January 5, 2022By Christine Pasalo Norland

Inside Our Premiere Zine

Our premiere zine "Isang Mahal" is a tangible record of Hello Barkada in 2021 and a collection of original written and illustrated works never before published.


The artists featured in 2021 anchor Hello Barkada's first offering as a micro-press. Over half of the zine's 16 pages is filled with their insight and work, including:

  • The first print reproductions of the comic strips "Family" by Maxi Rodriguez, "Family Reunions" by Angel Trazo, "To My Husband" by Tatum Begay, and "Changing Love Languages" by Breena Nuñez.

  • The profiles on Trinidad Escobar and Laneha House founders Lawrence Lindell and Breena Nuñez.

  • Talking head illustrations of, and quotes by, cartoonists Barbara Brandon-Croft, Bianca Xunise, and Steenz from last October's panel, "Celebrating Jackie Ormes."


Interspersed among their voices and contributions are original works I created in the spirit of the issue's title ("one love" in Tagalog), such as:

  • "Connections," a single-panel cartoon about seeing oneself in art;

  • "ready," a poem about personal agency;

  • "unsettled," a poem about moving through uncertainty;

  • "The Pines," an illustration and haiku inspired by a hike I took last Fall in Yuhaviaat (aka Big Bear); and,

  • "I call upon," an illustration sharing my memories of each of my late grandparents, whose energy and hope I continue to draw on as I carry Hello Barkada into a new year.


Exclusive to the zine is a new memoir essay called "In Minor," a title I landed on just days before I prepared the final proof. The essay reflects on an aspect of my relationship with my dad while also speaking to my experience of growing up Filipina American and as a child of immigrants/first-generation Americans from the Philippines.


Drafting the essay came easy. Shaping it was rough. Coming up with a title was roughest. For weeks, it had no name. "Zine essay" served as my title placeholder because the organization tick in me (anxiety?) can't move into drafting the body of an essay until I've listed a title in bold orange at the top of the document.


Then, last week, I began reading "Minor Feelings" by Cathy Park Hong. Inhaled it, really (I finished it yesterday). While references to various authors, art and writing movements, poetry techniques, and art class practices momentarily left me out of the huddle, Hong's investigation of the feelings she's experienced and continues to experience as an Asian American woman hit hard. We are no monolith. I don't pretend that we even stand in parallel, least of which artistically. But I came away from her debut prose work with mental and emotional tethers. In deciding to call my essay "In Minor," I formed a concrete one.


Produced in black and white, "Isang Mahal" is set at $9 before shipping and can be purchased from the Hello Barkada Ko-Fi shop. Only 100 copies will be sold in its first run. Close to half of the overall profits will be used to pay royalties to Rodriguez, Trazo, Begay, and Nuñez, and the bulk of the remainder will be earmarked to fund artist opportunities in 2023.


I'm grateful to artist Sharon Lee De La Cruz for answering my questions about paper weights, and the first four barkada who purchased a copy of the zine! Buy yourself or a friend a copy today!


TAGS: ART NEWS, COMICS, ESSAYS, PROFILES

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White text says, "Allowed with Karen Alleluia. On Tuesday, September 27, 2022 at 1:00 p.m. PT, join @HelloBarkada on IG Live as we celebrate and chat with San Diego-based Filipina American illustrator Karen Alleluia about her work and her brand kluia co." Text on a darkened photo of Alleluia working her studio. Photo by Sage Timog.