Friday, 24 December 2010

Interview 19

Matt Sidebottom is producer of Snap - a short story and literature zine out of Manchester, UK. Here he talks about his time at University, literary magazines and the role for print. Oh, and he wants you to know that he is travelling across America between February and April 2012 and is looking for new writers and project collaborators.

Tell us a little something about yourself and why you decided to publish a zine called 'Snap'?

Hi, my name’s Matt Sidebottom and in my spare time I’m the editor and art director of SNAP, a short story and literature zine. I studied Design and Art Direction in Manchester. While I was there, I found myself surrounded by a lot of artists, photographers and designers who were very interested in books and zines. Everybody was making little one-offs for their projects. I made a few at the time, but my work focused on Pulp, the student magazine I art directed and designed. I loved doing it, and got us nominated for a Guardian Student Media Award. After I left university I didn’t really have another output like it, but I was constantly looking around for one, but never finding another opportunity like it.

But about 9 months ago me and my little brother went to London. He had a university interview, so I had a few hours to kill. I went to The Tate Modern and saw the Van Doesburg exhibition. The whole exhibition was great, but what got me was this little exhibition case focusing on publications of the time. There was a copy of Merz. Reading the information explaining the contents in the case, I realised that this legendary publication was only ever produced in extremely limited runs. It was then I decided to put together SNAP. It was only three weeks later before SNAP Zero was released.

Where do you see 'Snap' sitting in relationship to traditional literary 'little magazines'?

I’m not really sure, to be honest. I know of them, such as McSweeney’s and Popshot, but I haven’t picked them up. The zines and magazines that I read and that inspire me are totally different from what I produce. The only exception is The Ride, which is a huge influence on SNAP. Its short stories are easy to digest in one sitting, which was the aim of SNAP. Saying this, I am completely surrounded by books. I have hundreds.

The magazines I do read, such as Esquire, Dazed and Confused, and Little White Lies have all interestingly taken to running literature sections, Esquire having a regular short story and Dazed have had a literature review section in the back. I like to think this has been influenced by its readership becoming more interested in reading fiction.

'Snap' also has an online presence. How do you see print zines and digital spaces operating in self-publishing?

SNAP’s online presence is constantly evolving. At the moment, SNAP is a print zine, with no true plans for the final product to go completely online. I like actually putting together and producing final copies to hold, and I know that my audience likes this too. But this might change, if the right platform comes along. I’ve dabbled with Issuu for other projects (see We’re Growing Up, Wearing Shirts, Getting Haircuts) but I don’t think it’s the medium for SNAP.

I’m really interested in making a more immersive project, using technology to create a short story based, multimedia ‘zine’ project. We’ll see where this will get us in the future. I do feel like moving online will be the way forward. I just don’t know how to quite yet.

Is there a zine you would recommend us to read? And, please tell us why.

I’ve three, actually. There’s Tourist Magazine, an online only magazine. It’s a hybrid of a website and a magazine. The content is always interesting. The page has been beautifully designed throughout all of its incarnations, and definitely worth a look, if just to see how an online only ‘zine’ can succeed. Then there’s the work of Mandi Goodier. She’s got loads of brilliant zines, and they’ve been a huge source of inspiration for SNAP. She’s helped me out a lot over the last 9 months, and has contributed stories and illustrations to both issues. Finally,Pull Yourself Together is simply brilliant. A music zine in its truest form, I always pick it up when I see it. It’s got great writers, and with Teacake Design art directing it, it always looks great.

The current issue of SNAP has just been released.
Find it at

I'm always looking for new writers, too. Anybody interested in writing for SNAP, please contact me at,

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Interview 18

Mike Nicholson is an illustrator, educator, comic artist, zine producer and publisher of Ensixteen Editions. Here he talks about his publications, teaching and small press fairs.
Please tell us something about Ensixteen Editions Imprint and your work as a comic artist.

I came to the point of creating my own books/comics/zines after parallel careers as illustrator (clients like Penguin Books, Time Out, Guardian Weekend) and storyboard artist (lots of work within British Comedy – primarily TV and some film – 'The League of Gentlemen', 'The Armando Iannucci Shows' etc.) This was around 1999, and I first exhibited the work at the London Artists' Book Fair at the Barbican in 2000. At this point I used the name 'Stokey Comics''Ensixteen Editions' came later with the 'bio auto graphic' series (both draw from my location in Stoke Newington, London N16).

One factor, above all else, tipped me over into wanting or needing to make these things: my earliest storyboarding experiences within advertising. Though ridiculously lucrative in comparison to editorial illustration, the work became very demoralizing in its inanity over a few years. (Find anything the magnificent Bill Hicks ever said about advertising on Youtube and you’ll get a snapshot of how I grew to feel about it all.) I needed more than anything to vent some steam (I’d also always aspired to write), and the first A4 size comics I made (benefiting from the excellent quality of simple laser-copying) were almost incomprehensibly dense and self-referential. This vast brain-fart, lasting about six issues, starred a mouthpiece alter-ego in the shape of 'Ron', an antic little character that had stumbled from my subconscious back at school.

Ironically, the years spent storyboarding reshaped the way I worked, taking me from my colour pencil illustration style to a stripped-down black ink line on white. I liked the hard choices its’ minimalism forced me to make on the page, and –being from the pre-Mac generation of Art School graduates, trained in what you might call a 'traditional' process of (often observational) drawing – it was like coming home.

I still only use the computer as a means of disseminating the work, not in any way as a means to create the images themselves. I plan/plot pretty thoroughly – what will come where as the pages progress – in thumbnails, then move to original artwork in pencil. Inks follow, and the only real margin for spontaneity in the final making is in the writing – I'll have a broad idea of what the text will say on a given page, what it will contribute to the overall theme of the narrative, but the actual wording is only phrased as I write it down. What I come up with in the moment can suddenly introduce surprises that are exactly what's needed.

