Interview with a Zinester: Sarah Rose!

It’s happening today, folks! Come to us starting at 12 this afternoon. And we’ve still got interviews rolling through 🙂 Check out this great one from Sarah Rose.

SarahRosePhoto
Pink-haired Sarah Rose smiles for the camera.

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

My name is Sarah, I write a zine called “Safe Home” and have done a bunch of one shot zines, that I’ll have with me. I write about mental health, self-care, queerness, sexual abuse, addiction, and occasionally balloon twisting. I work in a bookstore, write a book review blog, and generally spend a lot of time thinking about books, publishing, and the hierarchy of genres.

What is your process for creating/assembling your zines?

I don’t really have any one set process. I’ve done solo zines that took months to put together, some that have come together within the span of hours or days from conception to creation. I’ve done compzines that were the collaborative effort of a dozen people and split zines that involved just a friend and I working together. The great thing about zines is that there’s no one “right” process or prescribed way of creating. We have only the boundaries of our imaginations to break through.

What is your favorite tool or implement for doing so?

I really like my saddle stapler and making a big mess with rubber cement.

What tips or thoughts would you have for folks who want to make a zine but aren’t sure how?

Do it! There are tons of tutorials online and if you can’t find one you feel comfortable using, ask someone whose zine you admire to point you in the right direction. Zine folks are the best folks and we are almost always happy to help/share resources and knowledge.

Do you have a “bad feminist” (a la Roxane Gay) moment? Has your relationship to feminism changed over time?

I can’t point to a specific moment, but there are things that I’ve written in earlier zines that make me cringe a lot. A lot of the things I did/said when I was on drugs is still pretty haunting. But I’m finding that the things I regret make me much more cognizant of the impact that my words and actions can have on the people around me. In that way, regret is pretty humanizing.

Finally, who are some of the other zinesters you’re excited to see at this year’s feminist zine fest?

I can’t wait to see the organizers and thank them for the hard work they’ve put into creating such an affirming event! I’m super stoked to be driving up with some of my favorite Philly pals (Katie Zall and Anna Melton, whose zines are mind blowingly great), and am glad to see JC Tributaries, who I think is one of the most universally talented writers in the world. I can’t wait to see what Rachel and Sari from Hoax have been working on. And I’m really excited to see Aus and Lauren, who are ridiculously great. I just went back to look at the list of tablers right now, and I have to stop gushing because there are so many cool people that I’m inspired by and in awe of coming to NYC Feminist zine fest.

Interview with a Zinester: Suzy Gonzalez!

Our last interview before the fest itself comes from none other than Suzy Gonzalez! We’re so happy to meet you all tomorrow 🙂

SuzyGonzalezPhoto
Suzy, wearing long braids and with microphone in hand, reading from one of their zines.

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

I’m a Chicana-vegan-feminist-zinester from Texas, currently working on my MFA in Painting at the Rhode Island School of Design. I’m invested in the fusing of art and activism, declining socially constructed binaries, and being critical of institutional injustices. I make paintings, sculpture, prints, intallations, etc., but zines are the only way I am able to truly get my political opinions across. My zines consist of personal accounts, drawings, current events, and interviews with those whom I admire and respect, and are generally related in some way to my identity. I’m excited to be presenting my first comic this year that reflects on being a woman of color in an elite institution while attempting to make art that calls for social change.

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

Back in Texas, my good friend Elle Minter and I began a feminist zine called Yes, Ma’am. We had been having regular discussions between the two of us in addition to gender studies courses, and felt a need to voice our opinions. We found the zine format to be a perfect way to express our voices and the voices of anyone who wanted to contribute, whether we agreed with them or not. In addition to the Yes, Ma’am zine, we regularly held feminist discussions with Austin Free Skool. We’ve both been in Grad. school these past two years so I miss her a ton, but I’m happy to be introducing a much overdue Issue 8 of Yes, Ma’am at the fest this year. 🙂

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

It will appear in all of my work for the rest of my life, and I couldn’t be happier about that. It is entirely explicit. Art snobs hate that, and I don’t care. To make a feminist zine or a feminist painting is to express ones voice–a voice that refuses to be silenced.

