Growing up, I was a little punk rocker with a bad, green haircut. I got through middle school — e.g. the worst period in any child’s life — thanks to NOFX’s live album, “I Heard They Suck Live”. The first time I slapped that baby into my Discman, it was like everything came into focus. I learned that you don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to take everything so seriously. You can do whatever it is you love without anyone else’s permission or approval.
The punk rock ethos — the magic bullet that helped me find self-esteem and stop hating life — extended beyond the musical medium and into print, in the form of the Zine. The do-it-yourself print periodical, usually in the form of half-fold, letter-sized, staple-bound photocopy booklets, was closely aligned with the punk rock scene in those days, although today the format seems to have proliferated far beyond the confines of that subculture and exists anywhere aspiring and resourceful analogue journalists have the initiative (and a job with a well-stocked, poorly-guarded Xerox machine).
Fast forward twenty years, and here I am writing a blog about pencils. Pencils! At first glance, that may not seem very punk rock, and the irony of opining about analogue writing tools in a decidedly non-analogue format is not at all lost on me. Thankfully, fellow pencil lover (and, I’m proud to say, Triple-P reader) Ed has managed to resolve these contradictions by publishing the Pencil of the Week Zine.
Like most of us, Ed has a day job; one that seems at least partially responsible for instilling and sustaining an appreciation for wood and graphite. His zine shares his experiences with various pencils, as well as tales of the circumstances that brought that particular human and writing tool together.
When I went to my mailbox earlier this week, I was stoked to see that Pencil of the Week is now on its fourth issue, which — for those of you not familiar with the volatile zine scene — is no small feat. The format is about as rustic as it gets: hand-written narrative on sheets of ruled notebook paper, with the occasional photocopied image pasted in. As rudimentary as it may seem at first glance, it is actually genius — Pencil of the Week doesn’t simply tell the story of a pencil, it shows the reader by writing the narrative using the very pencil in question to write the article. Each article relates the author’s experience with a particular pencil over the course of a week, and each issue contains several weeks’ worth of entries.
I won’t spoil the contents by posting too many photos of the zine itself — if you want to see it, you’ll have to get your own copy! You can grab each issue for a buck from TheWordDistribution.com. While you’re at it, follow @BrownsPencils on Insta.