If you spent your childhood around the late ’90s to the early ’2Ks chances are you've seen a glossy, stapled together magazine that was emblazoned with bold letters on top. And on the cover would be the latest cartoons you can watch on cable, or games you can play on your Gameboy or PSP. Heck, even insights on your local celebs.
K-Zone is a magazine most of us grew up reading. We either laughed out loud at the jokes and pranks written, or played with the cool freebies attached. Like that one issue that was in 3D, or those amazing Foldabots paper robots. With all the amazing stuff in there, everyone anticipated reading each monthly issue.
You can see racks of these mags along with Total Girl and W.I.T.C.H. in every bookstore outlet everywhere, and it was always calling out to you to read it. Its original price was around P75 but it hiked up to P100, then nearly P200 (inflation, boo). Our parents would groan at our whining to get the newest issue because it had Crash Bandicoot on the cover or cool notebooks with it.
"But Mooooom you don't understand, they have coupons to Toy Kingdom!"
We always had that one classmate that always seemed to have every issue of K-Zone and often lends it to their friends. That is until the fuddy-duddy teacher confiscates it.
It was a great read until 2018. Summit Publishing halted production of their glossies to keep up with the times and transitioned to digital. Regardless, the impact it had on a generation was phenomenal. Several readers were influenced by K-Zone.
I knew a person who was influenced to become a magazine editor because he read K-Zone in his youth. K-Zone's comics was one of my influences, I enjoyed reading Elbert Or's new release of Bakemono High, the adventures of three little monsters navigating through a zany student body and crazy antics. Another one was Kid Continuum by Vin Simbulan and Andrew Drilon, about a kid named Timothy Torres who has a powerful cloak that turns him into a time-traveling superhero. Somehow, no one seems to remember this whenever I tell them about it, shame because it was one of my favorites.
But K-Zone was more than just a magazine for children that kept them up-to-date with their favorite shows and artists. It was an introduction to pop culture, art, music, anime, games, comics. It was a gateway to geekdom, and everything in between. And it shows how Filipino millennial-gen Z geeks are constantly well-versed in entertainment news.
It gave children an avenue to pursue their interest in drawing by encouraging them to send art which was featured within the pages. It gave them gaming hacks before it was even a thing. What K-Zone did wasn't just entertaining children with bright pictures and childish jokes. It slowly prepared a generation who were slowly acclimatising to the changing landscape of technology, imagination, music, to the strange humor that millenials and gen Z are known. Most importantly, the biggest aspect that's most present on the internet: pop culture references. All packaged in a tiny stapled magazine.
K-Zone wasn't just a kid's magazine. It was a “how to be a geek” manual for beginners and the curious alike. It helped us make sense of the things happening around us in little bite sized pieces we can nibble on.
Of course, like all great things, K-Zone needed to end production. But it left a bunch of grown ups who fondly remember it for influencing them to dream, to imagine and to happily indulge in geeky hobbies.
Go collect action figures, watch anime, make funny captions for image macros. Remember their monthly "Caption This!" contest? That trained a lot of you to be good at memes -- and much more.
It may be gone now, but the childhood fandoms we had, the comics, newest tech, anime, video games that it introduced us to, led to open interests on a scope of different mediums. And many of us now are still into those things which have led us to fandoms and other nerdy interests.
So cheers to K-Zone, our generation’s granddaddy of Philippine internet geekdom.