Inspired by Malaka Gharib’s zines and Warren Craghead’s drawings for his daughter’s lunches, I’ve been making these tiny little zines for my son Owen’s lunch out of a single sheet of paper. (See more of them below.)
It’s a really simple and old technique. Nothing fancy. Tons of people use it. I first learned about it years and years ago from the great book, Whatcha Mean, What’s A Zine?
Here’s my version in a short video:
Here’s a diagram from Keri Smith’s wandering zines:
And here are some of the results (see more on my Instagram):
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Filed under: zines
If you pop over to Keri Smith’s website for her book The Wander Society, you’ll find printable PDFs of “The Wander Society Pocket Library,” handy little pocket zines you can print out and stick in your pocket before you go sauntering around.
They’re all worth reading, but my favorite, no surprise, is HDT’s “Walking” (1862):
If you are ready to leave father and mother, and brother and sister, and wife and child and friends, and never see them again—if you have paid your debts, and made your will, and settled all your affairs, and are a free man—then you are ready for a walk.
It’s chased nicely by Morley, who says, “I can be as solitary in a city street as ever Thoreau was in Walden.” (1920, from Travels in Philadelphia.)
“The Art of Idleness” (1926) is excerpted from the recently reissued The Gentle Art of Tramping.
Virginia Woolf, by the way, was a fan of Thoreau, and wrote this about him in 1917, on his 100th birthday:
Few people, it is safe to say, take such an interest in themselves as Thoreau took in himself; for if we are gifted with an intense egoism we do our best to suffocate it in order to live on decent terms with our neighbours. We are not sufficiently sure of ourselves to break completely with the established order. This was Thoreau’s adventure; his books are the record of that experiment and its results. He did everything he could to intensify his own understanding of himself, to foster whatever was peculiar, to isolate himself from contact with any force that might interfere with his immensely valuable gift of personality. It was his sacred duty, not to himself alone but to the world; and a man is scarcely an egoist who is an egoist on so grand a scale. When we read “Walden,” the record of his two years in the woods, we have a sense of beholding life through a very powerful magnifying glass.
Filed under: walking
“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?
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