So, Weird Mask #4 has been out for a little while, but I have finally gotten around to reading it. Millhaven responsibilities being what they are, I had completely forgotten I had ordered this issue of the zine and came across it this past weekend. I ordered this issue for two reasons..
The first being, I grew up immersed in the D.I.Y. zine culture of the eighties. I have to admit, the zines I read and participated in producing (these never lasted…if they even lasted one issue it was a feat) were music focused. From punk rock to hardcore through to indie 4-track home recordings. I love the rough, photocopied, stapled look of the zine…holy nostalgia!
The second reason was a story from regular Millhaven contributor, J. Manfred Weichsel. While it’s true his first published story was in our very own “Millhaven’s Tales of Wonder”, it in no way influences my opinion of his work. I chose that story for a reason…it was a great throw-back story to 1950’s flying saucer films. Since then, Weichsel has had multiple stories published and he is a great author to go to for old-school-style adventures. I know of no one capturing the essence of planetary romance/sword and planet/lost worlds adventures like he does. He pays homage to the classics while creating new and fascinating worlds. Working with him on multiple projects over the past year has given me this insight: You never know what you are going to get, but it is going to have a classic feel to it, be a little weird, and chock full of action. His story here, “The Garden of Prince Shi-Wiwi” is no different. My personal favorite in the collection.
Now, to the rest of the zine:
It opens with the first part of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic “A Princess of Mars”. I don’t think there is a need to cover the actual story…odds are the reader was well aware of how amazing and important the story is before they purchased the zine. I like the serialized idea better than the actual result. Having read the book (more than once), I just skipped right over it…
Next up is “Fight Night” (Part 4) by Matt Wall. I don’t know if it is any good or not, because I skipped it since I hadn’t read the first three parts (A problem with serialization rears its head). I also skipped “Where Am I” by B.L. Koller because it was the first part of the serialized story and I didn’t want to invest in something I would not be able to finish (I’ll read it when I get the completed story through future issues…which I will do).
The other standout story in the issue is “Angel: A Hank Bradshaw Short Story” by Mick Hunter. I am unfamiliar with the author or the character, but judging by the subtitle, it is a running character. The author is taking the Chandler/Hammett hard-boiled route with his Marlowe/Continental Op lead character, but drops him in the middle of a ridiculous case. Hunter is able to pull off the hard-boiled angle for the most part. Of course, I’m a sucker for tough-guy first person narratives.
I was not a fan of every story, but I still can’t recommend this zine enough. From the D.I.Y. aesthetic to the mostly great stories…go out and pick up an issue now…you won’t be disappointed.
You can get one (or all) here: Weird Mask