Syndicated Zine Reviews: KFG4

Kung Fu Grip! #4
Paco Taylor
7730 East Broadway #925
Tucson, AZ 85710
$1ppd, or two stamps

Kung Fu Grip is a time machine, or time ma-zine. Reading it brought me back to my 70’s era living room sitting in front of the furniture-sized-fake-wood-framed television watching ‘Enter the Dragon’ on Betamax while eating American cheese and miracle whip on white bread sandwiches. Of course, I never had a Betamax player, but that’s beside the point, the point is that this is a great zine that captures a past cultural aesthetic in an effective and very satisfying way. Contained within are stories about the Onge, Satun, and Pahang people of Asia, a tribute to his father, and some history of the zine. It’s well written and informative. My only complaint is that it’s too short, but, as the author explains, this is a special ‘free’ issue of KFG that is designed more for trades and is significantly shorter than past issues. Those past issues are now on my search radar of ‘zines to get’. Dig it.


Fresh to Death

"Can I please say my piece / If y'all fresh to death, then I'm deceased" – Kanye West

Kinda-sorta-maybe I should be embarrassed to admit this, but I really enjoy the hell out of the things that I write.

Take One Hundred Fingers of Death for example. It was originally a piece planned for KFG5, but I decided against using it, wanting that issue to be broader in scope with its subject matter. This particular piece was a really good one, though, and I thought that I should try to come up with another use for it. Maybe as a really long blog post.

For years, I've had it in my head that I wanted to make a really cheap zine that I could just give away. KFG4 was/is indeed a freebie issue, but (at 28 pages) isn't really as 'cheap' as desired. The difficulty has always been distilling my ideas down into somethin' simple enough to pack into 16 – or fewer – pages. It was challenge enough breaking down KFG4 as far as I did.

From the very first issue of KFG, I aimed for the ballpark's back wall. I saw the back wall as 56 pages, mainly due to the number of ideas that I had in my head at the time of inception. And with each issue since the first, I've continued to have enough ideas to fill every page. With KFG5, I actually had more material than vacant pages. But it still worked out after all.

Today, I finally accomplished my goal of a really cheap give away. "The One Hundred Fingers of Death" text was turned into a cool 8-pager. It's kind of a promo for Kung Fu Grip!, but also stands on its own as a singular work. In fact, its only on the back that I connect it to the KFG universe by placing an actual ad for the zine there.

Five Fingers of Death and Ten Fingers of Death are two classic kung fu movies. A few months ago I did a digital collage that I called "Thirty Fingers of Death." I wanted to expand that idea even further, and eventually came up with something that I would soon describe as the "One-Hundred Fingers of Death Martial Arts Movie-Watching Master List."

One-Hundred Fingers of Death explains how that list came about, and then provides the titles of one-hundred martial arts movies that I've actually watched. (I didn't wanna give that bit away here, but everything can't be a surprise.) Anyway, one the best things about this baby is that it's something I can stick in an envelope and mail off with a single stamp.

Truth be told, this piece is gonna ruffle some feathers, but it's also going to entertain. I mean, I wrote it and I still laugh out loud while I'm reading it, as if it's all completely new to me. I don't know if that's a sign of a good writer, a simple mind, or someone who's just too very taken with himself. But whatever it means, I'll take it. Life is too short (or too long) to go through it not loving what you do.


Merit Badge: Revenge

The Revenge of Print

In early January I learned that Baltimore's Atomic Books and Quimby's Books in Chicago had sent out a sort of call-to-arms to anyone who has ever produced a self-published zine, mini-comic, or full-sized comic book. The stores were encouraging bookmakers to turn out at least one new publication in 2011. Quimby's Liz Mason was quoted in the most recent issue of Zine World as saying: "We're tired of all the end of paper, the end of publishing as we know it stories. We've been hearing it ever since we've been open, which is going on almost 20 years now."

