Q. What inspired you to get into small-press/DIY publishing?
A. I was disenchanted with the art world, and started exploring other ways to communicate with people.
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 was working at a photo processing shop in Columbus, Ohio, and I started drawing the photos that ended up in the trash because they were underexposed or the wrong color balance. I drew people's bad vacation pictures, people's eye-boogery cats, and people's white trash wedding portraits. I started photocopying some of them to put in letters to my friend TC, and then one day I thought "hey...I should make this into something I can send in to Factsheet Five!" I called it "Bottom Feeder", because I was making no money and was digging junk out of the trash. It also featured the creepy interactions I had with my customers. Looking back, it was a total mash-up of "Moonlight Chronicles" and "McJob".
I am still pretty proud of the earliest issues of Bottom Feeder. I think it had a nice singular focus, initially, that got diluted later on. And every issue had a color photograph glued to the cover.
Q. What is your all-time favorite zine/comic/etc (by someone other than you)? Who is your DIY hero?
A. Lynda Barry is for certain my DIY hero. She is psychological. As for all-time-favorites, does anyone remember Gogglebox?
Q. If you have been to the SF Zine Fest before, do you have a favorite/exciting/cringe-worthy memory?
A. Getting to hug, heckle, and throw stuff at Clutch McBastard is my kind of high.
Q. What would you like to see more of in the small-press world?
A. More zines, period! Everyone should make lots of zines!
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. My advice would be "get it out of your system", meaning "don't be such a perfectionist." The advice I wish I'd gotten would be to not worry so much about whether people liked or understood what I was up to. It's not like any of us do this to get famous or make money. I spent a lot of time worrying that no one cared what I had to say. Who cares? Just say what you want to say!
Q. What subjects/groups/themes/ideas/communities do you wish there were more zines/comics/etc about/for?
A. I just want to see more honesty and less posing. I really, really loved zines like "About My Disappearance" 1 and 2 because they deal with a subject that is still pretty taboo and isolating. I thought Dave Roche just did the most incredible job with such a difficult topic. I hope that it helped him as much as I know his zine has helped other people. I'd also like to see more zines by oldsters like me!
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. Not very much, to be honest. The general public doesn't understand anything that doesn't have a bar code; they also don't understand endeavors that are outside the realm of "how can I make the most money possible from this thing?" I think trying too hard to reach people is fraught with peril. I'm a firm believer in just doing what feels right and letting people get it on their own time.
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 spend a lot of time writing letters. I've recently become very interested in philately and pigeons, and collaborative narrative experiences. I also spend a lot of time with glue, a guillotine, and a perforator, at the San Francisco Center for the Book.
Q. What are you working on now? What are you gonna do next?
A. I am putting the finishing touches on a comp zine about people's specific experiences of their surroundings, I have another one about fictional saints in the works, and I'm doing a little giveaway zine for the end of August (road trip from SF to PDX and back!) with my friend Marissa Falco of Miss Sequential. After that, it's all about this rather elaborate zine/book/zook thing about people who don't really exist.