It really was “The World’s Finest APA”!

APA-5logoThis month marks the tenth anniversary of my last “Larry’s Kitchen” zine as a part of APA-5, the world’s finest APA!

An APA (or Amateur Press Association, for those of you who don’t know) is a group where individual members create their own zine, send it to a central mailer who assembles them all into a single publication and redistributes it to the members for comment and enjoyment. APA-5 was a great environment for me at a time when I felt disconnected from other cartoonists, and wanted feedback on my work. For over seven years I was an active part of this group of amazing creators, including Drew Boynton, JB Winter, Larned Justin, Mike Leuszler, Michael Munshaw, Brien Wayne Powell, Dan Lauer, Tom Davidson, Steve Willhite, and others.

I was happy with much of the work I created while in APA-5, and enjoyed it as a venue to share work in progress with other creators for feedback. In the years before social media posts and “likes” became the accepted way to interact online, we were able to get into meaty discussions and give thoughtful critiques of work in the pages of APA-5. As it became easier to communicate virtually it took its toll on that level of discussion, and it soon felt like the writing was on the wall for not only APA-5, but a few years later to the Small Press Syndicate’s Rap Sheet as well. While I was only able to get in on the tail end of the storied histories of both APA-5 and the SPS, I treasure the time I was able to spend as part of those groups. Not only for the improvement it brought to my work and my work ethic, but for its sense of camaraderie with fellow creators, many of whom I still collaborate with from time to time today.

The work in my 77 “Larry’s Kitchen” zines (+ assorted jams and other projects) remains largely unscanned, and unshared beyond the active membership at the time. In fact, that was one of the reasons that I moved Larry’s Kitchen into its own freestanding digest format comic in 2006– so I could share it more widely, to creators and readers not part of the group. Unfortunately, my situation at work changed, and after two more issues I didn’t have the time to commit to both Larry’s Kitchen and my Watusi projects. One had to go, but I think I chose wisely.

Of course, APA-5 had been going strong for over a quarter of a century before I joined and it went on for a number of issues without me. Among its storied roster of past members are names familiar to fans of comics and television: Mark Verheiden (who founded the group in 1972), Paul Chadwick, Frank Miller, Chris Warner, Randy Emberlin, Cliff Biggers (Comic Shop News), Mike Richardson, Tak Toyoshima (“Secret Asian Man”), Bill Nichols, Sheila Wilding, Robin Ator, Brad Kurtz, Mark Badger, Michael Monasmith, and many, many more.

While APA-5 as I knew it may be gone, it exists online here and here, and carries on in spirit in the pages of T. Davidson’s Fiver Fun Comics. Below are glimpses from a few of my favorite APA-5 moments from 1998-2006…

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6 Comments to “It really was “The World’s Finest APA”!”

  1. I kinda miss APAs too.

    • They were nice, weren’t they? I know “Cartoon Loonacy” is still out there doing well … but with my track record of groups closing down while I’m involved, I’m kind of afraid to join!

  2. Thanks for sharing some of your artwork, Dale! I’ve always been curious about some of the work you did for APA-5 and now I know a little bit more! Loved your Gilligan-Jeannie drawing! And I know it’s probably a long shot, but I still hope there may be another new issue of Larry’s Kitchen someday!

    • I’m hoping it’s not such a long shot, since I have some more comics (both ideas and completed) that wouldn’t really fit into Watusi issues. Time will tell…

  3. I was in the MZS-APA at about the same time you were in APA-5 – from Oct. 1998 through Feb. 2007 (101 months), with a pair of one-shots in Dec. of 2011 and 2012, before the MZS-APA folded. My last regular issue (#115, in Feb. 2007) used your sketchbook illustration of Spider-Girl as its cover art.

    Like you, most of my APA stuff is unscanned, although I still have all the original pages, so I could scan them just about any time. It’s a future project, for when that mythical “free time” shows up. An independent comic publisher I know is trying to convince me to publish all of my zines as a single volume softcover – or maybe a couple volumes, based on page counts (there was a period where I averaged 40 pages a month for about 18 months, and there was a tradition that your 100th issue had to have 100 pages, and mine did) – partly because he wants to be able to read them, and partly to preserve a small piece of comic fandom history. I saved a couple of smaller issues of the MZS-APA (like the issue #200 special), and a few covers, but all the rest went into a recycling bin a few years ago. I had thought of donating them to a library, like Michigan State that has a great comics archive, but I ran out of space and time before I could do that, so into the recycle bin they went. I still regret that, but they took almost an entire 4-drawer file cabinet. What I have left fits in about half of one file drawer.

    • I think a collection of THWIP! could be a lot of fun. And with an audience of old school Spidey fans out there, it would probably find readers, too.

      I donated a batch of old APA-5s from before my time in the group (I’d acquired them from a past CM) to Michigan State, and they were really appreciative. My remaining issues and originals fill about a legal size file cabinet drawer. Once my own “free time” scanning project is done, I’ll probably do the same with those issues. It’s been a lot of stuff to move around during our recent moves, but it’s work I’m still not ready to let go of, I guess…

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