Remember, folks, if you're tabling at San Francisco Zine Fest this coming weekend, you'll need to provide us with your California Seller's Permit number. Need a little help going through the Temporary Seller's Permit application process? Check out our handy guide right here, and you can have your shiny new permit number in just a few minutes.
Celebrate the fun and excitement of the SF Zine Fest at our annual Mission: Comics & Art after-party!
Mix and mingle with some of the Bay Area's most talented creators and meet the team that makes the Zine Fest happen. There will be food, drinks, and even a few DIY-themed party games where you can win some seriously cool prizes.
As always, admission is FREE! RSVP for the event here.
The Cartoon Art Museum and SF Zine Fest are proud to present Thinking Captions 2013 : Cartoonists Reading Their Cartoons, on Thursday, August 29th from 7pm to 9pm. A diverse lineup of small-press cartoonists will read from their respective works, accompanied by a special Keynote presentation.
The lineup, consisting of artists exhibiting at this years’s SF Zine Fest, consists of Emily Alden Foster (emilyaldenfoster.com), Roman Muradov (bluebed.net), Sophia Foster-Dimino (hellophia.com), Ric Carrasquillo (squillostudio.com) and Justin Hall (justinhallcomics.com). The suggested donation for this event is $5, although no one will be turned away for lack of funds.
RSVP for the event here.
How did you get in to zines and self-publishing?
Comics led me to the zine world. I think Cerebus by Dave Sim and the original TMNT by Eastman and Laird were the first comics that I saw which seemed to be published and handled by the artists. I loved that they were black and white and written and drawn by the artists. It wasn't until recently though, in the past five years that I decided that I really needed to just buckle down and make a comic.
When I started Ebb and Flood I decided that I would just make it and find my way as I went. So self publishing just made sense. I didn't even know about SF Zine Fest and it was my wife who saw a poster advertising it and said "that seems like something you would like." I was so excited to find a venue where people were making exactly what they wanted to make and had a direct line to their audience. It has been very inspiring to meet other folks at Zine Fest who are talented and creative and following their passion.
You reference a lot of monsters, myths, and old wives tales in your work. Do you come up with those or are they ones you've heard over time?
I've always been fascinated by myths and fairy tales. Growing up in Alaska, I had a friend who was an Aleut and his family had these amazingly scary and creepy myths and ghost stories. Everyone is afraid of monsters, and everyone has a monster that is specifically frightening to them. My childhood monsters don't scare me the way they used to, but they will always be there.
I learned that myths are hardwired into our psyches when I was in my early twenties. At that time I was teaching 10 year old boys a myth writing unit and they just ate it up. Even though these little boys had no background of having read myths, myth seemed fascinating and even familiar to them. As I started Ebb and Flood, the ghosts drifted into the stories so that they are just as important as the living members of the town. So to answer your question I guess those are myths that I've invented but I've been influenced by many stories I've read and heard over the years.
Ebb & Flood reminds me a lot of Twin Peaks in there being a dichotomy of subtle, supernatural events that keep happening in a small sleepy town (Beacham Bay). What inspired you to tell an ongoing set of stories in the "Beacham Bay Universe?"
What a huge compliment to compare Beacham Bay to Twin Peaks. Twin Peaks came out when I was a in High School and I was instantly taken with it. I loved how weird and dark it was and the more that we as viewers learned, the more confusing and twisted the story seemed to get. I've definitely tried to incorporate that sense of layering into Ebb and Flood. I want readers to dig into the town's history and every time they think they have a finger on its past they find something new. Beacham Bay isn't as wicked or dangerous as Twin Peaks, but it does have a darker, complex background which lends to its present state.
When I started writing stories about Beacham Bay I was looking for a vehicle that would provide many story lines and personalities and it made sense to have the town be the main character and build that character by getting to know the people. It's just so much fun now to dig into the town and uncover it's background and convoluted history. The more I do it, the more I find out.
