Posted by Matthew Moyer on July 19, 2011
Posted by Matthew Moyer on July 15, 2011
If you missed our International Zine Month kickoff at Art Walk, shame on you! We had a passel of new zines, our brand new Read Zines poster, and live sets from Willie Evans Jr. and Paten Locke! Much fun was had, and many library cards were waved in the air. More Zine Month goodness to come!
Performance photos courtesy of Walter Coker. Group shot courtesy of Max Micheals. Thank you!
Posted by Matthew Moyer on July 14, 2011
Newsstand junkies among you might recognize the byline “Aaron Lake Smith” from his pieces in Time or Newsweek Magazine, but the discerning zine-o-phile lives and dies by Smith’s more personal outlet, the fearsomely well-written Big Hands. In the pages of Big Hands, he blends the personal and the political in punchy, autobiographical vignettes that make for compulsive reading. You can find many issues of Big Hands in our collection, as well as his one-off Unemployment zine.
What was your first exposure to zines?
The first zines I came into contact with were the Crimethinc publications that were littered like ticker tape around North Carolina in the late 90s and early 2000s. Evasion, Dropping Out, Inside Front–all of these publications had a massive distribution. They had this propaganda newspaper called Harbinger, and I remember reading somewhere that they printed a million copies. 1,000,000 copies. That’s what The New York Times prints today.
As for more literary, personal zines I was affected by a zine called Ride On that was basically a Cometbus rip-off written by a kid from the suburbs of Philly. Jim will probably be embarrassed that I mention it, but Ride On had a nakedness of spirit and a strong command of prose that you didn’t see in other zines. It was more like a Bruce Chatwin book and less like Evasion. It revealed the other possibilities for the pamphlet medium.
How long have you been writing Big Hands? What made you decide to create this zine?
I made the first issue in Fall of 2005. I had a part-time job and very little else going on, so I borrowed a friend’s college ID and would sneak into the university computer lab late at night to write. Kept writing, then did some editing, then gave out the zine. It got a good response and I feel like I had said something that hadn’t been said yet, so I kept making them.
What kind of work and time goes into an issue of Big Hands? When do you know that an issue is done – as far as being fully written?
It’s different for every issue. I’m always writing. But regrettably, my creative cycle involves spending several months languishing–reading books, watching movies, drinking and walking around–and then waking up one morning and with a good Protestant lashing saying, “That’s enough!” and getting to work. Once started, the zine practically writes itself. Then, rather than getting to work on the next issue, I celebrate or take a trip and then the fallowing and harvesting cycle starts itself all over again. There’s a lax supervisor inside me and a slavedriver inside me– When this slavedriver makes an appearance, I write seriously and don’t stop until he says its done.
How has your writing in Big Hands shaped or honed your writing style? In Big Hands you intermingle blunt honesty and self-deprecating humor very easily.
Every sentence matters. Each issue of Big Hands is like one of those old Swiss clocks–all the parts are delicately wrought and need to be positioned in the machine with the utmost of care. It’s like surgery, everything needs to be done carefully. The zine is a small thing made of small moving parts–kind of like Robert Walser’s microscripts. It’s not a novel–there’s no long flowing paragraphs or excessive character descriptions or chapter-long ramblings on the problems of the regional Russian Zemstvos like in Tolstoy.
Tell me about writing the Unemployment zine.
When I have a full-time job, I put my energy into having the fulltime job and living my life in the world. It’s difficult for me to have a disciplined yoga-like writing practice–you know, the ballerina gets up at six AM every morning and practices for two hours. Practice makes perfect! Small tiny steps forward. Doesn’t really work for me. The zines are made in one great push, usually when I have nothing else going on in my life. So when I had no job and no “real life” the natural thing to do was to make Unemployment.
You’ve written for everyone from Newsweek to Arthur on a broad swath of subject matter – how do you approach writing a piece for a bigger magazine/publication?
I approach writing essays, journalism and criticism the same way I approach writing a zine. The only difference is there’s an outside deadline, not the deadline I’m putting on myself. Writing for pay is the same–you psych yourself up, pace around the living room, drink a lot of coffee, and then sit down and make it happen. But you have to keep in mind that there’s a wider audience and that your language has to be more inclusive. You’re not writing for your little niche that understands all these cultural references.
I get a lot of letters, snail-mail, but now also plenty of random e-mails. I get the feeling that my audience is kind of like Morrissey’s audience, but obviously much much smaller–lost and lonely misfits who don’t fit into any scene or category but feel dissatisfied with all their various options for living-in-the-world.
People really liked the Chumbawamba zine. I’m first and foremost a fan. I hope it served as an entry point for people who didn’t know the Chumbawamba anarchist backstory and only knew them from “Tubthumper”.