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

I’m drawn towards feminist compilation zines because I’m all for feminists supporting feminists, and enjoy reading personal stories, like those found in Tenacious: Art and Writings from Women In Prison or This is Me Using My Choice: An Anthology of Women’s Abortion Stories. It’s great to see so much support towards those who want to share their stories. It’s more of a chapbook, but I also love Arise, Chicano! and other Poems by the late Angela de Hoyos. It’s a bilingual read and reminds me of the complications, yet pride I have in my own identity. I’m also really into Evolution of a Race Riot, edited by Mimi Thi Nguyen, which has reprints of writings from the 90s and accounts from POC on riot grrrl and punk rock. It shines a light on a reality that I was unaware of as a kid, but allows me to relate to these writers as an adult. I’m able to see how much has changed and how much hasn’t. I guess I like to think of my zine collection as a historical archive.

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

Hmm, maybe a tea infuser, because I like to spread my ideas around.

Finally, who are some of the other zinesters you’re excited to see at this year’s feminist zine fest?

It was great to see Hoax zine last year. Hoax Issue #5 on Community came into my life at a really great time, and I’m looking forward to what seeing what they’ve been up to this past year. I’m also way into Annie Mok’s comics.

Interview with a Zinester: Anna Melton!

It’s the day before the fest and we’re jazzed to give you an interview with zinester Anna Melton! Check it out:

Anna smiling with a water bottle from inside a cleaved tree.
Anna smiling with a water bottle from inside a cleaved tree.

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

I’m Anna, longtime zine reader but relatively new zine maker. As of this spring (!!) I will also be studying to be a registered nurse. Other interests: knitting fiddly lacy things with tiny needles, wondering whether I can ever pull of Janis Joplin at karaoke (and then concluding I can’t and settling for Alanis Morissette), seeing how many Philly public transit routes I can ride in one day, acting as a human scratching post for my kitty, Oscar Wildecat.

Dear Rob, my first zine, started to take shape last fall, while I was taking a course to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA). I studied cultural anthropology in a previous life, and Rob was my favorite anthropology professor. In many ways, he”s the person who most profoundly shaped my particular brand of radical politics and intersectional feminism. His suicide in 2012 shook me hard; I actually have a ton of half-started zines from various points since then attempting to process the fallout from that. But it was reading my CNA textbook’s very strange, incomplete definition of “transgender” that really made me ask “what would Rob [a scholar of both medical anthropology and anthropology of the body/gender performance] make of these words?” and sparked a finishable project. I came home from class and wrote him a letter describing how fucked my textbook was, one letter turned into another, and you next thing you know I had a zine on my hands.

My second zine, Baby Carrots Micro Aggressions, is a comic version of a dream I had, lovingly drawn up by my friend Maggie. We may collaborate on more zines featuring the “Anna character” later on.

Speaking May Relieve Thee, making its debut at FZF, is my attempt to blend two communities I love very much: the zinester/DIY community, and the sacred harp singing community.

I am currently working on a longer-term project about feminism, neurodiversity, and the impossibly high standards of emotional attentiveness that women are held to (and men are allowed to neglect entirely.) Tentatively calling it Empathy as a Second Language. Maybe it will be ready by the time this zinefest comes around next year…

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

I first encountered the concept of zines when I read a YA novel called Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger. The main character, John (zinester alias Gio) loves a zine called Personal Velocity, contrives to meet its author, Marisol, forges this intense, prickly friendship with her, and finds himself falling for her even though he’s known from the get-go that she’s queer. The coolest part of the book for me, besides the authenticity of the relationships, was that it had pages designed to look like the characters’ zines, with faux handwriting and pictures and everything. I was way too sheltered and socially clueless to know that there was a thriving punk/DIY scene happening just up the road from my hometown, so that book was my only exposure to zines for years.

Then I had a college roommate who had been clued in enough to actually buy real zines, so I read a bunch of hers. Dated a zinester for a minute while I lived in DC, went to my first zinefest there, and was blown away by the sheer variety of subjects and styles. Meant to write a zine for months, years, after that, but always found myself staring down half-started documents and feeling defeated. Big ups to my zine-making friends here in Philly for giving me that final push to do the scary thing.

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

I wrote Dear Rob, in part, because I was struggling with the gendered aspects of CNA class, both obvious things like the men in class speaking over women, and more insidious things like realizing how undervalued “low level” gendered caregiving work like CNA-ing is, both in terms of recognition and monetary compensation. Feminist zine-making, to me, is taking a broader topic (like my CNA class) and analyzing the ways in which living as a woman in a patriarchal society shapes that topic or experience, for better or worse.

