Get to Know Your Zinester: Viva Vox Press

What was your first zine about and when was it made?

My first zine was a bi-monthly based out of the south bay (Torrance) called, Ad Infinitum Magazine, created in December 2001. It means ‘without end or limits,’ there was no end to how long or short a story was and there was no limits to what topics were included in the zine. Me and my friend Crystal Lafata put it together freshman year of college as a response to our high school journalism teacher who would tell us that our stories were too ‘political’ or ‘outlandish’ for a high school newspaper. We wanted a medium that wasn’t going to be censored, a medium where people could count on getting their stories, beliefs, artwork or ideas published, indefinitely, no matter how crazy they were! We made lots of friends, got to meet people we loved and did lots of cool stuff for the community. Ad Infinitum had a long run…7 years, to be exact. It died in the spring of 2007, along with my heart.

Describe your most recent zine.

I have two new zines out. Both first issues. One is called B-Sides (and other rarities) which is an AZ scene magazine that features local artists and musicians that add life to the vast, thirsty desert that is Tempe, Phoenix and the East valley. There are a lot of talented and colorful people who reside here and I want to tell every single one of their stories!

Second, is a zine called, American Puta. It is a magazine created by women, for women, and about women. It deals with mostly women in power and women empowerment, building sustainable healthy, loving communities and ‘of the earth’ topics. It will also feature women in the arts, basically women who just pretty much KICK MAJOR ASS!

Of all the things you’ve ever made, zine-related or otherwise, what’s your one favorite?

My one favorite thing I’ve ever made is the one I’m working on at the time! Whether it’s making a zine, a photo book, cooking dinner, baking cupcakes, or making bling; when I start a project, I get so extremely excited about it! When it’s done, there is still excitement but not quite like when I’m in the process of creating it.

Name three of your influences and how they affected your work.

John Waters. Every time I work on something I always think to myself ‘What would John Waters do?’ and ‘Would he read this?’
Charles Bukowski…..I’ve got major daddy issues.
The public. If the public don’t like my stuff, who will?!
Oh, and number 3b is Vice Magazine. It rocks.

What do you do when you’re not creating and how does it help or harm what you do artistically?

I live. I breathe. I try to experience life to it’s fullest. I try not to miss a beat. It helps what I do artistically because I am able to take what I see and feel and turn it into something I can create. It harms what I do artistically cause the more I live, the more of a chance I’ll get kidnapped, go to jail, be a victim of a freak accident…or worse.

Get to Know Your Zinester: Kelli Callis

Describe your work in two sentences or less.

I take life-changing events and try and make sense of them through my writing.

Where are your favorite places in your city to look for new zines?

I want to see more zines at Meltdown, the Last Bookstore, and Skylight Books.

What are you working on for the Fest this year?

My last zine was about my traumatic pregnancy, hospitalization, and birth of my son, so this time around, I figured I’d keep the narrative going. It’s about raising my son and the highs and lows of dealing with autism and sensory processing disorder in a semi-judgy suburban environment.

How did you get involved in making zines?

When I first moved to San Francisco in the early 90s, I wanted a way to introduce myself to people, and this was when zines were a medium for communication. My first issue was 5 cents because I didn’t want to just give them out for free (because if people said ‘no,’ that would be a real bummer, but if it was too much, then they wouldn’t buy it). I met a ton of people through zines, actually, in town, and all over the world, so I have to say that the experiment was incredibly successful.

What’s your favorite part of LA Zine Fest?

Undoubtedly, when a grown woman stands in front of my table, flips through one of my issues, and then says, “I used to read this zine when I was a teenager,” and then I get all proud and pretend my words may have led these women to become interesting, beautiful artists.

Check out Kelli’s zines in her Etsy shop!

Get to Know Your Zinester: kkotku arcade

What was your first zine about and when was it made?

My first was an expressionistic urban rendition of the Persephone myth. I was too embarrassed to turn it into the local comic shop, Comic Relief in Berkeley, so it ended up getting submitted and published in a POC poetry anthology called “smell this”.

Describe your most recent zine.

It’s the beginning of a series, somewhere between an urban fable and speculative fiction. Travelling in Asia or even within my own hoods I’ve heard the most remarkable personal mythologies, I wanted to open a space to retell these stories: slightly recognizable, a tad dystopian, yet with potential for an otherworldly subversion. Right now it’s more visually surreal but I’m hoping for it to gain a stronger narrative boost as the series grows.

