Time to Make the Zines

I woke up this morning to discover that during the night most of the furniture had been removed from my hotel room. Apparently my publisher feels I’m being distracted by cushions and upholstery, impacting my blog-output.

It might also be because this blog gets about 4 readers a day, 3 of whom shrug vaguely and move on after just a few sentences. The fourth is actually me.

Well, it’s June. Has been for a few days now, and that means it’s time to put out a new issue of my zine, The Inner Swine. The zine is not usually the first subject I introduce into conversation, to be honest, because people generally greet it with either disdainful disbelief (“You spend your time and money on what now exactly?”), complete disinterest, or insane enthusiasm (“That’s so cool! Can I write for it? Can I subscribe? Here’s some poems I have in my bag, would you print them?”). Every now and then someone completely misunderstands the term zine and starts quizzing me on the economics of it, wondering how much I make in advertising and subscriptions and all that, based on the assumption that nothing is worth doing unless you make money at it.

The weird part is, those people are hard to convince that there’s no money in zining at all. That it’s actually a negative cash flow kind of thing. This concept just blows their minds.

Zines are cash black holes. You put money in, and nothing comes out. Trust me on this. My zine started off in 1993 with three friends and I deciding to put out a magazine. We had fairly grandiose plans in the beginning–something on the order of The Village Voice, except done by. . .us. Which translates to lazy, unfocused college kids. Which meant nothing much happened. We wrote quite a bit of material, argued a bit about how to put it all together, and 2 years later it was just me and all the stuff I’d written. So I decided to just take everything I had and put out an issue, what the hell, to the best of my ability. Which wasn’t very good, but hell, it got done.

That’s kind of the motto of my life: It ain’t great, baby, but it got done.

And it’s still getting done, four times a year, like clockwork. Well, almost like clockwork. These days I shoot to get each issue out the door in the cover month, instead of in your hands in the cover month. If I can say I mailed the issues on 6/30, then dammit, that’s the June issue. I got other things to do, like drink beer and complain. And that is the DIY way.

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