Late 1990′s / Early 2000′s New England was a hot bed for interesting zines and ephemera and this weird thing is one of the more unique examples. It was picked up at the long defunct Providence location of Million Year Picnic, one of the best comic shops I’ve had the pleasure of frequenting, in the spring of 2002 if my memory serves correct. The original Cambridge, Massachusetts location of Million Year Picnic is still going strong but during the early 2000′s the two stores played an important role in spreading some of the ideas that were developing in Providence (most notably through Fort Thunder) and in Massachusetts (most notably through Paperrad). Zines from Providence would make their way to Boston and vice versa resulting in a symbiotic exchange of ideas, not unlike a contemporary version of Braque and Picasso.
This zine is really a bag of loose ends. A FedEx mailing envelope decorated with prints, stencils, and collage, stuffed full of who know’s what. Each individual copy was unique, most likely varying greatly in contents. This copy contains 21 separate pieces not counting the envelope and features some usual suspects such as Ben Jones, Joe Grillo, Mat Brinkman, Jim Drain (seen below doubled up accidentally or purposely) as well as some familiar and unfamiliar styles I’ve never been able to attribute.
Included in this pile is what appears to be MassArt Newspaper #1 (though it’s also labeled #7), which from my understanding was the first output of Paperrad, even predating the use of the name. Published every other month, six issues constituted a calendar year so if this is issue 7 then it gets even more confusing as I’ve always thought there were only six issues.
Confusing is par for the course when it comes to these zines. Papaerrad were incredibly prolific in their run as a collective and much of the history is hearsay and speculation. The complete list of Paperrad participants is a discussion unto itself. Some of the other sheets are naive childlike drawings and scribbled coloring book pages who’s origin again are unknown to me.
Perhaps my favorite pieces are this 3 page unbound Simpson’s comic by Ben Jones called The Neverending Gory. I’ve never seen this story printed elsewhere outside this package of scraps and it really begs the question of how much else is out there and will it ever be seen by the masses. When I picked this up fourteen years ago there were maybe four other copies available at the shop. Who know’s how many exist total and if compiling a complete Paperrad collection is even possible. To me it’s exciting to not know the answers to those questions in this day and age. But if you can shed any more light on this topic I encourage you to do so in the comments.