Creator Q+A | Mary Van Note

Throughout the month leading up the the SFZF we will be running daily mini-profiles of some of the many zinesters, cartoonists, and other creative types who make the Zine Fest what it is. Today's creator is Mary Van Note. Stay tuned for more!

Q. What inspired you to get into small-press/DIY publishing?
A. I wrote a novel before I got into comedy and shopped it around to a lot of micro-presses. It was close to getting published, but it didn’t happen. I wanted immediate gratification and small-press/DIY publishing could do that for me. There’s no middle man - just me, my ideas and a copier.

Q. When did you create your first zine or similar project? Can you describe it for us? When you look back, are you proud, embarrassed, both?
A. I made my first zine the first year I did stand-up comedy in San Francisco. I would read from my zine onstage and sell them after shows. I’m still proud of my first zine. It’s kind of a Mary Van Note classic. It’s called Mary Van Note’s Experiences (of the sexual variety) by Mary Van Note Volume 1. It details several funny and sordid MVN sexual experiences with accompanying stick-figure illustrations.

Q. What is your all-time favorite zine/comic/etc (by someone other than you)? Who is your DIY hero?
A. That’s hard to say, there’s so many who I think are amazing. I like a lot of San Francisco based underground zines/comics. From R. Crumb to V. Vale’s RE/SEARCH, and John Marr’s Murder Can Be Fun. It’s neat to see people who started in underground publishing move on to getting their work published and recognized like John Porcellino’s Map of My Heart, Julia Wertz’ The Fart Party, and even Broke Ass Stuart.

Q. Do you have a favorite memory of the SF Zine Fest?
A. I have great memories of doing Zine Fest. I loved meeting and being tablemates with such interesting and diverse artists and writers. The first year I sat next to Julia Wertz, which was awesome. She came to my comedy show and drew a comic inspired by sitting at the table with me. She had all these fans coming up to our table and she graciously pimped out my zine to her fans.

Q. In addition to the kind of work you will be showing at Zine Fest, what other creative pursuits do you have? Hobbies? Passions?
A. Along with performing stand-up comedy I make short films and webisodes.
My short film Papercuts won an IFC short film contest. I also fill my time with learning how to sew and knit so I can one day make my own clothes from vintage patterns. I’m a vintage addict and love
going to flea markets and swap meets.

Q. What are you working on now? What are you gonna do next?
A. Currently I’m working on things I’ll have for sale at zine fest like handmade zine holders/totes, and a new zine that’s a collection of my comic strips. I’m also starting pre-production on two new short films.

Band Q+A | Harbours + Uni & Her Ukelele

As you probably know, the SF Zine Fest is having a terrific Benefit Show this Thursday at Amnesia, with some great indy bands contributing their time, energy, and musical awesomeness to the Zine Fest cause! Just as we've been been highlighting our amazing exhibitors in a series of Creator Q+As this month, over the next few days we'll be giving you a peek into the lives and thoughts of these great musicians. Today we're checking in with M Zelaya (Harbours) & Heather Marie (Uni & Her Ukelele), who will be playing a special combo performance at the Show! Stay tuned for more, and we'll see you at the show!

Q. What inspired your current musical project? Influences?
MZ: Sailing at the Attic on Tuesday nights. Electricty. The Faces. Years of riding MUNI. Gino Washington. Most everything DJ Neil Martinson plays for SMiLE! Michael Zapruder. Littlejoy. The Zombies and all the other usual suspects.
Uni: My latest album is inspired by Lite-Rock and Mom Rockers.

Q. What is your all-time favorite band/album/zine/etc (by someone other than you)? Who is your DIY hero?
MZ: DIY hero & album Kelley Stoltz - Antique Glow
Uni: Daniel Johnston is my personal DIY hero

Q. Do you have a personal connection to the DIY/small-press world? Did you ever do a zine or similar project? Can you describe it for us?
Uni: I am a big fan of DIY pressing. I screen all my band t-shirts, tote bags, and cut-paste-glue-sew and burn all my cds.

Q. What would you like to see more of in the indy-music world? What similarities do you see (if any) between the music scene and the small-press world?
MZ: We are broke.
Uni: We are broke too. I like DIY style because it's more personal and has more personality.

