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AICN COMICS Q&@: superhero talks with DRUNKEN MASTER ‘zine creator Kiyoshi Nakazawa about indie ‘zines!!!

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Q’s by superhero!

@’s by DRUNKEN MANSTER 'zine's
Kiyoshi Nakazawa!!!

Hello out there in comicland! It is I, superhero! I'm here with an interview with ‘zine creator Kiyoshi Nakazawa. Kiyoshi is the mastermind behind the DRUNKEN MASTER ‘zine. I’ve been an acquaintance of his for a couple of years and I’ve always been blown away by his talent and tenacity as well as his dedication to his craft. His DRUNKEN MASTER ‘zine is truly an experience to behold and he’s one person I can always say that I have complete respect for because of his determination to get his art out there no matter what.

I ran into him at his booth at Comic Con and asked him for an interview. I wanted to see if I could delve into the mind of a ‘zine creator, especially at a time when everyone seems to be proclaiming that print is dead. So check out Mr. Nakazawa’s answers. Print may be dead to some people but Kiyoshi’s love for it is still very much alive…

SUPERHERO: So tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from? How should the readers know you? What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?

KIYOSHI NAKAZAWA (KN): Hello--my name is Kiyoshi Lucky Nakazawa. I am from Los Angeles by way of Northern California. The readers should know me as that guy who tries to look and act kind of like Bruce Lee that made a whole bunch of movies that sound like Bruce Lee movies but aren't and I'm not really Bruce Lee and I don't know kung-fu. Or they might know me as the creator, writer, artist and self publisher of DRUNKEN MASTER zine since 1999. My favorite flavor of ice cream is lead but I can't find it any more.

SUPERHERO: So, just what is a ‘zine? Some people may actually not know!

KN: Krikey, have they been living under a rock?! The cool kids will tell you that a zine is any sort of self published material that is made without the intention of profit but rather a love for a medium or particular subject. I think the word is short for "fanzine" which is what they called the first generation of self publications that took advantage of photocopy machines in the 60's and 70's. These fanzines probably wrote about rock bands, Lord Of The Rings, science fiction authors and other subjects that any self respecting real journalist would never touch at any time.

SUPERHERO: Why a ‘zine? Why not just a blog or a website? Don’t you know that print is dead?

KN: My old answer to this question used to be you can't take the computer to the bathroom. But, man, now you really can. Zines are great because you can just whip a few pages out on your drawing desk, walk down to Kinkos, print a hundred copies and now, boom, you can tell people you're published. What would you prefer anyways? to get some hum drum "Uniform Resource Locator, internet address" by electronic mail (click- booooooorrrring) or to get a real deal xeroxed zine in the mail box? The fact that you killed a few trees in your pursuit for a honest creative expression will make you seem more dangerous and edgy to the fairer sex. This is important.

Print is not dead, I checked the tomb of zines and the casket was empty! Good God ,man, there was no body! In all seriousness I often think that maybe these new tumblr sites, livejournals and personal websites are basically the next generation of zines. Does a zine have to be printed on paper? I don't know. Maybe not.

SUPERHERO: But how do you balance the basic monetary cost of doing a print 'zine vs. doing a website or blog? Wouldn't a web alternative just be cheaper for you to produce and keep you more current?

KN: One of the distinct differences between a printed zine and web zine to me is that one is an object while the other is a location. The disparate mediums affect the message to some degree even when the superficial content appears to be the same. I am not saying one is inherently better or superior to the other it all depends on what you are trying to accomplish. I am fascinated by book art objects and I have a different experience with them than I do with web sites. So to answer your question, yes, a web site can be much cheaper way to post your comics and interviews but DRUNKEN MASTER zine is meant to be experienced as a book. Later, after we cut down the last tree on Earth I'll be ready to make it a web zine.

SUPERHERO: Let’s talk about DRUNKEN MASTER…what is it? What can someone expect when they pick up an issue of DM?

KN: DRUNKEN MASTER zine is a basically a comics zine that covers art, music and culture. There is an ongoing mixed martial arts comic called PRIZE which I write and draw and every issue has an interview with a band i like or someone I find fascinating. Usually it is written, illustrated, photographed and laid out by myself. The latest issue though I tried something new and had seven of my friends involved from doing comics to writing articles. Mathew Digges, Plex Lowery, Cole Case, Stephen Platt and Daniel Kusunoki all wrote and drew their own short comics. Jay Tan wrote an article on the connectedness of Japanese pro wrestling and mixed martial arts. In general people can expect to read comics both serious and humorous, learn about some rockin’ music and maybe read an interview with one of the most dangerous heavyweight fighters in the world.

