We Make Zines

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How I made and distributed the latest issue of my zine

The latest zine I've produced is called Dreamy Vs Sucks and I thought I'd write down how it all came together.

Like all the zines I've made lately this one was created with my good friend Brad (Bernard Boulevard). The concept for the zine came to us months ago when we were brain storming ideas for our comic zine Chicken With Penis, and during that time we would occasionally toss around different ideas on what the zine would be like. The only thing we really knew from the beginning was that we wanted Sucks to win and then later that one of us would write the Dreamy part and the other the Sucks part. Oh yeah, we also had decided that Zac Efron would be representing Dreamy on the cover.

Finally the timing was right for the production of the zine because we had just pumped out issues of both Skill Shot (our pinball zine) and CWP, so we wanted a new project to work on. It didn't take either of us long to write our pieces since we had been talking about them for a while, but the design of the zine hadn't been fleshed out very much ahead of time. We decided to split the zine in half with Brad writing and pasting up one side and me the other.

I guess I should take a moment to describe the format of our zines, which are really mini-zines. Basically the concept for all our current zines is make them from one piece of paper, which are then folded down to a quarter page size (of a standard piece of paper). There's no cutting or stapling involved because we want the zines easy to fold since we usually do 100's, if not a 1000 at a time. Our standard format gives us a front cover and a back cover on the outside; a page 2 on the first inside section; and a large page 3 on the final side. (When we do Skill Shot we use a larger size paper with more pages, but I can write more about that later.) There's two main ways we fold a zine of this size, one of which ends up with a standard 8.5x11" final page, and the other way which makes it 11x8.5" instead.

So once the writing part was (mostly) done we spent a leisurely week collecting and formatting the pictures and illustrations we wanted, deciding on a font (and size); regular pre-production stuff like that. Friday was our agreed upon paste up night because Sunday is "all day happy hour" prices at the local copy shop. I think it took us from 10PM till 3AM that night pasting it up, until we were both happy with how the zine looked and read (no typos!). On Sunday I went to the copy shop and ran off 1000 copies (there was someone else making a zine at the next machine!) and later that night we started folding. The whole print run wasn't folded at one sitting because we're both too excited and we want to start distributing them.

Distributing our zines is one of the funnest parts of making them. Since we give them away for free we often just walk down the street handing them to people walking by: "Here is a free zine!" Our first stop is almost always a bar called Shorty's, because they have lots of pinball machines and many of our friends hang out there. There are lots of other bars on the same block and often I will walk into them and hand out the zines to who ever will take one. People have a lot of different reactions when we do this: happiness, confusion, indifference.. I think that sometimes people just assume that I'm trying to give them some kind of hand bill (advertisement) so I don't take it personally if they refuse. At the same time I usually come up with some sort of sales pitch that makes the zine sound more intriguing to people who hesitate.

Anyways, during that first night we handed out (or left somewhere) about 200 or so copies. During the rest of the week we would give copies to people we knew and leave them in different businesses that we knew to be zine friendly places (coffee shops, record stores, used clothing shops, basically places that already have hand bills and stuff of a similar size). One of our friends also printed up another 500 copies for us at work so Brad and I got together (again on a Friday) to fold the rest of them because there was a large concert happening in our neighborhood with Sonic Youth and Gossip on Saturday, and we wanted to hand out as many as we could outside the show.

On Saturday night, after we both got out of work, we hit the streets with over 600 copies of Dreamy Vs Sucks (plus back issues of the other zines) and began handing them to who ever would take them. This kind of concert is totally our kind of crowd because it featured (previously) alternative bands who's fans would most likely be familiar with zines, and it also took place outside on the streets (it was a "block party"). We arrived outside the main stage area just before Sonic Youth were going to play so it wasn't too loud yet and people were excited, happy and very receptive to getting something called Dreamy Vs Sucks. Once the music started we moved to a different parts of the festival handing out zines, running in to old friends, meeting people who liked zines and just having a good time handing them out. Quite a few people thought that we were handing out Chicken With Penis zines because the new zine looks similar to it at a glance. It was nice to hear people asking about it. For the people who hesitated because they weren't sure what I was trying to hand them I came up with the pitch: "It's an epic battle of beauty versus language". That seemed to win many people over because they took the zine.

After handing out a large portion of the zines we brought we decided to just lay low for a while and have a few drinks at the pub we hang out at. Later when it was close to bar closing time we went out again and ran into a guy we had met earlier who was running an after party. He was happy to see us and ushered us to the front of a long line to get us into the event so that we could hand out the zines. That's one of the perks of handing out the zines for free I guess and it was pretty cool. I think I stumbled home around 4:30AM and I had only a few copies of the zine left in my bag, so it was a successful night.

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Tags: chicken with penis, dreamy vs sucks, skill shot

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