Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Heroes from Hackland

Occasionally, I run across a magazine that hasn’t much fanfare or presence online, or that has a very small circulation and so isn’t all that prevalent around ‘town’. These magazines range from excruciating, badly xeroxed zines with fuzzed-out text, to glossy covered journals with loads of fresh content and a unique yet accessible format. Over the last year, I’ve had a bit of contact with a magazine that I adore: Heroes from Hackland, edited by Mike Grogan, out of Arkadelphia, Arkansas.

I’d like to note that this post of mine shouldn’t be taken as a review, as I find myself only wanting to praise this excellent little magazine.

A Google search of this publication will turn up half a dozen pages, none of which describe or attribute much to it, other than listing its name as being in existence, or in someone’s publishing credits, etc... You won’t find it mentioned in many magazines, and you won’t find ads for it in accessible places. If it weren’t for a lonely, isolated entry in the Directory of Poetry Publishers a couple of years ago, I would have never run across it. Heroes from Hackland is a mid-sized magazine with very nice, full color covers. You’ll find between these covers a huge allotment of fetching material. There are poems, yes, many of which I have found captivating, as well as stories and some artwork. The overall theme of this publication seems to revolve around a nostalgia for previous realms of americana: The Lone Ranger, singing cowboys, early television and radio broadcasts... Reading it brings to mind a way things were portrayed long ago, a more familial, friendly, and serial way. I can’t help but hear the sounds of Arch Obeler’s ‘Lights Out Everybody’ and Gene Autry’s surreal, smooth tones in songs like ‘Tumbling Tumbleweeds’, while reading through this magazine. Even a touch of early MAD magazine. The latter pages usually contain stories and vignettes by the editor, which can take the form of rampantly odd, fast, round-the-bend commentary with vivid language, or clearly felt, ringing pieces that describe some of the facets of American life. There are occasional reviews of movies, new and old, as well.

Grogan, I’d like to add, is a friendly and absorbing guy (he calls his Wal-Mart pharmacy and sings to them regularly). He also has a kind and generous view of poetry and the 20th century that both accords and replenishes would-be contributors. This editor is one of the very few that have actually called me on the phone to ask what I thought of an issue, which is both rare and touching. Anyone out there submitting poetry to magazines knows what I mean by this.

For anyone interested in a uniquely brandished read, and subscribing to a small magazine (circulation 300) with great potential, an intriguing style, and a long history, I’d highly recommend checking out Heroes from Hackland. It’s one of the few magazines I’ve come across for which I’ve thought: Why is there not more of this?

So, Christmas is coming and you’ve got a few bucks set aside for somebody. Send a neat mag to that drunken uncle instead of socks.

Subscription information:

Single copies $3.50 ppd, subs. $10.50, three issues
Contact M. Grogan, 1225 Evans, Arkadelphia, AR 71923

1 comment:

Holly said...

I thought you might want to know that Mr. Grogan died last Monday, just shy of 68 years old. He published his last magazine last fall.

As his neighbor and a contributor to the last issue, I had the pleasure of having many conversations with him. He was always engaging, and he would often serenade passersby.

His tombstone reads: "Humorist, poet, publisher, and writer; friend to all people." There is really no more fitting description of him.