Of all the things you’ve ever made, zine-related or otherwise, what’s your one favorite?

The first, always.

Name three of your influences and how they affected your work.

Before mass social media, when it was hard to find the resources, Comic Relief kept a decent stash of European and alternative comics which inspired me to spend time getting the classic drawing rules down. However, these days when I willfully attempt my earlier expressionistic beginnings, for better or worse, it’s a struggle.

At the same time I’m drawn towards experimental theater and the spoken word subculture, from Marc Bamuthi Joseph’s Living Word Project to Theater Artaud and site specific performances. The kinesthetic quality of these events nudge me towards a poetic visual and the desire to make zines the physically pleasurable experience book art can become. There you have it, both a need to make a solid story and yet something dissected and ephemeral.

What do you do when you’re not creating and how does it help or harm what you do artistically

Haitian folkloric, scavenger hunts and sketch crawls. All the former involve playing on your feet and extroversion while reading zines can be an introverted experience which is why I’m striving for that experience which could fuse the two.

For more from Kara check out her website!

Get to Know Your Zinester: Gaby & Co

What was your first zine about and when was it made?

My first zine was a series of photographs I took of old beat up freights. I printed them and sewed the sides of the small 4 w”x3.25h” zines in 2011.

Describe your most recent zine.

The most recent zine has my drawings of run down urban and industrial buildings I come across while traveling in different cities, mainly of Los Angeles.

Of all the things you’ve ever made, zine-related or otherwise, what’s your one favorite?

I’ve turned my illustrations of urban sites and street objects into zip pouches as well, which I’ve been pretty proud of.

Name three of your influences and how they affected your work.

Many artists and things inspire & influence me every day. Street photography and exploring the city influence my work. Zines by other artists such as Nate Orton have influenced me to create my own. Artist, Designer and Photographer Evan Hecox’s illustrations have also inspired my work. Artwork from Artist David Choong Lee, especially a corrugated visual journal I have with 35 of his collage postcards. These artists are only a few of a long list that inspire me. I usually end up buying zines when I visit book stores or book fairs because I love the DIY style and how they’re printed, whether its xeroxed or silkscreened. Their hand-drawn illustrations and hands-on approach is the reason I have always been attracted to zines.

What do you do when you’re not creating and how does it help or harm what you do artistically?

I love going out to art shows or other events and drinking a craft beer. Both help me artistically.

To find out more from Gabriela at Gaby & Co

Get to Know Your Zinester: Melt Brianna

What was your first zine about and when was it made?

My first zine was my “make it yourself-crochet”; a visual guide. I made it for a workshop I was doing at o.c. diy fest in 2009. I still distribute that zine to this day, and i also made the o.c. diy fest zine that was distributed at the fest. I think that was my first experience of mass produced and distributed zines. shout out to santa ana fnb! r.i.p.; many fond memories there.

Describe your most recent zine.

I have two most recent zines that I am going to introduce at LA Zine Fest this year. They are both follow ups to zines I have made in the past. I am making a second edition of “things my friends say”, and i am excited about this one because I have made some new friends that are going to be included, and my old friends are going to reappear. The second zine is going to be a follow up issue to my most recent semi-comical, semi-autobigraphical “Jam Slam” series. It’s going to recap the end of 2013 and introduce 2014 through my world lens.

Of all the things you’ve ever made, zine-related or otherwise, what’s your one favorite?

Oh wow, this is tough. I’d have to say I don’t have a favorite. Every project I work on deals with a different aspect of life, and touches upon a different emotion/idea that is all encompassing to me. I’d say that all my projects together and all the learning, experiences, and conclusions that it has brought me, and continues to bring me will forever by my favorite. Boom!

Name three of your influences and how they affected your work.

1. my direct environment- most of my influences come from direct environments that I’m in, and the things/places that are currently there. I love to people watch, and i love to be inspired by random things people do/say; especially things that are subconscious, and a part of a natural emotional response. These behaviors usually inspire me to collect different views and ways of living that is seen in my work, whether it being displayed as fact or fiction.

2. MAGIK- The idea of creating something artificial, and putting value/relevance behind it has always been a huge influence to me. I love to entertain myself. I love to make myself laugh. Sitting at a table with my own random ideas and just plainly deciding that they are true in another world i create is so blissful for me.

