December 1, 2022

Column: New literary magazine, The Mission, debuts here

At the age of 14, Igor Goldkind met one of his author idols, Ray Bradbury, early one morning by the pool at the El Cortez hotel.

It was 1974, and the young comic book lover had been hired as a gofer for San Diego Comic-Con in his third coming-of-age year at the hotel.

The chance encounter that day nearly 50 years ago left a lasting impression on the boy.

“Mr. Bradbury,” he asked respectfully, “how could I become a writer like you?

The literary giant, dressed in a vanilla ice cream-colored suit topped with a panama hat, smiled and replied, “You have to choose the name well first. It’s not about being a writer, it’s about being a re-writer, because that’s what you’re going to do. »

The author of “The Martian Chronicles” and a host of sci-fi books and short stories has gone on to tell his young admirer that his profession is one of continuous submissions, rejections and rewrites.

This did not discourage his teenage disciple. A few years later, Goldkind was working at Titan Books in England, and he had a long career that encompassed both the business and creative side of comics, graphic novels, poetry, prose and publishing. .

Goldkind was back late last month at Comic-Con International, where his passion had been stoked nearly 50 years earlier. This time, he orchestrates a panel of prominent writers and intellectual heavyweights, many from San Diego, who help create a literary periodical.

They are on a mission to shine a spotlight on poetry, prose, comics and graphic arts as anxiety and stress relief, a mental retreat from politics, a doorway to culture and a drug of wellness for the inquisitive minds of young people – and anyone else.

They simply call their passion project and periodical The Mission.

And they are shamelessly on a mission.

“It’s really a movement, not a political one, but a social movement where art is trying to take responsibility for where we are as a society and trying to make it better,” says Goldkind.

“We all recognize that there is a problem right now,” he added, citing homelessness, depression and the psychological and social effects of the pandemic. “In times of crisis, people turned to the arts. We don’t think Netflix will have the answers for anyone. We think Shakespeare, Auden, Walt Whitman and Homer have answers.

Among the magazine’s contributors on stage at the Comic-Con panel at the Omni San Diego Hotel were poets, writers and teachers: Alex Bosworth, Chris Ernest Nelson, Christophver R (his legal name), Curran Jeffrey, Deborah Ramos, Miles Krogfus and, of course, Goldkind.

The result of their efforts is a slick new monthly literary periodical – a premium compendium of original poetry, prose, graphic arts, photography, cartoons, comics, artist reviews and articles. local, national and globally recognized.

Goldkind describes this periodical as a cross between MAD Magazine and The Paris Review.

It will be complemented by a website, The Mission Channel, which mirrors the magazine and expands the expressive arts experience with animation, video and audio, as authors read their words and exhibit their works.

What’s to come is a literary hybrid brimming with innovation – for example, the words of a poem are integrated into an artist’s graphic design and the poems turn into comic strips.

In this illustration from the draft of “The Mission” magazine, the words of a poem are embedded in colorful graphics.

(Courtesy of Mission Arts, LLC)

Goldkind, who is the publisher, had hoped to premiere an abridged version at Comic-Con, but the release was postponed, in part because cast details were still being worked out.

The Mission is expected to be available in bookstores, specialty stores and newsstands.

The release date is now set for mid-September with a launch event held at Balboa Park Club.

The magazine, detailed on the website, will cost consumers less than $8, Goldkind promises, with the expanded online subscription content designed to be the financial force that supports publication costs. Contributors will be paid, but only a token amount as this is a business of the heart and soul – not the wallet.

A heavyweight contributor, British author Neil Gaiman, was at Comic-Con and was scheduled to give a lecture during the July 23 panel. Instead, he had to tape his poetry recitation because the time was too close to his appearance at “The Sandman” sign in Concourse H across the street, and security was an issue.

Gaiman has written ‘The Sandman’ graphic novels published by DC Comics and is the executive producer for Warner Bros.’ 10-episode Netflix series “Sandman” which debuted on August 5.

Although Goldkind is a spokesperson for the panel, he stresses that this is not his project, but rather a group collaboration.

The magazine’s poetry editor, Deborah Ramos, is well known in local literary circles, having long held monthly Sunday poetry readings at Balboa Park’s Cypress Grove picnic area near Quince Street and Sixth Ave.

“I’m looking for good poetry — solid work that you’d want to read over and over again,” says Ramos, who is particularly keen to ensure representation of women’s voices. “The concept is amazing,” she says of the magazine, “and I would love to see it succeed.”

Christophver R, who has two poems in the first issue, hosts free readings in Balboa Park, called The Poetry Party, on the first Friday of the month, as well as improvisation workshops, “Otherwise Improvise”, every other Wednesday in the park. He helped found the San Diego Repertory Theater.

Panelist Curran Jeffrey, who arrived on the San Diego art scene in 1994, spoke of a small but very active poetic community here. The “San Diego Poetry Annual” founded by Bill Harding “has become one of the most respected regional anthologies in the country,” says Jeffrey, and San Diego Writers, Ink offers classes and workshops for a range of arts levels. literary.

Comic-Con attendees are now planning to take their show on the road — creating a traveling literary panel that would stop in different cities, connect with local poets, and invite them to participate in public readings. Goldkind compares it to a spoken version of Bob Dylan’s “Rolling Thunder Revue” concert tour.

In San Diego, they are collaborating with city and county library branches to present poetry recitations and mini-versions of the Comic-Con 2022 panel.

The Mission founders, who consider themselves missionaries of the arts, are also planning a special edition and panel for next year’s Comic-Con. After all, comic book confab has grown to encompass a wide variety of artistic expressions – why not poetry readings?