Q. If you could give advice to an aspiring musician or other creator, what would it be? What advice do you wish you had gotten when you were starting out?
MZ: Do something with the craft you're working on everyday.
Uni: I don't remember getting any advice. Maybe I need to clean my ears out. My story is I'm lucky I have a strong will. I would say to always do what U love, and not get hung up on what other people are doing.

Q. In addition to the kind of music you will be playing at the SFZF Benefit Show, what other creative pursuits do you have? Hobbies? Passions?
Uni: I just joined Crossfit. And I love traveling. I love wigs and Lee press on nails.

Q. What are you working on now? What are you gonna do next?
MZ: Recording a new album, which will be the Harbours' thrid release.
Uni: I am about to mix and master my next album. It has been two years in the making.

Creator Q+A | François Vigneault

Throughout the month leading up the the SFZF we will be running daily mini-profiles of some of the many zinesters, cartoonists, and other creative types who make the Zine Fest what it is. Today's creator is François Vigneault. Stay tuned for more!

Q. When did you create your first zine or similar project? Can you describe it for us? When you look back, are you proud, embarrassed, both?
A. My first zine was called "The Comics Review," which I published when I was 16. It had started because my first girlfriend had put an ad in the back of "The Maxx," a quirky superhero comic, asking for contributions to a Maxx fanzine that never came together, but did attract a certain amount of attention from the fans. I took the project over, taking it waaaay too seriously! I was trying to make a really "professional" publication, which makes it all the more cringe-worthy when I look at it now! I did manage to interview Paul Pope (THB) and Stan Sakai (Usagi Yojimbo), two of my then-favorite creators, with the intention of featuring them in the second and third issues, but the project folded after just a single issue!

Q. Do you have a favorite memory of the SF Zine Fest?
A. This is my fifth year organizing the Fest (!!!), and at this point I've got too many wonderful memories to narrow it down to one or two anecdotes. The best thing about the Fest has doubtlessly been all the wonderful people whom I have gotten to know over the years through the Fest... It's been such an honor to meet and become friends with so many amazing creators, volunteers, and fans!

Q. What subjects do you wish there were more comics about?
A. I’d like to see more non-fiction and journalism-oriented comics. It seems that there could be some really great work done in that field, either on the web or in print. Also, on the other end of the spectrum, some more indy-oriented fantasy and science fiction comics!

Q. What do you think the general public knows or thinks about small-press? How can the zine/comics community reach a greater segment of the public? Or is it better to keep the small-press scene more tightly knit?
A. Since I am one of the organizers of the SF Zine Fest, I obviously think a lot about ways to expand the audience for small-press. One of the main things I'd like to see is more mini-fests cropping up around the nation; small, single-day regional shows with maybe only a dozen or so creators. If you set up a show that's fun, unique, and free (this last point can't be stressed enough! Don't charge the audience to come to your show!), then I think that the public will come out to it, and that is a tremendous boon to the small-press world in general.


Q. In addition to the kind of work you will be showing at Zine Fest, what other creative pursuits do you have? Hobbies? Passions?
A. In the last year I've gotten into bird-watching, which I have been able to dovetail (no pun intended) with my self-publishing by doing a zine on the subject, Bird Brain.

Q. What are you working on now? What are you gonna do next?
A. I am working on the latest issue of Bird Brain, which will feature lots of stuff from a recent trip to the Gulf Coast. That should hopefully be out for the Zine Fest; a month or so later, at APE, I'll be bringing out the first issue of volume 2 of Elfworld, my alt-fantasy comics anthology! I'm incredibly excited about that, since it has been so long since the first volume came out.

Creator Q+A | Susie Cagle

Throughout the month leading up the the SFZF we will be running daily mini-profiles of some of the many zinesters, cartoonists, and other creative types who make the Zine Fest what it is. Today's creator is Susie Cagle. Stay tuned for more!

Q. Do you have a favorite memory of the SF Zine Fest?
A. Jesse Reklaw's watercolor tutorial a couple years ago was really great -- it was awesome watching everyone work, and cringe-worthy realizing how terrible I was myself. I hope he's planning another one this year! I won't try to follow along this time with my own paints and brushes, though; I kept missing all the best action.

