Interview with a Zinester: China Martens!

NYC Feminist Zinefest was March 1st, 2014! They’ve been posting great interviews with zinesters who tabled. This one came from

http://feministzinefestnyc.wordpress.com/2014/02/24/interview-with-a-zinester-china-martens/

China Martens – creator of The Future Generation and co-author of Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind – talks to us about her mother’s influence, anarcha-feminism, and waffle irons, among many other things. Read her interview here:

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Photo credit: Jenna B.

1. Kindly give us a short description of yourself and the work you do.

I’m an almost 48-year-old zinester (zines 4 life) that has had the idea of putting out a new issue of my zine, The Future Generation ever since Atomic Books issued the Revenge of Print challenge in 2011. I wonder how long you can go without putting out zines and call yourself a zinester? However I have put out zines more recently than the last issue of TFG, I tried to start up a literary zine called Catbird and put out three issues of that, and I was part of creating a zine (on ways to support children and parents) to hand out to the organizers at the Allied Media Conference; and I also put together a zine for the Kidz City Model. I find that I think in the form of a zine. I had to lay out the model, to see what it would look like. (And when I felt stumped I glued an outline on different colored construction paper to show my collective to get their input) I can’t just submit text without laying it out. How things fit on the page, with some images, will influence how I edit the words to fit. However I don’t make zines the way I used to, ”back in the day” when you had a hook up at kinkos and the world has changed so I actually don’t zerox a whole lot. I have been moving more and more in the direction of small press, since my first book came out in 2007 – The Future Generation: The Zine-book for Subculture Parents, Kids, Friends and Others (Atomic Book Company) - which was a “best of” compilation of my zine that started in 1990. I like having others publish me, and also creating zines that others can zerox. It’s really wonderful to have someone else do that work. And now I work on other aspects that it takes to distribute that work, like getting the word out about it, which is also a practical hands on thing, like zeroxing. Its good to do stuff hands on. But I will always make zines, I think, although I make them less and less. My goal is to make the “middle age” issue of TFG for the zine fair! I still haven’t got started so I have a little more than a week. Wish me luck.

2. How did you get introduced to zines? Were you influenced by anyone? 

Political underground zines in the punk and especially anarchist scene, and seeing a library of zines in the Processed World office in a warehouse I lived in for a few months called the Cave, (in 1985, SF) as well as self-published poetry chapbooks such as the ones by Damon Norko (Submensas, a DC band) when he walked around with “Poems 4 Sale” pinned to the back of his black trench coat on the U. of MD campus in the early 80s (where I attended two classes at the age of 15, in 1981 after I dropped out of high school), impressed me a lot. But I would say it started with my mother cutting and pasting a few handmade books for me as a child, out of notebook paper put in cardboard report covers, with glued in images cut from magazines and playful big bold subtitles. My mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother were all seamstresses with materials, patterns, and pins (my mother was especially bad at that and it was usually my brother who would step on them) lying around the house. Perhaps that influenced me as well. All the different ways they created and were creative, artistic, generally pragmatic women.

