Thursday, March 31, 2011

Zine Interview Part One

Shortly after the last interview, another girl asked to interview me about my site and my zines for her honours project at Liverpool John Moores University / St. Helens College.

I'm going to split this interview into two parts, with the second one going online tomorrow.

1. When did you first become aware of zines and where did the initial interest come from?

I don't remember exactly, but I'm guessing it would have been around late 1998/early 1999 during my first year of high school. I would have been fifteen at the time and remember going to parties at a punk house in which my friend was renting a room. I recall a couple of zines from that time period, though exactly when I picked them up I do not remember. I think the first ones I read were actually by people I vaguely knew (ie. friends of friends), but it was a long time ago. I didn't make my first zine until about four years later when I was in university.

2. You're clearly passionate about the zine industry, what attracts you to it so much?

I'm a big fan of DIY, and the idea that you can just make your own magazine and sell/give it away is something that really appeals to me. I enjoy the way it sidesteps the mainstream, and find it interesting how literally anything can be the subject of a zine. The only thing that really unites them is that they're printed on paper.

Going back to the DIY aspect I like to encourage people to make stuff and do things. I really enjoy making and trading artist trading cards, and it bothers me sometimes when people say things like "Oh, I'm not an artist" and don't want to create something. I can't draw anything, but everyone has skills doing something. I really wonder what the education system is doing to kids that stops them being creative and wanting to learn.

The same applies to zines. Everyone has a story to tell. Everyone has something they're passionate about. I want to encourage everyone to create more, though I don't know how good a job I do of that.

3. You feature a wide range of zines on your blog, where do you source them from?

I get a lot of zines from zine events. I was recently at the Brighton Zinefest and got a bunch from that. I also go to a lot of comic book events (this one was the most recent). I usually try to trade/swap with other people at the events (I am bad at capitalism), but I also buy them sometimes.

People also send them to me in the mail. I usually get one or two emails a week from people asking if I could review their zines or comics. I always agree! I pretty much always send them a zine back too.

4. How do you differentiate between a 'good' zine and a 'bad' one?

Woah, how philosophical! How do we differentiate between good and bad anything? Or even the very concepts of good and bad?

Reviews are very personal things, and I know there are zines that I don't particularly like that other people really enjoy. I've also learnt that putting a robot or a monster into your zine is probably going to make me like it to some degree.

But I think the most important thing is care and effort. Some people equate "do it yourself" with "do it quickly and badly", and while there is certainly a place for 24 hour zines and similar projects I find myself incredibly frustrated when I come across zines filled with spelling, grammar, and layout mistakes. Just because you want to hand write your zine and use a "cut and paste" style doesn't mean the content has to be a first draft.

5. From your time reviewing zines, do you have any favourite or stand out issues that you could highlight?

I've reviewed over four hundred zines and minicomics by this point, and going back and making a short list would be incredibly difficult...

But! I really enjoy Peach Melba, a monthly list zine made by a 13 year old girl. She's already up to issue 19! I've read/reviewed more issues of PM than any other zine, so it kind of sticks in my mind.

I just read a zine (Loserdom #21) with a massive (over twenty pages!) series of interviews with four or five different punks who lived in a small town outside of Dublin in Ireland in the early '80s. It's a fascinating look into a subculture, a time, an the people who lived during them.

There's a lot of comics I've really enjoyed, and some artists I've enjoyed are Philip Barrett, Will Kirkby, Nich Angell, Nikki Stu, Isy Morgenmuffel, Steve Rumlad, and I could go on listing all day really.

Come back tomorrow for part two!

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