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

It’s hard for me to pick a favorite zine, but I have to give a huge shout-out to On Subbing by Dave Roche. It’s one of the first zines I ever read, and it influenced my writing about my work, specifically how to write about vulnerable subjects both compassionately and critically. I’ll be reading it again as I consider writing more about my current and future jobs.

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

My kitchen counter. A solid, steadfast thing that’s seen a lot of experiments, both successful/tasty and much less so, and has some scars and caked-on crud to prove it, but will reliably stick with me and do its job. (Also, my particular kitchen counter was assembled with the help of other zinesters, in an afternoon where every possible double entendre that you can possibly make using the word “screw” was made, so it’s got some extra good DIY vibes.)

Finally, who are some of the other zinesters you’re excited to see at this year’s feminist zine fest?

Especially excited to see Sophie Labelle–I’ve been reading and loving Assigned Male for a while now. But really, there are are so many zinesters I’ve never met/zines I’ve never read, and I can’t wait to take everything in.

Interview with a Zinester: Nicole Harring!

Nicole Harring is up next! Read on and check out their Etsy store while you’re at it.

B&w photo of blond zinester wearing a black spiled collar and cat eye makeup.
B&w photo of blond zinester wearing a black spiled collar and cat eye makeup.

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

My name is Nicole, I’m an avid crafter and textiles enthusiast from North Carolina. My zine Bitch Craft (2011-2014) focuses on the D.I.Y/Vegan lifestyle and the work of female artists.  Each issue has tutorials, interviews, short essays, reading lists, and lots of practical knowledge you can actually get your hands dirty with.

I also make a perzine, “Chipped Teeth” with the most recent and third issue discussing my personal experiences with abuse and survival.

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

In 8th grade I started frequenting the used book store in my town, and one day found issues of Slug and Lettuce which was the first zine I’d ever read. The following year when I started going to shows, I met my friend Renee who was basically my mentor for everything awesome and important.  She showed me classic riot grrrl zines like Girl Germs and Bikini Kill and encouraged me to make my own. She even contributed to “Panic!” the 5 part zine series I made through out high school.

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

I feel that feminism appears explicitly in the majority of my work.  I started making B.C. when I was 18 right after moving to the city and my goals were not only to make something craft oriented but also to have an outlet to talk about the issues that affected my life as well as highlighting the work and lives of other women that inspire me.  From contemporary artists like Alaina Varrone, to personal heroes such as Lucía Sánchez Saornil. Feminism just naturally became the backbone of the zines.

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

Mend My Dress by Neely Bat Chestnut has been such an important zine to me for years! Her distro also puts out some of my other favorites like Shotgun Seamtress, and Telegram.  Bound To Pray/Pasan los dias by Ana Humanleather is also one of the most powerful things that I’ve had read in a long time.

I love typewritten, cut and paste zines and definitely have a soft spot for a hand sewn binding.

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

A crock pot.

Finally, who are some of the other zinesters you’re excited to see at this year’s feminist zine fest?

Nyxia Grey, Lauren and Aus from Wheelhouse, and so many more it’s hard to choose!!

Interview with a Zinester: Metropolarity!

We start the day with an interview from the crew of Metropolarity, a group of queer people of color who create sci-fi zines! Check it out.

A laughing crew of zinesters making fun expressions in a room with bright green walls.
A laughing crew of zinesters making fun expressions in a room with bright green walls.

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

Metropolarity is a Philly-based collective of four queer sci-fi writers of color: Alex Smith, Rasheedah Phillips, Maggie Eighteen, and Ras Mashramani. As individuals and as a collective we do readings & performances, workshops, and put out work in the form of individual/collaborative zines and object/information-based propaganda. Alex Smith is the founder of Laser Life, our favorite series of queer sci-fi readings in Philly. Rasheedah has recently authored an experimental time travel exploration of trauma in her book, Recurrence Plot, and is the creative director and founder of the Afrofuturist Affair and Black Quantum Futurism. Eighteen writes & records All That’s Left, a post-binary dystopian cyborg zine series (online 4 free at cyborgmemoirs.com), and is working on an extended book version for October this year (thanks Leeway). Ras was the impetus to form Metropolarity itself and occasionally does Street Theory, a communal potluck and open mic critical theory night. The lot of us organized the Allied Media Conference’s Liberation Technologies sci-fi track last year together with Ash Richards, KellyAnne Mifflin, Petra Floyd, and Jade Fair of Honey & Blackbone.

