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?
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/