Do you see a point in the near future where you will shift the majority of your independently produced writings from print to the web?
Sure. But I’m not too keen on just tossing them up on a Tumblr blog.
The medium affects the way people read a piece of writing. So it’s preferable to have the writing framed nicely, the way you frame a painting, so that it gets read with care, and not just skimmed over quickly.
What zines are you enjoying right now?
I don’t read many zines, I read books. More and more zines today read like Deepak Chopra books–they should be classified in the Self-Help section. I like zines that smell like literature, criticism, and polemic. Brandt Schmidt’s zine Shiny Things On The Ground. I always pick up Cometbus whenever there’s a new issue.
What are some of the projects you have coming up soon? Where else will we be seeing your work soon?
I’m currently up house-sitting in rural Vermont working on a new writing project. It’s mutating–maybe it’s a zine, maybe it’s a book. Also look for more articles to come out soon.
Posted by Matthew Moyer on July 12, 2011
With International Zine Month in full swing, what better way to celebrate than kicking back and reading a mess o’ zines? We’ve got you covered with these new selections…
Ache. Vol. 4
A.D.D. Vol. 15 : Attention Deficit Disorder
Avow. Vol. 12
Booty. Vol. 2
Brainscan. Vol. 19 : Typewriters
Burn Brandon. Vol. 17
The Constant Rider Omnibus: Stories From The Public Transportation Front.
Croq. Vol. 12
The Days Run Away Like Children: 5ive Songs for 5ive Points.
Dessin Libre : Freinet Pedagogy and Its Approach to Art Education.
Diary Of A Mosquito Abatement Man.
DigDog: Phatty Reiser.
Doris. Vol. 15: D.I.Y. Anti-Depression Guide
Doris. Vol. 19: ABC
Doris. Vol. 20
Gullible. Vol. 24
Honey Chamber: Bridge To Homesick.
I Hate This Part Of Texas. Vol. 4
Infintesmal. Vol. 1: The Real Better Jacksonville Plan.
Junket. Vol. 2: Taxi Stories Part Two.
Kilter. Vol. 5: The Journal Of Gothicartchicago.com.
Damian K. Lahey: The Days Run Away Like Children
Loitering Is Good. Vol. 8: Post Modern Reflections In Turd Town.
Manderz Totally Top Private Diary. Vol. 1: Keep Out!!!
Manderz Totally Top Private Diary. Vol. 3: Keep Out!!!
The Memphibians: How To Be Followed Alone.
Movement Magazine. Vol. 1.4
Movement Magazine. Vol. 1.6
Not Very Nice. Vol. 1
Pick Your Poison. Vol. 1
Pick Your Poison. Vol. 2
Please Let Me Help.
Popnihil. Vol. 3: Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before.
Primitive Toothcare: A DIY Guide To Uncivilized Oral Hygiene.
PTBH! Vol. 10
Razorcake. Vol. 62
Scam. Vol. 5
Seven Inches To Freedom. Vol. 6
Scenery. Vol. 15
Simple Complexity: The Complex Theory.
Snakepit. Vol. 9: Quarterly Edition
Snakepit. Vol. 10: Quarterly Edition
Snakepit. Vol. 12: Quarterly Edition
Snakepit. Vol. 13: Quarterly Edition
Snakepit. Vol. 34: Gullible. Vol. 26 split
Somnambulist. Vol. 1
Status. Vol. 27
Tales Of A Traveling Panty Salesman.
These Are The Days. Vol. 5
The 2416: Puddled.
You Idiot. Vol. 1
You Idiot. Vol. 2
Posted by Matthew Moyer on July 8, 2011
Thanks to everyone who showed up for our concert during Art Walk on Wednesday night. Paten Locke and Willie Evans Jr. put on an amazing show and we had a great time. But we’ve got more new projects and surprises to unveil this month. So keep checking back! First off is our new READ ZINES poster, featuring Paten Locke, Willie Evans Jr, and Tough Junkie! We’ve given away a bunch already but there’s more at the Main Library, so hurry on down!
Thanks to Max Michaels for designing this amazing poster!
Posted by Matthew Moyer on June 23, 2011
Interesting concept, this. Practice Apartment is either a “greatest hits” or a “Whitman’s Sampler”-esque compilation zine compiling some of the best stories from the now out-of-print zines “Laundry Basket: Tales of Washday Woe,” “10 Items Or Less: A Grocery Shopping Zine,” and “Potluck! A Cooking Compilation.” (Incidentally, all three of these are available separately as well from your Zine Collection here at the library!)
