Blue interviews Aron Nels Steinke!

For this edition of AmaZine Day (Saturday, May 18th), we’ve lined up a two-part reading featuring some rad creators that have tabled at AmaZine Day and are active members of the Portland zine community! Amazine Day is a quarterly zine fest organized by PZS and happens at the IPRC. This AmaZine Day, readings are themed around Labor, in honor of May Day! Here is an interview that PZS Organizer Blue did with Aron Nels Steinke, who will be part of the first lineup of readers at AmaZine Day….

Blue: What are your current projects?
Aron: Mr. Wolf and The Zoo Box.

Blue: When and why did you start making zines?
Aron: In 2006, because I wanted people to read my work and I figured nobody else was going to want to publish me.

Blue: Can you tell us more about your zines?
Aron: I consider myself more of a mini-comics maker, in terms of self-published material. My mini-comic Mr. Wolf is about teaching first and second grade. I anthropomorphize myself and my students so that I can slightly fictionalize events and keep my students’ identities protected.

Blue: What’s your favorite part about making zines?
Aron: The immediacy. I really like being able to put out my work right away, when I’m ready, and when the book is ready.

Blue: What is your biggest challenge in making zines?
Aron: Printing the damn things. It’s a pain in the ass. I really don’t enjoy photocopying. I’ll make a batch of 80 or so, and then when I’m out, I realize I have to spend a day to make more! I feel like I’m blaspheming to those in the zine community when I say I hate the production of making zines. The production is not why I make them. It’s the product, empowerment, and the community.

Blue: Have you made friends through zines?
Aron: Certainly. Most of my friends are zine or comics makers.

Blue: Have you ever had an awkward or difficult social situation arise from something you’ve made that you want to share?
Aron: Not really. Because I teach elementary school I have made my comics tame enough that I shouldn’t ever get fired from a job for them. My first comics shocked my parents in terms of crude language. That was annoying to have to deal with.

Blue: What is your favorite Portland Zine Symposium memory?
Aron: When my wife and I were just dating, she had bought some artichoke hearts at the farmers market and let me use them to prop up my books. It felt right, using produce to help sell zines.

Blue: How did you hear about the Portland Zine Symposium?
Aron: My friend and writer Martha Grover was doing the zine symposium and suggested I check it out. This was 2006.

Blue: What is your favorite part of AmaZine Day?
Aron: Well, it’s relatively new, but what I like about it is that you don’t have to wait a whole year to get together and see what other people have done.

Blue: What’s been you’re favorite PZS-related event?
Aron: I’m not too social, so I usually just do the main event. Having dinner with my friends afterward is my favorite.

Blue: Where are you from originally?
Aron: Camas/Vancouver Washington

Blue: What is your favorite zine?
Aron: Too many. Somnambulist. I really liked Journal Song when Steve was making it.

Blue: What’s the first zine you ever read?
Aron: An early issue of Tom Lechner’s Consumption. My brother got it from him when they went to PNCA together. I was very confused by this book. I didn’t know how awesome it was until many years later.

Blue: Who has been the most influential zinester in your life?
Aron: Clutch McBastard and Martha Grover

Blue: What has been the reader response to one of your zines that had the most impact on you as the creator?
Aron: When I published my first mini-comic, Big Plans #1, I would just hand it to people and anticipate when they would react or laugh. That was thrilling.

Thanks so much to Aron Nels Steinke for being interviewed! Come see Aron read from his comics about teaching and working in education, listen to our other readers, and enjoy the two free workshops atAmaZine Day at IPRC! Check out the AmaZine Day page on our website for more info… http://www.portlandzinesymposium.org/amazine-day/

Blue Interviews Sarah Mirk!