I noticed that water seems to be an ever-present element throughout your work. Is there a particular reason for that?
Swimming has always been a medative, restorative activity for me. I grew up swimming and swam competitively in high school and college. After I moved to San Francisco I discovered the Dolphin Club and started swimming in the bay. Finding cold water swimming changed everything for me though, and suddenly swimming became more challenging and rewarding. Getting into the Bay when the temperature is in the low 50s is so exhilarating and instantly brings you into a state of awareness unlike any other sport that I've experienced. You have to be aware and careful and pay attention to what you are doing and what the tides and currents are doing. Every swim turns into a little adventure.
When I started writing, open-water swimming became a part of the culture of Beacham Bay, and that came from seeing everyone at the Dolphin Club doing their thing every day. People that jump into 50 degree water are a unique bunch. So when I created Beacham Bay it seemed to make sense that this would be a town where everyone swam and it was just a part of what they did.
There are a lot of different storytelling styles in your comics. Which dictates the direction you take -- the story you want to tell or the style you want to tell it in?
Starting with genre seems to help me get my ideas down on paper and there are so many genres I would like to explore. I have some science fiction stories I'm working on and it would be fun to do a Western some day as well. I usually start with genre and the story comes out of that. Occasionally a story idea will come to me and then it's a matter of figuring out what the genre or style will be, where it fits best. Often it doesn't feel as if I'm creating a story as much as discovering it, which I know is not a new idea, but one that feels familiar to me. When I try too hard to make a story go a certain way, it seems to fall flat or feel forced.
When I started Ebb and Flood I wanted a subject matter that would allow me the opportunity to tell different kinds of stories. Beacham Bay allows me to cover a lot of ground. Ebb and Flood then becomes limitless for me as a vehicle of storytelling and I'm free to explore different themes in each little vignette.
What can people expect from you coming up? Any new work coming out?
I have two new issues of The Business of Monkeys, which are sketch book compilations coming out at SF Zine Fest. I'm just finishing the pencils for Ebb and Flood #3 and I'm hoping to have it printed this fall.
I'm also writing Ebb and Flood #4 which is a bit of format change and it's been so much fun to write; I'm really looking forward to getting that going as well. I'm also working on a mini comic which is a collection of the ghosts of Beacham Bay. I would love to get a third issue of The Milk and Carrots Anthology together and am always on the lookout for more contributors. That's all for now, but I'm hooked on this art form so I'm curious to see what I'll be making in a few years.
Finally, from your perspective what makes the Bay Area a special place for writers, artists, and DIY creators?
The Bay Area is such a beautiful place to live and it's a perfect mix of urban life and nature. It's so fantastic that I can live in such a dense city surrounded by so many people and then I can just plop into the bay and go for a swim and be completely immersed in nature, or get over to Mt. Tam in 30 minutes and be in the woods. I love having both those worlds at my fingertips. I'm also amazed at the creativity that people in the Bay Area have. It's a place full of people who actively follow their interests and passions. People don't just punch the clock, they all have diverse abilities and viewpoints. My workplace is a good example of that. I teach art at an elementary school and my colleagues are so active and creative. The Bay Area is a unique and fantastic place, I'm fortunate to call it home.
Hey SF Zine Fest folks --
The San Francisco Center for the Book will be hosting an Open Print Studio evening for Zine Folks and Friends!
Local zinesters and paper people are invited to spend the evening at the SFCB bindery putting finishing touches on all of those last minute SF Zine Fest projects! Jennie Hinchcliff/Red Letter Day will be on hand to assist with tasks such as trimming, sewing, stapling – and maybe show a demo on rounding corners! No reservations are necessary, all are welcome. Bring projects in progress or stop by to get inspired. (“Socializing” counts as “work”!)
