Revenge of Print: Retired Zinesters Return to Ink on Paper

Edited by Jenna Freedman

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Fed up with all the end-of-paper-publishing rhetoric, workers from Atomic Books and Quimby’s Bookstore declared the Revenge of Print 2011 (RoP). The Facebook page (I know, I know) has 473 posts as of August 2, 2011, so clearly the movement has attracted participants and fans. The five zinesters whose work we review in this column came out of retirement to produce new zines after taking five to ten years off from self-publishing on paper. When I interviewed them, all but one of the writers revealed that they were aware of and interested in the Revenge of Print pledge, but most of them had already published a new issue before they heard about RoP or would have published it anyway.

RoP has been an inspiration to some of them. Though the previous issues of his zine came out in 2005, Randy Spaghetti didn’t consider himself retired from zine making. He had been writing all along with the intention of publishing a new zine. He says that RoP encourages him, and he “can’t wait to read some of the old-new zines.” Caitlin Constantine took the RoP pledge, which helped her to get out the second issue of her zine “instead of letting it languish endlessly on [her] hard drive…. I just have to stop getting distracted by the Internet, lol.”

Speaking of the Internet, every one of these zinesters has an online presence: blogging and microblogging and using social networks and visual media sites. For Marissa Falco, communicating online doesn’t have the same depth as it does on paper. “My blog…isn’t as fun or exciting to me as working on a zine. It feels impersonal and not especially comfortable.” Along similar lines, Kathy Moseley responded, “With the ease of blogging and posting your every thought to the Internet, it does take some extra effort and time (and expense) to produce a printed piece‚ you really need to WANT to do it.” Ailecia Ruscin is a professional photographer now and views the web as “easy for spreading visual culture for free.” She doesn’t think a zine audience would want to pay for a photo zine up to the standards to which she would want to produce it‚ in full color with high-quality reproductions.

Ailecia also shared with me via email that she wishes she’d had access to current technology back in her riot grrrl and queercore basement show‚ going days, so that she could have better documented the underground culture of the 1990s. The technology may be ever changing, but the voices in the zines reviewed in this column are pretty similar to their earlier iterations. For Caitlin and Marissa, more than for the other three, the topics discussed may be different, but you can still identify a piece of Marissa’s artwork at ten paces and Caitlin’s writing style in a page or less. From Ailecia, Kathy, and Randy, it’s more of the same. And with all five authors, you hope they’ll keep it coming.‚ Jenna Freedman

See the full interviews with Caitlin Constantine | Marissa Falco | Kathy Moseley | Ailecia Ruscin | Randy Spaghetti

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Constantine, Caitlin. All I Want Is Everything #2. 2011. 44p. ¬Ω size. $2.50. Distros: author via PayPal | StrangerDanger

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Not content to let six years go by as she did between the last issue of her earlier perzine Heliopause and the first issue of All I Want Is Everything, Caitlin released AIWIE #2 a year after the first issue came out. In part of the journey recounted in AIWIE #2 Caitlin returns to Utah, the setting for her first zine, I Was a Teenage Mormon‚ a chronicle of how she abandoned LDS teachings and found solace instead in Sassy, Liz Phair, and Sleater-Kinney. Fans of Caitlin’s previous girl-jock tales will note she is now a marathon runner and blogs about fitness and feminism. Caitlin’s story is fierce and inspiring; it’s delightful to have her voice back in the feminist zine world. Bonus points awarded for including a geographically sorted reading list!‚ Christopher Wilde, Queer Zine Archive Project

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Falco, Marissa. Miss Sequential. Nos. 3 & 4. 2010‚ 11. 33p. & 22p. 5 ¬Ω” x 7 ¬Ω”. Pricing varies. Distros: author’s etsy store | Microcosm | Things You Say