We at Metropolarity believe that those without power must take advantage and control of the media outlets that we have access to. We choose science fiction as our lens to create new worlds, identities, self paradigms, and to destroy old, harmful ones.

We have a frequently updated calendar of events at our site: http://metropolarity.net, and a solid selection of available gear at our distro spot, http://metropolarity.storenvy.com  ^_~/

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

Informative, personal, historical, radical zines have always been in our lives. We are influenced by no one person or group in particular, and probably more driven to produce zines as a means to be in control of our own mediated narratives and technological exchange with others.

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

Our zines are feminist by all means, yet to confine our zines to that or any single word is insufficient. We think producing an object as a tool for communication, education, and information exchange should be done deliberately, like any meditation or ritual. Feminist zine making is a communion.

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

We like zines that feel like important objects and heavy with intent.

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

A pair of scissors.

Finally, who are some of the other zinesters you’re excited to see at this year’s feminist zine fest?

Emma Caterine had a couple of badass sci-fi zines last year, which was a delight because we are vicious radical scifi nerds and that’s rare. Big up massive to our neighbors, all the Philly zinesters because they do good shit. Looking forward to seeing what everyone’s going to have, the list right now is stacked!

Interview with a Zinester: Kesheena!

Kesheena of Going Places zine has our hearts for the next interview. Check it out!

Kesheena, wearing a red shirt with white polka dots, looks to the right against a tan wall.
Kesheena, wearing tattoos, a white bead necklace, and a red shirt with white polka dots, looks to the right.

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

I write an on-going zine, entitled Going Places, that focuses on my life as a Navajo punk, Native American diaspora, and other self-interests. I hope that with my zine, I can break down stereotypes about what a Native American is supposed to be and also encourage other Natives to express themselves.

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

My older brother had a bunch of issues of CHAOS, a local punk zine lying around the house, and I started reading them when I got into punk. I bought my first zine at 13 at my second or third show and things took off from there. I got addicted to zines and have been reading them ever since. I think my favorite’s are Alex Wrekk’s Brainscan and Dave Roche’s On Subbing, though I also have to give a huge shoutout to WOC Zine group in Portland who inspired me to start making zines.

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

Feminist zine-making would articulate the saying, “the personal is political.” Though I don’t necessarily consider my work feminist, I think there are many elements that would make it feminist.

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

I like per-zine’s the most, but honestly I enjoy any zine style. Every zine I’ve read has given me something.

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

I’m gonna go with a crockpot. It takes me a long time to create a zine, from ideas to layouts. (I’ve been researching and working on one for over 2 years now!)

Finally, who are some of the other zinesters you’re excited to see at this year’s feminist zine fest?

I can’t wait to see all the zinesters. This is my first zine fest outside of Portland and my first zine fest where I’m tabling at.

Interview with a Zinester: The Wheelhouse!

The Wheelhouse is up next — we’re getting super close to the fest and we’re excited to meet everyone! Hope you are too 🙂

Two of The Wheelhouse zinesters, Lauren and Aus, posing behind an empty ornate black frame.
Two of The Wheelhouse zinesters, Lauren and Aus, posing behind an empty ornate black frame.

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

Lauren Melissa writes zines about being a queer, fat, intersectional fem(me)inist. Aus Bahadur is a queer, brown, intersectional feminist who tries to make art about survival, mental health, and the encroaching doom that awaits us all. Together they run The Wheelhouse – a Toronto-based supporting resource with an intersectional approach to social justice.

(we are going to tag-team the rest of this interview, like tough lady wrestlers)

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

Lauren: I started attending zine fairs before I got the courage to make one – I think the Toronto Queer Zine Fair was one of my first experiences and I fell in love with all of the awesome art and writing! I actually picked up a zine that had a drawing of Aus in it (this was at the beginning of our clumsy/nerdy courtship and I totally used it as an excuse to send him a message). He’s the one who actually convinced me that I could make my own zines and I debuted the first issue of BigFatFemme at the Philly Feminist Zine Fest in 2014 (by debuted, I mean we spent most of the day at Staples and made it to the fest for the last hour, but whatever, I call it a win!). The night before, our friend Khristina handed me a bone folder and I no idea what it was (now I’m slightly more cool and know what it’s for but still haven’t used one).

