Popnihil 039: Obsidian Zine.
Photography by Rebecca Rose.
Edition of 60.
46pp. Black & White Photographs. Glossy.
$4.00. SOLD OUT.
Popnihil 039: Obsidian Zine.
Photography by Rebecca Rose.
Edition of 60.
46pp. Black & White Photographs. Glossy.
$4.00. SOLD OUT.
by AG Davis.
Edition of 40.
Full-color art and poetry zine.
$7.00. SOLD OUT.
No easy answers from veteran experimental musician AG Davis. Hot off the heels of his stellar Voice Studies cassette on London’s My Dance The Skull imprint, Davis continues to confound expectations and break his own boundaries with a new collection of poetry. DRK DUV, however, pairs verse with his evocative, oft disturbing original collage work. Read in the dark
< b/c I bye you bye
and he byes she
to bye him for hers
to bye their being byed
by 316.4°F (by 158°C) by
_sheep derived(?)_AG DAVIS_2-19-14_
Music-themed anthology zine in miniature. Features lengthy interviews with ADULT. and Oubliette, and an essay on the sonic borderlands on Costa Rican radio by Ian Koss.
Epiphanies. Vol. 1: Christian Death.
By Matthew Moyer.
pop013. Edition of 40.
20pp. Quarter-size digest.
“On the occasion of the 15th Anniversary of the passing of Rozz
Williams.” Matthew Moyer mixes personal and impersonal memories
alongside outright hero worship and music biography for this brief and
sometimes poignant zine. Because it’s been too long and no one else
wrote it first.
Popnihil 008: The Music Issue..
Cover By Squid Dust.
pop008. Edition of 100.
–pp. Full color. Half-size digest.
The biggest (and therefore best?) issue of Popnihil yet! Collaborative zine dedicated to the theme of music, with writerly contributions ranging far and wide. Stories about
punk rock epiphanies and parents breaking records and bands breaking up, photospreads of 45s, comics, tips for the touring musician, and interviews with Andrew Douglas Rothbard, Porter, Alan Jenkins, and a lengthy conversation with Russian Tsarlag!
Contributors: Squid Dust, Jason Brown, Julie Hildreth, Patrick Hughes, Max Michaels, Todd Campisi, Scott Adams, Travis Fristoe, Meredith Kite, Matthew Moyer, Ryan Reno, Duncan Barlow, Ian Koss, Trenton Tarpits, and Christopher Bartus.
Walk It Out Of Your System: The Strange Life And Sad Death Of Chris Esposito.
By Chris Esposito.
Cover By Liam O’Brien.
pop006. Edition of 60.
60pp. Quarter-size digest.
A collection of memoir-style short vignettes from the front lines of Central Florida, as seen through the eyes of a young man trapped in suburban boredom. Spanning his teen years through to his late-twenties, Esposito waxes inelegant about drugs, run-ins with the cops, more drugs, living in the shadow of Disney, drinking, and your best friend trying to destroy you. Will you feel bad for laughing?
Galactic Zoo Dossier, a tripped-out compendium of comics and psychedelic music, with every issue hand-lettered and hand-drawn, is currently my favorite zine. It’s the brainchild of Chicago fixture Steve Krakow, aka Plastic Crimewave, who also is keeping himself busy running a record label, playing in multiple bands, and doing the weekly comic strip “The Secret History Of Chicago Music.” And though it doesn’t hew to the classic photocopies aesthetic, you’ve gotta love a zine that includes a portrait of Christopher Lee in Dracula regalia on the last page – just because.
I guess when I was a teenager I was into comic-book related zines, and some underground comics. I started picking up some music zines in college.
How long have you been writing Galactic Zoo Dossier? What made you decide to create this zine?
I started GZD in 1995, just wanting to combine my love of comics and music, which many zines didn’t seem to do. I had a hook-up at a copy shop, and a job where I could draw during downtime, which was key. I also had a sample I had been trying to shop around of an underground comic “Third Eye Comics,” which there were no takers for, so I repurposed a lot of the contents for the first issue.
What kind of work goes into an issue of Galactic Zoo Dossier? Was the hand-lettering and hand-drawing something you knew you wanted to keep up with from the beginning?
