SF Zine Fest talks with E. Francis Kohler

In three sentences, tell us what your work is about.

I only need one sentence: My work is a tribute, adoration and homage to all things classic horror (old school monster movies).

How did you first find out about zines? What inspired you to make your own zines?

It's been so long I can't really recall my very first encounter with zines, but I do clearly remember coming across some issues of American Living (zines by Angela Mark and Michael Shores) in a free box at the San Francisco Art Institute library in 1986. I also have a very clear memory of finding issue #2 of Kandycorn-Jackhammer (by Johnny Brewton) in a secondhand clothing shop in Berkeley in '91. I had done some strips (for fun and for my Junior college newspaper) and single panels previously, but had never given much thought to zines until Johnny Brewton suggested that I reformat my strip, "The Serious Family" (originally drawn in 1981), into a zine layout. He printed my first zine under his Pneumatic Press imprint in 1992.

What do you do when you’re not creating?

I work at Creativity Explored (an art program for adults with disabilities), take photographs of overlooked details in the SF Bay Area, and make short films.

What is an unexpected benefit that you’ve experienced from reading/ making zines?

Gaining insight into the lives of other creators. This can result in a feeling or sense of connection (of some sort) whether you ever meet the zine-creator or not. I happened to meet one of my best friends ever (Johnny Brewton) through his zine, so that was cool. I know this sounds corny, but making zines and dispersing them into the world is similar to planting seeds - you never know what will grow as a by-product of that action.

How would you advise first timers on making their first zines?

Don't be too ambitious. Start modestly and build up. The fact that you're making anything at all is something to be happy about.

What are you working on for this year’s SF Zine Fest?

My first zine in 22 years (Monsternerd), a wordless fotonovel, some buttons, hand-drawn postcards and a print.

For more from Francis, check out: