Through his work on Sick: A Compilation Zine On Physical Illness and his interest in related issues, Ben has stayed true to ideals of justice and radicalism. Here’s an interview he conducted with Team Colors‘ Kevin Van Meter with Rock Dove Collective about their work to make healthcare available as widely and reasonably as possible!
Like any DIY project, we’re in near-constant financial peril. That’s nothing new. And we know that most folks who support Microcosm don’t have a ton of cash to spare, especially in the form of a straight-up donation. So, rather than passing the hat around, here’s a chance to remind you all of other ways to support Microcosm!
Like a CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) share that gives farmers a guarantee before their crops are harvested, our BFF’s help us by paying upfront for their zines and books! Publishing our titles means we pay the printing costs before any books are sold, so every BFF gives us a little peace of mind. Plus, it’s awesome for people to get mailed something new every month of the subscription! Check out the BFF program here.
Sliding Scale Pricing
The standby of DIY venues and house shows, pay-what-you-can prices allow people to give within their means. We don’t know of any other publisher that does this, but Microcosm offers sliding scale prices for titles we produce! We try to put stuff out for cheap, so extra dollars go a long way to keep our pricing sustainable.
Getting the Word Out
The cheapest way to help us out is by telling folks about Microcosm and distributing catalogs. It’s also so important that we wouldn’t be here without it! Check out our Press page for more info about getting the word out.
Microcosm operates as a not-for-profit collectively-run organization. All money goes back into the organization and new publishing projects. We choose not to be a 501(c)3 organization because it would require outside management, which is a challenge to any radical organization. For more information on this, Incite! Women of Color Against Violence edited a book challenging the non-profit industrial complex in The Revolution Will Not Be Funded, and resources are available on their website. This means that we don’t write grants or push tax-free contributions, so we instead keep things at the grassroots level. To find out more about how our money is spent, check out our 2009 and 2010 financial reports. We sincerely appreciate any help you all can throw down!
Next Stop Adventure author Matt Gauck is runnin’ a Kickstarter campaign to fund a bike trip to Alaska, which will be the basis for his next issue! We talked to Matt about all that and a bunch more. Check out Matt’s Kickstarter page right here.
Q: You’re Kickstartering a trip to Alaska/the next issue of your zine. Tell us how that works.
A: Well, I’ll be the first to admit it feels weird to kickstart something like this, but it came from joking with some friends about all the ridiculous things that might “work” as Kickstarter projects, and I submitted one – half for fun, and half because, if it DID work, it would be a great resource of names to actually get the zine to people that really wanted to read it. One of my main problems with zine writing is that I can’t bring myself to write if I don’t think it will be read by anyone, and there’s a sort of “built-in” readers list with Kickstarter. That, and I have this terrible feeling that in the next three years, kickstater is going to become “the norm” for means to start any creative project. I’m just making it work while it’s still new-ish. To be fair, if I had a means of “pre-selling” my zine, I would’ve just done that. Minus my own sizable distribution point, this is the next best option.
Q: For people who haven’t gotten a chance to read your zine, tell us about it…
A: It’s called Next Stop Adventure, and it’s basically a “good-natured, tongue-in-cheek, funny” travel zine, that typically centers on riding my bicycle for a really long distance. It’s a bike zine, for sure, but the stories are usually less about the biking, and more about the experiences that crossing a state at 18mph allows for. I’ve read a bunch of travel zines, and they never talked specifically about the stuff that I wanted to read, so I made a zine that did. Do you wash your clothes? What do you eat? What should a normal person expect when going on their first bike tour? I answer those questions with hilarious stories that end up with me on a rooftop, in a dumpster, or maybe even hiding in a covered slide at a Burger King. I aim for the first adjective used to describe the zine to be “inspiring.”
Q: How did you get into zine-makin’?
A: I used to draw for a bunch of punk zines in the North Carolina area back in high school (’96-’99) and that’s where self-publishing took its grip on me. As for writing my own, it wouldn’t happen until 2005, when I was back in school, and had just done a four-day bike trip across most of South Carolina, and the story was so funny that I was sick of emailing all my friends nearly-identical accounts of it. I decided it might have some kind of interested audience, so I made like 10 of them. I gave them all away, made a couple more, mailed those away to friends, and was all of the sudden getting a good response.
Q: What are some of the books/zines you’ve read lately?
A: I try to stagger my reading back and forth, usually “political then adventure.” I just finished You Can’t Win and I had been reading a Thor Heyerdahl book about crossing the Atlantic ocean on a raft made from reeds. Guerrilla USA is what I’m finishing up now – I got it from the library, it’s about the George Jackson Brigade, up in the NW back in ’70s. So crazy. Then I have a book on astral projection I’m really excited about. As for zines, I read one on UFOs the other day; One Way Ticket is always good, Bring on the Dancing Horses was great, I constantly re-read Big Hands, and I’ll leap on anything that’s traded to me. I finally finished Rod Coronado’s zines too, the Strong Hearts ones. Super good. OH and there’s a huge archive of impossible to find animal rights zines on some friends’ website conflictgypsy.com.
Q: What kind of zines would you say you gravitate towards?
