Sunday, November 12, 2006

New York Times, Dark Horse, Apa-Five?!

The Nov. 12 Sunday edition of the New York Times features a lengthy article (in the business section) on Dark Horse Comics and publisher Mike Richardson. It's a nice and well-deserved piece that actually name-checks, well, me, as well as "My Name Is Bruce", amatuer press alliances and "Apa-Five" in passing. The latter has to be a rather esoteric reference for most folks. So here's a little more explanation...

APAs are loose coalitions of like-minded folks who self-publish their own little magazines every few weeks, which are then collated into one larger package by a "Central Mailer", and distributed on a regular basis (usually monthly) to all the members of the group. Membership is limited, anywhere from 30 to 50 to 100 depending on the group, though there are apas with all sorts of different requirements, and some have been around since the 1920's.

The magazines themselves are as idiosyncratic and eccentric as their creators. Some people write articles on items of interest, some create short stories or comics, and for many it's essentially a round-robin of commenting and discussing each other's opinions. I still belong to one apa, CAPA-ALPHA, a comics related group that's been around since the early 60's, through which I still publish my own little mag, usually devoted to whatever happens to be my crazy passion of the day. In this era of the internet and blogging, actually laying out and "publishing" a small magazine is starting to feel as old-style as in writing a snail-mail letter, but I still enjoy the entire process, right down to collating and stapling the pages.

Apa-Five, which is still going strong sans my participation, was started in 1971 (!) by yours truly, when I was still in Junior High. Early members of that group included Frank Miller (yes, the SIN CITY/300 Frank Miller), Paul CONCRETE Chadwick, Marvel inker Randy Emberlin, and artist-now-Dark Horse editor Chris Warner. We were all kids, literally kids, publishing stories and commentary that we printed using mimeographs (boy, I don't miss those messy things!) and purple-ink "ditto machines." A few years later, folks like Mike Richardson and Randy Stradley joined, along with many others. I think what many of us had in common was a desire to turn our love of comics and film into something more than just a hobby, and for some the dream eventually came true. And now my little apa is being mentioned in a business profile in the New York Times... that's more than just a little weird.


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