Q. What subjects do you wish there were more comics about?
A. I'd love to see more non-fiction comics on the whole. I think comics and journalism are really a perfect match: a lot of true stories are complicated and boring, and comics can not only elucidate the narrative but illuminate the story and characters with art. I'd say it's a spoon full of sugar for the medicine, though reportage doesn't taste bitter to me (I realize it does to some). Anything to bring broader and different attentions to real things. I like fiction too, it just doesn't hold the same power for me as a true story.

Q. What do you think the general public knows or thinks about small-press? How can the zine/comics community reach a greater segment of the public? Or is it better to keep the small-press scene more tightly knit?
A. Events like the SF Zine Fest are absolutely central to the continued success of small press. Especially when it comes to literary comics, which still don't really have mainstream acceptance or success, I think free events that expose people to new work are immensely important. Keeping things small doesn't benefit anyone; it's in our best interests as creators and consumers of small press to always be expanding our audience -- not by changing our work, but by finding new and creative ways of reaching more people. I think we're at a perfect point for this now: on the flip side of the economic collapse and the still-rising popularity of DIY, people want cheap entertainment and they want to know where their money is going. Now's our chance!

Q. In addition to the kind of work you will be showing at Zine Fest, what other creative pursuits do you have? Hobbies? Passions?
A. I'm a journalist by trade, and I guess a simple question asker/friendly harasser by passion.

Q. What are you working on now? What are you gonna do next?
A. Besides the run of Nine Gallons (next issue out really soon, and then two more after that!), my next projects include some illustrated obituaries and a book of real-life gags from my time working with the Decennial Census.

Creator Q+A | Amy Martin

Throughout the month leading up the the SFZF we will be running daily mini-profiles of some of the many zinesters, cartoonists, and other creative types who make the Zine Fest what it is. Today's creator is Amy Martin. Stay tuned for more!

Q. When did you create your first zine or similar project? Can you describe it for us? When you look back, are you proud, embarrassed, both?
A. I made my first self-published book when I was six or so. It was called "Lin the Pin." Its hero was an anthropomorphic diaper pin (I have a lot of younger siblings). I stapled it backwards.
In adult life.... you can still read my first mini comics at the Isotope. They were 8-page stories written by my then-boyfriend, drawn by me. They were fantasy, not at all my kind of stories, but it got me going! Publishing my first book I created all by myself was one of my proudest moments. I still love that book.

Q. What is your all-time favorite zine/comic/etc (by someone other than you)? Who is your DIY hero?
A. I am such a big fan of Team Atrox. Everything they do is pure comedy gold. And they don't waste time or energy on fancy printing or binding---stapled with a card stock cover, thank you! Though, that is changing, now that they are doing the world's first ever sculpted comics (the first I've ever seen anyway).

Q. If you have been to the SF Zine Fest before, do you have a favorite/exciting/cringe-worthy memory?
A. 2009, with a half hour to go before his live reading at the Cartoon Art Museum, my friend suffered complete brain crash at Kinko's. I took over and worked absolute copier fucking magic and printed the entire book in time. Double-sided pages, correctly aligned (they were an odd size), collated, stapled and I almost got 'em trimmed as well. I think they had the copier gilded.

Q. What would you like to see more of in the small-press world?
A. Mini comics with good, solid stories. There's a lot of beautiful art being done in minis, but substantial, well-developed stories are rare. Books that come out regularly and are consistently fun to read and engaging would also be swell.

Q. If you could give advice to an aspiring DIY creator, what would it be? What advice do you wish you had gotten when you were starting out?
A. Definitely get to know other people. Make yourself a community. Don't create in a vacuum! It'll take you ten times as long to figure out how to do the things you want to do.
Also, done is better than perfect. Seriously, just get it done and print it up---what on earth's stopping you?!

Q. What do you think the general public knows or thinks about small-press? How can the zine/comics community reach a greater segment of the public? Or is it better to keep the small-press scene more tightly knit?
A. Meh, I don't really care about getting the general public into small press. Then it's not really small press anymore, is it? It's fun when it's our. little. secret. Also I like when it's small and personal. I like that it's not an easy scene to crack. There's more reward for those who do.

Q. In addition to the kind of work you will be showing at Zine Fest, what other creative pursuits do you have? Hobbies? Passions?
A. I knit like crazy!! I love to knit toys. Toys are such wonderful things, capable of holding so much significance and representing so much about us. Plus, soooofffft. I love soft things. They calm me down.