When: August 16th
Where: SF Center for the Book, 375 Rhode Island (btwn 16th & 17th, in Potrero Hill)
Time: 5:00pm – 10:00pm
Also: Open Print Studio for letterpress is going on the same evening. SFCB’s bindery space is to the left of the gallery; once you’re past the reception area, look left and head through the doorway.
See ya there!
I recently caught up with ZeroFriends artist, Ricky Watts, after his completion of the amazing mural he painted on “The Phoenix” Theater wall in Petaluma, CA. The piece took 450 MTN Colors aerosol paint cans to produce.
Ricky is a versatile artist who illustrates, paints fine art, as well as spray paints large-scale murals. He became connected with Alex Pardee and Quake of the ZeroFriends Collective 15 years ago and has had art openings at the ZeroFriends location showcasing his illustrations and paintings. He has appeared in numerous international print and web publications, including Juxtapoz, Herman Miller, X-Funs (Taiwan), Refused Magazine, Bay Area Graffiti (book), Flo Multi-Zine and the 2012 Outside Lands Music Festival Sutro stage banners.
Hey Ricky, looks like you’ve been up to quite a bit lately. What are some of the new things you’ve been working on?
Hey! Thanks for this opportunity. I’ve been staying busy painting walls, doing shows and taking on some commissions and graphic design projects. I’m currently preparing to do some live painting at the Outside Lands Music Festival in August.
How did you hookup with the ZeroFriends Collective?
I’ve known Alex Pardee and Quake for about 15 years now. We originally met through graffiti and have become good friends over the years. I was around in the beginning when ZeroFriends was just starting out and watched it develop into the awesome company it’s become. Everyone who works there is great and it’s been a very exciting to be included in their shows/events.
ZeroFriends showcases work from a variety of artists. What would you say sums up the style/type of art and artists involved in the collective?
The great thing about ZeroFriends is that you don’t need to do a certain style of art to be involved. It’s more of a loose knitted group of friends who happen to all be artists on their own. If there had to be a certain style, many of the artists involved are into monsters and darker styles of art. Most are illustrators or have an illustrative background but the majority of us are comfortable in multiple mediums at any given time. It’s a very versatile collective. One day we’ll be collaborating on an illustration, the next day we’ll be spray painting a wall and the following day we’ll be working on a graphic for the website.
I’ve been to the Zero Friends store in Oakland, CA and seen the books and zines published, have you ever thought of publishing a book or zine consisting of your artwork? If so, what would it consist of?
I think about doing a zine/book all the time! When I was in high school I started self publishing a graffiti zine called HelmetHeds. It was total D.I.Y., I’d cut up actual photos, glue them on to paper, write stupid stuff around them and run off copies at Kinko’s. Making zines was what attracted me to graphic design, my major at the Art Institute of California in San Diego. I’ve always loved and collected them. In 2007, I self published a zine of my black and white drawings called Excessive Nonsense. The ultimate goal was to do a handful of issues to then compile them all into a book but funds ran short and time was re-directed towards other projects. I still fantasize about doing a book and know someday it will happen. It will include artwork, progress shots, behind the scenes stuff, commentary, etc.
You’ve been experimenting with graffiti art from a young age, painting at night under bridges, etc., what was it that attracted you to spray paint art?
When I was in junior high, I got into graffiti because it was the cool trend at the time. Many kids at school had a graffiti alias and I thought that was interesting so I came up with “Junior” because I was small. One day a classmate showed me a copy of Can Control, a 1990‘s graffiti magazine and it blew my mind. I wanted to paint big, elaborate pieces like what I saw in that magazine. I became obsessed with it. Most kids stopped writing after a few months but I couldn’t stop. It became all I thought about, all I did, all I looked at. It was a combination of my creative desires and rebellious teenage years that attracted me to spray paint as a medium.
I understand you recently painted a large mural on the wall of the Phoenix Theater in the city of Petaluma, CA. Can you explain how this project came together?
