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Paping #11 – “us and them”
Written and Drawn by Various
Published by John Mejias

Paping #11 Paping is a semi-regular comics anthology published by John Mejias, a New York City public school art teacher. Each issue features of a variety of comics by Mejias and a group of NYC friends, usually but not always revolving around a common theme. This issue centers on the idea of “us and them” or at least whatever comes to each artists mind when they heard that phrase. There don’t seem to be a lot of rules for how an issue of Paping comes out, and that may very well be the publications greatest strength.

First things first, this issue breaks the mold of comics anthologies in a lot of ways. In fact, a glance over the presentation and the contents of the book makes you realize that you’re reading a punk rock zine rather than an art house comic. Even though the production values are excellent, the typesetting and formatting for the actual interior are created with the self-conscious, cut-and-paste style of a local concert flyer. While this hands on approach does give the book some charm (the varient silk-screen covers Mejias hand-printed for the issue are beautiful), a few of the comics on the inside rely too much on the DIY style to pull off a worthy story. Entries from Andy Bodor and Zak Smith are merely anecdotes illustrated by cut out doodles. Reading these, I felt as though I should be learning about how to make my leather jacket look tough or finding out what hard core band is blowing up the local scene lately. Other true comics in the book, despite a little more focus, read like rushed first drafts instead of like stories. Some of the work is downright sloppy.

On the other side of the coin, we have contributions from Mejias’ illustrator friends. Shawn Cheng’s untitled piece is an extremely interesting read. The story involves a small boy drawn to resemble Aztec or Incan art who is beheaded to provide a soccer game for his overpowering and abstractly illustrated gods. Drew Gold provides a similar psudo-story revolving around pictures of a boxing match, and Sean McCarthy’s “Raiding Party” is an absolute mind trip of surrealistic, warlike animals. Oddly enough, these pieces that fall farthest from strict comic art best capture the issue’s theme on the page.

Mejias himself contributes two separate stories. One deals with some of his students who can be referred to as “loveable outcasts” and the other is a twisted morality play revolving around a workaholic cat. Each of these stories employs the same printmaking technique Mejias used on the cover (albeit reproduced), and they both find a pleasant medium between the punk rocker DIY stuff and the more arty illustrative work.

In fact, the common ground between zines and comix that Paping #11 aspires to find is probably the most intriguing aspect of the book. While the cut-and-paste pieces don’t satisfy as comics, it’s really nice to flip through the back pages of the issue which include a scene report, comic reviews, and an entertaining account of the Paping crew’s annual soap box derby race. As someone who’s spent time hanging out with both the comic store and the record store set, I really wish that more comic artists would make an attempt to promote their work with the Guerilla-style distribution techniques of punk zines. Reaching out to stores that don’t carry comics alone is a great step for finding a bigger audience for the comic medium, and a book like Paping sets a good example for what can be done both artistically and in a real practical business sense to attract new readers to good comics. 3/5

-- Kiel Phegley

Send review copies to:
Kiel Phegley
74 Walnut Rd
Glen Cove, NY 11542

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The ADD Blog by Alan David Doane. Trouble with Comics Reviews of comics and graphic novels. Commentary about the artform and industry of comics. Get back to the main page.

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