Creator Q+A | Chris C. Cilla

Throughout the month leading up the the SFZF we will be running daily mini-profiles of some of the many zinesters, cartoonists, and other creative types who make the Zine Fest what it is. Today's creator is Chris C. Cilla. Stay tuned for more!

Q. What inspired you to get into small-press/DIY publishing?
A. In high school ('87?) I met a kid, Kevin Byrd who was xeroxing a comic book and selling it at punk shows & record stores; I was drawing comics & stuff in sketchbooks, and he asked for some contributions. After helping to copy, fold & staple a couple of issues of his comic digest, I realized that this was easy & fun, and I started to meet other people who were doing interesting things (thanks to Trevor Blake [ovo] for giving me a copy of Factsheet Five), and I've been photocopying booklets ever since.

Q. When did you create your first zine or similar project? Can you describe it for us? When you look back, are you proud, embarrassed, both?
A. I made proto-zine things as a kid, whenever I had opportunities to play around with xerox machines, but after 1988 or so, I started to make 8 page minicomics which I would sell for a quarter around town, then I got a job at a xerox shop & cranked out tons of different format zines by myself and others. The early comics & zines are pretty embarrassing, but I can see some good things here & there, and you have to do the work to make any progress.

Q. What is your all-time favorite zine/comic/etc (by someone other than you)? Who is your DIY hero?
A. I don't have one favorite; I love all of Ryan Iverson's different sized zines, Zak Sally's Recidivist and John P's King Cat get re-read a lot, and Tom Hart & Jon Lewis' minicomics were (& still are) inspiring. I could go on & on with a list like this! I don't have a single zine hero, but I'd like to make special note of Jeff Zenick, his zines are grappling with the world around & within him, with comics & reviews and art.

Q. What would you like to see more of in the small-press world?
A. More home made comics.

Q. What are you working on now? What are you gonna do next?
A. My full length book The Heavy Hand was just published by Sparkplug Comic Books, I have been working on that for several years. I just finished the cover & some gags for Tom Neely's Bound & Gagged, a couple of drawings for a show at Pony Club in Portland, some illustrations for The Pork Torta website, and Stun Nuts #7. I'm drawing more comics, on different sizes of paper, for books of various sizes. I'll also be making some novelty t-shirts soon.

Creator Q+A | Drippy Bone Books

Throughout the month leading up the the SFZF we will be running daily mini-profiles of some of the many zinesters, cartoonists, and other creative types who make the Zine Fest what it is. Today's creator is Keenan Marshall Keller of Drippy Bone Books. Stay tuned for more!

Q. When did you create your first zine or similar project? Can you describe it for us? When you look back, are you proud, embarrassed, both?
A. I hated zines all through life until I was much older. Everyone I knew whom made them through high school & college were poets or punkers and that shit was real boring…
It wasn’t until I was older and focusing on my own drawing and art that I started thinking about publishing, then started to think realistically about that and turned my focus to zines. The 1st zine I actually made was with a large group of people and it came out pretty lame, but it was only a year from then that I made Whore Eyes #1 & #2 (my first zines as part of DBB) and I’m very proud of those….

Q. What is your all-time favorite zine/comic/etc (by someone other than you)? Who is
your DIY hero?

A. Well my partners, Mario Zoots & Kristy Foom are 2 of my art heros…. They do it all,
art, publishing, curating, music and zines…. They’re like mini-mutant-moguls… Also
people like fore mentioned David Magdaleno, Mike Diana, Le Dernier Cri, Victor Cayro, and Gary Panter all whom endlessly inspires me.

Q. What would you like to see more of in the small-press world?
A. “Support Weird, Create Havoc, and Stay Savage.” Really, just keep it weird.

Q. In addition to the kind of work you will be showing at Zine Fest, what other creative pursuits do you have? Hobbies? Passions?
A. Art. Books. Comix. Music. Everything we (DBB) love as a group, works it’s way into
our publishing. There isn’t really a separation between myself and what I do…. Oh
yeah, I also like weed.