The wall I painted recently was something I began daydreaming about when I began hanging out at “The Phoenix” in 1995. It was so big and majestical that I only wanted to paint a portion of the wall, I didn’t think it would be possible to do the whole thing. In August of 2012 I got a call from Scott Hess of the Petaluma Arts Council asking me to be a part of a show he was curating for the Petaluma Arts Center featuring Mars-1, Oliver Vernon and Damon Soule. All three of these men are phenomenal artists so it was an honor to even be considered. Space for all the art became an issue and Scott proposed the idea of doing a mural on the Phoenix as my contribution to the show. I agreed to it, although I was a little skeptical of its possibility. One thing led to another and Scott, with the help of KickStarter, paved the way to making the wall a reality.
This is the largest piece I’ve done to date. It’s approx. 60’ wide by five stories tall. The wall was painted entirely with MTN Colors aerosol paint and took approx. 450 cans to produce.
How long did it take to paint the wall?
It was a little intimidating at first as I’m terrified of heights, but once I began painting, things went smoothly and it was complete in a little over two weeks.
As a kid, did you always dream of becoming an artist? What turned you onto art growing up?
It’s funny to me, when you’re young, art is just something you do. Every kid draws, colors, whatever. It’s not really a career possibility when you’re a kid. I wanted to be a paleontologist, then I wanted to play professional soccer. I would doodle in class a lot, draw girls names as a way to get their attention. I loved comics so I would draw my own comics, usually involving epic battles of nuclear dinosaurs vs. the US Army. I got serious about art in high school although it still wasn’t a career possibility for me. I just knew that I liked painting more than I liked being on the soccer team. I spent two years in the AP art program in high school and my teacher convinced me that yes, a professional artist was a possibility.
What is it about the Bay Area community that helps artists thrive?
The bay area art scene is incredible. Most artists I meet are genuine people, thoroughly interested in art and networking with others. Artists here seem more relaxed and willing to share. The galleries are supportive of local talent and there are a lot of murals being painted. I really love the bay area, I’m happy to call northern California home.
Where have you shown your art lately?
Where can people find your art and buy your prints?
Everything can be found at RickyWatts.com - I recently opened a Studio/Gallery space in Petaluma, CA, a few blocks from the Phoenix Theater wall. The address is 402 Petaluma Blvd. North, Petaluma, CA 94952. I’m there most often Tuesday-Saturday, 11am-6pm. I encourage anyone interested in stopping by to make an appointment through my website so I can be sure to be there in person.
We're less than a month away from SF Zine Fest 2013 and things are gearing up to be one of our most exciting weekends ever.
This year we are proud to feature over 140 creators in two huge exhibition halls at the San Francisco County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park. Our hosted community of writers, artists, and zinesters will have an array of work on display, ranging from nationally recognized publishers in the DIY and small-press scenes, to local creators based throughout the Bay Area. As always, the SF Zine Fest is a free event to all public attendees.
In addition to our exhibitors, SFZF will also host numerous events throughout the weekend, including spotlights on our special guests Justin Hall, Roman Muradov, & Sophia Foster-Dimino, as well as zinester workshops and discussions of all things DIY. For a full schedule of events visit our Panels and Workshops page.
The SFZF Reading Room & Zine Library will also return even better than ever. Our collection of over 200 comics and zines showcase some of the most talented creators featured at Zine Fests past and present, and will all be on display for attendees to view and read.
To ramp up excitement for the big weekend, the SF Zine Fest will be hosting "Thinking Captions 2013", a reading at the Cartoon Art Museum on August 29th featuring creators that will be exhibiting at this year's fest. Make sure to also join in on the fun Saturday Night, August 31st, as we'll be throwing our annual post-party at Mission Comics & Art.
Be sure to RSVP to this year's SF Zine Fest, and for updates on Zine Fest weekend, exclusive contests, and DIY goodness, find us on Facebook and Twitter. You'll also want to follow #SFZF for up-to-the-minute news and giveaways!
