White Crow

In May of 1993, a young man decided that he wanted to start a publishing company. There were numerous reasons for this. His high school economics teacher had told him how easy it was to get a DBA (Doing Business As) form from the county. Christopher tm Herdt decided that the most ridiculous things were more fun if they were "official", so he formed the business. Where did the name come from? Although it is true that Osric is a minor character in Hamlet, and one of the nine princes in Zelazny's Amber series, the name actually came from a nickname that his friend Alec gave him. The story goes somewhat like this: a young monk, Osric, is rooming with one of the king's younger sons. The king's younger son is making unwanted sexual advances towards Osric, and this puts him in a pickle: how to get away from this situation without insulting the king? He finally requests an audience with the king. As he is waiting to meet the king, he sees a beautifully illuminated manuscript on a lecturn. As he admires the fine work, the king passes. "Do you like what you see?" the king asks. "Very much," Osric replies. "Would you like to learn to do such work?" the king asks. "Most definitely," Osric replies. So the king sends Osric away to dutifully learn to beautifully illuminate religious texts. He resides in a small monastery on the coast and is very happy, until one day, vikings raid the town and kill everyone, including Osric. Christopher tm Herdt asked his friend Alec why this nickname applied. "Because you seem like the sort who will die young for a stupid reason," he said. Ho-hum, that's why our associated production company is Act V Productions (the last act of a desperate man).

The White Crow in particular started in the summer of 1994. Christopher tm Herdt felt that most of the literary publications catered to the literati, those who were schooled in literature, and devoted their lives to it. The world of literary journals is primarily a closed circuit, a group of in-bred artists, people stuck in the same rut who do not enlighten one another, but simply pat each other on the back for another work well done. Christopher tm Herdt said, "Fuck that, if literature is going to have any impact, Everyman will have to read it, it will have to have something that Everyman can understand, and it will have to be meaningful to Everyman." His girlfriend at the time, Tina Sumpter, helped him found The White Crow. They hung simple fliers on telephone posts around Ann Arbor and eventually gathered enough submissions to fill an issue. This issue was sent out for review to a few other 'zines, and soon garnered enough submissions to merit a second issue. Soon the submissions were coming in from all over the country, and even from Europe and Australia. Christopher tm Herdt's old friend, Ben Flaster, was added as an assistant editor as well.

Christopher tm Herdt was studying English literature, while Tina Sumpter studied biology and psychology, and Ben Flaster studied electrical engineering. Such diverse backgrounds assured that the team would find those poems which were most meaningful and interesting to a broad audience of intellectuals and non-intellectuals alike. Christopher tm Herdt often found himself asking questions like, "Would my Grandmother like this story? What would she make of this poem?" While this attitude may have, at first, censored some of the more explicit works, this reservation passed, but the idea remained: to find works that will entertain and yet be meaningful. Many people who do not read literature on a regular basis are put off by the theories and abstract ideas put forth by modern writers. But The White Crow fought this, and looked for works that were anchored in a tangible reality, looked for real emotion, real people, and real situations.

The White Crow grew, and then experienced some problems. The crew graduated from college and Christopher tm Herdt moved to (near) Detroit to work for Corporate Amerika. All of the staff found that meeting and working on the publication was much more difficult than before. They trudged on, but more slowly than before. Their initial enthusiasm had waned from the first days of, "Oh my God, we're making a real magazine!" But the most serious blow came when Tina Sumpter, Christopher tm Herdt's long-time girlfriend and co-founder of The White Crow, left him. The magazine took a hiatus as Christopher tm Herdt moved back to Ann Arbor and began to drink too much wine and haunt Cafe Felix every afternoon. Submissions were left in stacks and boxes for over a year. Finally, Christopher tm Herdt beat this depression. He found the power of caffeine, he got a job, and found love in one of his old friends, and also a 'zine producer, Miranda L. Tarrow. His friend Jared Toderan, another local 'zine and comix producer, also joined the editorial staff. The White Crow came to life once again, with energy and fury, once again determined to fight the two trends of modern literature: esoteric masturbational theory-laden shit and entertaining-but-meaningless gibberish. The White Crow has been reviewed favorably in numerous publications, was listed in Chance Magazine as one of the ten best literature 'zines in the nation, and has more than double circulation in the last year. In addition to the growing success of The White Crow, together with Jason Breslau, Osric Publishing has produced numerous other publications, including Herakles and the Hydra, Quick 'Zine, Ravens and Bad Bananas by Kenneth Pobo, Quick 'Zine #2, 21 Stories in 24 Pages by Christopher tm Herdt, several issues of the amusing and successful Scatology, several issues of the acclaimed Unikazine, Quick Novel (a complete novel written by seven people in seven hours), and Quick Zine #3

We are energy and enthusiasm...We are the future...We are Osric Publishing!

Crowright 2001 Osric Publishing. Last updated 06-17-2005