Paping: The Teacher’s Edition: By John Mejias, 80 pgs. By Keith

God, this thing is wonderful. Absolutely awesome. See also: hilarious, admirable, moving, aesthetically stunning, but mostly, yeah, just straight-up awesome. Mejias is an elementary school art teacher working in the Brooklyn public school system. Paping is a collection of the first eight issues of his zine of the same name. And it’s just stunning, all across the board. Visually, it’s incredible—silk-screened covers, inner pages beautifully offset in blue ink, gorgeous halftones. The best part is that while Mejias occasionally incorporates collage or what looks like linocuts in his work, for the most, part his drawing style (which is fully-realized and absolutely consistent) is comparable to Picasso—if the guy’d grown up on a heavy diet of underground comics and Los Crudos. Just the way he draws people is innately crazed and weird looking—it’s a joy to look at— and when you couple that with the fact that half the time he’s drawing his students, who say awesome things like, “That President. I never met anyone like that,” and “I made up a good song: Sexa bexa sexacha. Gimme money,” it’s just hilarious. For lack of a better reference, it could be comparable to Dave Roche’s On Subbing zine—there are so many similarities: struggling with the balance between trying to do right by students within an intrinsically fucked administrative framework that relies heavy on outmoded and ineffective test scores. The difference is that Paping is presented within a visual medium, but with both zines, the dedication, commitment, and care about the kids they work with is just so apparent. Anyone interested in education should grab this up for the times when inspiration may be getting lean (as well as the fact that these are, at their core, wonderful stories), and fans of comic zines should also consider taking this one home, because Mejias’ art is really spectacular and wholly individual. Paping is just a flat-out beautiful piece of work. –Keith Rosson (Paping, 60 St. Marks Place Apt. 4, NY, NY10003)