14 January 2012

We'll Take Aim

When it comes to particular zines, I am quite the completist. I own just over a third of Cometbus' works, including all of his books ever published (minus the German translations, obviously). I'd like to think this is more than anyone else. I own all of Al Burian's "Burn Collector" stuff. These are two of the most profound zinesters I've came across, and not only is their inspiration on my work immeasurable, but they're fucking great at what they do.

I finally received my copy of Keith Rosson's "Best of Intentions" anthology in the mail today. It spans his "AVOW" zine's first sixteen issues. I am a new reader to this zine, and I am very much looking forward to diving in. Upon brief initial research, I found out that only a handful of issues after #16 are available to buy (he's up to #25, I believe). The completist in me was bummed to find out that I would be unable to read everything.

Then, I read the intro to the book. He discusses the modest beginnings of "AVOW" and the work it took to compile the anthology. "We made about 25 copies of [Issue #1]", if I remember right...While assembling this book, I realized that i didn't actually have a copy of #1, much less the originals. [My friend and co-editor] Nathan had a copy of that one and brought it over. Yellowed and wrinkled, I thumbed through those twenty-two pages and, frankly, cringed. I suppose it's a lot like hearing that first band you were in, or looking at your old paintings, reading through those old journals; the passion is there but the execution leaves a bit to be desired".

So, quite a bit of the first six issues have been omitted from the anthology for posterity's sake. It apparently took "AVOW" until issue #7 to hit the stride they were happy with. The fact that I will forever be unable to get all of the "AVOW" stuff didn't bother me as much as it originally had. The process of zine-writing is something that you can't just simply dive into and expect great results.

The first zine I ever wrote was for a project in high school. I was seventeen. It was originally supposed to be a four-person project, each one contribution poetry, art, prose, etc. My general distaste for other people was, by this time, very well established. I immediately raised my hand and asked if I could do it myself. I didn't (and couldn't) trust others to follow through, so I undertook the entire project myself. I named it "The Exploding Boy" as a tribute to Alkaline Trio (and The Cure).

The zine was formatted in much the same way EARN YOUR SLEEP is today. It contained a couple of short stories about a kid (me) dealing with a broken heart, some very Kurt Halsey-inspired cartoons and really, really bad poetry. At the time, I was extremely proud of it. It felt good to create something on that level, and I had full ownership of it.

I actually came across the only copy ever published while in the process of moving a few years back. I was excited and shocked at the same time. I flipped through it a few times while letting it all sink in. It brought tears to my eyes for the simple fact I was laughing so hard.

To bring this topic full-circle, I destroyed it. It was just too embarrassing to have lying around for my friends to find. They would be merciless. Only one copy had been made, but the same idea is there. Even if I had had twenty copies to my name, I would have probably burned them. There are just some things to be left in the past. I wouldn't want someone reading EARN YOUR SLEEP now and referring to "The Exploding Boy" as its starting point.

In the same vein, EARN YOUR SLEEP #1 isn't the best zine I've ever done, but its far and away quite an improvement from where I started off. It has its imperfections, but the passion and the ideas were all there. The execution is a bit off, but it was my first serious literary zine. However, I want EYS to become a well-established zine. And I want readers to be able to get issue #1 if they so desire. So, I am making a priority of keeping all of my master copies of all of my issues. Its still young enough of a zine to where issue #1 isn't too much of a culture-shock, and some readers might find merit in reading the issue where I began cutting my teeth.

In a sense, I would kind of like to pioneer this form of thinking. I'd like to be able to have a contact address to where people can say "Dean, I love issues #4-10, where the hell can I find the first few?". I would then respond with "I will go ahead and print them up for you."

I think as far as some literary endeavors go, there are certain things best left in the past (like old journals, high school poems, etc). But, with a zine like EYS, I think there is a lot to be said of theoretically being able to own every single issue ever published. That's my promise, folks. Now, someone give me money so I can print some issues.

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