Illustration is often an interpretation of a text that's not your own, storyboarding a way to visualize the imagination of the director. The former is an entirely honourable tradition/craft that I am proud to be a part of, the latter at least in theory an interesting practical and intellectual challenge. . . But neither allowed my own voice to speak. Making my first issues in my late 30s, I think I was ready to say what I needed to say. The medium seemed a good fit, I just needed to work at the message...

How did your comic zine 'Bio Auto Graphic' (2004 - ) come about and what is it about an autobiographical narrative that you find so appealing?

I switched to a more forthright way of addressing the reader – replacing a character with myself – after a friend, Charlie Higson (writer, comic, telly guy), threw down a gauntlet: Why didn’t I tell my own stories in my own voice, through something more autobiographical? The idea crawled under my skin and stayed there. While it was obviously daunting to step into the shadow of luminaries such as Crumb, Pekar and Eddie Campbell. . . I have since grown to relish it.

The series – which the author Phil Rickman has called ‘the new social journalism’ (a definition I liked) – shifts in tone as I see fit, and, while I try new stylistic details as I go (perhaps collage or photography), the bedrock remains the drawing. Each edition – or short arc within the bigger series – is usually driven by a specific theme, always hosted by my avatar, addressing the reader directly. Themes can be as simplistic as a season of the year, or as specific as discussion of the relationship between the US and UK in our shared time of war. Certain motifs have recurred; identity, the individual and their community, the oppression of political or religious systems, the toxic values of ‘celebrity’ culture. . .

I finally feel qualified to suggest the pattern I think I see beneath the world and how we live in it. I’m setting out my stall at a time when I feel anxious that humans are forgetting their humanity and as a society our moral compass is spinning.In a sense, the series is my belief system as a part-work.

And it's also occasionally funny.

You have been involved in many small press fairs over the years. Do you think the UK comic/zine community has changed any and, if so, in what ways?

As mentioned above, my experiences only date back to the turn of the millennium. Prior to that my appreciation of what scene there was – any sense of a 'community' making and consuming small press/strip/zine work – is minimal. I suspect you’d find my comic reading tastes rather mainstream (the big US imprints, characters and genres), and I'm not by nature one to be drawn to overtly proselytizing or agit prop material. I'm delighted that people use the medium to channel their own passionately-held beliefs – as a means to 'shout' about what drives their hearts. I just don't necessarily choose to read the results. I didn't feel that zines I happened upon with 'challenging', anarchic ideals at their root had much relevance for me. It all looked a bit shrill.

Or is that just the arrogance of the male, white, heterosexual for you, perhaps? Actually, more likely the voice of the only child who always avoided groups, clubs, movements, inward-facing communities, and distrusted agendas which seem rather too strident.

I find myself more emotionally drawn to material that speaks rather than shouts, if that makes sense. This doesn't mean I'm not interested in people (read my stuff and you’d see that’s not the case at all) – I just realized quite some time ago I don't necessarily
feel like they do. The role of the observer is one that's very important to these books, yet the clarity that comes with getting older - knowing what's really important to you – has finally made me want to comment on what I see. This is propaganda from a community of one. And, if some random book fair punter with whom I fall into conversation buys into it by taking an issue – well, that's a bonus.

Interestingly, when I began to put this heartfelt stuff down, in a format that people apparently called 'zine' (I’m happy to call them that, though I’m actually not sure what they are), there was definitely a snobbery from certain fellow exhibitors at the book fairs. The low production values (I'm less interested in fine materials than I am that the work is just accessible) I think offended those strongly involved in the traditions of fine binding and other crafts of making.

Of course, since then there's been an explosion of book arts activity and events and it's become much more common to see comics and zines for sale – it's a much broader church. Ultimately, I think I'd still probably choose to exhibit at these more eclectic events rather than 'zine-specific' ones. I like the diversity and wouldn't want to be drowned out in a sea of superficially similar work.

Along with my illustration and storyboarding, making my books – the zines – has involved me in notions of narrative, the way that a thing of sequential parts (pages read and turned) can come to contain a greater, cumulative idea when appreciated as a whole. I often refer to notions of storytelling within my work with BA Graphics students; broadly (in getting them to consider their creative process as a narrative), but also much more specifically (when we address their growing interest in book arts and zine-making through workshops).

Are comics any more popular nowadays with students? There's a passive enjoyment of computer gaming culture and Manga, but interestingly there’s a ground-swell of narrative activity, too. While, until recently, I can't say the students I meet expressed much awareness of gender or any other politics (though our Eton-clone Coalition Government has unwittingly triggered a real sea change in that), there’s definitely a real surge of interest in the means to transmit a message. Where they once visited as observers, they now take tables themselves at book fairs and zine events and sell their simply-made work at affordable prices. Good for them.

Please Recommend a comic of a zine which we should all be reading and tell us why

As you may have guessed from the above, I speak from a point of relative ignorance when looking at what you might term the 'world of zines' (my reading material and storytelling inspirations come just as much from novels, comedy, serial television and the news media). However, I collect – and am always captivated by – the book work of John Bently, an English book artist whose 'Liver and Lights Scriptorium' imprint is based in Brixton. This freewheeling series embraces very personal expression in text and image, as well as music and film content. It has a very human heart to it, the work, and – despite John's impeccable punk history – rarely shouts. It talks straight, looks you in the eye, occasionally whispers and can even sigh. See for more.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Interview 17

Bastian Fox Phelan is creator of Ladybeard and lives in NSW, Australia. Here they write about the perzine and the importance of zine fairs.