I love buttons. Whether they're pinned to my jacket or messenger bag, they're a great way for me to subtly rep my favorite bands/comics/nerd passions. So just imagine how stoked I was to come across these little guys to put my zinester antics on display.
Each of these buttons can be picked up on Etsy, and in true DIY fashion, are all lovingly handmade.
I met Jason Martin at my first SF Zine Fest all the way back in 2008 and was blown away by his zines. He's not the kind of guy to wow you with flashy illustrations or sensational concepts, but rather, an approach that is perhaps a perfect representation of his personality -- honest, earnest, and down to earth.
His ongoing title, Laterborn , is a zine brimmed with poignant true-life stories of Jason's everyday life. Co-workers, childhood memories, and house shows are all tropes of auto-bio comics that have been explored before, but he brings a sense of depth and delight that is rarely found elsewhere.
I got a chance to chat with Jason about his work and process -- here's what he had to share.
Your art has a minimalist style that still manages to convey a lot of thought and emotion -- what influences that style of storytelling?
That’s pretty much the only way I can draw, but luckily it seems to fit my stories. I try to make up for my limited drawing skills by working harder on the writing half, so it’s a good motivator in that way. Kind of like when a singer doesn’t have a great voice, so they step up their songwriting.
How was your creative experience writing for other artists in Papercutter #17 different than stories you draw yourself?
Oh man, everything about that project was different and exciting, and also scary. I knew a lot of people would be reading that issue that had never seen my work before, so I felt a lot more pressure than usual. Another difference is I tend to do a lot of revising even while I’m drawing and inking, so it was hard to let go of my drafts and know I couldn’t make any more changes. But I also had an editor (Greg Means) who’s really good at giving feedback, which balanced things out.
When we got the finished comics back everyone hit theirs out of the park, and it was obvious I never had anything to worry about. My two favorite panels in the issue are things the artists added on their own (like the second to last panel of Vanessa Davis’ comic, which totally nailed what I was trying to say).
In Laterborn #8 there's a part of the story where you flashback to a childhood memory and the art style radically changes. Can you talk a little bit about where you took that artwork from?
Those drawings are from a book my mom and I made when I was a kid. I would tell her stories about my life and she would write down what I said (probably polishing it up a little), then I’d draw a picture to illustrate each page. Looking back, it was kind of like proto-Laterborn. I still have the book (actually two books) on my shelf, with stories like “Jason Goes to Canada” and “Jason Has a Bad Dream.” Good stuff.
In one issue of Laterborn you mentioned your house had caught on fire. Three years later you wrote that story as one of the shorts in Papercutter. How did you know it was the right time to tell it?
I was writing that story in my head for years, but whenever I thought about working on it for an issue of Laterborn I’d start to feel really bogged down and drained. I figured it would take me around two months to draw the story, and didn’t want to be in that “head space” for so long. So it was nice to be able to hand this off to my friend Calvin to draw (who did an amazing job). I probably wouldn’t have done it otherwise.
Have you ever considered a fiction project?
I majored in creative writing, so I’ve written a lot of fictional short stories in the past, and hope to pick that up again when I’m more caught up on my comic ideas. But for whatever reason I don’t feel like I have what it takes to draw a fictional comic... I’d probably be more down to do this with another artist. One way or another, I definitely want to write fiction again someday. There’s a thrill in creating a new story that you don’t get when you’re retelling something that already happened.
From your perspective, what makes the Bay Area a special place for writers, artists, and creators?
I love that we have all the culture that comes with big cities and college towns, but we’re also never too far from a beach or forest. The only thing that makes it not so special is the skyrocketing rents, but even though we keep losing artists to cheaper cities, it feels like there’s always an influx of talented young people to keep things going.
To see more of Jason's artwork and pick up his zines, head over to driftwoodcity.com; Jason will also be exhibiting at this year's SF Zine Fest, so be on the lookout!