SUPERHERO: When did you start DRUNKEN MASTER? What was it that inspired you to start DRUNKEN MASTER?

KN: I just always enjoyed making comics and writing. I started making comic zines in jr. high school, then DM zine at the end of art school. Back in 1999 comics publishers weren't exactly knocking on my door but it wasn't like I was just going to sit on my ass and wait for them to throw a job at me so I started xeroxing my comics and articles and giving it to friends just like in jr. high.

SUPERHERO: So do you think a 'zine or mini-comic is still a good way for creators to get their work out there to the masses?

KN: Absolutely! I think one of the best! Again, I know websites save paper but there is something really cool about meeting someone, making a new friend, and then physically handing or mailing them a copy of your zine. A little more personable then telling them to remember your URL or giving them a business card with your web info. If you want to appeal to comic book fans a printed zine is good because people recognize the format and that's one hurdle you just jumped so that people will be receptive to your work. You can hand write personal notes to people in printed zines and if you want to impress a cute girl you can do a sketch for her inside the zine. In the end, of course, you need good content and that's the bottom line no matter which medium you choose to use to get your stuff out there.

SUPERHERO: How do you decide exactly what’s going to go in each issue? Do you have a master plan or is it a fly by the seat of your pants enterprise?

KN: Each issue has a basic template. The main comics feature - Prize, the smaller comics features that include reprinting Won Ton Not Now that's run first in Razorcake zine, music reviews of what I'm listening to while making the issue and an interview. There is also a certain amount of tomfoolery that might include photos of cauliflower ears, self defense articles that may or may not work and maybe some found material that gets put on display. I guess yeah, I fly by the seat of my pants. Pretty much anything goes.

SUPERHERO: We were introduced to one another because of our mutual interest in comics…do you still read comics? If so, what are you reading? What comic artists (or just all around artists) are your favorites? Do you remember what got you interested in comics?

KN: I don't read mainstream comics like I used to but I'm sure there are a lot of great books out there. Recently some of the stuff I have read are CRICKETS by Sammy Harkham, UPTIGHT by Jordan Crane, GOGO MONSTER by Taiyo Matsumoto, PARKER book two by Darwyn Cooke, DOING TIME by Kazuichi Hanawa, 2001 NIGHTS by Yukinobu Hoshino and I've always been a fan of everything put out by 2000 AD especially during the late eighties and early nineties. Some of my favorite comics creators and artists are the Los Bros Hernandez, Jack Kirby, Gary Panter, Harvey Kurtzman, Raymond Pettibon, Manuel Ocampo, Mark Todd, Esther Pearl Watson, Colin Burns, Muñoz and I'm sure there are a lot more that I will slap my forehead for not remembering at this moment. I've been interested in comics for as long as I can remember. I never really outgrew them like most sensible people eventually do. It's just now I'm fascinated by the craft of making them more than keeping up with current story lines.

SUPERHERO: Do you read other ‘zines? If so, which ones?

KN: There are so many good zines out there being made! Luster Kaboom always makes amazing comic zines, his latest being A COMIC BOMB, Mark Todd and Esther Pearl Watson made some hilarious new ones called Nubbin & Nutz and BLOOD LADY COMMANDOS!, anything made by Lisa Hanawalt is usually brilliant at minimum, Doppleganger by Tom Neely, Kung Fu Grip, Awesome Hospital, Nineteen Eighty Five, Razorcake and whatever I get traded at conventions.

SUPERHERO: Where can someone get these mysterious 'zines? Only at conventions? Are there some "GASP" websites where people can find this stuff?

KN: Ha ha! There used to be a whole underground culture of zine trading that used the postal service. I know it's still around but not like it used to be. I get most of my zines at conventions only because that is when I make myself available to the community. Cool comic stores and book stores usually have a zine section, but it's just usually small and easy to miss if you're not looking for it. Magazines that are a bit off the beaten path, like GIANT ROBOT or RAZORCAKE, often have zine reviews. Zine reviews usually include contact and ordering info. These days people use the internet to post and read reviews about zines. Some of the more popular web sites are Fact Sheet 5 and Zine world; interestingly they used to be printed books before the whole internet revolution.

SUPERHERO: What are some of your other interests? You cover a lot of different stuff in DM…what’s some of your favorite music? Movies? Etc?