Please tell us a little something about your recent perzine,
Ladybeard, and how it came about.
Ladybeard is a zine about how I decided to grow my beard. I am a person that was assigned female at birth, although these days I identify as trans. Thanks to my genetics I have the ability to grow a sweet moustache and beard, but for many years I removed my facial hair and hid the fact that I could grow a beard. Then I moved cities and decided to grow it out and see what it felt like. And my whole life changed. So I wrote a zine about being a bearded gender-variant woman. After great deal of gender questioning my identity shifted again and I started to identify as transmasculine. So I wrote another zine. The Ladybeard zines are personal stories about surviving bullying and heteronormativity but they also present a critique of the gender binary and medicalisation of difference and a celebration of diversity.

What has your zine allowed you to do that other forms of artistic or written practices may not of?
Ladybeard covers a lot of taboo topics: bearded female bodies, queerness, transness, intersex bodies, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, gender questioning, shame, breaking sex & gender binaries, the way medicine reflects social values rather than being objective and scientific. There's a lot of hostility towards bearded women and anyone who doesn't fit neatly into the categories M or F. Writing my zine allowed me to speak from a point of view that is rarely heard and acknowledged. It allowed me to share and connect with other people who have similar experiences of their bodies, and with a whole lot more people who have been moved by my story. Because of the highly personal nature of my writing, zines are an excellent format for me. I love being able to slip my family a copy of my zine after dinner, post a few to a zine maker overseas, have piles of them sitting on my desk when friends come to visit. And because there are no restrictions on my zine making practice (apart from time & money) I get to be the ultimate authority on form & content, and that's very empowering.

What other plans do you have for zines and/or any plans for extending the discussions emerging out of Ladybeard into other projects?
I've been wanting to write another Adventure Time zine - it's a zine about how to have fun in everyday life. I plan to make a radical trans health care zine to give to doctors so they can think about how they interact with trans folk and talk about trans bodies and identities. I want to encourage medical reform where doctors talk about and treat the body part rather than the sex or gender commonly associated with the body part, ie. cervical health rather than women's health, prostate health rather than men's health. I'm also thinking about the next Ladybeard and how I want to go into more detail about PCOS & intersex and the privileging of hair in transmasculine communities. I want to start conversations about the potential for a radical PCOS movement that questions how doctors 'treat' people with PCOS. I also think that hair and size are similar in terms of the experience of oppression and medicalisation of 'hirsutism' and 'obesity.' I've been inspired by fat-positive and body-positive activism so I'd love to start discussions with people about hair-positive activism. I also want to collaborate with a person from the United States who makes a zine called Femme a Barbe.

You are also involved in a broader zine community. How important do you feel zine fairs/symposia are to fanzine producers in Australia?
Zine makers in Australia tend to keep in contact about zine fairs around the country and I know people who are willing to travel long distances for the pleasure of sitting behind a table for five hours. A lot of folks travel to Newcastle for the zine fair at This Is Not Art festival. The mailing list correspondence from Sticky zine shop is a
good place to find out about interstate zine fairs, and Bird in the Hand zine shop/distro have a well-maintained blog. At a lot of zine fairs, especially ones that are part of a larger festival, such as Format Festival in Adelaide, there will be workshops and related events that zine makers put on. But we don't really have zine symposiums like in Portland. Zine fairs in Australia are usually one day only with a few workshops on the side, rather than a big zine-centric event that goes for a few days. I was lucky enough to get myself to San Francisco Zine Fest and Portland Zine Symposium earlier this year. I like Australian zine fairs more but maybe that's just because I get to see a bunch of really awesome folks I don't get to see very often.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Interview 16

Sina Evil is a comic artist and creator of BoyCrazyBoy, Atomic Love and the forthcoming zine Magic Urbanism. His work has also appeared in the zines Holy Titclamps and Boy Trouble.

Please tell us a little something about your zine and how 'politics' plays a role. I have been making zines, comics and artwork since I was 16 years old. When I started making zines I had just come out as gay, I felt disconnected and alienated by my surroundings - I was going to a very homophobic all boys' school, and in the wider culture - in books, movies, magazines - I did not feel spoken to or represented - so making comics and zines was a way of finding my own voice and talking about intertwined personal and political issues that mattered to me and which I hoped mattered to other people - this connection with other people was and is also important - and political - It was and is, also, a way of trying to find a community of likeminded people, a group of friends.

Who or what has inspired or influenced your drawing style? My drawing style has been inspired and influenced by many different cartoonists - both mainstream and alternative - as well as by looking at the work of "fine" artists that I admired. Marvel and DC Comics were early influences generally. Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez, and Trina Robbins, were also important influences in terms of the more alternative comics. Queer cartoonists like the ones involved in the anthology BOY TROUBLE - people like Robert Kirby, Jon Macy, Mike Fahy, and Anonymous Boy - have all been - and continue to be - an influence on me.

In what ways are queerzines/comics going through a renaissance? Queer comics seemed to slow down a few years ago but lately there are interesting people doing exciting new things - Carrie McNinch's "You Don't Get There From Here", Justin Hall's "Glamazonia", Dave Davenport's "Hard To Swallow", Steve MacIsaac's "Shirtlifter", Brian Anderson's "So Super Duper", Rick Worley's "Waste of Time", Rene Capone's "Hedgehog Boy", and Ned Hugar's amazing new book "Urban Buzz". But also older queer cartoonists who were putting comics out in the early 90s, and then seemed to take a break from it, are coming back with amazing new work. Jon Macy's graphic novel "Teleny and Camille" is an adaptation of an erotic novel by Oscar Wilde and his circle, and is incredible, and so is Jon's new supernatural, gay erotic series "Fearful Hunter" about werewolves and druids. Robert Kirby has started putting out an anthology of queer comics titled "Three"; the second issue, out soon, will have a story about how I lost my virginity, written by me and drawn by Jon Macy.