3. What does it mean to do “feminist zine-making”? Does feminism appear in your work (explicitly or implicitly)?

I identify more as an anarcha-feminist and find it more interesting to talk about anarchism and zines, for some reason. Perhaps because I feel like my zine making came out of an underground scene that was anarchist, political, cultural, and subversive (including artistic, sometimes nihilistic, and gender non-conforming, border smashing, aesthetics) which included strong women (as well as gentle, weird, resilient, etc.) in all aspects as almost everything does. To me, as an ideal, anarchism is about liberation from all oppressions which would include sexism as well as racism, classism, capitalism, homophobia, colonialism, capitalism, and so on. Although it’s important to address issues directly as there is one thing about an ism and another thing about a practice; and I generally really like concentrating on specifics; as well as their intersections. I’m very obsessed with race and class issues – I feel like it’s so core to everything. Gender comes along with everything I do, and with the subject of parenting you would think so especially yet somehow I have sometimes felt pushed out by feminism in the late 80s and 90s – as a radical single welfare mom – that my concerns were not valued and my writing was not accepted. (That said I did often feel inspired by radical feminist writings in the 70s – which included more about children and mothering in them – as I searched for info.) On the other hand the most rad person or project in the world can identify as feminist. I take it as a case by case basic. I don’t get all caught up in labels very much. Although I still identify as an anarchist (even though white anarchists have issues with being racist, just the way that white feminists do, which is why whiteness needs direct attention on it; and in a similar way sexism would need direct attention on it, etc.) after all this time, but I make it my own way, do my own thing, define it however I like, and hay, we do need to use words or it would be hard to communicate at all. But I think a lot of folks would say my works have been explicitly feminist, I think you can say that. I don’t worry about it too much. Feminism is as feminism does.

4. What is your favorite zine or piece of mail art? Do you like any specific style/part of a zine?

I’m pretty attached to content. I like all different kinds of things and I like zines that are art-full as long as the words are important and not byproducts. That said I would not be against a heavily visual zine or whatever, different creative ways of making something. Whatever communicates to me, that’s the important thing. I value communication and especially that kind of communication that one person can make there own and put out in the world, no matter what anyone else tells them that it can’t be done or something about them or the way they communicate isn’t good enough to do what they do – they can do it. I love the informal and safer feeling of zines, which open up to endless possibilities for expression and creation. It’s kind of in the tradition of letter writing and other ways that marginalized groups use to communicate. I see them being very women friendly, like all the best things, I love women. I used to be a very mama-centric person. Now-as a post-empty nest single mama- I don’t know what I am. (Perhaps me-centric?) And what I like about zines is the diversity of voices that can express themselves which would not be welcomed in the mainstream. As a radical low-income single mother in the late 80s to 2K, my experiences, and my voice, along with my creative and irregular grammar, was not welcomed in the mainstream media as it would now (I don’t know how mainstream I am, but I’m up a level in small press and verging on mainstream that there are possibilities anyone would print me at all). What I love about zines is the power for a greater diversity of voices to take control and seize the power of the press.

5. If you could sum up your zinester life in a kitchen appliance, what appliance would it be?

I would say a waffle iron because its most like a zerox machine in that you open and close the lid and make many copies that are similar to each other, and its kind of hard to use and you have mishaps and people may be waiting for you but its going to take a while to make a stack, but they are extremely yummy. Disclaimer: I have rarely ever used a waffle iron but I do have a sandwich maker. Maybe I should have said that, but I find it less glamorous as well as less similar to my life as a zinester.

Interview with a Zinester: Taryn Hipp

NYC Feminist Zinefest was March 1st, 2014! They’ve been posting great interviews with zinesters who tabled. This one came from

http://feministzinefestnyc.wordpress.com/2014/02/22/interview-with-a-zinester-taryn-hipp/

Superstar zinester and author Taryn Hipp gives us her thoughts on feminism, perzines, and teapots:

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Illustration by Clara Bee

1. Kindly give us a short description of yourself and the work you do. 

My name is Taryn Hipp & I’ve been making zines for more than half my life. Currently, I write the perzine Lady Teeth. Each issues focuses on my experiences living with depression, getting & staying sober, recovery, falling in love. It took me a long time to reach the point where even when things feel like they are at their bleakest, I can appreciate the small amount of beauty hidden deep inside the pit of life (that sounds way more dramatic than it really is). Last year I put out my first book, a memoir novella titled Heavy Hangs the Head. It was published by Sweet Candy Press in Olympia Washington.

2. How did you get introduced to zines? Were you influenced by anyone? 
A girl I met down the shore handed me a copy of Cometbus & said “you should read this”. I carried that single issue of Cometbus with me to school every day. Soon after I started making my own zine & trading with girls I met in the AOL Riot Grrrl chat room. I was super influenced by Aaron’s work & by riot grrrl as a whole. 
 