For this edition of AmaZine Day (Saturday, May 18th), we’ve lined up a two-part reading featuring some rad creators that have tabled at AmaZine Day and are active members of the Portland zine community! Amazine Day is a quarterly zine fest organized by PZS and happens at the IPRC. This AmaZine Day, readings are themed around Labor, in honor of May Day! Here is an interview that PZS Organizer Blue did with Sarah Mirk, who will be part of the first lineup of readers at AmaZine Day….

Blue: What are your current projects?
Sarah: I realized a while ago that I work for fun. My ideal weekend is seriously spent hunched over a comic I’m drawing or unjamming a photocopier. I love making stuff and getting shit done. So I’m always working on a dozen different projects. Right now, in addition to my regular job as an editor at the feminist media group Bitch, I’m writing a nontraditional guidebook to relationships called Sex from Scratch, working on a series of comics about cities for online magazine Nailed, and in the process of putting together a book of oregon history comics. I just wrapped up a bunch of fun projects, too: I edited political cartoonist Matt Bors’ book, Life Begins at Incorporation, wrote a piece about rodeo and identity for Oregon Humanities magazine, and wrote two comics for comics journalism magazine Symbolia—the most recent of those comics, with artist Lucy Bellwood, is about female veterans of Guantanamo and comes out in June. It’s great!

Blue: When and why did you start making zines?
Sarah: I grew up always writing and drawing comics, but in high school I started making drawing little stories for friends and photocopying them. I didn’t realize this was something other people did, too, until I attended the Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco as a 15-year-old and had my mind blown.

Blue: Tell us about your zines… What are they titled? What kind of zines do you make?”
Sarah: I make a bunch of different kinds of zines.
A great series I wrote and edited is called Oregon History Comics, it’s a collection of 10 short comics covering little-known and marginalized stories from Oregon’s past. The comics are each drawn by a different local artist and the whole collection was published by arts nonprofit the Dill Pickle Club (now called Know Your City).
I often make zines whenever I travel, as a way to document trips. Right now I’m working on a series about different cities I’ve been to. My favorite is called In Defense of LA.
I also do a monthly newsletter for friends that is a zine, I guess. I write and draw a letter about my month and then photocopy it and mail it to about 30 friends. They’re often multiple pages or in some sort of absurd format that takes way too long to put together.

Blue: What’s your favorite part about making zines?
Sarah: I love making a physical thing that I can hand to friends. People really appreciate getting a little book.

Blue: What is your biggest challenge in making zines?
Sarah: When I have big ideas but not the skills to pull them off. I am always getting myself into trouble by trying to create art that I just don’t have the skills and meticulous attitude to make. I spent most of my free time last month, for example, trying to screen print a giant poster of Portland dogs. I burned four screens wrong and it just never wound up looking good. That was so much time down the drain, it hurts.

Blue: Have you made friends through zines?
Sarah: Many.

Blue: What is your favorite zine?
Sarah: I have a lot! I like the Tell it Like it ‘Tis zines that Nicole Georges, Mark Parker, and friends put out. It’s stories and profiles of people living in a Portland retirement center. I’m also totally cracked up by this series called Field Guide to Aliens of Star Trek: Next Generation, which is written in the voice of a 10-year-old.
There are a bunch of comics zines I like, too, like some of Esther Pearl Watson’s work, In the Tall Grass by Tessa Brunton, and my friend Suzette Smith’s It’s Not That Bad, about life in Detroit.

Blue: What’s the first zine you ever read?
Sarah: Geez, I have no idea. Probably my high school’s literary magazine, which was full was called Broken Silences. The Broken Silences crew were all the nerdy writer kids from my high school. We had our own little, weird group and supported each other a lot. Good times, bad poetry.

Thanks so much to Sarah Mirk for being interviewed! Come see Sarah read from “Rodeo City” (an article she wrote for Oregon Humanities Magazine), peruse many local zines, listen to our other readers, and enjoy the two free workshops atAmaZine Day at IPRC! Check out the AmaZine Day page on our website for more info… http://www.portlandzinesymposium.org/amazine-day/

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