From the Vaults: NoPants #1

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

With NoPants #0, I reignited the flame in my belly to make zines. With NoPants #1, I took that flame and lit a bunch of shit on fire.

You can download a PDF of NoPants #1. And if you wanna know more about the creation of this issue, here's how it went down:

I'm not sure when I made this issue. But it says 2002 on it, so I'm gonna assume that it came out in November since #0 was released in October.

This entire fall 2002 college semester was a lonely and confusing one for me. I think the angst I was feeling began to spill out in the odd "insert" which takes up the majority of this issue.

I took a bunch of loose doodles from my notebooks and turned them into a pathos-riddled coloring book in the middle of NoPants. While it's pretty common to see homemade coloring books at zine fairs and small press expos nowadays, I thought I was really breaking some new ground at the time!

The coloring book pages are filled with hyperbole like "I hate my life" and creepy scenes like a bleeding couch, but there's still some truth and vulnerability to all of it. I think this page captures that dynamic best:

I don't actually hate my family. Well, not all of the time! But sometimes they drive me crazy. Especially back then when my parents were splitting up and my sister was starting to raise her own family. I was an irresponsible 20-year-old who was annoyed by the mature issues they were dealing with.

I also continued my storytelling feature with "New Juice". It's not groundbreaking or anything. But these little first person stories were always a ton of fun for me to write and my most nostalgia-inducing moments in NoPants. This page is sideways in the zine, forcing readers to spin it to read my tale of minibar horror.

If, after reading this zine, you're asking yourself "But, Nick... why?!?" I think it's worth noting that NoPants didn't cost me a penny.

Now it's standard practice to charge college students for copies and keep track of how much they print from the computer. But at the time, my school didn't do that. Plus, I had a part-time job at the school's copy center. So I could basically make any copies I wanted any time I wanted.

Next: NoPants #3 because NoPants #2 doesn't exist.

From the Vaults: NoPants #0

Monday, November 4th, 2013

NoPants was my college zine. It featured pop culture satire, fake news, music reviews, and absurd collage packaged together as a ludicrous lo-fi magazine parody.

You can download a PDF of NoPants #0. And if you wanna know more about this issue of NoPants, here's how it came to be:

In the fall of 2002, I moved into a dilapidated house with six other people that I barely knew. I lived in a closet. Not metaphorically, but literally... my room was three feet wide and maybe five or six feet long.

I'd recently left my tight group of friends, quit my raunchy college rock band (Dirty Weekend), and my parents were on the verge of divorce.

I hated Carnegie Mellon University and I desperately needed new outlets to keep my mind off of everything else. That meant new music, new classes, new friends, and -- to a large degree -- even a new identity.

One of those outlets came in the form of a new zine series, NoPants.

I was no stranger to mixing lo-fi collage with goofy text and handing it out to people. The Lockeroom was my high school zine that basically got me into college.

Eager to reconnect with a defining moment of my high school years, NoPants exited my brain at top speed in October 2002. The content of this first issue was a natural extension of the humor I created years earlier for The Lockeroom.

My conscious goal was to create an art product that was relatively simple to reproduce. My subconscious goal was to rebel against principles of "good clean design" that I was constantly hearing about my first two years of college. That's probably why I handed out most of them to my friends studying graphic design.

Its reception was lukewarm at best. My roommates sort of ignored it and I barely got any feedback from my friends. While I would've loved a warm response, this didn't deter me. I was making it for myself.

I dig certain aspects of #0, but I think it was only a starting point. This issue doesn't have nearly as much pathos or poignancy as subsequent installments, which were packed full of more personal content and bigger ideas.

Next: Shit gets twisted in NoPants #1.

From the Vaults: Cracked REJECTED!

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Before Cracked.com became a purveyor snarky lists, it was the online hub for the relaunch of Cracked Magazine. For those of you who don't know about Cracked Magazine, for almost 50 years it was Pepsi to MAD Magazine's Coca-Cola.

But in 2004, Cracked Magazine was cancelled with #365:

Not long after that, I began replying to anonymous ads on Monster.com seeking writers for a mysterious "Humor Mag". I emailed them relentlessly with no response. My emails began to get stranger and more familiar the longer this went on:

On the fateful date of March 11, 2005, I received a voicemail while I was on the phone with Warner Bros HR setting up an interview for the position of receptionist at MAD Magazine. The phone call was from Tom DeFalco, legendary comic book writer and former EiC of Marvel Comics.

Unbeknownst to me, Tom had been hired as EiC for the relaunch of Cracked Magazine. Here's a press release about it (for posterity's sake, I've saved the press release as a PNG in case that link goes down). So basically I was on the phone with MAD Magazine while Cracked Magazine was leaving me a voicemail. Deliciously ironic.

I was invited to pitch to the relaunch of Cracked. They were repositioning themselves as a cheeky pop culture publication closer to the Photoshopped sarcasm of Maxim rather than the illustrated satire of MAD. I immediately enlisted my college buddy Pete (my bandmate in Dirty Weekend and collaborator on comics like Time Log and Zombie Palin) to help me. Here's one of the gems we came up with:

Along with our Puking Wand ad, we wrote a bunch of fake magazine editorials. These ranged from a harsh Tom DeFalco parody to a Santa Claus exposé to a feature story about the new "stealth dumping" fad:

All our pitches were rejected. We weren't hip or current enough for Tom and his other editors, Sven Larsen and Justin Droms. And we weren't the only thing that was rejected -- after only three issues, Cracked Magazine was cancelled again.

But that's not the end of this story! Fast-forward four years to 2009 and I was getting back into zine making and self-publishing (in high school I helped create a zine called The Lockeroom and in college I self-published a zine called NoPants).

Along with some homemade print collections of my new webcomics, I decided to also craft a zine which contained some my pitches that were rejected by Cracked Magazine. I called this zine Cracked REJECTED!

You can download a PDF of Cracked REJECTED! and experience the nightmare for yourself. It collects all of my email correspondence with Cracked's editorial team along with some of our more outrageous pitches.

But be forewarned -- it's an ugly little zine with some amateur formatting. So if you're a graphic design snob, then this might not be for you. However, if you're still curious, I hope you download the PDF and enjoy this classic piece of editorial rejection that I've unearthed FROM THE VAULTS!!!