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3. What does it mean to do “feminist zine-making”? Does feminism appear in your work (explicitly or implicitly)?
I like to think that by making zines it is a feminist act in itself. To put your words down on paper & share them with the world is a rather radical concept. I’m still trying to explain it to my mother. Feminism appears in my work in subtle & not-so-subtle ways. I identify as a feminist before anything else & it sort of bums me out to see my peers either reject the idea entirely or, just like riot grrrl, make it some exclusive club that you need a membership to join.
4. What is your favorite zine or piece of mail art? Do you like any specific style/part of a zine?
I have a few favorites, probably Truckface, You Don’t Get There From Here & Doris. I like zines that are honest, at times painfully or brutally so. I’m drawn to perzines more than anything else. I enjoy zines I can relate to, zines that I can read & walk away from feeling like the person who wrote it “gets me”, even if our only connection is through my eyes as the reader. Cometbus is still a favorite but I think that’s more of a sentimental type of connection at this point.
 
5. If you could sum up your zinester life in a kitchen appliance, what appliance would it be?
Is a teapot a kitchen appliance? A teapot can sit on your stove unused for extended periods of time but when you’re ready for a cup of tea & you fill it with water, turn on the burner eventually it will boil & make noise. That’s me. I’m just waiting to make noise.
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Interview with a Zinester: Ayun Halliday!

NYC Feminist Zinefest was March 1st, 2014! They’ve been posting great interviews with zinesters who tabled. This one came from

http://feministzinefestnyc.wordpress.com/2014/02/23/interview-with-a-zinester-ayun-halliday/

If you don’t know of Ayun Halliday – creator of the zine The East Village Inky and author of The Zinester’s Guide to NYC – you’ve been missing out. Here, let us help you with that:

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1. Kindly give us a short description of yourself and the work you do

Ayun Halliday is the Chief Primatologist of The East Village Inky zine and author of the self-mocking autobiographies No Touch Monkey! And Other Travel Lessons Learned Too LateThe Big Rumpus  Dirty Sugar Cookies: Culinary Observations, Questionable Taste, and Job Hopper. Little children know Ayun as the author of Always Lots of Heinies at the Zoo, illustrated by Dan Santat. Teens know her as the author of Peanut, a graphic novel illustrated by Paul Hoppe. And Luddite vagabonds may recognize her as the author of the analog guidebook, The Zinester’s Guide to NYC.
As a member of the Neo-Futurists, Ayun wrote and performed in over 500 short plays. Her dream is to play the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet.
Ayun lives in Brooklyn with the playwright Greg Kotis, where she homeschools 50% of their children.

2. How did you get introduced to zines? Were you influenced by anyone? 

A stack of Ashley Parker Owens’ “Global Mail” – sort of the Fact Sheet Five for mail art – was dropped off at the theater I ran with some friends in Chicago. I was like, “What IS this strange free newspaper and how can I become a part of this world?” Shortly thereafter, I found my way to Quimby’s, where I bought a copy of Nancy’s magazine…which came with a free seed packet.
The East Village Inky actually looks rather like a small book my friend Gub Gub and I made to amuse ourselves when we were snowed in Indiana, in high school. (Other girls were presumably smokin’ bongs and listening to Rush) It had little line drawings of ourselves. I also had a tiny notebook in which I drew cartoons of things that happened to us in school – and that made me very sought after in French class, if nothing else. In terms of content, I was no Ariel Schrag. It was tame, but people like to see themselves – except the ones who don’t.

3. What does it mean to do “feminist zine-making”? Does feminism appear in your work (explicitly or implicitly)?

Some zines are overtly feminist by virttue of their focus or mission. Some seek to educate, or give a voice to marginilized women whose words might not find their way into print, otherwise. But every zine put out by a woman or girl is contributing to the historic record. As a reader, I prefer the anecdotal to the polemic. But it’s all good. All worthwhile in one way or another … if for no other reason than it’s undiluted. It’s the zine maker doing her best to express what she wants to say, without no outside editor putting his or her own spin on it.