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

Aus: In the words of someone far more eloquent (bell hooks), “Individuals who fight for the eradication of sexism, without struggles to end racism or classism undermine their own efforts. Individuals who fight for the eradication of racism or classism, while supporting sexist oppression are helping to maintain the cultural basis of all forms of group oppression.” The art we create challenges not only gender-based oppression but also the racist and classist structures that limit us as individuals and as a community. Our feminism moves beyond a single issue framework because the issues of the marginalized are complex and interwoven.

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

Lauren: I am a big fan of perzines – they hit me right in the feels and make me think deep thoughts. Some of my favourite zines are Motor City Kitty By Brianna Dearest, Tributaries by JC, What to Keep, What to Give Away by Khristina Acosta, Sea Witch by Clementine Morrigan, Radical Domesticity by Emma Karin Eriksson, My Anxiety, My Lover by Joyce Hatton and SO MUCH MORE!

Also, one time I got a zine where the artist (Melanie Gillman) used duct tape to bind it and I fell in love – I’m a big fan of fancy duct tape and now that’s how I finish off my copies of Fat Babes to Make You Smile 🙂

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

Aus: a solid metal, vintage, hand cranked egg beater (like my mom used to have) because it’s practical, reliable, sometimes messy, and stylish as fuck.

Finally, who are some of the other zinesters you’re excited to see at this year’s feminist zine fest?

We’re excited to see all of our zine pals (JC, Sarah Sawyers-Lovett, Emma Karin Eriksson, Joyce Hatton, Nicole Harring, Elvis Wolf) and make a bunch of new ones!!

Interview with a Zinester: Tale of the Gray Wolf!

Next up we’re excited to have some words from Tale of the Gray Wolf!

Photo of zinester for Tale of the Gray Wolf with fork and knife in hand, about to dig into a burger.
Photo of zinester for Tale of the Gray Wolf with fork and knife in hand, about to dig into a burger.

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

I am a vegan, queer-identifying human who grew up in the UK but is currently living in Toronto, Canada with my cat Pickle. I constantly like to have something creative going and regularly make zines and patches under Tale Of The Gray Wolf, and soap and other body products under Speckled Fawn Soaps. My content with Tale Of The Gray Wolf tends to reflect whatever I am feeling passionate about, including queerness, feminism, mixed race issues, animals etc.

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

I first discovered zines a few years back when a friend had some in their house. I read a few and found it really interesting to have a peek into the lives of the people that wrote them. I later attended a couple of zine events in the UK and realised there was no limit to what you could make them about, and that anyone could do it! As for influences, I feel like I am constantly being influenced by so many people. A lot of my friends both in Toronto and the UK make zines and it’s really inspiring and motivating to see others being creative around you.

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

To me, feminism is just one way of working towards many oppressions we need to fight against. I try and cover all kinds of anti-oppressive politics in my zines, and much of what I write about is to do with what I have learnt over time, such as understanding the individual circumstances of others in my life and the struggles they may feel, as well as communicating my own, and I feel like these are key parts of a feminist attitude.

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

It is very difficult to pick one favourite zine, so I’m just going to say that I really appreciate everyone who puts something personal out there, something they might be afraid to put into words but are brave enough to do so anyway. I find it so inspiring to read about those who are expressing their deepest feelings and passions

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

Probably a slow cooker. It often takes me a while to process my thoughts and turn them into something creative, but I feel really accomplished when I have taken the time to get something finished in the way I want.

Finally, who are some of the other zinesters you’re excited to see at this year’s feminist zine fest?

I’m excited to be tabling alongside fellow Torontonians The Wheelhouse, as well as catching up with Sarah of How Are Your Insides who I met recently at LA Zine Fest. Otherwise, I am still relatively new to this side of the world so I can’t wait to meet new people and discover all of the awesome work that they do!

Interview with a Zinester: Sy Abudu!

We’re getting super close! As the date comes nearer, check out our next fab interview with Sy Abudu, who you can also find on Tumblr or at their website.

B&w photo of Sy looking down at a book amidst book-filled shelves.
B&w photo of Sy looking down at a book amidst book-filled shelves.

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

I’m an Angeleno turned Brooklynite who works as a multimedia producer in higher ed. My zines and visual art center around found images of African-Americans. I scour everywhere from the Library of Congress to Etsy to my family’s own photo albums to find the images I use in my work.

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

I’ve been a closet print and design geek ever since I can remember, so it was only a matter of time before I happened upon the world of zines. Over the years I’ve built up a sizable collection, but it wasn’t until my friend told me about last year’s Black Lesbian Zine Fest that I worked up the nerve to exhibit my own work. I published my first zine in October and now I’m hooked.