Q. What are you working on now? What are you gonna do next?
A. A shit-ton of stuff going down! We will have 4 new titles for SF ZINE Fest:
Galactic Breakdown #2, I Gotta Grunt, The Best Things in Life Are Free if You Are Rich, and Pushing It with Roids: a special SF Zine Fest release only!!! A life guide to bad-ass-ary.

Plus later in September, we are releasing our biggest book to date. Grawlix Comix #1 featuring the works of: Victor Cayro/Bald Eagles, Michael DeForge, Derek M Ballard, Matheiu Desjardins, Becca Kacanda, Evan Meister, and myself. A full color, uncensored collection of the best underground commix artists working today! Raw, deranged, graphic beauty for the enlightened savage in all of us.

Creator Q+A | The CAliCO Umbrella Collective

Throughout the month leading up the the SFZF we will be running daily mini-profiles of some of the many zinesters, cartoonists, and other creative types who make the Zine Fest what it is. Today's creators are Megan Quinn and Liz Brent CAliCO Umbrella Collective. Stay tuned for more!

Q. What inspired you to get into small-press/DIY publishing?
MQ: Ten years ago, I saw my first-ever zine at a record store in CO. I thought, "I could do this! This is awesome!"
LB: My BFF and co-exhibitor, Megan Quinn, introduced me to zines when we were both at the University of Colorado at Boulder. My first zine festival was the '07 Denver Zine Fest, and when I saw all the ways people zine, that was it for me - I was hooked!

Q. When did you create your first zine or similar project? Can you describe it for us? When you look back, are you proud, embarrassed, both?
LB: My first zine was a single poem that I spread across several pages using abstract illustrations. I still like the poem, and actually think it was a decent first project, but I would totally do it differently now!
MQ: When I was 15, I had much different priorities for my zines and was still figuring out my voice. Today, I'm happy I started self-publishing at all!

Q. What is your all-time favorite zine/comic/etc (by someone other than you)? Who is your DIY hero?
MQ: Kelly Shortandqueer really inspired me. His zines about his life as a trans author taught me more than school ever did. He is a brave, honest and visceral writer.
LB: Besides MQ here, my DIY comic hero is Amy Martin, who I met at SFZF last year and has become a great friend and continues to inspire me.

Q. If you have been to the SF Zine Fest before, do you have a favorite/exciting/cringe-worthy memory?
LB: Last year was our first year at SFZF, and our neighbors (Amy Martin & Ingrid Keir) were my favorite part of it because they are still my friends today! SFZF also was a major reason why I decided to move to San Francisco!
MQ: It was my first-ever trip to SF, and my face hurt from smiling and meeting new people!

Q. What would you like to see more of in the small-press world?
MQ: In Denver, I'd like to see more resources for small press authors. That's part of why we created CAliCO Umbrella.
LB: In the arts in general, I would like to see more USA inter-state and international, cross communication/collaboration. The internet is a great medium for that, but there's a lot to be said for physical presence (especially with zines!), artists getting to take their work other places.

Q. If you could give advice to an aspiring DIY creator, what would it be? What advice do you wish you had gotten when you were starting out?
MQ: I wrote lots of handwritten letters to zinesters I admired. I never met another real-life zine writer until I was in college. Now I'm a journalist, and I 100% value asking questions and putting yourself out there. I am so glad I made those connections! You never know who's out there until you ask.
LB: Mine would be pretty simple: Have no fear! Just go for it! Try it! It's way easier than you think. But I definitely second what MQ said. I had her to guide me in my first zines, but I think asking others for help - and now it's so easy with the Internet to find folks - is a great idea!

Q. What communities do you wish there were more zines/comics/etc for?
LB: A comic/zine I've had in mind for awhile to make, and a project I'm hoping to get started ASAP, is for dancers. It would be interesting to see zines for performers, actors, athletes... people in the physical arts.
MQ: I don't necessarily want to suggest a certain "shape" to the landscape of zine topics-- I just want to hear about what is important to the creative people in the small press community!

Q. What do you think the general public knows or thinks about small-press? How can the zine/comics community reach a greater segment of the public? Or is it better to keep the small-press scene more tightly knit?
MQ: When I first started, zines were much more common. They have since faded somewhat in Denver. Nowadays, the scene here is quite a bit smaller but very supportive of each other. I'd love to let people know how easy and liberating zine writing is, and I know Denver zinesters do too!
LB: I'm honestly not sure what the "general public" knows... I think film, like the recent premiere of "Handmade Nation," is a strong way to reach people. Also, I find the Internet as a networking tool to be a powerful way to inform others.

