Friday, November 14, 2008

Adventures In Publishing - Part 1 - The Early Years

My love affair with zines and publishing started when I was only about 11 years old, before I even knew what a zine was. My friend Robbie, who lived in the same apartment complex, and I were big comic book fans like most kids our age. We were also big ninja and Kung-Fu Theater fans. Our local comic shop was (and still is) Mountain Empire Comics, and we would spend every cent we could get our hands on for the best in Daredevil, X-Men, and a whole slew of other favorite titles.
Since Robbie and I were both artists ourselves, it didn't take long for us to figure out that we could make our own comics. We could take out all the boring parts of storylines geared towards older readers and pack our creations with nothing but action held together by the most tenuous of premises such as those we saw in those classic Shaw Brothers films. Our first creation was a series called Ninja Tales. Obviously, our intent was to indulge our fantasies of living out the lives those mysterious assassins of the East while exercising our talents for art. Our two main wandering ninja characters were based on ourselves and we shared artwork duties by each drawing our particular character and taking turns when it came to enemies. With blood, swords, revenge, and bad guys with names like "the Dominator" we couldn't go wrong! When we finished an issue we just stapled it together and took turns reading it as if we had bought it off the shelf over at Mountain Empire. With no concept of photocopying or distributing our little creations, Robbie and I were content to just move from one issue to the next and maintain our imaginary comic book company in the realm of our minds. We called this company V.P. Comics Group after the initials for our last names, Van Huss and Price.
V.P. Comics went on from Ninja Tales to branch out with other titles such as the Lightwave series, which was my pet project, and a few one-shots with titles like Shuriken, Super Stooge, and Black Belt Bunnies (apparently inspired by the contemporary trend of various animal species turning ninja). If my memory serves me well, we made these little comics for about a year or so until my family moved out of the apartment complex and gradually Robbie and I lost touch. Somehow I managed to hang on to these first forays into publishing over the years and they remain in near mint condition, haha!
Not long after I moved away, and V.P. came to an end, I began discovering punk rock. I was probably about twelve years old and life began to change dramatically. My first girlfriend, first band, and first zine were not far away. The DIY ethic of punk rock really appealed to me as a young person and, having already done it myself when it came to comics, I was immediately smitten when I first discovered the underground press and the world of cut-and-paste fanzines.

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