KN: I like raising my kids. I like MMA, exploring bars, rock, punk and metal. I like a lot of different music actually. I can't think of any particular genre of music that I can't find something interesting about. Some bands I like off the top of my head are Fugazi, The Immortal Lee County Killers, Murder City Devils, AC/DC, Social Distortion, James Intveld, Darren Stout, Johnny Cash, Acid Mothers Temple, Thug Murder, Ulver, Mastodon, Iron Maiden, Motorhead, Dillinger Four, Toys That Kill, Hex Dispensers, Young Offenders, Sid Brown, The Clash, Black Sabbath, David Lee Roth era Van Halen, Eric B. and Rakim, Run DMC, The Fat Boys, Wu Tang Clan, Wild Billy Childish, U.S. Bombs, The Shangri-Las, The Wiggles (I have kids), The Cramps, Bolt Thrower, The Monks, La Gritona, Demander, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Toxic Holocaust, 400 Blows, John Gold, Detroit Cobras, Venom, X-Ray Specs, Lucinda Williams and on and on...

Movies? Again a wide range from the worst B-grade to art house. Inframan, Rashomon, Road Warrior, Mad Max, The Story Of Riki-Oh, the films of Wes Anderson, Death Race (the original with David Carradine), Saviour of the Soul, Master of the Flying Guillotine, Five Deadly Venoms, Infernal Affairs, Pink Panther movies with Peter Sellers, Black Caeser, Fight Club, Halloween, Evil Dead (all of them), Blade Runner, Zardoz, Wizards, Logan's Run, Quest For Fire, both Drunken Master films with Jackie Chan, the films of The Marx Bros, the films of David Lynch, westerns, spaghetti westerns, Hong Kong cinema, war films and on and on.

SUPERHERO: What was the best album you've listened to in the last six months? The best movie? The best comic?

KN: Last six months? That's so hard to say depending on what I'm doing at the time. Maybe, uuuhhh,the Hex Dispensers album “Winchester Mystery House”. Best movie mmmm Kamikaze Girls. Best comic hhrrrmm 2001 Nights by Yukinobu Hoshino.

SUPERHERO: I know you sell your wares at a lot of cons…what’s your perception of the modern day con circuit? Has it changed much since you first started? Is it still viable for artists outside of the mainstream?

KN: I only do West Coast conventions so it's hard for me to say for sure. San Diego Comic Con seems to have changed a lot since I first started exhibiting there. It seems more about Hollywood, glitz, glamour and movie celebrities. TV networks and movie promotions seem to spend a lot of money to capture everyone's attention. The clientele also seems to have changed. I remember it used to be such a great geek getaway. Now a lot of the people just don't seem to be interested in zines especially if it isn't being made into a major motion picture or have some sort cross promotional merchandise tie in. In total honesty a lot of people come to my table and just ask if my stuff is free and when I reply it's for sale they walk away. These are the people whose names will not be written in the Book of Eternal Life. I still like APE and I hear there are other so cal conventions coming up that are supposed to be good. I look forward to checking them out when I can.

SUPERHERO: So what appearances will you specifically be making this year?

KN: This year I exhibited at San Diego Comic Con last July; I will also be exhibiting at APE in San Francisco this October. I am also working on having a drawing/issue release event at Giant Robot in LA but I have not nailed down a date yet. Keep your eyes and ears open for the Giant Robot event.

SUPERHERO: Any big future plans for DRUNKEN MASTER? Or just in general? How long do you plan to continue the ‘zine?

KN: I love to make zines. I love to make comics. If I'm not making these sorts of things for someone professionally then I will be making them for myself. No end in sight, I guess. If I have any big plans for the near future it's to finish the serialized comic PRIZE that I began years ago in issue 7 and wrap it up by issue 13 then I would like to have it all collected in a trade paperback book. If there is anyone interested in taking care of publishing such an awesome win win project please let me know. Another general goal I have for DM zine is to get better distribution. Does Diamond even carry zines? I wish I could get it in more stores and shops. People need this!

SUPERHERO: OK, so how can people get YOUR 'zine????

KN: In southern California you can get DM zine at stores like Meltdown, Golden Apple, House of Secrets, Secret Headquarters, Comics Factory and Skylight Books. Of course, my zines are always available on my etsy store.

SUPERHERO: So there you go! Hopefully this interview will get some people out there interested in machining their own ‘zines! Maybe print isn’t dead yet! But even if it is…get over to Kiyoshi’s Etsy store and get yourself a copy of the latest DRUNKEN MASTER ‘zine! If you’re a fan of unique things you’ll be glad you did!

Editing, compiling, imaging, coding, logos & cat-wrangling by Ambush Bug
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G
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