A Brief History of Pif Richard Luck Industry

domain A Brief History of Pif

by Richard Luck

Published in Issue No. 17 ~ October, 1998

As our cover art by the acclaimed artist/author of Too Much Coffee Man ® comic books illustrates, Pif Magazine is still alive and kicking – even after 3 long years.

To some, I’m sure, three years seems minuscule, but when you look at the short history of the Internet (which has only existed as a viable visual media for a scant 8 years) we are the equivalent of the third Guttenberg Bible. In dog years we’re celebrating our silver anniversary. Most marriages don’t make it this long.

How Pif began:

Pif was birthed from frustration. Any writer worth his or her salt knows that rejection is part of the game. You toil, you sweat, you give life to what before was lifeless – and then you send your creation out into the world to fend for itself.

During the summer of 1995 I was working like crazy trying to complete a collection of poetry and short fiction that I’d been laboring over for quite some time. As each piece was finished I mailed it out to one respected publication or another hoping for a scrap or two of criticism, receiving even less. Some pieces were accepted for publication, most were not. What I found most disheartening was the fact that the pieces I thought to be bland, mediocre at best, were the ones being accepted while the pieces I thought to be edgy – provocative, even – were being dismissed, sometimes without even so much as a form-letter of rejection.

Pif began as a home for writing that didn’t fit the mainstream; for writing that was, perhaps, a bit too rough around the edges. In the beginning we published “as is,” with no editing being done to a piece before it was made available to our readers. The response from readers and writers was overwhelmingly enthusiastic and supportive; the response from critics was cool at best. We were viewed as amateurish (we still are in some circles, due simply to the fact that we are an e-zine without a proper print cousin.) The path of the independent publisher has never been an easy one to walk, but we continued to put our best foot forward.

We still aren’t as widely read as, say, Salon or Slate. We don’t charge our readers for access to our content, either, so in this respect I believe we may be somewhat superior. We are growing, though.

A Brief Chronology

  • October 1995 – Issue #1 went online at www.dimax.com/pif
  • November 1995 – Issue #2 went online
  • December 1995 – Issue #3 went online
  • January 1996 – Issue #4 went online
    Allison Jenks acts informally as Poetry Editor, while Richard Luck continues in all other editorial positions.
  • February 1996 – Issue #5 went online
    Hired Camille Renshaw as Pif‘s Advertising Director.
  • September 1996 – Sold our first advertising and actually made enough to pay overhead.
  • January 1997 – Issue #6 went online
    Camille Renshaw became a Contributing Writer as well.
  • April 1997 – Issue #7 went online
    Ran our first Fiction and Poetry Contest.
  • July 1997 – Issue #8 went online
  • October 1997 – Issue #9 went online
    We ran a print version of Pif, titled Poetic Justice.
    We opened our Amazon associate Bookstore.
    Began full-fledged Commentary section, with Contributing Editors Stefene Russell and Robynn Clairday.
    First “Adventures of Pageboy,” by Jeremy Worsham, and “Stranger Than Fiction,” by Stefene Russell, columns
  • January 1998 – Issue #10 went online
    Winners of the 1997 Fiction and Poetry Contest announced.
    First Interview column, although it doesn’t return until Issue #14.
    First “As I See It,” by Daryl Lease, column.
  • March 1998 – Hired Anne Doolittle as Poetry Editor and Camille Renshaw as Fiction Editor.
  • April 1998 – Issue #11 went online
    Created “Penguin” (now called Pif’s Pilot) and it quickly became the internet’s largest literary search engine.
  • May 1998 – Issue #12, “Seduction in Suburbia” (our first theme issue), went online
    Began the only “Micro Fiction” section online.
    Began Zine Reviews column.
  • June 1998 – Issue #13, “Superstition,” went online
    We pay our writers and artists for the first time.
    Ran our first daily commentary, “The Bennington Diaries.”
    First Book Review column, sponsored by Amazon Books
    First Music Review column, sponsored by Amazon Music
    First Video Review column, sponsored by Reel.com
  • July 1998 – Issue #14, “Alcohol,” went online
  • August 1998 – Issue #15 went online at www.pifmagazine.com
    Interview column returns on a permanent basis with columnist Ryan Boudinot and other guest interviewers.
  • September 1998 – Issue #16 went online
  • October 1998 – Issue #17, our 3rd Anniversary Issue, went online

What does “Pif” mean?

This is a question I’m often asked. The answer is both simple and surreal. Pif is whatever you want it to be. For me it was a typographical error on a poetry submission that reproduced well visually. That and it had a nice ring to it. It was memorable. Some have told me that it reminds them of the word pith – a medical term used to describe the action of penetrating the brain with a foreign object. Given the content we continually present to our readers, I think this description to be wholly accurate. The definition our Fiction Editor gives to the snide is “it means masturbation in Czech.” Finally, one-time Pif writer Jeremy Worsham (Adventures of Pageboy) once commented that Pif might be an abbreviated pronunciation of the word epiphany.

Any way you want to look at it, what we represent is far more important that the definition of our name. And what we represent is the highest quality poetry, fiction and commentary by up-and-coming and established writers. We are the apex, the pinnacle, the starting point for the literary e-press.

We hope you’ll stick around for the next three years.

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Richard Luck is the Founder and Technical Director for Pif Magazine.