With a new introduction drawing all three threads together under a Home-Ec theme. The end result is a series of short, snappy vignettes and cartoons that capture the absurdity, humor, and even beauty that result from mundane tasks we’d often rather not be doing. The tone shifts from fond reverie to biting satire at the drop of a dryer sheet. On one page you’ll find out how NOT to wash a vintage Agent Orange concert shirt (hint: certainly not in a washer load with a bunch of cloth diapers and bleach) and on the next you’ll find fond reminiscences of gorging on comfort food with grandparents, then you’re off to a tale of a shopper looking for cheese that’s “particularly Christian.” (They went with Saint Andre because it sounded religious.) All this and cartoons by the likes of Shawn Granton and Carrie McNinch? Your weekend to-do list never looked this good.
Posted by Matthew Moyer on May 28, 2011
If you happen to be downtown today, checking out the Jazz Festival, why not swing by the library and pick up some new zines? You’ll need something read in between sets!
America? Vol. 9
Bang! Thud: A World Spirit From a Texas School Book Depository.
Big Hands. Vol. 5
Cometbus. Vol. 50
The Darkness to the West.
Darlene Rock-n-Roll Fanzine. Vol. 4
4 More Years.
Geneva 13. Vol. 11
Go For Broke! Climbing Kilimanjaro Vol. 2
How to Grow an Avocado Plant.
I Gave a Song for You.
Ink Nineteen: September 1996.
Journal of Aesthetics and Protest. Vol. 7
Journalsong. Vol. 5
Mezcolanza. Vol. 16
Mopeyshadow. Vol. 1
Noburbs. Vol. 1
Motorbooty. Vol. 7
Razorcake. Vol. 59
Shock Action Stories. Vol. 1
The Silhouette. Vol. 5
Submarine File: Misc.
Toenails. Vol. 5
What’s the big idea? Vol. 2
Posted by Matthew Moyer on April 12, 2011
Does middle school even still exist? It seems like a torment from a bygone age, like the Spanish Inquisition. No one with good sense looks back on middle school fondly, and Monica Gallagher captures the deep existential dread that would result from the most trivial matters so expertly in her brief Middle School minicomic. From the pop culture references on the cover (an MC Hammer CD, an industrial-size bottle of hairspray), I’m guessing that Gallagher and I are around the same age, which makes her tale hit close to home personally, but c’mon, adolescent trauma is universal.
The story is that Gallagher’s middle school, in an innovation that makes my stomach hurt just reading about it, sent sixth graders to an “outdoor education” camp at the beginning of the school year to… I don’t know, break their spirit fully right off the bat? It is there that this comic begins, a tangle of self-doubt, life-or-death decisions, all-consuming infatuations, and an ironclad social hierarchy. It’s hilarious and cringe-inducing in equal doses. The art is assured and captures the essential awkwardness of everyone involved. And whaddya know? Is that an almost happy ending? Can’t be….
Posted by Matthew Moyer on March 31, 2011
Here are the newest zines in the JPL Zine Collection. Check a bunch out, get inspired and write your own!
American spectarian. : zodiac v.3
Spontaneous lunchbox combustion
Josh Sullivan Comics! Vol. 10
Ink nineteen : June 1996
Ink nineteen : July 1996
Ink nineteen : August 1996
Girls a go go : the ye ye issue
The East Village inky. Vol. 38
The frugal vegan’s spring and summer survival guide
Caboose. Vol. 1
What I did on my summer vacation
Milkyboots. Vol. 4
Somnambulist. Vol. 8
Bipedal, by pedal! Vol. 2 : confidential Mad Libs
Smile hon, you’re in Baltimore. Vol. 11
The book bindery
The East Village inky. Vol. 40
Make/shift. Vol. 8
Functionally ill. Vol. 5 : adventures with mental health
Scam. Vol. 7
Cometbus. Vol. 36
Duplex planet. Vol. 181
Duplex planet. Vol. 186
The iconoclast. Vol. 85
Girls are not chicks coloring book
Mishap. Vol. 26
This is what concerns me presents : remainders
Ink nineteen : May 1996
Worn. Vol. 7 : fashion journal
Better looking than a blog. a collection. : ten foot rule journal comix
A day in Rennes-le-Chateau
Strap yourself in. Vol. 8
Samantha Dorsett tribute zine
Smile hon, you’re in Baltimore. Vol. 9
The black cloud. Vol. 3
These yams Are delicious
Posted by Matthew Moyer on March 9, 2011
It would be an excellent idea if you take a few minutes out of your busy Saturday afternoon and head down to the Five Points Theatre to say goodbye to a titan of poetry, self-publishing, chapbooks, zines, and spoken word in our fair city. You’d better believe that the Zine Committee will be there.
Where and When:
Five Points Theatre
1028 Park Street
This event is free of charge.