Q. In addition to the kind of work you will be showing at Zine Fest, what other creative pursuits do you have? Hobbies? Passions?
LB: LIFE is a creative pursuit! My life is all about dance, drawing, painting, sewing, crafts, exploring San Francisco, biking, hiking, yoga, rock climbing... and my amazing family and friends.
MQ: I love sewing things (badly) on my sewing machine. I'm not really religious, but I love my job as a religion columnist and blogger about all the zany weird connections between religion and pop culture.

Q. What are you working on now? What are you gonna do next?
LB: I'm working on taking my various art and projects I've put on the backburner for a long time to a whole new, professional level. I'm revamping my website with and I just set up an Etsy account to sell various things I make. I have a part-time job, but these days I think of my main career as a freelance/professional multidisciplinary artist. Gotta make it happen!
MQ: I hope to continue writing for as many mediums as possible, though I consider zines to be the most creative and heartfelt means I have of expressing myself. Here's to more ideas and more photocopies!

Creator Q+A | Love Bunni Press

Throughout the month leading up the the SFZF we will be running daily mini-profiles of some of the many zinesters, cartoonists, and other creative types who make the Zine Fest what it is. Today's creator is R.John Xerxes of Love Bunni Press. Stay tuned for more!

Q. What inspired you to get into small-press/DIY publishing?
A. I photocopied my first zine in 1988. What has kept me involved in the zine scene is its power to inspire me. The cut and paste revolution might have failed and the blogOsphere might have siphoned off a lot of potential voices, but the zine is still an important and vital source of self-expression and political change.

Q. When did you create your first zine or similar project? Can you describe it for us? When you look back, are you proud, embarrassed, both?
A. I started by writing a page of music reviews for a zine called NOISY CONCEPT. The reviews were all rap albums and NYHC. This was 1987. I recently found those reviews. There were a lot of spelling mistakes. And dot matrix printouts. That was embarrassing...

Q. What is your all-time favorite zine/comic/etc (by someone other than you)? Who is your DIY hero?
A. Joe Franke's Life is A Joke, zine/comic. But Brains is up there too.

Q. What would you like to see more of in the small-press world?
A. More reading. We need to give each other more feedback.

Q. If you could give advice to an aspiring DIY creator, what would it be? What advice do you wish you had gotten when you were starting out?
A. What you have to say is important. And people will read it. Sometimes. But you will get ZERO feedback. Keep at it. People like what you are doing. Just not as many as you would like.

Q. What subjects/groups/themes/ideas/communities do you wish there were more zines/comics/etc about/for?
A. Seriously critiques. There is too much scenester bullsheets.

Q. What do you think the general public knows or thinks about small-press? How can the zine/comics community reach a greater segment of the public? Or is it better to keep the small-press scene more tightly knit?
A. Careerists should be distrusted at every turn.

Q. In addition to the kind of work you will be showing at Zine Fest, what other creative pursuits do you have? Hobbies? Passions?
A. I watch a lot of movies. Bad, bad movies. And read philosophy.

Q. What are you working on now? What are you gonna do next?
A. I am trying to get more people involved...

Creator Q+A | Cliterally Speaking

Throughout the month leading up the the SFZF we will be running daily mini-profiles of some of the many zinesters, cartoonists, and other creative types who make the Zine Fest what it is. Today's creators are April and Quin of Cliterally Speaking. Stay tuned for more!

Q. What inspired you to get into small-press/DIY publishing?
A. We're broke!

Q. What is your all-time favorite zine/comic/etc (by someone other than you)? Who is your DIY hero?
A. April: Hothead Paisan by Diane DiMassa. Quin: April Thompson.


Q. What would you like to see more of in the small-press world?
A. Ladies and queer.

Q. In addition to the kind of work you will be showing at Zine Fest, what other creative pursuits do you have? Hobbies? Passions?
A. Bubble baths, eating stuff and saying things. Making stuff.

Q. What are you working on now? What are you gonna do next?
A. Cliterally Speaking issue number 2!