How does your current PhD research inform or fit into your zine, if at all? Doing my PhD on queer comics has been an incredible experience for me in terms of thinking about why people make queer comics and what they mean both personally and on a wider social and political level, and having talked to and interviewed so many amazing queer cartoonists has given me a renewed passion and desire to do comics again more actively.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Interview 15

DIY or Don't We? is produced by Nicki Sabalu from Olympia, Washington, USA. Here is what she had to say about her zine,'community', and the DIY spirit.

Please tell us a little about yourself and how 'DIY or Don't We?' came about?
The zine is a compilation rooted in collaboration, so much love and acknowledgment goes to all of the wonderful folks who have shared their stories. It came about in hopes of encouraging communication about how do-it-yourself ethics can be incorporated into the ways we work together as friends, family, collectives and communities. "Do-it-yourself" can seem like a solitary term. Sometimes that's okay, because it can be important to have time and space to do truly do things on our own. But sometimes it's important to collaborate on projects, work through tough situations with others, help nourish people we care about, and have fun together! That's where the "or don't we?" part comes in.
The zine is intended to be an ongoing project, with two issues to date. The third issue, which should hopefully be printed next summer, will be about food and community.

In your opinion what defines a 'community' and a 'DIY' spirit?
A big reason for making this zine is that there isn't necessarily an all-encompassing definition of community, and it can mean so many things to different people. I was hoping that this zine could be a way for folks to share stories that explore what community means to them because it can exist in so many contexts. I don't think I have a concrete definition of community myself, but I think it can have a lot to do with things that are shared: interests, locations, identities. I also think that the strength of a community has much to do with working together – through good times and rough times – to address everyone's needs to the best of both individual and collective abilities.
I think that a DIY spirit might be something that can emerge when DIY ethics are incorporated into many different aspects of our lives; when there's something more to it than just having hobbies. Maybe it's the passion that keeps us doing things ourselves, even though sometimes it would be much easier to rely on someone or something else to do them for us. DIY ethics and skill-sharing have been important to me because they can help empower people in ways that make us less reliant on corporations and governments, and hopefully more in tune with ourselves and conscious of the world around us.

With the publication of your zine, in what ways is it helping to foster another form of community?
By encouraging communication, I hope! Ideally, the zine is a way for folks to share stories, learn from each other, and maybe make new friends.

What fanzine would you recommend for us to read and why?
Oh, gosh. Decisions like these are tough for me, so I made a little pile of favorites, closed my eyes, and reached into the middle of it. My fingers have chosen the wonderful zine "Seeking Truth" by my friend Charlie Daugherty. It's a comic zine about an inquisitive character who is searching for their lost friend, Truth.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Interview 14

Ben Hutchings is a comic artist and creator of 'You Stink & I Don't' and more recently 'Comic of Smallness'. He talks to us about his work and the Melbourne zine scene.

Tell us a little about yourself
and how your zine 'You Stink & I Don't' came about.
I've been into drawing and reading comics since I was ten and discovered British comics like Beano and Buster. In high school I began photocopying my own comics at school with no idea
anybody else did the same thing. They very quickly became ruder and angry over the years (as I did), but they kept a cute, absurd tone which I like more than material that is serious and dark. Finally, I made issue #1 in '93, which featured strips about childhood friends, misogyny (represented as a parody of Archie), a long adventure about a body-builder named Mr. Sexxo (all written in rhyme) and an 'offensive' comic about Jesus doing all kinds of rude things with his bum. This is still the tone of the comic - mean but funny stabs at beliefs and attitudes and lots of rhyming and wordplay. I always spent heaps on professional printing with colour covers. The inside is all cut and paste though, and drawn with pens though. There have been 9 issues and I got a bit of a following from it.

The city of Melbourne is fast gaining recognition for being a hub of zine activity. What is the zine scene like for someone living there?
It's great.
I can't compare it to much but overseas visitors seem impressed with the art scene of Melbourne, including all the markets and that sort of thing. It surprises me too. There are zine workshops and zine fairs and arts markets all over the place. I think every citizen here has made a zine at some point. The centre of it all is Sticky, a zine shop run from a cramped little store in the subway. There are piles of zines and flyers covering every surface, with stacks of em falling off the shelves. In the middle there's always a table with a handful of misfits cutting stuff out of magazines and pasting it together. The underground comic scene in Melbourne is huge too. While Australia has no 2000AD or Marvel, we do have plenty of self-publishers and Melbournites chug out their own mini-comics like nobody's business. And it's a relief for me to be here. Doing comics for so many years from Canberra was a really isolating experience! Now I draw knowing that people will see it, and appreciate it.

You are also involved in producing other craft-type zines. Can you tell us a little something about your current projects?
I've been printing comics for so long, I forgot the fun of crafting small runs of your own comic. I've been recently making "Comic of Smallness", which is a 32 page, 2 inch tall comic. I make my own little display stands for them out of cardboard. I print 12 copies at a time on 8 A4 sheets then chop em up and bind them with a single staple. Such an effort, but so satisfying making little bundles of em. The three issues are all about a cat named Barry who just sort of wanders about being silly. It's pretty much the cutest comic ever made I reckon.

Please recommend a zine for us to read and why.
I mostly read mini-comics, and a great one is Lumpen by Pat Grant, an excellent cartoonist who loves setting stories in Melbourne suburbia as well as Australian coastal towns. It always comes out in different formats, for example one issue was a large, fold-out poster. Another one that tickles my fancy is Phatsville, a comic anthology from Queensland. It's great because Queenslanders are such dags, and the comic reflects this with its shameless obsession with sex and drug jokes. Then you go up and visit them and all they do is take drugs and talk about sex. If you'd like to see what Sydney cartoonists do, then the anthology Blackguard is definitely worth a look!

