Zines of Racine 5: Peg Rousar-Thompson

The 2010 poetry collection, Nosferatu was created for a screening of the classic vampire picture with an orchestra and actors reading her pieces.  The book turns a classic vampire movie into a deeper,   reflective mediation on regret and  sacrifice.  She is a member of the Krayzines collective and  the co founder of the art and poetry zine, Moss Piglet and was happy to be interviewed about ‘zine culture via email.

How would you define a zine?

Technically, a zine is defined as a small, self-published magazine.  I like to think of it as a small soap-box for you to stand on.  Got something to say?  Make a zine!

Years ago, I worked with a small publishing company, and we always had to be concerned about what would sell.  We only considered books that we could market, that could at the very least, pay for themselves.  With zines, it’s completely different.  Most of them are made from readily-available materials – a copy machine and a long-reach stapler – and you’re in business.  With zines, there are no gatekeepers.

What inspired you to join the zine and self publishing community?

 

Since I started writing in the mid-1990s, I’ve been intrigued by small publishers and the personal aspect of that.  I worked with a small publisher and then started my own – I knew my writers, we agreed on edits and fancy covers and binding options.  My job was to basically help a writer or poet to polish and perfect what they had already done and then take care of the paperwork, the ISBN numbers and bar codes.

Zines are a bit different in that you make all those choices for yourself.  Want to use a different font on every page?  Want to hand-color the covers of a hundred zines?  Coptic-stitch all their bindings?  Because most zines are done in small runs, we have these options.  Arts-and-crafts meets writing.  I love that part.

3) Describe the process of making your books

 

Usually something inspiring will knock me on the head.  I challenged myself one year, as part of National Novel Writing Month, to come up with thirty zine ideas in thirty days – of course, some were hilariously bad ideas.  A few, though, I loved, so I just started writing until I had enough for a tiny book.  I have memoir, short story, poetry – a bit of whatever-the-cat-dragged-in.  I like to give all of my writing a composting time, quiet time on the shelf, before I go back in and revise and edit.  I do my own layouts, usually with the old-school cut and paste, where I actually cut up paper with a scissors and glue it into a little book.  I use Microsoft Word to lay things out and I bought a laser printer in the late 90s when they became affordable.  (I’m on my second one.)

Then I play around with my craft supplies, paper, beads, yarn.  I like my books to reflect their content.  I have a zine that is a collection of writing about Hurricane Katrina and I purposely water-damaged the cover.  Another zine is a short story about a girl who knits a red scarf.  The binding is stitched with a length of red yarn.  That’s where my writing moves into being more than a book, it becomes a project.

What makes the community meaningful to you?

I belong to a local group of zine-makers, Krazines, who meet each month to create.  I enjoy being with like-minded individuals, and with our group, no matter what medium you work in, we all have creativity as a common thread.  I also love a theme and enjoy watching so many vastly different creative people play to that idea.  To me, our approach gives our monthly zine, Moss Piglet, both individuality and cohesiveness – all done in the spirit of collaboration.

How have you seen the community change over the years?

Zines have been around since the 1930s when Science Fiction fans began publishing their own short stories and swapping them.  It progressed into the 70s as mail art and comic books, and as soon as we had ready access to copy machines, they became a way to discuss punk and alternative music.  I was on the mailing list for an early group of Dungeons & Dragons players and for artists who created fan-fiction from the 1980s series, Beauty and the Beast.  In the 1990s, many zines focused on feminist-political themes as a new generation pushed for further rights.

From the beginning, zines have always been the voice of the underground.  The big change I’ve seen in the past ten years or so, is age.  (Well.  There.  I’ve said it.)  To me, it was always the younger people (me) that were interested, that were open-minded enough to entertain these unique thoughts and ideas.  All of a sudden, (and maybe because I’m now old?) I’m seeing the age dynamic expand.  We’re not just angry kids anymore – we’re angry adults, angry old people, creative people – and we’ve all found a home in the zine community, all found a voice.

Where do you see the zine community headed?

I think zines will always be the voice of the underground, but just as it has in the past decades, that voice will be fluent and always changing.  The spirit behind zines will not change.  What will vary is the ever-expanding content of the zine – we will adjust it to meet our needs – just as we always have.

What are your plans for the future?

There are early plans for another ZineFest here in the Racine/Kenosha area – to me, that is the best way to understand zine culture.  I love meeting the creators of the tiny books I buy and recognizing how those words and images were born, where they came from.  There is communication with a zine that you don’t always get with something more traditionally published.

I have two zines in the works right now, both focused on my love of archeology.  One will be a collection of writing prompts based on a class I taught several years ago, the other is more poetry-based about my trip to the Maya Mountains in Belize.  Vastly different, but I just like making little books!

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