A: I feel most compelled to read about bike touring ones, but they always fall short for me. I love reading about low-scale scams and crime stuff, and animal rights zines are always high on my list. On the other end, I can get into some comics occasionally, but usually just Ken Dahl’s stuff. I’m terrible at reading fiction. Non-fiction stories that sound like fiction are my favorite.
Q: Finally, if you had to get one zine’s title tattooed into your flesh what would it be?
A: HA! Well, as goofy as it sounds, I already have “next stop adventure” tattooed above my knees BUT if I was going beyond that one, I’d definitely say “Murder Can be Fun.” I wouldn’t get messed with when I’m camping on the side of the road.
Opening with a long musing about the importance of recorded history through zine reviews, the newest issue of the Review zine with Perzine tendences, catapults us into reading about all kinds of exciting new zines we’ve never heard of. There’s also columns, humor, and smart folks cluin’ us in on all the brand new stuff that rules. There “where are they now” feature continues and then we are treated to reviews of such fine new zines as Burn Collector, Proof I Exist, How To Make Soap, Henry & Glenn Forever, and many more! Remember folks, an angry young person in Kansas while always have more interesting things to say than an offset music magazine! Send your own zine for review to: Davida Gypsy Breier / PO Box 11064 / Baltimore, MD 21212
We recently had an email chat with How & Why author Matte Resist about his new book, the definition of “work,” and building a DIY time machine!
Q: How did the book come about? What was the genesis of the thing?
A: The motivation of the book was Joe asking me if I’d like to do the follow up for Making Stuff and Doing Things, but really I’d been thinking about doing a DIY book for a long time. I’d written a lot of DIY plans for my zine (Resist), some of which were used in Making Stuff and Doing Things and I had started compiling other plans and ideas for a future book. Most of them centered around bicycle repair and modification. After How to Rock & Roll and Chainbreaker came out, I felt that the bicycle repair ground had been pretty well covered so a lot of the articles that I had actually written and illustrated were scrapped and I started writing about other projects I was doing. Some of the projects were things I wanted to do but hadn’t found time or motivation to do until I was writing a book.
Q: Have you had much feedback from people who’ve completed the projects?
A: I’ve gotten some feedback from the bike trailer plans which were included in Resist #46. All of it has been positive except for one person who said it was too heavy. Very little of the rest has seen print before now, at least not in its current form, so there’s been little time for feedback. I will say that since I’ve started writing about gardening that is by far the topic I receive the most questions about. I always try to share what I know but usually wish that I knew more and could offer more information. I read a quote once that sums it up pretty well, something to the effect of “I’m a very old man, but a very young gardener.” Taming nature is no easy task and even after a lifetime of trying there’s still a lot to learn! Mostly I’ve heard that the plans are easy to follow and that the illustrations usually answer any questions that come up, which is exactly what I was shooting for!
Q: If a really young kid—say 10 or 12—asked you to define the concept of DIY—your own personal version of it—in one sentence what would you say?
A: It’s about learning to do things for yourself instead of always buying everything you need from the store.
Q: If you built a time machine and went back to meet your great-great-great grandfather and he asked you to define “happiness” in one sentence what would you say?
A: I’d say, “Grandpa, you know as well as I that happiness is about loving and being loved.”
Q: If your first boss of your first-ever job asked you to define the word “work” in one sentence what would you say?
A: Then or now? (and what’s with all this once sentence crap? I’m a storyteller not a poet!) At 15 years old I probably would have said, “It’s a necessary evil.” Now? Maybe I’d say, “It’s the act of being productive, and doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with a job.”
Q: If an interstellar spaceship landed in your backyard and an alien climbed out and asked you to define your planet in one sentence what would you say?
A: It’s on the brink of a major upheaval which will either lead to total collapse or a resurgence of simple living.
Word Association Time!
1 Bike – ride
2 Tree – house
3 Punk – ethics
4 America – for sale
5 Publish- self
Q: Finally, do you have any new projects coming up?
A: Yes, I have two major upcoming projects but they’re both top secret! Other than those, I’m hoping to finish up some work on our basement. I’ve been meaning to install a bathroom for a few years and I think I’m actually going to do that this year. We’ve also been thinking about having a small home recording studio which would double as a spare bedroom. I’m working on an improved sidecar design and a couple trailer designs for very specialized purposes. I have MANY more things I want to try with musical instrument building. (Percussion and amp building are on my mind right now.) Also, I’m building a time machine so I can go back to meet my great-great-great grandfather and ask him to define “happiness” in one sentence. I just hope I don’t mess up the space-time continuum in the process.
Order out How & Why right here.
OUT NOW! Spanning 1994 to 1999, this 352-page pocketsize anthology collects issues 1 through 10 of the long-running Dream Whip zine. Inside, Bill Brown hits the road and finds adventure far and wide. Each page is lovingly handwritten or typed and illustrations and photographs abound. It’s tornadoes and pet cemeteries, Alaskan highways and the lonely ruins of government missile sites. Bill Brown’s America is seen with the big, dreaming heart of a romantic, everything recorded in sweet, smart, funny, beautifully-simple prose.