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

I’m always creating from a feminist stance so feminism appears in all of my work, sometimes explicitly, sometimes implicitly. But despite that (or because of it, really), it’s so important to be able to create and exhibit work in safe, inclusionary spaces like this zine fest. Being a queer, feminist, WOC most often means having to constantly shout just to be heard; this zine fest (and others like it) are a necessary reprieve for underrepresented artists.

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

Some of my favorite zines are Katie So’s Destined for MiseryRobert Norman’s The Ways to Hold Hands and When to Use Them, and Atelier Bingo’s Wogoo Zoogi.

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

I think I’m too unfamiliar with kitchens (and their appliances) to sincerely answer this question. My friend said to put Seamless as my kitchen appliance.

Finally, who are some of the other zinesters you’re excited to see at this year’s feminist zine fest?

Oh, so, so many…Sarah Mangle, Big Womyn Press, Hetrick-Martin Institute: Women Speak, and Hazel Newlevant just to name a few.

Interview with a Zinester: Alex Hays!

Alex Hays of Sleeping Creature Distro is up next!

Photo of short-haired Alex wearing glasses and a straw-colored cardigan.
Photo of short-haired Alex wearing glasses and a straw-colored cardigan.

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

I write a zine called Alex, a perzine that’s loosely themed around gender identity. I also started up a small distro called Sleeping Creatures. I wish I could say I have a huge collection, but in reality, I’m building it really slowly. I guess I’m part of the Slow Zine Movement.

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

I started writing zines way back in high school! I moved to a new school in 11th grade, and when making new friends joined a zine-making crowd. I loooooved making zines, and still credit the experience with introducing me to writing outside academic regurgitation, and also with helping me find my voice. I learned so much about myself through writing zines; I could explore my own thoughts and opinions, and also mess around with collage-making and craft. It was also amazingly empowering to trade zines at shows and meet penpals from around the country. To think my little zine had traveled so far… it was really confidence building.
What does it mean to do “feminist zine-making”? Does feminism appear in your work (explicitly or implicitly)?

When I read Alison Piepmeier’s book I was really struck by her definition of zine-making as practicing third-wave feminism. “Grrrl zines are coterminous with the third wave; grrrl zines and third wave feminism respond to the same world. Beyond sharing a historical moment with the third wave, grrrl zines are often the mechanism that third wave feminists use to articulate theory and create community.” (from the introduction to Girl Zines) It kind of blew my mind to read that because while I always saw my zines as feminist (because I wrote them, whether I explicitly engaged with feminist theory or not), I didn’t realize that zines played such a huge part in transmitting the message in the nineties, which is the time period she’s talking about. Actually it seems to me that Piepmeier is also saying that the message happened on the page—that it was being created and transmitted through the same vehicle. It’s pretty cool!

On QZAP’s collection policy statement page they talk about collecting queer zines that don’t address queer issues, that simply being queer makes your zine queer, an idea I agree with. And so it would be hard for me to sit down and parse out what makes my zines feminist, where do I say something that directly aligns with feminist ideology, because my whole framework is imbued with feminism. I guess I think it’s always there, in the same way I think that everything I do is queer.
What is your favorite zine or piece of mail art? Do you like any specific style/part of a zine?

I love a lot of zines. I have a thing for perzines that are honest, raw, and artsy. I like it when something’s happening on the page, visually. I’m into Pinch Kid at the moment, and picked up Volthair last year, a zine that excited me. Oh, and recently I’ve been reading “How to Sleep,” a zine so quirky and weird I totally love it.

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

This question really makes me laugh in the context of a feminist zine fest. Was that on purpose? Ok so here’s my answer: recently my relationship exploded, and somehow I insisted she should take the coffee grinder and I should get myself a new one. I don’t know why; I made a lot of weird decisions around that time. But burr grinders were too expensive so I bought a cheaper burr grinder where you grind the beans by hand. It seemed cool and I imagined it being like, “yeah, I milk my own cows” or some other DIY fantasy, but in fact it’s the worst thing ever. I wake up crazed and suffering from caffeine withdrawal and I have to sit there and HAND GRIND the beans for the love of god. Basically I think I answered the question, “what’s your most impractical kitchen appliance” but things that are difficult and impractical is a little like my zine-making process in a nutshell.

Finally, who are some of the other zinesters you’re excited to see at this year’s feminist zine fest?

OMG everyone.