The morning that I learned about the project's launch, I signed up to follow the group that had been set up for it on Facebook. I wasn't alone. By the end of the month, more than 800 people had also joined up, and more than 200 of those responders pledged to produce at least one new publication in 2011. I had already been planning on doing two issues of Kung Fu Grip! this year, so the Revenge of Print announcement just added a half gallon of over-priced petrol to the fire.

Since joining up, I've managed to produce both the free 28-page issue of Kung Fu Grip! that I wanted (KFG4), and also the 56-page standard issue (KFG5). In addition, when the latter was finished I went a ahead and scanned the Revenge of Print badge that somebody had created, and placed it on the cover. I don't know if the badge's maker planned for it to be used in this manner, but it seemed like a good way to show solidarity with the other small press publishers that are actively participating in this campaign.

The Revenge of Print badge that I'm using was reduced from its original size to three-quarters of an inch, which is the smallest I could make it without loosing image integrity. I have uploaded that photoshop file (150 dpi) and also added two additional sizes for others who might also want to feature the badge on their comics and zines. A zip file with everything can be downloaded here. To get more information about The Revenge of Print, click here to go to the Facebook page.

– St. Paco, Kung Fu Grip!


To Japan: Hitotsu (One Love, One Hope)

In the wee hours of one day last week I downloaded the song "Hitotsu," a collaborative hip-hop production made in the wake of the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The link to the song came by way of a mailing list that I'm on that gives me updates on the current projects of my man Ravage The MeccaGodZilla (a.k.a. Ryu Black), an underground MC from Long Island, NY.

Ravage and I met online about three years ago via Myspace. It was sometime after I'd written a review of another collaborative track that he was involved in at the time; a musical love letter of sorts, dedicated to the Capcom video game character Chun-Li. Featured with Ravage on that intensely catchy tune were rappers MegaRan and Masia One, and Sarasa, a DJ from Japan.

I know that Ravage has friends in Japan and that he spent two months touring there last year. Taking into consideration both his artistic and human connections there, it shouldn't have come as a surprise that he would also be involved in a music project inspired by the events of last month. But it did come as a surprise, and a very pleasant one at that.

The song "Hitotsu" is a touching recorded message of love and hope sent out over hip-hop beats to the people of Japan, and all others affected by the recent tragedy. Produced by Da Otak, the song features the rhymes of six rappers, all thoughtfully rendered in English and Japanese. Featured on the track with Ravage are Root One, Orukusaki, Sum-In-1, RDO, and producer Da Otak.

Recorded by artists whose names most people have never heard, "Hitotsu" is also a deeply inspired production that skillfully blends traditional Asian chords with American hip-hop beats and heartfelt rhymes that reflect the tongues of two nations. The effort behind it shows, and anyone with ears and a heart should be moved by the passion that went into making it.

For the free download, as well as online listens, visit MeccaGodzilla's blog by clicking here here .

St. Paco, Kung Fu Grip!


Big in Argentina

I mentioned some weeks back that I was interviewed by Dadá Mini, a visual arts magazine based in Argentina. When I agreed to the interview, I was under the impression that it was a web-zine. I realized shortly after, though, that it's actually a full-on print mag. The picture of the kid reading a previous issue is one that I found on Flickr. (He might even be the kid from the cover.)

The interview seemed to go really well, but I wasn't completely sure that they were gonna use it; this due more to cautious optimism on my end than anything gleaned from theirs. But a few minutes ago it occurred to me to pop over to web site to see what I could see. My interview is actually the first feature, appearing in the Lado D — Diseño (Side D – Design) section.

The sub-heading is: "A street fighter stalks the photocopiers." I could be a little off on the translation, but that feels about right.

Obviously, I'm now kinda' anxious to see the printed piece. I'll give it a few more weeks, though, before I start bugging Cocó Muro, who conducted the interview. I was under the impression from reading her last e-mail that I would get a copy of the mag at some point. I'm not gonna start gettin' all impacienté now that I know that the piece was printed.