3. Das Outside- I also crave and rely on quiet lonely spaces. I am heavily influenced by organic forms occurring in nature, and it influences my line work seen in how i illustrate. The outside solitude also helps me balance out my love for people, and my ability to keep a lighthearted attitude about aspects of the world that i hate. But i guess anyone could agree with that, right? “Yo, we all need a break!” – The Werld

What do you do when you’re not creating and how does it help or harm what you do artistically?

When I’m not creating, I am creating! Sounds weird, but my full time job is co-owning my company, Road Runner Bags. We do 100% of the manufacturing, designing, and promoting of cycling and traveling specific bags and accessories. At times, this can harm me artistically because I become creatively exhausted. I have learned to dedicate time away from my business, so i can continue to grow outside of it.

Check out more from Brianna at Melt Brianna!

Get to Know Your Zinester: Eyeball Burp

Describe your zine style. What can we expect to find at your table?

Eyeball Burp Press publishes art we like, the weirder the better. One of the rules we have is if we ask someone to submit artwork, we won’t censor out the art even if it pushes our visual aesthetic limits. So Eyeball Burp ends up with some gnarly images at times! Sometimes we reach out internationally to artists that we dig, and other times the art will come from friends we grew up with.

The newest zine project is with Line & Pixel, a collective that experiments with digital manipulation, glitch art and digital degradation. Artist Emily Rabinowitz will be co-curating this collection of images, as well as tabling alongside Eyeball Burp at the fest. Stoked about this!

Where do you work on your zines?

Because Eyeball Burp Press is a collaboration between Alex and A’misa Chiu, tons of conversations have to happen before we go to print. Zine making happens in our apartment studio or at the kitchen table. But drawing and writing happen anywhere!

What are your three favorite small-press/DIY publications?

1) Portland-based Tim Root/Hambrgr House/Crappy Comics. He draws the body in weird anatomically strange positions, with tons of drips, stale beer, snot, slime, and barf. It’s hypnotizing to look at his art.

2) Moonroot Collective. This group of self-identified womyn, trans* and/or genderqueer persons of Asian descent rule! It’s a thoughtful zine full of musings & thoughts on reclaiming one’s identity (thru race, gender and bodies). Found them through the POC Zine Project tour and Women of Color Zine Workshop in Portland!

3) Gridlords is publishing some rad comics lately. I especially love Long Legs by Julianna Green. Her line work is whimsically creepy and totally takes me to dimensions I didn’t know existed! I’m a big fan of fantasy gone weird.

1) Snake Bomb Comix are rad. I really like the new work of Patrick Keck. Jack Hayden curates some strange and delicious stuff.

2) Social Discipline by Ian Sundahl. I describe them as a collection life clips.

3) Keep Fresh by Zejian Shen. Beautifully drawn, stylish, eerie, fun.

What advice would you give to a first-time zinester or to an aspiring zinemaker?

Just do it. Don’t think too hard about it, or you’ll kill the initial spirit of it. No zine was made by just thinking. You got to get down and dirty with it. You got to cut into the paper, get ink on your hands, paste your mock up together. You got to learn everything the hard way, because zines are all about experimentation and understanding the process for yourself. And everyone is different, so you got to learn how it works for you.

What’s the best thing that ever happened to you because of zines?

A wonderful wacky world of artists that we love and appreciate so much. Zines are amazing because of the folks who make zines. Zinesters are colorful, down to earth, & creative people trying to change the world. Plus, zines are raw. And so the politics, the art, and creative process are going to be raw. And I love that because it’s honest.

For more from Alex & A’misa Chiu check out Eyeball Burp!

Get to Know Your Zinester: Draw D.V.L. Productions

Describe your work in two sentences or less.

Whether I am creating a comic, a zine, a handmade card, or an illustration, I always aim for what I do to tell a story– with words, with words and pictures, or images alone. Some of my stories are sadder and darker (but with a message), while the silly ones generally have jokes and puns.

Where are your favorite places (in your neighborhood or online) to find new zines?

Well, I teach the Comics for Kids class at Meltdown Comics Store in West Hollywood, and they always have great comics and zines! Other stores I really love are Pop Hop in Highland Park, Stories in Echo Park, and Skylight Books in Los Feliz. I live near to it, and I have heard about the Eastside Zine Market [organized by Adam and Denice of Seite Books], but not gotten the chance to get over there quite yet. I hope to soon!

Online, my Twitter feed and Instagram feeds will often pop up and direct me towards artists whose work I like, and who often make zines of it. Etsy and Tumblr are good sources, too. And the LAZF website itself is a very strong resource for people who hope to be directed towards new and exciting things being made in the world of zines.