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The year 2002 saw Marissa Falco entering a new phase of life and recounting in Red Hooded Sweatshirt #5 looming change marked by graduating from college and turning 22. Seven years later, we get to follow her to the San Francisco Zine Fest via her out-of-retirement project, Miss Sequential. Falco’s trademark charming observations and zealously cute drawings are accounted for, and it’s plain to see that Marissa’s adolescent gifts as an illustrator are sustained as a permanent passion for rendering everyday life in cartoon form. There’s a comfort in seeing the bones of a well-loved zinester’s narrative and visual sensibility carry over into these grown-up (but not too grown-up), satisfying, and well-made diaries.‚ Torie Qui√±onez, Santa Barbara, CA

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Moseley, Kathy. Semibold #10. 2010. 36p. ¬Ω legal size. $3 print, $1.50 PDF. Distro: PayPal the author

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In past issues, Kathy Moseley has written personably and with intelligence about myriad topics (e.g., music and job histories, breaking her arm, and unexpectedly adopting a pregnant cat). Semibold #10, the first issue since 2003, recounts the story of her long ordeal with Crohn’s disease. After trying a range of dietary changes, drugs, acupuncture, and yoga to alleviate the pain, in 2009 she had surgery to remove part of her terminal ileum. Kathy tells the entire story in graphic yet entertaining detail. Most impressive is how she bravely and fiercely advocates for her own health through mountains of paperwork, screwed up prescriptions, piles of insurance forms, and bureaucracy. Bonus: since Kathy is a graphic designer by trade, Semibold always looks fantastic.‚ A.j. Michel, Philadelphia

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Ruscin, Ailecia. Alabama Grrrl #9. 2010. 36p. (split with Ciara Xyerra’s Love Letters to Monsters #3). ¬º size. $3‚ 4. Distros: Black Light Diner | Marching Stars (UK) | Quimbys | Rainbow Bookstore Cooperative | StrangerDanger | Take Care (Australia) | Vampire Sushi (UK)

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In this first issue of Alabama Grrrl in more than ten years (a split zine with fellow Kansan and longtime zinester Ciara Xyerra), Ailecia Ruscin reflects on the changes that have taken place in her life during her absence from zine making. She takes a look at her changing local punk scene with a critical eye and writes thoughtfully on how social networking affects how individuals and communities relate to one another. “Things i wished i would’ve known before going to graduate school” is one of the best essays and should be shared with anyone considering pursuing an advanced degree. Ailecia provides a humorous and sobering list of questions and issues to ponder before taking the plunge. While ten years have passed between issues, Alabama Grrrl #9 feels like it picks up just where Ailecia left off.‚ Celia Perez, Chicago

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Spaghetti, Randy. Darlene Rock-N-Roll Fanzine. No. 4. 2010. 36p. ¼ size. $1 or trade. Distro: from the author

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Within the pages of Darlene No. 3 (2005), Randy Spaghetti expresses undying fealty to Slayer, the Melvins, and cheap booze; with this fourth issue appearing five years later, his loyalties are unchanged. Darlene touts itself as a “Rock-N-Roll Fanzine,” straight, no chaser, and fulfills that function admirably. Any fears that a move to the backwoods of Idaho would temper the irreverent wit that compared Slayer’s longevity with the feeding patterns of the loggerhead shrike in No. 3 will be quelled by the fourth issue’s two-question interviews with the likes of Andrew W.K. (“Party Hard” singer and motivational speaker) and Zeke and a tongue-in-cheek essay on “Post-Scenester Pseudo-Audiencism.”‘ Business as usual, in other words. Randy’s writing style is uncluttered and conversational, and his aesthetic is photocopied and hand-drawn, a winning combination. He promises that a fifth issue is nearing completion.‚ Matthew Moyer, Jacksonville P.L., FL

Author Information
Jenna Freedman, who coordinates and edits this column, is Director of Research & Instruction and Zine Librarian at Barnard College Library, New York. She is also a librarian zinester (Lower East Side Librarian, among others)

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