Creator Q+A | Agent Agnes

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 Agnes Automatic. 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. Oh no! If I'm totally honest, it was a comic I made in high school. It was about (surprise!) high school students. I had just discovered anime and was trying so hard to emulate Sailor Moon style that it actually HAD Sailor Moon make a guest appearance! I'm very glad those days are behind me.

Q. What is your all-time favorite comic (by someone other than you)?
A. Oof, hard to say which my favorite is. All of my best artist friends either have been or currently are involved in a DIY comics project of one kind or another. However, I have to say I admire Saico Ink a lot - she not only writes, pencils, inks, and lays her comics out for printing, she also screen-prints each cover, collates the pages by hand, and perfect binds them together. Every single copy! I feel like every book I have from her is a work of art thanks
to her savvy craftsmanship.

Q. What would you like to see more of in the small-press world?
A. Better distribution! Anyone can publish, and the community rocks, but getting it into people's hands is tough. I'm not sure what the answer is here, however.

Q. If you could give advice to an aspiring DIY creator, what would it be?
A. Expect your first project to sell 2 copies, both to your family members. It's supposed to work that way! Nothing will go perfectly and in two years you'll probably cringe at the material anyway. But it's never a waste - it's a learning process and a way of building an audience (very, very slowly!)

Q. What subjects/groups/themes/ideas/communities do you wish there were more zines/comics/etc about/for?
A. There are lots of perzines out there by women, and specifically queer women, but few fiction narrative comics. I feel like DIY press comics is one of the few places I can find female characters that I both like and identify with. But it's still a rare thing.

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. I think the general public has no clue. When I tell people I make comics, but without superheroes, they ask if I do something like Garfield. I'm not sure how to expand the audience, because it's hard to think of anything more accessible than zine making!

I don't think getting a wider audience will necessarily also expand the creator pool to the point where it loses the coziness it has now. What keeps the zine scene so warm and vibrant is the focus on creators as much as the product - we get to know the people who make the zines we love. As long as big publishers don't find some way to worm in here and depersonalize things, I think the scene will stay as is regardless of size.

Q. What are you working on now? What are you gonna do next?
A. I have a comic that I update online once weekly which will eventually be self-published, an illustration project I am doing jointly with Socar Myles, a short story comic for a friend's anthology, and miscellaneous autobiographical and adult (not at the same time!!) comic work when I can fit it in.