What are you working on for the Fest this year?

This year, I’m working on a few new zines/minicomics. My main comic is the “Matters of the Harp” series, which about two clams– Bob, who is an angel, and Samantha, who is a devil, and they work as consciences. There’s also drama with a very emotional T-Rex that they know, in the second issue. Puns are a big part of those stories (and in many things that I make).

At the show, I will have a little comic zine called “Colonel Koala and the Mechanical Marsupial.” It’s a short Steampunk story about a toy koala (not a stretch, if you at all know me personally or have heard of Fuzzles the Koala, who interested parties can find on Facebook) who is a lonely teddy-bear, secretly being followed by a “real” koala who may or may not have nefarious intentions.

I will also be displaying several educational zines related to comics-making. Since I work at after school programs teaching elementary school age through middle school aged children how to write and draw cartoons, I always give the students a paper lesson plan to take home that we work with during the class, and I’ve been self-publishing those recently as zines that I sell at conventions and fairs.

Lastly, I will have a few zines of the art and illustration I’ve done, (some of which focus on black and white art, and another which focuses on faces and portraits with hidden images in the hair), and some anthologies I’ve participated in that published my comic work. The few non-zine items on my table will be prints, handmade greeting “cardtoons” (which are captioned with puns), and perhaps one or two handmade Sculpey prototypes of the characters from my stories.

How did you get involved in making zines?

I’ve been writing and drawing my own minicomics since college, and I’ve just kept up with that, done a few things for publications, and added illustration zines and/or educational zines to that repetoire (having been inspired and learned much over the past couple of years, where zines have really exploded!)

What’s your favorite part of LA Zine Fest?

I love getting to see all of the amazing work people are coming up with, to meet attendees who are really passionate about art, comics, and writing, and that the L.A. community (as well as the overall Zine community, since so many people come from out of state to do this event– and hello to everyone who I have met at the PDX Zine Symposium, who will be coming down to California for this one)!

Check out more from Donna Letterese at her website!

Get to Know Your Zinester: Kane Lynch

Describe your work in two sentences or less.

Heartfelt, character-focused comics, often with a subtle sci-fi bent.

Where are your favorite places in your city to look for new zines?

Between the San Francisco Zine Fest and EBABZ in Berkeley, I can basically load up for the whole year!

What are you working on for the Fest this year?

Aerial Structures #2, the second issue of my Hitchcock-infused story about relationships and the transformation of the Bay Area. Possibly also another top secret project, but I can’t talk about it yet.

How did you get involved in making zines?

My friend Roscoe drafted me for his sci-fi zine in 8th grade.

What’s your favorite part of LA Zine Fest?

The boundless enthusiasm of the local community. We have two great zine fests in the Bay Area, but I was taken aback by the energy of the LA show last year. I can’t wait to come back!

Check out more from Kane Lynch!

Get to Know Your Zinester: Vanity Projects

What was your first zine about and when was it made?

My friend Colin and I made our first zine, Omniphat, during my freshman year of high school in Huntsville, Alabama. It had two issues: Nov. 1997 and April 1998.

Omniphat mixed fairly-intelligent satire (we published an “interview” with Alabama’s fundamentalist governor and did a fake Seventeen magazine spread that took on the magazine’s body image problems by encouraging eaters to go on “strict salt water diets”) with short stories, poems, horrifically crass jokes about Tom Cruise, relentlessly mean film and music reviews, and dadaist “Exquisite Corpse”-style writings illustrated with cutouts from the Boy Scout Handbook and Disney Adventures magazine. It was a pretty frenetic hodgepodge of material, and most of what Colin wrote is still entertaining today. It also led to my first media review, in which the editor of our local alternative newsweekly predicted that I’d one day become an AK-47 toting psychopath. You were wrong, Richard Werder of Rant Magazine!

Describe your most recent zine.

I haven’t worked on a zine in a while. The last one was the Big Whup Industries zine back in 2009. It was a fanzine made by Big Whup and devoted to our friends; I contributed interviews with Jon Barba, Facts on File and Uli and the Gringos as well as essays on So Many Wizards, American Gil and the Major Dudes, and Facts on File.

For Zine Fest, I’m also doing fanzines. But instead of promoting local artists, I’ll be writing about some of my musical heroes by sharing personal narratives about my favorite songs by them. Each zine will come with a glittery cassette mixtape with the songs from the zine as well as a cover version by me of one of the artist’s songs. I’m doing Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, ABBA, David Bowie, R.E.M. and Talking Heads.