I was priming myself to draw normal superhero comics in high school, so I learned how to letter and lay out panels and all that, but I became disenchanted with the idea of drawing other people’s stories (and big muscle-men) not to mention stuff I hated to draw like cars and buildings. It’s really just easier for me to hand-letter/lay-out, I really am still an idiot on computers. It does take about two years to complete an issue, but mainly because I’m constantly working on other projects that pay the bills more immediately, like posters, album covers, and I play in a few bands that tour, DJ, etc.
The last issue of GZD featured everyone from the Beach Boys to Yahowa 13 to the Gods – I can’t imagine any of the big rock magazines having such wide-ranging coverage.
Well, they used to–! Mags like Crawdaddy, Back Door Man, Mojo Navigator, Psyche Scene, Bomp!, even Creem and the old school days of Rolling Stone were pretty eclectic. Ugly Things and Shindig! are keeping the torch going currently.
The comics collages in that issue were pretty amazing too. Where do you find all of that stuff?
I have about 30,000 comics, and I’m always perusing cheap bins for more! I read a LOT of comics.
What is the most surreal interview/encounter you’ve ever had as a result of doing GZD?
Hmmm…hard to pick one.. I guess my first big interview with Simeon of the Silver Apples when hardly any info was available about them maybe? They appeared to be New Yorkers via another planet, but in fact he was a funny good o’l boy from Alabama! Reclusive acid-folk legend Clive Palmer (originally from the Incredible String Band) was surreal too, never thought the Cornwall bohemian would make it to Chicago! I couldn’t believe it was happening.
Tell me about the Secret History of Chicago Music comic. Where else might we find your work?
The SHoCM “info-strip” (as I call it for lack of a better word) sort of grew out of GZD. I found myself covering Chicago acts a lot (yeah I have some town pride, I admit it) and thought it could make a good local feature in the paper, maybe formatted a bit more like R.Crumb’s “Heroes of the Blues” trading cards. After an editor or 2 didn’t get it, one finally bit, and now it has run every other week for 7 years. I will cover all from blues to jazz, folk to garage rock, etc. I do a band portrait and research their history, often interviewing actual band members. We also do a radio show segment every time the strip runs where we play the music and try to have the artists on, and fans call in.
I also do a regular strip for the Roctober zine, and work for the mag Signal To Noise, and I used to have regular stuff in Arthur and Stop Smiling if you can track down back issues. As stated earlier a lot of posters, album covers, and even an occasional mural.
You keep very busy on a lot of side projects – a band, djing, running a label – would you run them down for us?
Well technically I have 5 bands right now– Aa…the rundown:
Plastic Crimewave Sound–acid punk band going for 10 years now (yeesh), we have 5 LPs, collaborative lps w/Oneida and Michael Yonkers, 3 45s, and a lot of compilation appearances, we’ve toured w/Acid Mothers Temple, Oneida, Comets on Fire, Marble Sheep, etc, and opened for a lot of my heroes like Sky Saxon, Ya Ho Wha 13, Love, Zolar X, Trad Gras Och Stenar, etc.
Moonrises–newish “avant-prog” trio with my gal Ms. Libby on keyboards and free-jazzy drummer Ben Billington, we’ve toured a bit and are working on getting an LP we recorded out.
Solar Fox–space ambient duo, Ms. Libby also on keys and me on guitar, we have a cassette out on Medusa tapes in Toronto.
Scum Ra–another duo of keys and guitar with Kathy of Spires That In The Sunset Rise–sorta goth/noise, cassette on Catholic tapes due soon.
Gleaming–(formerly DRMWPN) large ensemble of largely-acoustic drone, with jazzers like Michael Zerrang and Josh Abrams, Jim Becker of Califone, etc. We have one LP out, and some limited UK CDRs/cassettes. Sometimes I play solo too, or conduct the Plastic Crimewave Vision Celestial Guitarkestras, which have featured up to 70 guitarists.
I do DJ a few times a month, and have done so everywhere from LA, NY, to Japan. Usually do all 45s of 60s/70s funk, psych, garage, punk, bubblegum, glam, mod, hard rock, soul, etc
I run the label Galactic Zoo Disk with Drag City manufacturing/distributing, all reissues of obscure 60s-70s stuff from loner punk (JT IV), to full-tilt psych (Spur), and private pressed synth madness (George Edwards Group) to odd folk (Ed Askew, Michael Yonkers).
