At the lovely, dearest Green Arcade in the “hub” of San Francisco we encountered this store-exclusive Lit Crawling from Bentboybooks, a tiny publisher of whom we are, as usual, the shit-last to learn.
Funny enough this October 2017 zine, besides being exclusive to Green Arcade, is not listed on Bentboybooks’ website. Turns out to be a survey of their recent zines.
The collection of mostly poetry begins with an anthology, complete with CV beginning in 1972, of Jan Johnson Drantell, whose work evidently has been rediscovered and put into the zine. Her poems could be called provocative: her voice earnestly and compassionately pushes against the ideas and word-bunches of her time, beginning in the Vietnam era. I really can’t pick a favorite poem, they are all so precise and on-point.
Then comes Pam Martin, who is quite joycean, and I’m a sucker for anything joycean that pulls it off, so I’m in. She’s apparently a big deal in the local art-organizing scene, and I mean the upper echelons, the museums and so forth.
Drew Cushing closes the collection out, and he seems to be the ringleader of Bentboybooks. His selections have a lot of political allusions that will have to remain over my head until sometime after I finish this zine review.
I’m finally excited to say that the book turned me on (ha ha) to the devotedly naked Ronald Palmer, whose books I will be investigating soon. Apparently he’s complex, capable and raunchy, so I’m looking forward to it. His story Manikin is very San Francisco-completist, lots of locations named, five-Os bleaching sidewalks. He’s always naked in his promotional photos, so it’s got to be good.
Check out Bentboybooks every time you spot one!
Way behind in my zine reviews since I’ve been pretty much committed these last months to Byebye and Shlort and this movie script thing. I’ve had these five episodes of Free Money, “illustrative journalism from the future” by Cyberpunk Dan since January, which he sells for “1 gal. gas.” The interesting thing about these is that he appears to be writing and printing them while living in a “customized 95 G20 Sport” and traveling, though he seems to be based in Pittsburgh.
The stories are about underemployed working-class rebels who get into crazy messes while trying to do a job or make their own work. No corporate bottom-feeders here. The first story’s protagonist upsets the pecking order in her shithole town by doing some cleaning that no one else wanted to do until she started getting paid for it. Mayhem ensues.
Honestly I can’t tell anymore if he draws them on a computer or with mixed media, or with mixed media augmented by a computer, or whatever, but the line is loose and active, the colors well-planned and expressive. And it comes on newspaper instead of xerox, which I love.
Besides the focus on matters of survival, what I liked about the zines is how Dan generally does it like the old comics did, offering advice, spots for reader interaction, advertising space, and news about arts events. The marginal budgeting tips add to the stories’ pervading and tense feeling of “I’m sick of fuckin being broke,” with which I think many of us can identify.
I’m glad I finally got to this review since it made me look at the stuff again. I’m definitely into it. Buy Free Money and support Dan wherever you can! If you have InstaGram, he’s @cyberpunkdan.