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Blush

Blush

Issue #1

Draculina Publishing

-im [[blush]]

I’m not generally a big fan of glam or metal, but if it’s Japanese glam and metal mixed with punk, then I’m there. Blush is a new magazine devoted to the small fringe of Japanese punk, metal, goth, and glam bands. Granted, I’ve heard of very few of the bands featured, but I enjoyed the magazine due to the writing, which leans toward the fannish, but isn’t obnoxious about it, and some really nice photography. I’m not sure if the photos are done by Blush or provided by the bands (the latter, I suspect), but it still makes for a nice looking book. Girls (or are they boys? Gender bending androgyny seems to be a running theme, and frankly it gets hard to tell the boys from the girls) with bandaged faces and bands dressed in leather, vinyl, and Nazi attire fill the pages of band profiles, interviews, CD reviews, and demo reviews. Bands like Shulla, Marry+An+Blood, and other Visual Kei bands put Poison, Nine Inch Nails, and Marilyn Manson to shame in the theatricality department, or at least in the hair and make-up department. Blush is a great primer to these bands and even has an introduction to Visual Kei. I would love to see future issues spread out from such a heavy dose of glam to also cover more straight punk bands.

Draculina Publishing, PO Box 587, Glen Carbon, IL 62034

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Print Reviews

Dumpy

Dumpy

Issue #1

Fantagraphics

You gotta take pity on Dumpy, beleaguered by coffee-bumming flies, bad-poetry spouting bears, alcoholic cactuses, and the occasional intersection with the world of Steven, cartoonist Doug Allen’s alternative newsweekly staple. While Steven is funny in a sociopathic way, Dumpy’s particular brand of mental illness seems to be his compulsive nature — he seems to accrete an awful lot of worthless junk in his dump, and is not as sure of what to do with it as he is of its value: “Why, just last week I got this rusted engine block, and I had to soak it in a mixture of naval jelly and liquid wrench for three weeks… until… I could finally move the pistons a quarter of an inch, but just as she was startin’ ta move, the crankshaft busted!” Did Dumpy learn his lesson? Will he now leave scrap engines by the side of the road? “What? Are you crazy? I’m takin’ it home, but I sure as hell ain’t trying ta fix the goddamned thing.”

There’s more of Dumpy in us than we suspect.

Fantagraphics Books, 7563 Lake City Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115; http://www.fantagraphics.com

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X-Ray

X-Ray

Issue #1

Slave Labor Graphics

“River of Shit!” exclaims Dylan as our story opens. It’s the punchline to some sort of joke we never get to hear — I mean read. As our story develops, Dylan and Clay find themselves confronting relationship depression and general malaise with alcohol and a frat party. Developing an affinity towards the pig being roasted on a spit, running off with it (much to the fraternity’s irritation) and ending up trashing Clay’s car. The action is not as much of a caricature as, say, Hate, but it’s still pretty humorous, and more than a touch realistic despite its improbability. I’m sure everyone’s been in similar difficult-to-explain situations. The remainder of the comic book (about half) has an interesting variety of material, from slice-of-life phone conversations to one-pagers on goth chicks, the “third wave” of ska, Sid the Punk Kid and a 6th grade vignette, along with the obligaory smart-ass letters page. A pretty good read. Slave Labor Graphics, 325 South First Street, San Jose, CA 95113

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Print Reviews

The Beach Is That Way

The Beach Is That Way

Issue #1

Twenty-eight pages, 12 of which have either articles about or pictures of scooters. One live music review of a Skatalites show, plus articles on lounge music and being kicked out of restaurants for annoying “adults.” Yes, this is a high school “mod” zine. Has a full-color cover and comes with what I assume is meant to be a cloth patch for your flighty. 8.5″ x 7″ format, $2 ppd. Molly Bradbury, 369 Montezuma, Suite # 184, Santa Fe, NM 87501

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Print Reviews

Fiddler Jones Magazine

Fiddler Jones Magazine

Volume 2, Issue #1

You gotta be nuts to pass up this zine, it’s done by the coolest gurrrl in the scene that I know. It contains interviews with such supergroups as: Shai Hulud, De La Soul, Poopy Pants, and (uh) Shelter Also a write up on the Miami stop of the Warped Tour and various record reviews. One dollar gets you into the world of Fiddler Jones. Fiddler Jones, 205 Shore Drive South, Miami, FL 33133

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Print Reviews

Rude Tales

Rude Tales

Issue #1

As a long time fan of both comics and ska, Rude Tales is right up my alley: an anthology in which all the stories are related to ska! I was excited to pick up the first issue, and was impressed by most of what’s here. Virtually cover to cover, Rude Tales is as fun to read as ska is to listen to. Almost every tale fared well, and left me looking forward to the next issue.

The most amusing strip here is Nick Derington’s “The Adventures of Rude Girl.” Rude Girl is a very endearing and cute character, drawn in a clean, cartoony style. In her inaugural adventure, Rude Girl goes out to a show. Most ska fans will be able to relate to what happens, from the joy of the music to the problems with skins and the ska newbie in the Less Than Jake shirt. I can’t wait to see what happens to her next!

While “Rude Girl” is the most out-and-out fun, there’s a lot of other good material. Skavoovie and the Epitones singer Ans Purins contributes “Secret Agent 40,” a surreal play on the connection between ska and secret agents, including a sublime parody of ska shows. James Glader’s “Crew-Ska-Fiction” is a very pretty manga-influenced strip about the travails of owning the ultimate ska status symbol, the Vespa. Jordan Hillyard’s “Dave!” series gets several vignettes, and although the early outings are slow; when Dave forms a band in later strips, it’s witty parody all the way. “Mr. Evil,” from W. Ralph Walters, Jr., also gets a couple of vignettes, telling the origin of a ska zombie! It’s an interesting start, and the splash of the second vignette, with Mr. Evil skanking and singing along to the Toasters’ classic “Mona,” is almost worth the issue’s price alone.

The only negative thing about the first issue is the inclusion of Ryan Ambariantz’s “Spackle,” a Zippy the Pinhead-styled walk through five pages of nonsense. To begin with, it’s not ska-related, unless you count the “shameless ska plug” that was obviously only included to justify the strip running. I wouldn’t have a problem with this if the strip was funny, or even interesting, but it’s just meaningless, poorly drawn babble. The anthology would have been better off five pages shorter.

Despite “Spackle,” though, the average ska fan will have a great time with Rude Tales. The contributors have their hearts in the right places, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what future issues will bring. Rude Tales Comix, 1200 Madison, Box 507, Denver, CO 80206; RudeTales@aol.com