Monday, January 17, 2011

New Zines and New Years

The new year brings a lot of new things my way. For one, I'll be making my attempt at blogging on Mondays. I've thought about this for some time - it seems like two years now that I've been considering it. So, here we are, Monday the 17th of January, and I'm blogging.

This week's blog post is all about zines. This August will mark the 8th anniversary of If EZine: The Free Online Magazine of Thrilling Speculative Fiction. I'm pretty proud to be able to say I'm still going strong with the old ezine.

I have a lot of zany zine-y stuff in my life already and much more awaits me in my near-future. For one, I've published my first book. Tales from the Ifreet is a collection of the serialized fiction that can be found in If EZine, plus one new story not published anywhere else. Tales from the Ifreet is now available. My good old cohort J. Ho not only did a beautiful job on the cover art (both front and back) but he recently blogged about it. You should check out his artwork. He's just about the finest illustrator I've ever come across (and I'm not saying that just because we're also old friends) and I'm incredibly happy with his rendering of Iffy the Ifreet, If EZine's mascot and horror host. Thanks, J. Ho.

Cover art by J. Ho

In addition to the book, If EZine and my movie company Atomic Swan Films are hosting the Atomic Swan Zine Fest sponsored by If EZine this April. It's Flint, Michigan's first real zine fest (as far as I know; feel free to correct me on this). We have quite a few zinesters and creative types excited to participate and attend this zine fest.

On the Origins of the Atomic Swan Zine Fest sponsored by If EZine: As I became more involved around Flint and started meeting more people, I've found there's a pretty big sub-culture of writers here. But there aren't many events in the area that I felt properly celebrated the art of telling tales and writing. The Skelebration of Scares is certainly a very good one (wherein local writers get together to read their scariest tales at Halloween), but has a certain emphasis on reading and performance and less on the actual formulation of words on the page. There's the blossoming Flint Comix Con, which is great, but has a definite emphasis on comics and visual art and not so much on writing (though they generously make room for writers; in fact, it was at the Flint Comix Con I met local writer, Skelebrations organizer and fellow shenanigans lover Chris Ringler). But, in general, there wasn't an event specifically celebrating the visceral act and art of writing and the DIY spirit of punk, science fiction and the pulpy, gritty, down-and-dirty doin'-it-my-own-damn-way art of zines. The DIY attitude is definitely prevalent in Flint, but no one seemed to be celebrating it outright, at least not in relation to writing.

In essence, I saw a need in Flint to have a zine fest. Not one to wait around for others (there's that DIY spirit again), I threw out some feelers, found out Ringler once produced zines, met Chris Reed who loves zines and came across a general resounding, "Um, yeah, you know what? Flint SHOULD have a zine fest" sort of reaction.

So I got off my ass, recruited Chris Reed into my zine army and we're setting off to war, as it were.

I'd like to take this moment to thank Reed, who graciously accepted when I asked if he would chair this event. In his own words, "I'll chair it like a la-z-boy." Haha. I knew Chris would be perfect to chair the event. Not only is he an entertaining Absurdist (both in person and through his writing), his love for zines is seconded only probably to my own.

The zine fest has gotten me back into the writing mode. I'm already working on my second zine in two days with plans for at least two more. Here's the cover of the first (this zine collects some of my more funny, asinine and worthless Tweets).

So, here we are: zines, zines, zines in 2011. If you're in the area on April 8th between 6pm and 9 pm, come to The Lunch Studio for the Atomic Swan Zine Fest and let's rock it hard.

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