december 31st challenge
make an 8-page zine about your decade
don’t spend more than 20 minutes on it
(I may have taken more than 20 minutes.)
Related reading: Give yourself a decade
“I just learned ‘Imagine’ on the piano,” tweeted @acupoftea yesterday, “and I would like to officially rescind any energy I’ve spent being impressed with people who can play ‘Imagine’ on the piano.” I chuckled, and then she followed up with, “If you want to demystify pop music, learn, like, four chords and just play them in a different order & rhythm each time.”
[It’s] an illustration from a fanzine called Sideburn #1, which was a drawing made by Tony Moon just to fill the space. It’s a drawing of three guitar chords and it says, ‘now form a band’. That fanzine is extremely rare, but the drawing is often quoted by lots of musicians as the impetus to do something, and it’s seen as a key message of punk,” says Toby. “You didn’t need to have been to music school or be particularly proficient or skilled. It was much more about the energy and drive to do something. It’s a rallying call to the troops.
Nice to know the story behind a drawing that always puzzled me. Why are the markings on the frets and not in between them? And why A-E-G? What songs can you even play with those chords? (Answer: AC/DC’s “TNT” and T-Rex’s “Bang A Gong.”)
The 5-year-old and I made a zine of our trip to Cleveland with grandpa’s newspapers (and other assorted print items).
Back at home, we made copies for the grandparents:
It rained all morning yesterday, so I took the 5-year-old into the garage with me, made him a blank booklet, gave him a stack of NYTimes magazines, and let him go. Here’s what he made (with a little glue help from papa):
Then we checked out the screenprinting station:
And Heg actually made a one-page zine live for the audience:
Filed under: zines
This morning I browsed the Austin Public Library’s fantastic zine collection (highlights: Nathaniel Russell’s Fliers and Jillian Barthold’s Scenes From Big Bend) and this afternoon the 5-year-old and I made a zine using Bruno Munari’s Plus and Minus transparencies that I picked up in Milan last year and lines from the APL’s events flier. Pretty fun day.
I think of all my books as fancy zines.
A zine (/zi?n/ZEEN; short for magazine or fanzine) is most commonly a small-circulation self-published work of original or appropriated texts and images, usually reproduced via photocopier. Usually zines are the product of a person, or of a very small group.
When I’m working on a book, sure, I flip through my bookshelves, looking for stuff to steal, but what I really love to do is head over to my zine drawer (see above) and flip through zines.
Even though my books are printed in mass quantities overseas and are shipped all over the world, I want my books to feel handmade, like they’ve just come off the photocopier.
Back in December, I wondered in my diary if I should just go ahead and do a real zine, and work my way up to a book:
Maybe next time. Or maybe the country will collapse and this tweet will come true:
There’s something really special about zines. “Zines Had It Right All Along.” “The Internet Didn’t Kill Zines.” Even though “The Blissfully Slow World of Newsletters” can feel close to the spirit of zine culture, nothing digital seems to fully replace them. “A blog is not a zine.”
Whenever I do a workshop with students, zines are the perfect thing to make together: We make a bunch of blackout poems, each choose our favorites, and then we sequence them, everybody getting their own page. Then we run them on the photocopier, fold ’em, staple ’em, and everybody gets to take one home:
If you want to learn more about zines, check out this book and hit up your public library — several libraries actually have zine collections now! The new Austin Public Library has a whole section next to the comics:
So many artists are secretive about their process of making art. As if the magician revealed his tricks the magic would be lost.
Thanks to my wife, I’ve recently become inspired by the crafting community (see my posts on D.I.Y. and Maker Faire.) These folks not only peddle their art, they show you how they made it, and invite you to make along with them.
I’m working on a “how-to” section for my book so that people can try our their own poems. I’ve been pillaging my own favorite how-to books for inspiration. Books that don’t just show you how to make art, they’re works of art in themselves. These books have a spirit of generosity and inclusiveness. They believe that anyone can make art. They invite you to play and make along. Here are four of my favorites:
* * *
One! Hundred! Demons!
by Lynda Barry
Barry begins her book with a comic strip about how she discovered the japanese sumi-e brush and ink, and how it opened up a whole new world of creativity for her. She says she “hopes you will dig these demons and then pick up a paintbrush and paint your own! Sincerely! Pass it on! I had so much fun!”
And after 200 pages of her “autobifictionalographic” comics, she has a 10-page section in the back detailing what type of brush, ink, and inkstone you’ll need to try your own. “Come on! Don’t you want to try it??”
* * *
What It Is
by Lynda Barry
Barry’s next book follows roughly the same structure: half the book is a crazy collage/comic memoir, and the other half is a “how-to” writing workbook based on her Writing The Unthinkable! workshops.
* * *
Whatcha Mean, What’s A Zine?
by Mark Todd and Esther Pearl Watson
Rad book about making mini-comics and zines. As Mark and Esther say in the introduction, “We wanted to make a book that we would have loved to have found when we first started our mini-comics.” It includes sections by comics superstars like Ron Rege, John Porcellino, Anders Nilsen, and Dan Zettwoch.
* * *
Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book: Make A World
by Ed Emberley
This is a book from the late 70s I’ve only recently stumbled upon. Ed Emberley shows you how to “make a world” with just a few simple shapes, step-by-step. I love the emphasis on simplicity: if you can draw a triangle, a square, a circle, and a line, you’re good to go.
* * *
What are your favorite “how-to” books?
When my father-in-law was down from Cleveland last week, he brought me an envelope sent to our old address, postmarked Europe. I couldn’t imagine what European would be sending me anything, so it was a real treat and a surprise to find two copies of La Cagouille No. 6—a little zine that a couple of French folks put out. I had totally forgotten that way back Gabriel Papapietro had asked me if they could print an old comic of mine called “Rendezvous.” The package contained a note from Gabriel…so nice to get handwritten letters!
Other than my comic, everything else is in French, so I’m piecing my way through. Here’s a spread from Gabriel’s comic, “Royan Sur Brie,” which you can read online if you add him as a friend on Myspace.
Very cool. Thanks for the mail, Gabriel!
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