Starting with Sumari BULLetin in 1986, Mark M Giese has brought the world surreal, honest, collage filled zines for almost 33 years. He branched into self published books of poetry and observations during the mid 90s and continues being productive today. He discussed his experiences in an e mailed interview.
What inspired you to start doing zines?
A fellow enthusiast of Jane Roberts’ “Seth” books (books you’d find in the “New Age” section of a bookstore) who I was pen pals with suggested I start a zine loosely tied to those books.
His suggestion was to call it Sumari Bulletin; I decided to call it Sumari BULLetin to give myself some “breathing room.” The first issue came out in 1985 as I recall.
(Sumari is a word out of the Seth material that means, approximately, “people who are artists.”
(I eventually parted ways with this fellow, the late Peter Danison (who later called himself Tom Dark).
(He was pretty narcissistic; he came to think he coined the word “zine” and that Sumari BULLetin was the first zine!
Actually, I was never that happy with the name Sumari BULLetin so, ca. 1987, I changed it to The (something) which greatly bothered Mr. Dark/Danison.
I ceased publication in 1990.
How did you meet up with dan Nielsen and other contributors?
A friend named Dean introduced me to Phil Schultz, pen name J. B. SHAULTZ (a contributor), who introduced me to John Krewal (a contributor), who introduced me to Dan Nielsen (a contributor when it became The (something)).
So the contributors were mostly people I knew or friends of friends. But once I got the zine listed in a small press directory which led to all kinds of submissions from “strangers,” too much of which was poetry, I largely lost interest in continuing.
So it was 5 years of a zine coming out every other month.
What was the process for making your zines?
Thinking up stuff to put in, collecting submissions from others, pasting up the pages, running off copies on my little photocopier.
How did running a zine prepare you for working independently?
My first chapbook, called Lifesize, was a bonus to one of the last issues of The (something) or was conceived at that time.
It was just easier to put out chapbooks of my own stuff than put out a zine.
How have you seen the zine/ self publishing culture change over the last 4 or so decades?
Actually, I stopped paying attention to zines around the time I stopped in 1990 though I briefly started up again in 1994 for about 6 issues of The Holy Teenage Incest Chronicle Thing which had some submissions from actual teenagers who hung out at a coffee shop in downtown Racine called Centre City.
I think people would generally agree that the internet dealt something of a death blow to zines and chapbooks too for that matter.
Nowadays, if I get a one-liner idea, I post it here: