A Modern Woman on the Move

in hot pursuit of the great green light…

PZS is finally over… Now what?

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The 10th Annual Portland Zine Symposium has come and gone, I gave myself a couple of weeks to digest everything and fucking relax a little bit, but I think it’s time for some serious updates.

I am going to really, REALLY make the effort to post more here, not just the silly question answering from formspring (however fun that may be). Brainstorming what I can update about besides just lame stuff I do everyday (I think that stuff may mostly be left for twitter), I decided I should post a few of the interviews I did for the 10th Annual Portland Zine Symposium’s Special Edition Program (which was much like an awesome anthology zine) and that I will start posting reviews of all the zines I have collected over the last few years that people have given me for being a PZS organizer because they are awesomely nice or that I traded for my old band’s cds or one of my zines…

I was lucky to interview quite a few talented people about PZS, zines and DIY culture for PZS and there are quite a few cool activities, comics, stories, etc. I highly encourage you all to pick one up for $2 (cheap price for a half page zine anthology and it totals at 52 pages) at IPRC or Powell’s (and those $2 go to support PZS). Or you can order one by emailing pdxzines at gmail dizzy-dot cee oh em. I am guessing that, if you’re outside Portland, add in shipping and handling to the $2 price.

I think I may only post a couple interviews, but the first one will be the nice interview Jesse Reklaw (Slow Wave) did with me over the phone, which I then transcribed for the 10th Annual Portland Zine Symposium’s Special Edition Program.

