Creator Q+A | Black Rain 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 Michael Steinberg of Black Rain Press. Stay tuned for more!

Q. What inspired you to get into small-press/DIY publishing?
A. The desire to have complete control over my own work, and also to take complete responsibility. Or was it complete egomania and an otherwise complete lack of opportunity to get published otherwise?

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'm a book writer and my first book was I Work the Tenderloin, a fictionalized account of my experience during the early '80s as a tenant organizer in that special part of SF. The book originally came out in 1983, photocopied with saddle stitching and a cardstock cover. Due to popular demand I republished it in 2007 and reprinted in 2009. It's in the history room in the SF Library and is still doing well at City Lights, Bound Together and Modern Times. I'm very proud of it.

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. Don't compromise, keep on it, and never give up. As for advice, for me the lessons of learning for myself were an important part of the journey. That said, never forget there are friends and loved ones out there to encourage you--and if not, fuck 'em!

Q. What subjects/groups/themes/ideas/communities do you wish there were more zines/comics/etc about/for?
A. What not? We need so much more of all kinds of these and other creative efforts erupting all the time to spew lava light onto this dark world of domination and insipid responses to the constant crises constantly breaking out all over the planet.

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. Obviously, not enough. That's why gatherings like SF Zine Fest are so important: to reach more people, and at the same time as we come together, to show and share our creations and the culture that all of us together are.

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. Besides writing books, I'm usually doing journalism, which appears in places like Z Magazine, and, increasingly, Indymedia, especially, in the Bay Area. I'm also active in Homes Not Jails, a group that opens up vacant building for and with homeless folks so they have homes to live in.

Q. What are you working on now? What are you gonna do next?
A. The next book, what else? This one's called Surf, inspired by living at 44th and Taraval recently. What to do next? Gonna go out into the fog and work on that book!