Saturday, November 29, 2014
Why aren’t there more zines like Goat Boy?
A few months ago, I was lamenting to my BrisVegas comrade, Tamara Lazaroff, about the lack of esoteric zines produced by DIY defenders; a whine-fest that resulted in the formation of the panel Spiritual Conversations with Punks at the Zine and Independent Comics Symposium (ZICS) in August. Tamara’s involvement in establishing this panel included the arduous task of finding zinesters whose work is spiritually or esoterically themed. Not an easy feat considering that the zeitgeist dictates topics of a fluffy nature. So, it was a delight to acquire Goat Boy (as part of a trade with its creator, Animalbro) and to discover that it’s a zine dedicated to the Greek god, Pan.
For the uninitiated, Pan, in Greek and Roman mythology, is the god of nature, shepherds, hunting, and rustic music. He is linked to the Spring Equinox and fertility, and is an archetype of male virility and rugged sexuality. His physical attributes – legs and horns of a goat – classify him as a faun or a satyr in art and literature and allot him the astrological sign of Capricorn. The Christianisation of Greek and Roman mythology marred Pan as the personification of Satan or Evil; an association highly popular in Victorian and Edwardian Neopaganism. Hence, his connection with the Devil card in the Major Arcana of traditional Tarot decks such as Rider-Waite-Smith.
Goat Boy is an old school zine. A straightforward, sixteen-page, black and white job, it doesn’t depend on glossy or pretentious production techniques to impress the reader because it contains a unique selling point: substance. The zine is a measured balance of text and images. It’s well written and loaded with narratives from various cultures, subcultures, and civilizations. The illustration selection displays the many interpretations of Pan by artists such as Sydney Long, Mikhail Vrubel, and Animalbro herself. Included are diagrams of the physical components that configure Pan, such as horns, hair, human and goat DNA, and the interconnectedness of these parts to the natural cycles and to the Divine.
The most surprising thing for me, though, was to discover that the American comedian, Bill Hicks, propagated (if that is the correct word) the concept of ‘Goat Boy’. His posthumous book, Love All the People: Letters, Lyrics and Routines of Bill Hicks (2004), contains evidence of this. The hero of the zine’s title is Bill Hicks’ version of Pan: a randy but good-natured goat through which Hicks celebrates his own irrepressible libido.
It’s refreshing to encounter a zine like Goat Boy amid the plethora of great nothingness that dominates modern zine culture. I hope Animalbro continues to create work of this caliber, and that it reaches a wide audience. She deserves the accolades. You can purchase Goat Boy and other works by Animalbro at animalbro.etsy.com and girlnearsighted.blogspot.com.