Blue: You are Jesse Reklaw, but where are you from?
Jesse Reklaw: I grew up in Sacramento, California, but don’t feel any particular allegiance to Sacramento, that’s the truth of it I guess. I went to college at UC Santa Cruz, kind of feel more affinity to the Bay Area, I suppose.
B: When was your first year at the PZS?
JR: Maybe it was 2002? I had some friends who lived in Portland who I, more or less, met on the internet. Um, I used to read a lot of newsgroups and I was sort of involved with the world wide web when it first started, there were lots of little art sites and stuff. So, I think through them I heard about the zine symposium.
B: How many Portland Zine Symposiums have you been to?
JR: I guess I have been to all of them except the first one.
B: What made you want to attend the Portland Zine Symposium?
JR: I kind of wanted to see Portland, and I like going to shows. So it was sort of a new show that I wanted to try out, but I really liked the show, and I liked really liked the community in Portland. I liked the sense of cooperation in Portland amongst self publishers that I didn’t really see in other communities around the country. Like, especially in San Francisco, it seems like people are more competitive and people in, like, New York and San Francisco are constantly working and don’t really take time to help shape their community.
B: What is your favorite part of the Portland Zine Symposium?
JR: I think just the people that it attracts. I think just sort of talking with people and seeing what other things people are doing. So, the tablers, I guess. I’ve really liked some of the workshops that I’ve gone to at the Portland Zine Symposium, too. Like I said, I go to a lot of shows and, often, the programming can be really dull or nerdy, especially at comic book shows. But I think at the Portland Zine Symposium I’ve actually learned things at the workshops, which I think is unusual.
B: Well, that goes into the next question I have for you which is, what has you coming back to the Portland Zine Symposium every year?
JR: Well, I moved to Portland in 2006, so that would be silly if I didn’t go to a local show, um, but, I kept going back in I guess in 2003, 4, and 5 partly because I wanted to visit Portland because I kind of wanted to move here. I just really like visiting; summer, in particular, is a great time to be here. And I think actually I was able to, like, break even going to the show, so that was nice. Especially considering how broke people are in Portland, it’s kind of cool that people are supportive of small press. It’s expensive to travel, so it was cool that I could actually make it work financially.
B: So, even though you were driving up from the Bay Area, you still broke even?
JR: Yeah, I think I would fly, I would get, like, a Southwest round-trip ticket for 200 bucks and somehow make that work financially. Actually, between 2002 and 2005, I co-ran a distro. So I would bring up the work of, like, 10,15 other cartoonists in the Bay Area, and I would get a percentage of those sales and that’s kind of what made it work financially, the distro.
B: What was your experience like tabling as a distro?
JR: I liked that a lot because I really don’t like promoting my own stuff, I always feel like I’m kind of being egotistical or like I am bragging by, like, you know, trying to sell someone a book I made. But, like, I have no problem selling someone else’s stuff because it’s stuff I actually like. So I don’t mind talking about it and promoting it. And I feel good when a sell does happen, whereas, when I sell my own books, I feel kind of guilty, like, “Oh God, I really stiffed that person. I sold them that crappy thing I made.”
B: Is that why you now continue to table as a distro? Like, I think you’re tabling for Global Hobo this year, right?
JR: Yeah, that was the distro. When I left the Bay Area, we gave the distro, my partner and I, gave the distro to another Bay Area cartoonist. I tried to take the distro with me to Portland, but I, I don’t know.. It’s a lot of work running a distro, after doing it for three years, I didn’t want to do it anymore. But, yeah, I’m tabling for that distro because I just don’t like tabling my own wares.
B: I think a lot of people can relate to that.
JR: Yeah, I mean, if I was even going to table just my own stuff again, I would definitely, like, table with friends so at least it wouldn’t be only me on the table. It would be three or five people.
B: How has PZS influenced or encouraged you?
JR: It’s often encouraged me to make a new, small zine just for that show because it’s always cool to have something new. You know, when people come around to your table that have been there before, they’ve been there the previous year or, and you know, I have friends in publishing that sometimes I only really see at these shows, then they kind of want to know what you have that’s new, you know? There’s something about that sense of community. It’s not like you’re showing off to your friends, but, like, it’s an opportunity to get feedback from them. And you get to trade your new things with someone else’s new things. So, I guess it kind of inspires me to sort of have a deadline to keep making stuff and to keep participating in that exchange of ideas with the community.
B: What is your favorite zine that you discovered at the Portland Zine Symposium?
JR: Um, trying to remember her name now.. She’s a cartoonist and I think she used to table with her sister.. I think her name is Gina…
B: Oh, is it Gina Siciliano?
JR: Yeah, it’s her! totally her!
B: Yeah, she’ll be there this year, too. She’s tabling this year. So, was it a specific zine by her or just her work in general?
JR: I think it was just kind of her work in general. I really like that when you get a set of zines from someone because, you know, one zine can be really cool, but zines are often so personal that if you just read one of ’em it doesn’t really tell the full story. It’s like, part of that person’s life. But if you continue to keep up with the zines, you understand them better and that makes your appreciation of their zines better. Sort of like how people, like, they always like their friends’ work because you know that person so you know kind of what they’re trying to do in their zine, so you can’t help but sort of like it more.
B: Have you ever met a pen pal for the first time at Portland Zine Symposium?
JR: Yes, and that can be, sometimes, a little disappointing or weird. I loved to hear that Al Burian came though, because I always loved his zine “Burn Collector” and his comix that he made in the early 90s. He gave a great workshop at the zine symposium, but I don’t what year it was, but it was basically, like, how to book a tour even if you’re not a band. Basically like how to make a book tour or a film tour or whatever. It was neat to see him in person, but I don’t think I really talked to him, I just kind of lurked around him.
B: Have you made any lasting friendships due to the PZS?
