Written by Sean Ban
So, for those of you that either don’t know and/or stumbled across this site for the first time, the PCC Inscape magazine itself has been in production for a long time. Starting in 1943, PCC Inscape originally started as Pipes of Pan. It wasn’t until around the 1960s that the name of the magazine become what we know now. There have been many issues across the lifespan of this magazine. I’m going to be honest; I didn’t take the time to look across all the previous issues, but I did look at five different ones, two issues from the 70s, one from the 80s, and two from the 90s. For this post, I’ll be looking at and reviewing the 1987 issue.
Now, this 1987 issue stood out to me due to the cover. Why, you may ask? Well, aside from the art, I found a short poem on the back cover. This little extra tidbit was the only one I found among the five I chose to look at. There previous issues had excellent pieces, don’t get me wrong, but this issue caught my attention with its art as well.
There are quite a few more images in this one than the issues before it. The art was also not as abstract or random as the ones after it. A notable piece can be found on the inside of the back cover, which is a full-bodied drawing of person in a sci-fi suit with a back profile view.
As with most issues, there is a mix of both stories and poems. One of the short stories/memoir pieces that I found intriguing was “Kiddie Shows I Used To Watch” by Pamala Karol. Based on the title, you would think that it is a lighthearted piece with fond memories of the shows of yore, but I believe that it goes much deeper than what we’ve been given to believe.
The poem references different shows with characters like Mighty Mouse, Crusader Rabbit, Roadrunner, Daffy, Felix, Bullwinkle, Bugs and Rags. This sets us up with a time period as to when these shows would air in syndication. I’m not totally sure why this caught my attention, but the lines “my mother bellied by in spike mules and a snippy bikini to answer the door for some grisly simian who came to fix her washing machine” made me think about something that is drastically different from the tone of the title.
The lines found later in the poem: “Through the [...] open crack in the kitchen door I could see my mother posing on a step-ladder and chirping and pointing the painted toenails of one foot at her busted wrangler; her spring-o-later dangling mid-air by a strap, her instep bobbing it articulately" are what really caught my attention. Now, I don’t know what you would make of that, and maybe my mind has been in the gutter one too many times, but that seems to be insinuating something. The author might have included this section because it was a detail that possibly changed her childhood and robbed her of some innocence. It was explained in such graphic detail, I can't help but believe that this is what made the day that this piece took place on stand out to her. However, I feel that it’s up to the reader to come to their own conclusion.
The short stories in this issue, as far as I can recall, come in a variety, such as a series inspired by Joan of Arc (several stories titled "Joan of Arc Part I," "Part II," and "Part III" are by Alicia Telting and are all put next to each other for cohesion) or drawing from the hell that is war (such as "Sunday, July 20, 1969" by Fernando Marti).
The Joan of Arc short stories are very interesting, as each story takes the point of view of three different people: one by Midge (Joan’s supposed cousin), one by Joan’s younger sister, and one by Joan herself. Being from three different people, they vary from and within the history of Joan of Arc and give interesting takes about how people view her.
For a short summary, Midge is a woman who aspires to be someone she is not: a woman who is the life of a party. Instead, she’s been described as “a truly unspectacular young woman.” The background information on Joan’s sister is… unsettling, in my opinion, and her story is one of envy for Joan and the feats she’s accomplished. The story from Joan herself is something like a letter she wrote and sent to her erstwhile lover, Richard Cher. A brief summary of this letter is that she is writing to tell Richard that she has moved on from him and that she’s happier without him.
"Sunday, July 20, 1969" by Fernando Marti is a great short story about a soldier getting ready to depart onto another battlefield from a cargo plane. This soldier hates war but he’s still being forced to fight. He’s suffering from tinnitus due to the constant firing of his gun without any ear protection.
The story has one great line of onomatopoeia: “Bambambambambam.” If you can’t venture a guess as to what that is, it’s what I assume to be the rapid firing of a gun. There are also quite a few dialogue lines, often between the nameless main character and Palmer (who is one of the main character's friends). Based on the title and the use of the term Victor Charlie, I can venture a guess that this story takes place in during the Vietnam War.
There are many more wonderful stories and poems in this issue that I wish I could cover them all. I really wish I had the ability to own a copy for myself, but alas, I only have the snapshots that I took in order to write this blog. If you really are interested in reading more from this issue, you can find it in the archive section of the library. I would really recommend not only checking out the previous issues, but to also check the current releases. You’ll never know what good stories are hiding.
Sean Ban is an aspiring writer and poet that hopes to make the world think a bit more critically. He states: "I'm hoping to take my experiences and turn them into stories that people would be interested in hearing. There are so many things happening around us, yet only a few people actually turn those experiences into personal reflections."
PCC Inscape Magazine, housed at Pasadena City College, is following Coronavirus protocols. At this time our staff continues to read submissions and publish web content.
Blog Posts reflect the opinions of the writer and not the opinions of Pasadena City College or Inscape Magazine Editorial Staff Members.