From time to time people to interview me about zines or my experiences with zines. These are some of the really common questions that I get asked. More to come soon!
How did you get into zines?
I moved to Salt Lake City, Utah from Texas when I was 10 and in Jr. high I remember picking up a local music newsprint monthly called SLUG and I once found a free photocopied zine by someone in a local band that I liked. It had poetry, short stories and drawings and I thought it was really neat.
Later in high school, in the early 90’s, my boyfriend’s father was a chat room monitor for AOL where I guess he found out about zines. He collected zines and let us borrow them. Somewhere along the way I had the epiphany that:
“I can do this too!”
I started working on my own zine with my sister when I was in high school. The zine was called Fun In A Bucket. I didn’t put it out an issue until 1995, I was 18 and had graduated. It just grew from there. I was also really drawn to the idea of penpals and getting mail so that sort of fueled my obsession. Zines are a very democratic and versatile art form and I really liked the idea that they could be whatever I wanted them to be.
What are you favorite zines?
Three a.m. is my absolute hands down favorite zine of all time. Unfortunately there hasn’t been an issue in several years. Lisa had this really amazing knack for meshing words and images together that felt like home to me. When it comes down to it, I really appreciate zines by people I know and have met. That makes them much more special. I can hear their voice and there is just this connection for me that gets to the core of why I create zines in the first place.
How did creating the book Stolen Sharpie Revolution come about?
In 2000 I had this idea to make a zine about zines with simple zine tips, layout templates, copy scams, lists of distros, etc. I started to hand laid out all the pages and my partner at the time told me that I was never going to be able to steal enough photocopies for the demand the zine would have so we decided to get it offset printed. We printed 3,000 and hand stapled covers on each one as well as an envelope template stapled in the middle. It was ridiculous and stupid the work we had to put into them! But they were all gone in less than a year!
Then we decided to get a proper ISBN and give it a spine so that it was a real book. I dropped the copy scams and added more resources and we printed 4,000. People do offer up advice from time to time and some ideas have been added into new versions over the years. In 2005 10,000 were printed and those were all gone by 2008. My mom would send me ridiculous e-mails about seeing my book available on Amazon for $60-$200! Who would want and out of date version of the book that bad?
I had some serious financial set backs but was able to scrape up enough money to print 4,000 more in 2007. I still did all the layout by hand and scanned each page before sending them to the printer. This version is a bit more expensive because it printed on post consumer recycled paper with vegetable based inks. I thought I would put my money where my politics were. I think 4,000 is a manageable size for a print run. So much in zine culture changes so quickly. I know several of the distros don’t exist anymore and a few changed addresses in the time it took to get to print.
What is different between Stolen Sharpie Revolution 1 and 2?
At every revision of Stolen Sharpie Revolution the list of resources like zine libraries, distros and stores that sell zines are updated. I was told that the original digital files of the text, artwork and cover art were lost by the previous publisher so this time I had to completely retype the entire text and do all of the layout for every page and the cover again. I re -worded a lot of things, changed the order of the book in a way that I think makes more sense and added new information on the internet, zines in academics, what to do at a zine event, how to read in front of people, how to put on a zine fest, guide to the US mail, and more. I was also not given my cover art so I had to dig into my massive piles of zine supplies to find the original rub on letters and drawing of a sharpie for the cover.
Also, I decided to put my money where my ethics were and had this version printed on 100% post consumer recycled paper with vegetable based inks. It makes it a bit more expensive, but to me it is worth it.
What advice would you give someone who is just starting out in zines?
Just make a zine that you are proud of right now and don’t be afraid that you might not be proud of it next week. Don’t be afraid that you first zine isn’t perfect, we all have to start somewhere. It takes time, as with any art, to find your stye and set out stride. Find other people to trade zines with, make connections and see where the path takes you.
Do you think the Internet and blogs are killing zines?
I really really really hate this question with a fiery passion. People who think zines are dead either walked away from zines years ago or don’t know where to look. Every year there are more and more zines being published, academic studies of zines and zine festivals all over the world. There is a large community of people that celebrate print media, I think there always will be.
I don’t think that digital and print media are mutually exclusive. Sure, technology has had and effect on zines. Technology is a tool and it is up to use to decided how to use it. Desktop publishing has become available to people who want it, the internet can draw us together and collect ideas and people who really enjoy zines and print media. I think that is a good thing.
When it comes down to it, I think there will always be people who like the tangibility of print media and the culture it provides over the impersonal cold-ness of digital media. If that gets put into the bin of “hobby” then I’m fine with that. Zines don’t have to before everyone, but for those who get it, we really get it.
Will you teach a zine workshop at my zine fest/school/social center/book club/library?
Probably not. I do prefer team teaching or being on a panel over teaching workshops solo. I feel very uncomfortable being in front of people as the end-all-be-all knowledge of zines just because I wrote a book about it from my perspective. I totally acknowledge that there are infinite paths to get to zines and ways to create them. I’d hate to be held as an ultimate authority when I know my own faults.
I do enjoy being on panel discussions where multiple viewpoints can be expressed. I’m really good at answering questions from my perspective, not so good at organizing the ideas in my head in ways that I think will make sense to others. I enjoy getting questions to coax the ideas out.
Where did the name Brainscan Zine come from?