JR: Maybe not the Portland Zine Symposium on its own, but, like, as the Portland Zine Symposium being one of a number of shows that I go to that I, you know, you only see people at those shows. So, yeah, I think that’s really helped formed some stronger relationships, friendships.
B: In what ways has the PZS helped you most?
JR: It’s hard for me to choose. I think it’s helped in so many different ways. It’s helped just to get my work out there and, like, meet people that appreciate what I’m doing. And it’s always nice to have someone get a hold of your publication who’s actually going to appreciate it and not just, like, sell it to some anonymous person just for the money, but to actually get your ideas to someone. I think there’s a much more appreciative audience at the Portland Zine Symposium than you would get at some book fair or something more commercial. So, that’s been great, but it’s been great to meet other creators and sort of learn from them, learn different ways of making your books. I’ve learned some new ideas that have influenced my work… Going to workshops and learning at those, that’s been awesome…  It’s hard to say, hard to pick one the most.
B: What kind of responses have you gotten from your work at PZS that stuck with you?
JR: I don’t know! Uh, I think one thing I learned, uh, and this is just sort of as a seller, you know, like, mostly I think of myself as an artist, but there’s a business to being an artist, too… You know, at the zine symposium, you are out there promoting your own book and you are trying to sell it, but I think one thing I really picked up at the zine symposium was, like, not to oversell. I think, when I first started to going to comic book shows, I felt like I had to be, like, some kind of huckster or something. I think it was a lot easier, at the zine symposium, to just kind of be myself. It made me feel more relaxed about being out there at some commercial capacity.
B: What has been your favorite workshop from the Portland Zine Symposium, was it the how to book a tour workshop or…?
JR: Yeah, I think it was because I totally remember that one. That was really inspiring.
B: Any other ones?
JR: I went to this really cool one about different ways of printing onto t-shirts with paper stencils–and I’ve used paper stencils before, but I just learned some new, good ideas that I never really thought of before. One of them I remember was they used bleach on, like, a dark shirt with a paper stencil and that looked really cool.
B: Wow, you just taught me something, I wouldn’t have thought of that!
B: What would you like to see for the future of the PZS?
JR: You know, one thing that’s been occupying my mind lately, and I think that it’s partly because I’m a special guest at the San Fransisco Zine Fest this year, is I’ve been involved with self publishing for over 20 years and, in many ways, it’s sort of seems to me that, like, zines and DIY aesthetic is more of a young person’s thing to do. And, you know, being older and having done it for so long and not really getting a lot of the thrill out of the initial aspects of self publishing, I’m wondering, “What is my place in the self-publishing community?” I believe there is still a place for me. I do feel identified with it, but, you know, not with so many aspects. I would really like to see more people that have been doing zines and self publishing for a long time having workshops that explore those ideas, like, “What is the place in the community for an older person?”
B: Did you know that Alex Wrekk was doing a workshop for people over 30? For people over 30?
JR: I would love to see more stuff like that. I’ll try to go to that one, I need that.
B: What do you imagine your place and your relationship with the Portland Zine Symposium and DIY culture, and Portland in general, what do you imagine your place in that is?
JR: That’s a really tough question. I think one place that a lot of people gravitate towards is that they become some kind of business owner, and they employ or they mentor or they have interns of younger people. So, I might start a small press distributor or I might start a small press publisher or I might open a store.. You know, I think that seems to be the most viable option, but I don’t want to own a store or be a publisher or be a distributor. So it does make me wonder what some other options are…
B: So, do you feel that all the options that you see for yourself, all the options that you see as your place, do you feel like you’re not comfortable with any of them?
JR: I’m sort of comfortable with some of them, I just think that it’s not an easy question to answer and it’s something that, you know, I’ll probably keep confronting and I’ll keep evolving as a self publisher. It is tricky. Like I said, I don’t want to be a publisher. I do like teaching, but I don’t see it as, you know, full-time, ultimate future. And I think a lot of people, after they’ve been zining for awhile, they don’t see a place for themselves, and they leave it. They “sell out” and go work for a magazine, or they just give it up entirely and go find another interest. And those are things I don’t want to do either. I’m not sure. I haven’t found the perfect place for me, and I don’t even know if the perfect place exists.
B: Do you have any ideas for what could keep zinesters and DIY people interested in the zine and DIY community longer, as they get older?
JR: I don’t have a lot of ideas, that is just something on my mind lately. I think that if more people are trying to think about that and, like, you know, having workshops or publishing zines that talk about it or having round-table discussions, the more ideas can be developed towards that. I think it is sort of a problem with the zine community or a lot of communities that, when first start out, it’s really exciting, but after awhile, people tend to get a little bored with it or that certain aspects about it they grow to dislike about it. I think it’s just an ongoing discussion that should keep happening. Yeah, I wish I had some awesome answer, but I don’t.
B: That’s okay… Maybe, the question that you’ve posed, your ideas and what you’re confronting, maybe that would feed into a potential answer in the future because it brings it out as an idea.
JR: I think one thing that just does feel really good to people that have been doing zines for a long time is when they get asked to do an interview or be a guest or lead a workshop or to mentor or teach in some way. I think, when you have experience, when that experience is valued and they’re asked to keep participating and give back and things like that, that’s one way to keep them in the community is to value that experience.
Jesse Reklaw writes and draws Slow Wave and, in addition to being interviewed,
he’s a member of Fun Yeti, who played the PZS Zinester’s Music show to wrap up the
10th Annual Portland  Zine Symposium. During PZS, he tabled for Global Hobo.

Written by lovemotionstory

September 13, 2010 at 6:22 pm

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