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   Now in our eleventh calendar year
    PCR #515  (Vol. 11, No. 6)  This edition is for the week of February 1--7, 2010.

"Dear John"  by Mike Smith
I Talked With A Zombie: The Seth Sklarey Interview  by ED Tucker
The Top 30 Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror Actresses, #8-6  by Lisa Scherer
Remembering Asian Pop Culture Magazines  by Jason Fetters
My Ten Favorite Hip-Hop Films  by John Miller
Heading South .... History .... Movie Notes .... Passing On .... .... .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf by Mike Smith

Remembering Asian Pop Culture Magazines

In this new age where print magazines are a dying breed and before the Internet finally wins out, I wish to celebrate some of the magazines that started me on the path of Asian Pop Culture fandom.

Growing up as a kid in the 70’s and 80’s, Horror and Sci Fi magazines where everywhere and easy to purchase at any grocery store’s magazine area. However, magazines about Asian movies were rare and required extra brainwork to locate and obtain in that bygone era with no Internet.

The first magazine that really got me hooked in Samurai cinema and all things Japanese and Chinese was given to me as a gift. My stepfather was a Food Broker who sold Italian foods to different Italian restaurants and cafes throughout Florida. He even sold mozzarella cheese to Castellano’s, an Italian Market on Henderson Blvd in South Tampa. Through my stepfather I met one of his business partners, a Korean who I remember as Mr. Kim. Kim owned and operated the Red Apple restaurant on Dale Mabry just past the Publix on Neptune. The Red Apple was a popular place for breakfast and family lunches and dinners back in the 80’s. Anyway, Kim gave me a couple of Bruce Lee magazines and one magazine that really made an impact on me.

I spent an entire Saturday afternoon reading Inside Kung-Fu Presents: Martial Arts Movies the first issue published in 1980. The world of Asian entertainment was led out with that reliable roadmap. I read the whole issue from cover to cover and learned about Chanbara, a type of Samurai film that is action-oriented and leaves serious subject matters to the jidai eki (period films.) Chanbara refers to the sound of two swords clashing together. As a result Chanbara films are a lot of fun to watch and include the old Zatoichi series from the 60’s. Another article talked about Chuck Norris and his, (at that time) upcoming role in The Octagon where Norris battles against the Ninja in modern day American. The highlight of that issue was the cover story on Jackie Chan and his quest to become Bruce Lee’s successor. Another article interviewed Enter the Dragon producer Fred Weintraub, who was heavily marketing his new product, Jackie Chan, throughout the interview.

That magazine led me to Inside Kung-Fu and Ric Meyers’ Martial Arts in Movies column. Horror magazines had Chas Balun and Forrest J. Ackerman but Asian movies didn’t have that distinct voice and style until Ric Meyers came along.

Meyers started out working on comic books and was talked into going to see a Jackie Chan movie playing at the local cinema across the street, by Larry Hama and Linda Sampson. Immediately he began studying Asian movies and went on to write books and columns. He has interviewed most of the famous Hong Kong stars out there and he influenced me with his dedication to Asian Cult films.

Inside Kung-Fu had only one maybe two articles on movies per issue and that was OK until Damon Foster created Oriental Cinema that was entirely devoted to Asian Pop Culture. I can still remember laughing out loud to this example of Foster’s wit when I read, “more fat cells than a Star Trek Convention.” Besides, Hong Kong action, there was Ultraman, Ultraseven, and the Kaman Riders from tokusatsu or special effects TV, Godzilla coverage, and the occasional look at anime. I noticed that Asian entertainment mentioned in magazines started out with martial arts movies using real people to gradually changing over to animation and being artificial.

In the 90’s, several short-lived magazines were devoted to Hong Kong action cinema like Hong Kong Film Connection that always featured great writers and articles. Magazines like Hong Kong Film Connection seemed to come and go and would just vanish without a trace. One day I would be picking up the latest issue at Merlin’s Comics near USF, (now gone), and the next month the magazine would just vanish. In the age of the Internet, the fans can continue longer.

When I started learning Japanese in college, I found Mangajin that taught basic Japanese language skills through comics. On one side was the original Japanese text and on the other a quality English translation with detailed notes to make sure the reader got the jokes. I fondly remember one issue with an article on Japanese movies. As much as I liked all the action found in Samurai and Ninja movies, sometimes it is nice to watch a drama or comedy or something that the Japanese actually enjoy. The main article was called "Japan Goes to the Movies" and gave me a short and concise look that was well written.

For the anime and manga fan there was Animerica that was entirely devoted to just that, unlike all the live-action entertainment written about Oriental Cinema. My main problem with Animerica was that there were lots of sell ads trying to get you to go out and buy expensive videotapes. However, the articles, comics, and reviews were generally good for the mid-90’s.

My favorite anime/manga magazine from that era was definitely Protoculture Addicts that had fewer ads and better writers. Some of the articles included character reference guides, episode guides, Jpop CD reviews, and excellent videotape reviews that easily beat out all the other anime magazines written in English. A big plus for me was all the attention to Robotech that would appear every so often.

There is only one magazine that has managed to extend its shelf life beyond a couple of issues and that honor goes to Giant Robot. All types of Asian entertainment from movies, TV, music are included, as well as cool places to see in Asia, Asian foods, reviews of drinks, fashion, and anything you could possibly want to know about Asian. Publisher Eric Nakamura has beaten the odds and offered a fun magazine that is not afraid to cover everything from cool toys to cutting-edge artists to sex, and even social problems like drug-trafficking in Southeast Asian and the all the dead bodies discussed by one journalist vacationing in Cambodia. Giant Robot features such a wide range of topics that I never get bored with each new issue.

That is all for Asian Pop Culture magazines that I have enjoyed throughout the years. I decided to concentrate on those magazines published in English and will write another article on Japanese magazines sometime in the future.

Part of me does not want to see print go away. I would still rather hole up at home with something in my hands with beautiful glossy pictures and engaging text to read on any given Saturday afternoon.

"The Asian Aperture" is ©2010 by Jason Fetters.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2010 by Nolan B. Canova.