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Interview 13

OWT Creative is comprised of five young designers: Ste Beed, Jon Hannan,Katrina Currie, Sarah Stapleton and Ben Kither, based in Manchester, UK.

Please tell us a little something about how OWT Creative was formed and what inspired you to start your publication.

The five of us that make up OWT creative met whilst studying Design & Art Direction at Manchester School of Art. After witnessing a lot of our friends jump ship from Manchester and head off to London we decided that we wanted to create a platform for ourselves and other young creatives up here in the northwest.

We wanted to prove that you can be creative up here in the Northwest and you don't have to vanish off to London to be successful. We're not deluded, we all know London is the biggest and best of everything really but everyone likes an underdog.

The reason we decided to create a publication is because we believe in the medium of print. People will argue that print is a dying entity and that we all have to embrace a fully digital future, but we think we’re overloaded these days by flash design blogs and portfolio websites that can be clicked through at pace. Having something tangible to hold and feel adds an extra dimension, the feel of the stock and the delightful printing errors that make each one individual. In 50 years time when today’s equivalent of the floppy disk is no longer readable you will always be able to pick up a zine.

The zine is clearly promoting 'creatives' from the Northwest of England. Why do you think this area of the country has such a rich zine tradition?
We think one reason the Northwest has a good tradition because there has been so much in its history that provokes the DIY art and music culture up here. Manchester was at the forefront of the Punk and Rave scenes (to name just two) and these scenes go hand in hand with zine culture. It seems that wherever you have such a rich music heritage the sub-culture of the fanzine readers and writers follow and The Northwest was no exception. Of course this is without even considering the sporting heritage and associated supports that exists here with several of the country’s major sporting teams, and Liverpool FC.

How does your blog supplement what the zine is doing?
At the moment the blog is there to let people know what we're up with all our little developments that we make day to day, from being featured on a website to being stocked in a new shop. We also like to feature work that resonates with us, be it music, documentaries, exhibitions or anything else for that matter.

As we progress we want to use the blog to promote the people who submit their work to us. Our first Issue had just 5 contributors, the second has 11, we want all those extra people to be able to say we helped them in some way other than putting their work in the zine. By submitting work to us, they help us grow, diversify and reach more people, we want the zine and the blog to do the same for them. As we said earlier, part of the reason to set OWT up was to promote the arts in The Northwest and the blog is just as important to us as the actual zine is in that respect. The blog also provides us with a much larger audience than can be reached with the zine alone. For instance our blog has regular readers from the USA and Canada, places where the zine would be unlikely to penetrate on it’s own.

What fanzine would you recommend that we should read and why?
We're not sure it can be considered a fanzine, maybe just a zine, but the WAFA collective zines are full of really inspirational stuff from Anthony Zinonos and Co.

Another Manchester based Fanzine is one69a.... good quality, current articles + entirely screen-printed with a poster in the middle - win!

We'd also recommend the work from the guys at Nous Vous, really nice stuff. Really nice work and they’re northern, which helps.

Peace OWT.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Interview 12

Interview 12
Wolfwind Collective is an independent publishing and distribution collective founded by Phillip Hawkey and Rob Jones.

Tell me a little something about who is involved in Wolfwind Collective and how and why you came together.
We didn't make it a conscious decision to be in a collective. It kind of developed from just working together at Uni and hanging out to what it has developed into within the past month, which has been amazing. We have been given great opportunities to meet and work with other creative people in the industry and held our own zine convention.

How has the zine helped to develop your artistic practices?
A lot of the pieces featured in the zines are from projects that we've been working on so it's helpful to look at my work and assess what I think was working, what I'd like to take further and what maybe didn't work. Also, I think we feed off of each others ideas and feel comfortable giving criticism on each others work when putting together each issue.

What does the zine allow you to do that working in the mainstream can't?
The zine is like our world that we can do anything we want I guess its freedom. If Phil wanted to do the next issue and put no images in and decided he wanted to put his poems in that world be fine. Every issue is something new and exciting so we don't have any art director who's expecting something that we have done before and wanting it again. It's our ideas.

In what ways has the Wolfwind Collective supported other zine producers? What are your plans for the future?
We held our own art and zine fair called 'MADE' in our town of Tunbridge Wells which was the first one Tunbridge Wells has ever seen with the aim of showing that London isn't is quite the 'be all and end all' thing and, that events such as these can happen anywhere and also to help local artists/zine lovers who find it hard to get certain events in London as well. Also our newly decorated website is housing a few independent zines from other collectives/zinesters. We are kind of trying to build up a little distro of zines and along the way we can help others by spreading the word. We both have ideas constantly floating around, so we are planning on doing another zine event in our hometown at some point next year as well as doing a few exhibitions around the country and of course, more zines. Hopefully we will have a few more ready for the Alternative Press zine convention in November.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Interview 11

Interview 11
Maximo Tuja is a prolific producer living in Barcelona. His titles include Revolucion Juvenil (Youth Revolt), Zine, Alludd:Un Fanzine de Max-o-Matic, Algo Sobre (Something about),and Contenedor.

Tell us something about why you started doing fanzines?

I started my first fanzine in 1995. I´m not sure why i did it, but without even noticing it i had texts, collages and pictures layed out (awfully) in a proto-fanzine. Then I wasn´t aware of what a fanzine was or all the history behind independent publishing. I think i just needed to express my anger, disappointment, confusion, etc. in a positive way.
After that i met some really interesting people with different backgrounds that had a much more rich idea of what a fanzine could be. There i discovered a whole new world and fell in love instantly with it. Not only i felt great publishing my ideas and sharing them with pairs, but also felt really identified with the DIY ethics that´s deeply related with the fanzine culture. Doing fanzines, for me, was always related with learning something. And that´s what kept me doing fanzines for so many years; it was a perfect way to learn, experiment and have a great time.