I will also say there are feminist zines put out by men…many of them fathers of girls. Tomas Moniz’ Rad Dad comes to mind.

4. What is your favorite zine or piece of mail art? Do you like any specific style/part of a zine?

I like funny. I like comics and illustrations that have been done by hand. Some favorites are Carrie McNinch’s You Don’t Get There from Here, Jenna Freedman’sWinter Solstice Shout Out, and Kari Tervo’s Shards of Glass in Your Eye.

5. If you could sum up your zinester life in a kitchen appliance, what appliance would it be?

A battered old cappuccino machine that’s been cranking it out since college and refuses to die.

Interview with a Zinester: Rachel L!

NYC Feminist Zinefest was March 1st, 2014! They’ve been posting great interviews with zinesters who tabled. This one came from

http://feministzinefestnyc.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/interview-with-a-zinester-rachel-l/

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1. Kindly give us a short description of yourself and the work you do.

My name is Rachel, and I am New York City based zinester. I co-edit the feminist compilation zine Hoax with my best friend, Sari. Hoax is a US bi-annual queer feminist compilation zine that aims to create a space to analyze the feminisms of our everyday lives. I additionally write perzines about topics such as community building, queer identity, and mutual aid. 

2. How did you get introduced to zines? Were you influenced by anyone? 

I learned about zines because I was absolutely obsessed with riot grrl when I was a teenager. I read excerpts of all the classic riot grrl zines that had been scanned onto the Internet, and I always had the intention of creating my own feminist zines. I began collecting hard copy zines when I was approximately eighteen years old, as soon as I discovered  Bluestockings and learned that zines could be purchased offline without giving strangers my address (I still had the illusion that there was such a thing as Internet privacy, ha!) I was intimidated by the process of distributing my own work, and so I actively looked for friends who would be interested in working on a project with me. I began working on my first zine, Hoax #1, with Sari during my last year of college. It’s been five years and, during that time, I have worked with others or individually to create 18 different zines. Two more zines - Hoax #10 and Hoax #11, and actively in the works!

3. What does it mean to do “feminist zine-making”? Does feminism appear in your work (explicitly or implicitly)?

Feminist zine making is, to me, the process of asking critical questions. 

Hoax Zine is intended to explore how feminism plays out in our daily lives. Our core values are as following: Accessibility: Circulating content that will be well-received by readers with various levels of reading comprehension skills and keeping the monetary price of the zine at a consistent and optimally affordable amount; Accountability: Reflecting upon our individual privileges and access to various forms of capital, holding ourselves accountable for participation (active or passive) in violence and exclusion perpetuated under the guise of feminism, and accepting constructive criticism to make gender liberation safer for people who are typically marginalized within feminist circles; Education: Taking discussions of feminisms and feminist-related material outside of academia through sharing personal stories and research-driven essays, calling attention to the past and present efforts of feminist-positive work, and learning together via the process of collaborative editing; Empowerment: Bearing witness to people whose voices are traditionally marginalized, erased, silenced, and/or devalued and engaging with the discomfort of having our viewpoints critically challenged; and Safety: Prioritizing the safety of writers and artists by allowing them the option to use pen names and intentionally keeping Hoax’s material off the internet, and of readers by circulating a list of detailed topics of essays to allow them the ability to decide for themselves which material has the potential to be triggering/upsetting/uncomfortable to them.

My personal zines are mostly on the topics of queer identity and feminist community building. Feminism has been an immensely influential epistemological framework in my life, and my writing is rarely divorced from that influence.  

4. What is your favorite zine or piece of mail art? Do you like any specific style/part of a zine?

I have two favorite zines of all time. The first is My Life With Evan Dando Popstar. This zine was written by Kathleen Hanna in the early 90′s, and it was the first zine I ever read that taught me that zines can be  intentional and artful. It is a work of semi-autobiographical fiction that uses the narrative of a female stalker who is obsessed with Evan Dando from The Lemonheads, as well as strategically employed irony, to explore the male gaze, “good art,”  and what it means to be a female artist. 

