My Autobio with 'Zines
I first learned about 'zines as a kid. My parents have always loved to read and they've always loved culture outside of the mainstream Jones' way of life, so it only seems natural that they would've taken me to many indie bookshops and alternative arts festivals during my childhood.
Starting in elementary school, I became obsessed with creating "limited edition" 'zines for my sisters, and soon they caught the bug, too. I particularly remember making a series called "Galaxy Girl" while one sister stuck with "Bubbles" for years. We'd handwrite and illustrate everything, either in pen or pencil, and do all the folding and stapling ourselves. Since we didn't have access to a photocopy or scanner at the time, we never thought to make copies of our work. Besides, we were only sharing the little pamphlets amongst ourselves.
It wasn't until late middle school/early high school that I began reading 'zines more widely. I'd grab them from fests and contribute to "comp" (compilation) 'zines I'd seen advertised on online forums. In college, I tabled at my first 'zine fest in Richmond. It was my second year and I had just transferred from Grinnell College in Iowa to Virginia Commonwealth University. For the first time, I had a real, face-to-face 'zine community.
Today I'm in my last year of college and while my unscheduled free time has waned since my first year in Richmond, I still read 'zines. I have always especially enjoyed themed comp 'zines.
Don't get me wrong--there are some spectacular perzines out there (you've read "Kablam!" by Artnoose, yeah?). But I love the communal spirit involved with putting together a comp 'zine. I love how much a comp 'zine's like an established magazine and yet it's not. The content's often more controversial and more challenging than the average mainstream magazine would ever run. It also has that 'zine aesthetic that has always captured me--the collage, the text layering, the handwritten combined with the printed. A quality comp 'zine is like a form of book art, really.
My love for comp 'zines inspired me to pursue Quail Bell Express. We might not have the funding to produce something more polished (such as my Comicality Magazine, which I co-edit with David Fuchs), but QB Express has the same look and feel of my favorite comp 'zines growing up. I almost feel like one of my adolescent heroes, or at least one of the heroes I'm willing to admit I had at that age.
At any rate, I hope you have as much fun reading QB Express as The QB Crew has making it. And if you have no idea what I'm talking about, please check out our subscription page.