What do you think the smaller, mini-zine format adds to the message of the zine (for example, Alego Sobre or Contendor)? How is the visual important in your zines?
I started doing fanzines because i wanted to write. Design was just a necessary thing to display the content. But as fanzines and years went by i became interested in the design as well -till the point I became a designer myself. So now the visual aspect is as important as the content.
Contenedor and Algo sobre have only in common their mini format, but the rest of them is quite different. Contenedor is a visual exercise. It´s just playing with images. Also it was a container (that´s what Contenedor means in Spanish) of small visual gadgets (stickers, pictures, etc.). This was the first fanzine i did after many more conceptual and text based ones. This was the result of a couple of ludic afternoons playing with images with a friend. The size in this case was just a way of making something slightly different using a standard paper size (A4 paper folded into an A6 fanzine). Also the folds helped us to divide the content in only one sheet of paper. On the other hand, Algo sobre (Something about) was a fanzine about people we knew. Each number was about one friend. Each number was written by different people and it was written in a way that the personality of the featured friend could be best described (one number is only a copy and paste of emails; another is a list of obsessive compulsive behaviors...). The design of this fanzine is basic and there´s no intention of adding visual elements that could distract from the main element of the zine: the text. Design was meant to be invisible. The visual elements of the fanzine (pictures mainly) had to work along with the text to help the reader to make a portrait as real as possible. In this case the size had no special meaning. We just liked it to be thick, and that was the only way to make it with the amount of text we had.

You live in Barcelona, so what's the fanzine scene like there?
Barcelona fanzine scene is quite interesting. There are many talented people doing interesting things and there some great projects that are helping the scene to grow and become more self-conscious.One of Barcelona´s greatest projects is 'La fanzinoteca ambulant' ( It´s a public and mobile fanzine library with a huge collection of classic and rare fanzines from Spain and other parts of the world. The library is a mobile module that goes around showing their collection, which is categorized in a data base that help the reader find what they want between all the great stuff they´ve got. Also La Fanzinoteca is an organization that every year organize Fanzine Jam sessions and other kind of activities related to the independent publishing world. The guys that run La Fanzinoteca are really passionate about fanzines, super friendly and work really hard. They publish two fanzines: Minca (fanzine about fanzines) and Minca Ilustrada (a visual zine showing their favorite illustators).In my opinion, La Fanzinoteca is responsible of a big part of the rebirth of the fanzine movement in Barcelona.

What fanzine would you recommend for us to read?
For those who hadn´t already read them, I would recommend Harmony Korine´s Collected Fanzines published by Drag City. They are wild, fresh and with a great attitude. They made me want to make more fanzines.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Interview 10

Interview 10
justseeds members Josh MacPhee, Nicolas Lampert and Colin Matthes produced the stencil zine Cut & Paint, USA

Josh MacPhee responds:
How has 'graphic agitation' shifted focus in the post-Bush era?
I'm not sure it has shifted much, I think the Bush-era set the tone, and in general the same pattern is being followed. Basically, Bush was perceived as being uniquely 'evil', and as such, a personal embodiment of what people wanted to reject. Their imagery became dominated by images of him as a person, and our landscape was flooded by pictures of Bush. When Obama came along, he began to be perceived as uniquely 'good', and as such, a personal embodiment of what people wanted to embrace. Just like Bush previously, our landscape became littered with heroic representations of Obama. Either way, our graphic toolbox is dominated by rich guys from above, and there has been little effort to think through graphic representations of empowerment on a much more direct, human, and democratic scale.

How might justseeds bring a different perspective to political activism?
I can't speak for all 26 members of justseeds, but for myself, I believe it is important for cultural producers to work more directly with and in response to social movements on the ground, and that is what we are trying to do. Social justice organizations often doing great political work have little sense of how to best represent their ideas both internally to themselves, and eternally to the rest of the world, and artists with experience in this realm can be very useful. On the flip side, often politically-minded artists think that their cultural production alone will make the changes in the world they wish to see, and lose sight of the fact that generally their work only gains real traction when it operates in concert with on the ground, grassroots political activity by people, lots and lots of people.

What does self-publishing (Like Cut & Paint) bring to your projects?
Self-publishing is mostly about the direct joy of making things yourself. I'm not sure it is 'better' than other forms of publishing, but it allows a little more control and a more direct role in the creation of your projects. Having a hand in the entire process, from idea to final printed zine, allow an author or editor the ability to have a deeper understanding of the materialization of their labor.

Please recommend a zine for us and tell us why.
I like homemade graffiti zines, not the slick 'lifestyle' ones, but down-and-dirty photocopied collections of photos and drawings, offspring of the original International Graffiti Times (ICT/TIGHT).

Interview 09

Interview 09
Dana Leigh Raidt is producer of She Must be Having a Bad Day/The Cult of the Female Food Service Worker, USA

How would you describe your zine?
For the reader, I think it's a funny (and sometimes sad or angering) tell-all about what actually goes on in the food-service industry between servers and customers, employees and employers. For me, it's a distillation of, and outlet for, a lot of pent-up anxiety left over from working in that industry for a long time.

What can your zine do that a mainstream publications can't?
I think any zine has an advantage in that we don't have to worry about what others will think. If people like it, great. If they don't, no big deal. Zine makers are spending money out of their own pockets. Design and editorial decisions aren't influenced by worry over scaring away advertisers, like in the mainstream commercial publishing world. Those decisions are coming straight from the heart and gut of the zine maker. So readers are getting content that is unfiltered and heartfelt.

Does the look of a zine matter?
To me, yes. But if a zine has great content but flawed design, I'm willing to look past it.

