shows like Get Christie Love!, Good Times, The Jackson Five cartoon, and 1970s Soul Train episodes are in endlessly looping reruns; an exciting period in time when Angela Davis is a two-term commander-in-chief and Pam "Coffy" Grier is her much-beloved vice president; a place where a few choice plucks of a steel-toothed afro pick and a spurt of Afro Sheen is everything a fly sista' needs to feel as if she just got her hair 'did.' Welcome to the world of Damon Daood.

Welcome to Afrodisiac.

Paco D. Taylor
Kung Fu Grip! Zine


Selling on Consignment?

When it comes to sellin' zines though brick-n-mortar stores, there are just three retailers that I deal with: Atomic Books in Baltimore (sampled above), Chicago Comics and Quimby's Bookstore, both of which I am proud to say are back in my hometown.

The aforementioned are retail establishments that carry zines on consignment without the hassle of a publisher having to mail a "preview copy" in advance. Simply pack up a stack of five copies of your zine, mail them in and get a check back when all your copies have sold; profits are split 60/40, with the publisher getting the lion's share.

When I sell my zines online I get about 80% of each sale. So selling them on consignment clearly doesn't offer as much of a financial advantage. That's not why I do it, though.

I sell some of my zines on consignment because I believe in supporting businesses that make shelf space for the little people. Atomic Books, Quimby's and Chicago Comics are three of the most zine-friendly shops there are.

Maybe I also do it because I just like knowing that there will be a few dozen people who will walk into one of those stores and will discover my zines the old fashioned way: Scanning the magazine rack.

Yeah, that's why I also sell zines on consignment.

Come to think of it, there really is nothing like the feeling of walking into a bookstore or comic book shop and coming out with a stack of good reads. Selling on consignment is an opportunity for my zines to be a part of that ritual.


Afrodisiac "Uno"

About two months ago I blogged about my friend, photographer Damon Daood, who surprised me with a photo in my inbox of one of his models sitting in the laundromat, reading the copy of KFG! that I sent him back when it first came out. True to my word in that post, I sent him another copy of that particular issue (so that he has a fresh one), as well as a copy of the new zine.

A few days after sending off that envelope I got a box in the mail from Damon containing an assortment of beautiful photographs like the one shown above. Some of the images are going to be featured in Damon's upcoming book called "Afrodisiac," which should be going to print in a few weeks. A gallery showing of some of the images is also supposed to take place in San Antonio, where he lives.

Damon has asked me to write the forward to his book. He actually asked me a few weeks ago, but I didn't think he was really serious until I got the box of photographs in the mail. I know that there are lots of creative folks around Damon who know both him and his work better than I, but he asked me and I'm honored to have the chance to write something for him.

Earlier today, after taking a well-deserved break from the "Metal Messiahs" article, I tapped out a few paragraphs that I will tweak over the next day or two before sending it off. He pretty much told me to write whatever I wanted, which was almost as daunting as if he'd given me strict parameters. But I think that what I came up with speaks to the very heart of what "Afrodisiac" is about.