Of all the things you’ve ever made, zine-related or otherwise, what’s your one favorite?

At least as far as so-called literature is concerned, the individual creation I’m most proud of is The Audacity of Blood.

In 2006, when Barack Obama was pretty new in the Senate and people were beginning to talk about him becoming president, my band Pizza! wrote a song called “the Future?” The song tells a story of a great leader who came to Washington and promised new hope but then turned into a blood-drinking sword-wielding monster. It wasn’t written to be a serious critique on the senator so much as it was an attempt to make a joke about the messianic fervor surrounding his early days of national prominence.

The next year, my parents gave me a copy of Obama’s book the Audacity of Hope. I did not read it, but I did tear the pages out and replace them with a collages and pop-ups illustrating the scenes from the Pizza! song.

The reason I love The Audacity of Blood is because of its prescience. No, I don’t think that the president has done anything remotely like what is described in my book. But the content of my book seems tame – or at least on par – when compared to the hyperbolic reaction to the Obama Administration on the right. So in a way, I predicted the Tea Party.

Name three of your influences and how they affected your work.

My biggest zine influence was this guy I met at summer camp named James Barratt. Before I met James, I thought that punk was a style of music. After I met him, I learned that it was actually an ethos and that anything can be punk if it has the right motivation and is executed with the proper spirit. He introduced me to the band Half Japanese, and he also showed me the first zines I’d ever seen. I was drawn in, not only by the xeroxed pages and alluringly vulgar content but by the entire culture that was attached to it.

I’ve seen a lot of zines since those days, but my favorite is probably the Food and Water zines that Jon Barba made during the mid-to-late aughts. Jon’s writings were always personal, sometimes sad and always charming, and Food and Water was a nice document of a very warm and special time in the long history of Southern Californian DIY.

The underground music and zines of the 80s and 90s took on the monoculture in the name of decentralization and giving power to the people who were underserved by that monoculture. But today, the digitalization and mobilization of our culture has completely obliterated the monoculture. When Springsteen was at his peak, he was an unavoidable force and his music was a platform for advancing his worldview. His records were all over the radio and MTV and you had to hear him whether you liked him or not. It’s not like that anymore – if it wasn’t for my participation in the Mabson Enterprises compilations I wouldn’t know a song in the Top 40.

Geoff Geis

There’s a downside to no monoculture, though. Music is no longer a self-sustaining commodity and pop songs are no longer important. It doesn’t matter how good my music is these days — the only way to actually get it actually heard outside of my own little circle is to get it placed in a commercial. R.E.M., a band steadfastly opposed to selling their songs to commercials, could never be successful today because of that stance.

Punk didn’t kill the monoculture, and it was right to fight against it. But now that technology has killed the monoculture, there’s nothing equivalent in inspiration or influence to songs like “Born the USA” or “Losing My Religion.” The artists we love no longer have the ability to influence anything other than the shoes we buy or the beer we drink.

Yet when I was a kid and I wanted to become a musician, it was because being a musician was a way to make an impact on the world. If I’d thought being a musician was going to be about trying to get placed in Target ads, then I would’ve pursued something else during my early adulthood.

Thus, this zine series is a personal homage to a bygone era.

What do you do when you’re not creating and how does it help or harm what you do artistically?

For money, I work for a Korean newspaper where I design curriculum, write columns and educational curriculum and coordinate a Southern California-wide journalism program for high school students.

As an artist, my job both helps me and hinders me. My art is pretty narcissistic. It’s the equivalent of me standing up and waving my hands and saying, “Hey, look at me!” There’s not much else there.

Art can be socially important, but mine isn’t and I’m not even sure I can help that. The world does not need more perspectives of white, male and relatively privileged people like me in the arts, and I’m not equipped to expose oppression or challenge repressive norms. My work is just for giggles.

So as much as I love writing and making music and all of that, I like having a day job that requires me to think about other people and do things for them instead of only thinking about myself and my own work. A lot of artists find meaning in the art and work jobs that are meaningless in order to pay the bills — I’m kind of in the opposite boat right now.

On the other hand, sometimes it’s too much. My job is a mental job. It requires writing/editing thousands of words pretty much every day. I sit at a computer all day that is exactly like the computer I have at home. So when it’s been really busy, or when I have a really long bus ride home, I often don’t have the energy to do much more than sit on the couch and watch “Frasier” reruns with Sarah.