Please recommend a zine for us and tell us why.
I'm not sure if it's in print anymore, but my friend Karen Olson Edwards wrote A Tenderness So Painful I thought My Heart Would Burst back in 2005 or 2006. It's a great personal zine - basically Karen's musings and memories, but it's written so well that the emotion seems universal. My copy is dog-eared and dirty from dragging it around. Karen is the one who really got me involved in zine culture, and this is the one she put out right as I was putting my first one out. Lacey Prpich Hedtke's Excitement and Adventure is also great. She studies the lives of gangsters, photocopied their fingerprints and arrest sheets, and even made gangster trading cards.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Zinester Interview 08

Zinester Interview 08
Morgenmuffel is produced by Isy Morgenmuffel, Brighton, UK

How would you describe your comic?
It's an autobiographical comic zine, ie. stories from my life about travelling, cooking with the Anarchist Teapot, working on volunteer projects, direct action, punkrock, enjoying nature and the like. The most recent issues is no.18 printed TODAY (24th August 2010).
What can your comic zine do that a mainstream publication can't?
I can do whatever I like with it. It's all in my own hands, from content and look to cost and print run. I don't even take advertising so I don't need to kowtow. I also can just get on and make it all myself in my own time, without deadlines, and without needing to work with anyone else on it which is nice as I am otherwise involved in a lot of groups and community projects.
Does the look of a comic zine matter?
I think aesthetics are important, yes, also for example the paper and printing quality - it all adds to the overall impression. That's not to say shoddily photocopied things don't have their own charm.
Please recommend a comic or zine for us and tell us why.
My favourite illustrated zine is Rum Lad drawn by my friend the talented Steve Larder. Peach Melba is also awesome, it's a little free zine by a 13 year old girl in Brighton, who mainly compiles lists, e.g. of 'Birds with Strange Names of Things I Wished I liked Eating'.

Zinester Interview 07

Zinester Interview 07

Fallopian Falafel is produced by Hadass S. Ben-Ari, Jerusalem, Israel

How would you describe your zine?
Fallopian Falafel - Eshet Chayil Zine is a free zone for expression by women. Although it's based in Israel and most submissions are by Israeli Jewish women, it's intended for audiences all over the world. Because I don't like to censor anyone, and I don't have a set agenda, I would describe my zine as being colorful (both in the appearance and the written content and style), and includes articles and pieces about various topics from different view-points and opinions, with rich variety and nuance.

What can your zine do that a mainstream publication can't? In Israel, mainstream media have rigid agendas - they are either extremely right or extremely left. My zine is both and neither due to the variety of the articles, as I mentioned above. Also most mainstream publications are in Hebrew. My zine may include some Hebrew articles, but most of the content is English, and as such, it is accessible to world-wide audiences. I also place an emphasis on riot grrrl culture which is something that I never see or read about in mainstream publications. I also like to give women an opportunity to express themselves about topics that interest them or an important to them, something that they would not have a chance to do in other media.
Does the look of a zine matter?
Maybe initially, it does. But if the content is good, it really does not matter. I think what's important is that it's legible and well-bound. If it's a handwritten zine, and the writing is atrocious, I can't possibly enjoy it if I have to decipher my way through it. I also can't enjoy it if it falls apart in my hands every time I turn a page, so it has to be bound properly. The overall look of a zine is just icing on the cake, so the main thing is that the cake itself be yummy.
Please recommend a zine for us and tell us why.

I strongly recommend Amber's zines Culture Slut and Fight Boredom! Amber is an extremely creative riot grrrl from Canada. Her zines are quarter size, laid out in the traditional cut and past method, mostly written with a typewriter. Both zines were my inspiration to start creating more material in the spirit of DIY, such as my perzine The Purple Myrtle Squeegy ( and randomly produce flyers, art and other miscellaneous items. Amber's zines are full of ideas and activities, activism, DIY past-times, recipes and all the good stuff (

Friday, 13 August 2010

Zinester Interview 02

Zinester Interview 02
The La La Theory is produced by Katherine Haegele, USA
Katherine Haegele responds:
How would you describe your zine?
I've made a number of different zines over the years, most of them featuring first-person writing or small collections of poetry. The La-La Theory is my serial zine, now in its 7th issue, and it's little essays and tidbits, games and poems, all having to do with language. I call this one my flagship publication. (I call it that in the same spirit that I call this whole enterprise the Zine Factory). The La-La Theory comes from a nineteenth century idea about the origin of language. Apparently this was a popular thing for philosophers to speculate on at this time, and some of the theories were pretty fanciful - the la-la one suggested that language was borne of the human need to express poetry and love. Both Darwin and a Danish linguist named Otto Jesperson liked this idea. Jesperson wrote "[Love] inspired many of the first songs, and through them was instrumental in bringing about human language." Nice, right?

What can your zine do that a mainstream publication can't?
Well, I can say whatever I want, and I can make my own audience too. I've worked professionally as a writer in one way or another since I graduated from college, and these days I mostly write book reviews, and arts features for newspapers and a few magazines. I actually enjoy doing this very much, but on its own it wouldn't provide enough of a creative outlet, and though it varies from person to person, writing for an editor is necessarily pretty limiting. There is nothing to compare with physically designing a book yourself and writing whatever you please. I find that having this freedom affects the process of writing from the beginning. It opens up my mind, relaxes me in such a way that I think of some eccentric ideas and execute them, just to please myself. Like, once I filled in the pages of a blank geography workbook I found at a yard sale, which created a kind of loony poetry. To make it I simply wrote in the book and reproduced it on a photocopier, so I couldn't have shared this as a piece of writing in any other way but as a zine. It's not just the writing but the construction of zines that gives me a thrill, knowing that something I've made with my hands is now in someone else's hands, a stranger's - that an object I created in my home now lives in other homes. It fulfills the desire for connection that drives my basic interest in writing in a very complete and satisfying way.

