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Beltane 2009
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the anticraft > archive > Attack of the Merkins (Run! Scream! Hide! Die!)

Beltane 2009

Issue the Fifteenth: Attack of the Merkins
by Zabet Stewart

Originally we were shooting for a release date of April 1, which we figured meant no one would believe an entire issue full of merkins. I was thinking of calling it Are You Kidding Me? and leaving vague hints that it was all a huge joke and then—punchline!—of course it wouldn't be. In the end, production troubles pushed us past the April Fools prank, which truly is a tragedy.

This has been a difficult issue from start to finish. As I write (and rewrite and rewrite) this letter, it's not yet finished, but I can't say that I anticipate things going any more smoothly between now and publication.

First we lost our way on the theme. We had a good theme, an excellent theme that we will no doubt revisit once we find a way to keep it from getting smarmy.1 At the last minute2 we had a happy convergence of brainwaves and settled on merkins. The projects would be small and quick and the opportunities for puns were seemingly endless.

Except they weren't quick. Some were quicker than others, but we lost at least two designers in the time crunch. I was one of them. Then, obviously, we needed a model. Our own Anthony stepped up to the challenge.3 The only problem was that I had all the merkins and he lives more than a thousand miles away. This was with four days to go.

Of the designers who did survive, I had 17 projects for a 'zine that was designed for no more than 15. My previous assertion that there would be no more 15-project issues because they were such a huge pain in the ass and that henceforth issues would contain no more than 10 projects loomed over my shoulder. Cutting had to happen. I was flashing back to me and Ne having to create a shortlist for our publisher from all the fabulous projects submitted for the book.

Cutting sucks. It's depressing. I compiled huge mental lists of pros and cons for each project. I literally took hours to make decisions. I finally gave up after losing two projects. Behold the forbidden 15-project issue: child of my sleep deprived mind or overly elaborate April Fools joke on myself?

One bright spot in production has been Philip Castlen's offer to do cover art for the issue. What you see on the front page is only about 1/8 of the actual piece he did, maybe less, so be sure to check out this issue's focus on the cover art for a full-size image.

Still don't know what a merkin is? Click already, sheesh!

Ever onward,

1Fuck smarm, I say! No smarm!
240 days outóbelieve me that is "last minute" when you are wrangling ten people across four time zones.
3The very same Anthony who said to me, "When you flash half the city your wing-wong, you tend to lose your shame fairly quickly." Though you can't see them in any of the photos, I am convinced he has the biggest, brassiest balls of anyone I know.