My other favorite zine is “Picking Up he Pieces *or* What Have I Done, and What am I Going to Do About It.” This is an autobiographical zine about witnessing the death of a parent, transfeminine identity, depression, transitioning, and detransitioning. My friend lent me his copy earlier during the year, and I could not put it down. If you ever come across a copy, I highly suggest canceling whatever nonsense you have planning for the afternoon & set aside an hour or three to read it.

Other shout outs go to: You’ve Got a Friend in Pennsylvania, Mixed Up, The Worst, Your Secretary, Whatstheirname, Malcriada, The Future Generation, and Mend my Dress

5. If you could sum up your zinester life in a kitchen appliance, what appliance would it be?

If I could sum up my zinester life in a kitchen appliance, I would be a high-efficiency processor. The type that over-mashes your food into NOTHINGNESS  if you press “on” for too long. 

Likewise, if I could sum up my zinester life in my just regular household appliance, I would be a paper shredder because I am disorganized and love to deconstruct the truths that I am presented with. Also, because punks never follow the rules ;-P  

Interview with a Zinester: Dana and Jake!

NYC Feminist Zinefest was March 1st, 2014! They’ve been posting great interviews with zinesters who tabled. This one came from

http://feministzinefestnyc.wordpress.com/2014/02/20/interview-with-a-zinester-dana-and-jake/

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1. Kindly give us a short description of yourself and the work you do.

We are a couple from the Albany, NY / Adirondack area – Dana and Jake (aka – Maxi P. and Snake). We both attended Sage college for illustration and creative writing. Like most kids fresh out of school, we found ourselves working jobs just to pay the bills. It didn’t take long for us to begin craving something that could provide a lasting and satisfying creative outlet. Fast forward to last winter: [Snake] went on tour with his band for three weeks and upon returning, the two of us decided to embark on a fun project we could do together. Sharing ideas and artwork in this way has brought us even closer and has provided us with a way to expel our daily annoyances, day dreams, etc. in a productive way. We usually leave our zines in coffee shops, music venues or trade them with friends. We never charge money for our zines, it’s all just for fun.

2. How did you get introduced to zines? Were you influenced by anyone? 

The interest in zines stems from an interest in things like graphic novels, comics as well as various music scenes. Zines are appealing to both of us because we share the same DIY sensibilities that zines of all genres bolster. After [Snake] returned from tour with his band, he had collected a nice little bundle of zines from across the country. We began making our own, trading with other people we exchanged addresses with and it has simply become a constant in our lives since. The thrill of getting something in the mail or just getting a glimpse into the life of a stranger in the form of a little book has us hooked. We are influenced by the people we trade with!

3. What does it mean to do “feminist zine-making”? Does feminism appear in your work (explicitly or implicitly)? 

Some of the pieces we do run the gamut of satirical and subtle to in-your-face “fuck the patriarchy” stuff. Above all else, we strive to always emphasize the idea of equality no matter what. It’s important that we keep doing this work, no matter how small or insignificant it seems. Those who have the privilege to speak out and spread ideas must continue to do so in a creative and easily accessible way in order to allow powerful ideas to live on.

4. What is your favorite zine or piece of mail art? Do you like any specific style/part of a zine?

Since we don’t really have a specific “topic” for our zines (it’s more or less a collection of random drawings and poems) its interesting to see when someone can create a zine dedicated to a very specific idea or interest. It would be difficult for either one of us to pick a favorite style. We have friends who create zines that read like a diary and prove to be both hilarious and heart-wrenching. We also have friends who make silly doodles that are just so precious to us in their simplicity. They’re all special to us!

5. If you could sum up your zinester life in a kitchen appliance, what appliance would it be?

A whisk or a pair of beaters, perhaps. Our method is to just throw a bunch of stuff together and put it through the copier and see what comes out the other end. No rules, man. No rules. Just chaos.