Wilkes-Barre resident launches homegrown, print magazine

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First Posted: 10/21/2014

The Internet may be killing print media, but Aaron Bomba doesn’t really care.

This fall he published the first issue of his quarterly magazine PAGITICA, a general interest publication aimed at millenials in their 20s and 30s — and it’s based in Wilkes-Barre.

“I think now we’re hitting a point where it’s too much,” he said. “There’s a charm to something you can physically hold.”

Bomba, a 28-year-old Wilkes-Barre resident, has lived in the area all his life and works a day job to finance his nights and weekends as editor of the magazine. He said he chose print over an all-digital format to set PAGITICA apart.

Publish strictly online, he said, and risk getting lost.

But printing costs money. Lots of money. So Bomba said he searched high and low for a loan to help him realize his dream.

“At 17 when I want to college, they gave me 80 grand no questions asked,” he said laughing. “If I went back to college, they would give me a loan no problem.”

Armed with a business plan, the cash didn’t flow quite so readily.

But after two years of looking for funding and contributors, tweaking and re-tweaking the design (he stresses he is not a designer), Bomba was finally able to hold PAGITICA in his hands.

“Move over for the next great generation,” the cover reads.

The first issue features a range of contributors, from a college student running for the Indiana House of Representatives to the author of a book telling an oral history of 1990s Nickelodeon cartoons. The generational call-to-arms by the former runs unflinchingly just pages ahead of photos of folks (and a pitbull) doused in green slime. On-the-go yoga tips from a local instructor and coast-to-coast grilled cheese recipes nestle themselves in the pages between.

To Bomba, that spectrum is essential to telling his generation’s story.

“Now that we are coming of age, it’s time we do take ourselves seriously,” he said.

Lately, Bomba has taken his publication on the road, he said, giving away issues and subscriptions to attendees earlier this month at New York Comic Con, and a bit closer to home at NEPA Blog Con.

A sidekick accompanied him to the conventions, but all work done for the magazine thus far has been volunteer, he said.

“No one made money. No one got paid,” Bomba said, including him.

With no advertisements in the first issue, that’s not hard to believe, but Bomba said he’d like to fill that void and hopefully donate subscription money to charity. Ideally, he said he’d like PAGITICA to be a free and open place for new, young writers to make a name for themselves.

Though advertisers could potentially cramp his ideal, Bomba seems to take a free press seriously. In his university years, he founded and edited a monthly newspaper to compete with the campus’ already established paper, which he said student government had under its thumb.

The magazine’s name is a reference to a defense of the free press written by John Milton called “Areopagitica,” a 1644 book occasionally referenced by the Supreme Court of the United States in its interpretation of the First Amendment.

At least that’s the more eloquent explanation.

“The short answer?” he said. “I thought it sounded cool.”

And that’s in spite of the fact Bomba said no one really knows how to pronounce it, which is fine with him. He’s not so sure he can pronounce it himself.