When I was 16 years old I became obsessed with two things that would become major focal points of my life -- punk rock and comics. While my tastes in both of those realms has evolved over the years, nothing gets me more excited then when these two worlds collide.
The mixing of punk and comics is nothing new -- from zines, to album art, to show flyers -- cartoonists have a long-held presence in the scene. While countless titles have been published over the years, I wanted to spotlight a few of my personal favorites that I find myself reading over and over again.
Love & Rockets - Unless you've been living in a small wooden cabin cut off from all of comic-loving society, you've probably heard of Love & Rockets. Comprised of honest, funny, heart wrenching, and sometimes planetary stories, this series has become one of the most well-known indie comics of the last 20+ years.
The strips by co-creator Jaime Hernandez, set during the early years of the California punk scene, are focused on the intertwined relationships of young girls Maggie, Hopey, and their cast of childhood friends. I could write an entire thesis about this title so take my advice when I say this is one comic that lives up to the hype.
Punk Rock Jesus - In the not-too-distant future where corporate tyranny and crass commercialization reign supreme, an evil television executive hatches a scheme to brainwash the masses -- a new reality show starring a genetically-modified clone of Jesus Christ. Things don't go quite according to plan though when Irish freedom fighters, Christian extremists, and angry politicians get in the mix. Did I mention that the cloned Holy Son dons a mohawk, begins listening to the Dead Kennedys, and starts a band called The Flak Jackets? Yeah, that part is awesome.
Written and illustrated by Sean McKeever, Punk Rock Jesus was a cult favorite amongst critics and readers alike. McKeever brings a ferocious electricity to the artwork that feels like a strange-but-perfect melding of Raymond Pettibon and Jim Lee (personally I love it). One half action/adventure, one half social commentary, this is a great read for those looking for some thought-provoking entertainment.
Snake Pit - For a guy that's played in quite a few bands, including J Church, Party Garbage, and The Capitalist Kids, I'd say Ben Snakepit knows a thing or two about punk rock.
That undeniable authenticity is why I love Snake Pit. As the sole writer and artist, Ben brings a humorous, unfiltered enthusiasm to the page time and time again. I got into his work through reading Razorcake (where he is a common contributor) and his zine collections, Snake Pit Quarterly. The anthologies are a blast and are filled with autobiographical shorts told in his signature three-panel strip format, mostly about touring, friends, and day job shenanigans.
Henry & Glenn Forever - This is one of those zines that is so absurd, so absolutely off the wall bonkers, that you can't help but be drawn in by its ridiculous premise: Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig are suburban "roommates" who along with their neighbors, Hall & Oates (now practicing Satanists), find themselves mixed up in all sorts of everyday and other-worldly adventures.
It's hard to fully describe this zine -- which just released a third issue earlier this year -- but if you're at all curious it will not disappoint. Misfits fans and Black Flag devotees are sure to pick up on some of the hilarious references, and the wide range of art styles from the featured creators showcase just how much fun you can have with this concept.
Punk Rock and Trailer Parks - An underrated gem in my opinion, this graphic novel tells the fictional story of The Baron, a Goliath-sized band geek that finds himself in the thick of the late 70's punk scene in Akron, Ohio. Most of the action takes place at The Bank, a real-life venue in downtown Akron that hosted underground icons like The Ramones, Joe Strummer, and Wendy Williams.
There's a very Crumb-esque vibe to the artwork and storytelling, and the book's creator, simply known as "Derf," does a great job at capturing the look and feel of Mid-Western America through the lens of the comix landscape. It's chock full of mosh pits, melees, and high school mayhem -- what more could you ask for?
This is by no means a complete list of all the punk comics out there, but these are definitely some of my favorites. The punk scene has a raw, unbridled essence to it that's hard to define, but when captured on the page is unlike anything you'll ever find. I'll never outgrow either of these two worlds, and quite frankly, neither should anyone else.
Are there any other punk rock comics you would recommend? Share them in a comment.