I also curate the Million Tongues festivals, we’ve had folks like Bert Jansch, Terry Reid, Michael Yonkers, Tony Conrad, Mark Fry, Simon Finn, etc.
What sort of feedback and reactions do you get from your audience and peers?
Oh, everything from pats on the back and fan mail to people thinking i’m a drug-damaged lunatic or not understanding a single thing i’m into.
What zines are you enjoying right now?
I’ve been liking stuff by Leslie Stein and Avi Spivak.
What are you listening to right now?
Oh gosh, way too much as always… Prog like East of Eden and T2, folk like Keith Christmas and Wizz Jones, Asian psych like Shin Hyun Jung and the Jacks, revisiting UK psych like Kaleidoscope and Please, song-poem genius Rodd Keith, and old timey stuff like Carter Family and Dock Boggs. I also dug out a college-era Beach Boys tape comp I made and have been loving it all over again.
What are some of the projects you have coming up soon?
Very excited to have drawn my first linear comic book in like 15 years, which is a collaboration with Japan’s Acid Mothers Temple–its sorta biographical, and is going to be an old-school comic-book and 45 record set, like I loved as a kid. It’s taking ages, but will be worth it. Knee deep in a new GZD (#9) too, which will hopefully be ready by the end of the year… hopefully! Plastic Crimewave Sound is working on an album too, and I’m about to leave for my first European tour, playing a festival in Dorset, and also Twickenham, Paris, Netherlands, etc.. I will also be interviewing UK legends like Arthur Brown, Peter Daltrey of Kaleidoscope, Edgar Broughton, Judy Dyble (Fairport Convention) and folk lord Martin Carthy!
Originally published at the JPL Zine Library blog.
Newsstand junkies among you might recognize the byline “Aaron Lake Smith” from his pieces in Time or Newsweek Magazine, but the discerning zine-o-phile lives and dies by Smith’s more personal outlet, the fearsomely well-written Big Hands. In the pages of Big Hands, he blends the personal and the political in punchy, autobiographical vignettes that make for compulsive reading. You can find many issues of Big Hands in our collection, as well as his one-off Unemployment zine.
What was your first exposure to zines?
The first zines I came into contact with were the Crimethinc publications that were littered like ticker tape around North Carolina in the late 90s and early 2000s. Evasion, Dropping Out, Inside Front–all of these publications had a massive distribution. They had this propaganda newspaper called Harbinger, and I remember reading somewhere that they printed a million copies. 1,000,000 copies. That’s what The New York Times prints today.
As for more literary, personal zines I was affected by a zine called Ride On that was basically a Cometbus rip-off written by a kid from the suburbs of Philly. Jim will probably be embarrassed that I mention it, but Ride On had a nakedness of spirit and a strong command of prose that you didn’t see in other zines. It was more like a Bruce Chatwin book and less like Evasion. It revealed the other possibilities for the pamphlet medium.
How long have you been writing Big Hands? What made you decide to create this zine?
I made the first issue in Fall of 2005. I had a part-time job and very little else going on, so I borrowed a friend’s college ID and would sneak into the university computer lab late at night to write. Kept writing, then did some editing, then gave out the zine. It got a good response and I feel like I had said something that hadn’t been said yet, so I kept making them.
What kind of work and time goes into an issue of Big Hands? When do you know that an issue is done – as far as being fully written?
It’s different for every issue. I’m always writing. But regrettably, my creative cycle involves spending several months languishing–reading books, watching movies, drinking and walking around–and then waking up one morning and with a good Protestant lashing saying, “That’s enough!” and getting to work. Once started, the zine practically writes itself. Then, rather than getting to work on the next issue, I celebrate or take a trip and then the fallowing and harvesting cycle starts itself all over again. There’s a lax supervisor inside me and a slavedriver inside me– When this slavedriver makes an appearance, I write seriously and don’t stop until he says its done.
How has your writing in Big Hands shaped or honed your writing style? In Big Hands you intermingle blunt honesty and self-deprecating humor very easily.