Does the look of a zine matter?

Yes, I think it does! I get a real kick out of thinking of inexpensive ways to make my zines graphically interesting and attractive. I use the cut-and-paste method for my lay-out out of both necessity and choice. I don't know how to use most design software, and I can't afford it, and I prefer the on-the-cheap aesthetic anyway. I find that other zinesters feel the same way. It's fun to solve the problem of making something look the way you want it to within whatever confines your circumstances create. I can't draw so I've asked artist friends (all of whom I've met through doing zines) to collaborate with me, and I'll use illustrations from old books and advertisements. I sometimes use recycled materials that are easy to come by and have an interesting look, like brown paper grocery bags for covers. (I've done this with a couple of my zines, though I didn't think of the idea myself.) I sell and trade my zines at fairs and I find it fun to make a pretty table arrangement, with a tablecloth and handmade signs, and cigar boxes and easels to display my work. Learning to think of a book as an object, a made thing, has enhanced my relationship with writing and reading, and it's made me a bit of a huckster too. When you're the one selling your own work the challenge of getting people to stop and look and consider buying it is a fun little problem to solve.

Please recommend a zine for us and tell us why.
Vanessa Berry, an Australian zinester, is as good a writer as you'll find published anywhere. She's produced more than 100 zines of her quiet, intelligent memoir-style writing.

Zinester Interview 03

Zinester Interview 03
Future Fantasteek! is produced by Jackie Batey,UK
Jackie Batey responds:
How would you describe your zine?
I would call Future Fantasteek! A satirical look at what's wrong with modern living. It includes the frustrations of working with other humans, popular anxieties and why computer’s don’t like us. The zine is full of drawings and collages, sometimes presented as fake advertisements or bogus advice, topics skip around but it is rooted firmly in the ‘now’.

What can your zine do that a mainstream publication can't?
A mainstream publication needs to be aware of audience and needs to have marketing potential, i.e. they need to shift a certain number of copies in order to make money. With self-publishing I am free to say what I want to whoever is prepared to listen, this comes with risks such as self-indulgence or finding your voice is a lone one. Bypassing traditional publishing means issues can be produced cheaply and very quickly so current events can be reflected a few days later. After years working as a commercial illustrator, It’s also a joy to have no client breathing down your neck suggesting 'minor' changes and no one saying you can't say "fuck" - even though most of us do say it, at some point. I also think having no boss is liberating artistically and the magic of the internet means you can track down your own audience eventually. It's a liberating and empowering experience creating and distributing your own zine, you feel you have your voice back.

Does the look of a zine matter?

It doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things but I come from an art & design background, so it matters a great deal to me. I am much happier expressing myself using visual communication, I find I can draw what I mean much more effectively than I can write it. Basically, I want everyone to be able to express themselves clearly using the most appropriate tool they can, whether this is writing, singing or drawing. I enjoy the tactility of paper and sketchbooks which is why I use stickers, stamps and collages within my zines, although I do compile everything and edit it all on a computer at the end. I also run the Zineopolis Collection at the University of Portsmouth for the Illustration course, so naturally we focus our collection on zines that are very full of drawings and artwork.

Please recommend a zine for us and tell us why.
I really enjoy the work of the collective Girls Who Draw, in Birmingham, they are coordinated by Karoline Rerrie. The work is often screen printed and humorous, the subjects vary but there is a joyful touch to the work that will always make me smile. I also love Le Dernier Cri, the French collective in Marsaile, who tend to make rather disturbing serigraphs and zines often screen printed and very visual, with a very low print run. The work they produce is very different to what I do, so reading them is like ‘going on holiday’ from yourself.

Zinester Interview 04

Zinester Interview 04

is produced by:
Editor: Joseph Beeman
Art Director: Sarah Handelman,USA

Sarah Handelman talks about BodyTalk:
How would you describe your zine?
BodyTalk is a zine that speaks frankly about sexuality, bodies and reproductive health. It is rooted in the belief that cooperative, judgment-free discussion of our own experiences is the key to achieving equality and freedom. It hopes to unveil, challenge and redefine issues that are not talked about enough and seeks to engage young people in the movement to fight for the protection and legitimization of individuals from all sexual narratives.

What can your zine do that a mainstream publication can't?

Unlike many publications that survive on advertising revenue,BodyTalk thrives on the contributions from people of many backgrounds and experiences. We print pieces that would normally be seen as a risk in mainstream publications. Instead, the varied writing and art are, simply, avenues to challenge ideas and further conversations about sexuality. Submissions are not selected to 'fit in' with a particular voice; rather, each publication aims to recognize that every experience is unique and valid.

Does the look of a zine matter?
I think the look of a zine matters initially. If you want it to be noticed among the others, it should do something visually to compel the reader to pick it up. However, to go back to the second question, zines don't have to surrender to the idea of putting a celebrity on the cover with horrifically large type. Among other things, folding, size and color can enhance the content of whatever the zine is about. For me, no matter the subject, all interesting zines are about process. What was the process of making it? What sort of a journey will people go on when they open the zine? More important than having a look, even the most basic xeroxed zine must have an attitude that avoids succumbing to trends (specifically visual ones) and constantly challenges our perception of how zines — or any publication — are supposed to look.

Please recommend a zine for us and tell us why.
Mel Kadel is an artist who makes limited runs of screen-printed and hand-stained zines. Each one has a strong visual narrative, but all of her illustrations also stand well on their own. For me, Mel's zines feel and act how zines should — every part is an extension of the artist, writer or contributors. Down to the paper, Mel's zines are completely unique.