Every sentence matters. Each issue of Big Hands is like one of those old Swiss clocks–all the parts are delicately wrought and need to be positioned in the machine with the utmost of care. It’s like surgery, everything needs to be done carefully. The zine is a small thing made of small moving parts–kind of like Robert Walser’s microscripts. It’s not a novel–there’s no long flowing paragraphs or excessive character descriptions or chapter-long ramblings on the problems of the regional Russian Zemstvos like in Tolstoy.
Tell me about writing the Unemployment zine.
When I have a full-time job, I put my energy into having the fulltime job and living my life in the world. It’s difficult for me to have a disciplined yoga-like writing practice–you know, the ballerina gets up at six AM every morning and practices for two hours. Practice makes perfect! Small tiny steps forward. Doesn’t really work for me. The zines are made in one great push, usually when I have nothing else going on in my life. So when I had no job and no “real life” the natural thing to do was to make Unemployment.
You’ve written for everyone from Newsweek to Arthur on a broad swath of subject matter – how do you approach writing a piece for a bigger magazine/publication?
I approach writing essays, journalism and criticism the same way I approach writing a zine. The only difference is there’s an outside deadline, not the deadline I’m putting on myself. Writing for pay is the same–you psych yourself up, pace around the living room, drink a lot of coffee, and then sit down and make it happen. But you have to keep in mind that there’s a wider audience and that your language has to be more inclusive. You’re not writing for your little niche that understands all these cultural references.
I get a lot of letters, snail-mail, but now also plenty of random e-mails. I get the feeling that my audience is kind of like Morrissey’s audience, but obviously much much smaller–lost and lonely misfits who don’t fit into any scene or category but feel dissatisfied with all their various options for living-in-the-world.
People really liked the Chumbawamba zine. I’m first and foremost a fan. I hope it served as an entry point for people who didn’t know the Chumbawamba anarchist backstory and only knew them from “Tubthumper”.
Do you see a point in the near future where you will shift the majority of your independently produced writings from print to the web?
Sure. But I’m not too keen on just tossing them up on a Tumblr blog.
The medium affects the way people read a piece of writing. So it’s preferable to have the writing framed nicely, the way you frame a painting, so that it gets read with care, and not just skimmed over quickly.
What zines are you enjoying right now?
I don’t read many zines, I read books. More and more zines today read like Deepak Chopra books–they should be classified in the Self-Help section. I like zines that smell like literature, criticism, and polemic. Brandt Schmidt’s zine Shiny Things On The Ground. I always pick up Cometbus whenever there’s a new issue.
What are some of the projects you have coming up soon? Where else will we be seeing your work soon?
I’m currently up house-sitting in rural Vermont working on a new writing project. It’s mutating–maybe it’s a zine, maybe it’s a book. Also look for more articles to come out soon.
Originally from the JPL Zine Collection blog.
When you get a story from the immortal Patrick Hughes, you know it’s time to start pulling together a new issue of Popnihil. This one’s gonna be The Music Issue. Perhaps I’ll get it out by the start of autumn. Here’s a peek ….
I had a vague thought maybe John Cale was the same guy as J. J. Cale, another artist I had never heard. But I knew from reading Rolling Stone that J.J. Cale had written “Cocaine,” a song made popular by Eric Clapton. The magazine also made it clear that the Velvet Underground wrote a lot of songs about drugs. Clapton’s “Cocaine” bored me, but I thought that on the off chance John and J.J. were the same dude maybe the original would strip out all the tasty licks and mellow vibes and get down to business.
I set to work convincing my mother to take me to the John Cale show. He was a member of the Velvet Underground, I explained, one of the most influential bands of the 1960s. This was a rare opportunity, a chance to glimpse an important piece of rock ‘n’ roll history. Plus, advertisements promised a local new wave band for the opening act, and I liked the playful way my favorite new wave bands portrayed themselves on TV.
Mom agreed. We went after a wedding, so I was wearing a tan, three-piece polyester suit. I had long hair, parted in the middle and feathered. Mom had to pay five bucks, but they let me in for free because I was so young. I remember the Star Garage living up to its name, or the second half of it, anyway – it was a big, open warehouse with a concrete floor.
This is gonna be good.