The Microcosm Interview with Tomas from the Rad Dad Zine!

We recently talked with Tomas Moniz from Rad Dad about zines, zines, and zines! Tomas’ super awesome new issue is now out and you can wrangle that here. This is what he told us.

Q: If you were asked to define Rad Dad in less than 100 words what
would you say?

A: It’s a zine about how we all can parent in conscientious ways, how whether we are parents or  not we can foster communities that are multigenerational and supportive of children.  It’s also a zine that strives to challenge the mainstream representation of fathers and parenting in general   parenting does not equal mothering.  And simple being a father doesn’t mean you are rad.  Parenting is also not a white middle class, hetero experience.  Rad Dad works hard to present the diversity of parenting from young parents, to parents of color, to anarchist parents.

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Q: Tell us about the new issue; what can people expect?

A: The new issue was a lot of fun…many of the issues often deal with specific difficult situations in relation to parenting children.  For number 18, I wanted to explore how our relationships with other adults impact our parenting; I wanted to remind us all that there are numerous kinds of families besides the hetero-normative monogamous partnered couple.  Oh and I get to share my story of discovering my daughter making out with “hot boys.”

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Q: What do your kids think of Rad Dad?

A: They actually read every issue before I print it, threaten to write their own version of the zine “Bad Dad,” and when they come to readings they generally heckle me non-stop.  But they are totally supportive.

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Q: If the President of the United States asked you to sum up Rad Dad in less than 10 words what would you say?

A: I’d scold him: white parents need to take responsibility for racism, unlike his admonishment of black parents in his famous speech on race.

Q: If your first grade teacher asked you to sum up Rad Dad in less than 10 words what would you say?

A: I wish my daughter’s first grade teacher read it…

Q: If Osama Bin Laden asked you to sum up Rad Dad in less than 10 words what would you say?

A: It’s not about what we are, but what we aspire to be…or I’d ask how he
got a copy of it?

Q: Who are your three favorite zines and why?

A: Artnoose’s Kerbloom and, of course, Doris; they’re like the godmothers of zine culture and what they write about and share is so specific to their experience but in sharing their struggles and thoughts I discover such connections and inspiration…and as for a new zine I’ve been really enjoying photography zines…I think I wanna try and make one myself…

Q: What’s next for Rad Dad?

A: An anthology of the best of Rad Dad will be out in fall 2011; the zine I hope will continue and someday I look forward to passing it on to other rad dads and mamas to continue.  I’m always looking for coeditors so if you interested, let me know…

Our new DIY book, How and Why, is on Kickstarter!

Hello friends of Microcosm!

We’re reaching out to you because you’ve all been very supportive of us over the last fifteen years.

Thanks again for helping make so many things happen. These projects mean a lot to us, and it’s always heartening to hear they mean something to other people, too. It’s been extremely cool to connect with so many rad people in recent years. Thanks for being out there and doing what you do!

The motivating force behind this message is to let you know our new DIY book How and Why is being designed and is nearly ready to go. We’ve put a few years into making it as awesome as it can be and the only thing remaining to get it out there is to raise the money for printing. If you’d like a copy (or five) of How and Why, or need to replace some of our other books that you loaned to a friend, or need some presents for special people in your life, or just want to continue supporting our independent publishing:


If you’re into what we’re doing, it would help a lot if you could spread the word via email, facebook, twitter, yelling on street corners, or whatever comes naturally to you.

Thanks a lot! And do stay in touch.



P.S. We don’t plan on using Kickstarter for every new book that we release. We really try to only use it when we have to but it’s been a rough year, so of course we respond by trying to do a lot of stuff that we think is awesome!

The Microcosm Robnoxious Interview!

In Shut Up and Love the Rain, Oakland-based zinester Robnoxious takes along his path from early sexual exploration to his current sex-positive, constantly-deprogramming, über-healthy queerness! Rob’s writing and comics show us that experimentation should start early, that guilty pleasures needn’t be guilty, and that talking it over and being honest with each other will lead to nothin’ but good. Over the course of 64 pages you get personal history and sex/queer-related reviews. There’s hilarious, illuminating essays, intimate accounts of relationships outside the margins, and a touching, inspiring interview with Rob’s parents after his father came out as transgendered. Subheadlined “To Queer Anarchist Happiness Thru Good Living,” Rob’s brand-new comix and writing zine is just that—happy, living well, queer and anarchist and damn proud!               

You can order Shut Up and Love the Rain right here.

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Q: Let’s talk Shut Up and Love the Rain. What was the genesis for this one? When did you get started on it and what made you want to do it?

A: I wanted to do a zine like one I did years ago called Girl-Boy, but I couldn’t find anyone who wanted to do it with me. I just started writing about sexuality, queerness, gender, and personal experiences based on those things. Then I took those stories and made them into comics! A lot of the zine is sequential art, also known as comics. I decided it was time to get back into drawing, so I took a figure drawing and portraiture class at Laney College in Oakland. The classes were awesome, and after that my neglected drawing skills were re-activated. When I was growing up in high school I would receive and assignment and just flip it over to the blank side of the paper and draw whatever I wanted.  That’s really where it all started, with me saying, “This is bullshit. Let’s flip it over and try something different.”

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Q: I thought the section on your dad was really brave. What’s your parents’ response been to that part? Seems like their attitude is super healthy in regards to her change.

A: My parents were really happy with the interview focusing on my dad coming out as a transgendered woman. I think it meant a lot to my parents to have their son think that what they were doing was important enuf to put down in writing and share with the world. My parents seem much healthier now than they ever have been. It’s really great to see them happy. Sometimes I think my mom falls into the shadow a little bit, which is typical, because transitioning is such a big thing, a huge event in people’s life, so that the partner of the person transitioning is like, “Can we talk about something else for a minute?” Ha! They’re working it out.

Q: It seems to me that zines have been kind of sexless for years. You read these personal zines about love relationships and the characters never talk about sex, never have sex, never think about sex, anything like that. Which is unrealistic. Lately though I’ve seen a lot more zines with sexual content coming out. Have you noticed any change in that respect? Do you think zinesters are afraid of talking about sex?

A: I think that fear of sex is inherent in our whole culture, and that translates down to our alternative world too. I became more aware of our sexually repressed culture while living in Europe for three months and seeing the open attitude to sexuality and naked bodies. I saw huge posters on streets in Vienna with full nudes; if someone did this in the States they would probably be arrested! So even tho zines are underground and alternative, the mainstream mentality is still there inside our minds. A lot of people are repulsed by depictions of sexuality. It’s something you do only in the dark and you don’t talk about it and you can’t let anyone else know or hear you while you’re doing it; it has to be secret! Every year I go to this queer music festival in Tennessee and it’s great because there are these meadows with wall-to-wall tents, and at all times of the day you can hear people getting it on, fucking in their tents or out in the woods, and they hear you laughing, and then they laugh, and they keep going. It’s like the way things are in tribal situations, where people don’t have rooms to hide in, and where sex is seen and heard happening among various generations, and it’s just part of life, there’s nothing shameful about it.

Q: Who are your favorite zine-makers right now?

A: Craven Rock: he is writing about what he does to survive, working, and it’s interesting. Cindy Crabb: one of the first zines I read that was not superficial but was trying to get to the bottom of things, and still going! Full Metal Faggot: a sex positive queer porn zine with explicit photos of punks being sexual in seasonal labor jobs. Very unique. John Isaacson: comics about traveling around and having fun with the other people in the world. Max Clotfelter: comics about rough people, people that we know, people that we are, people that we could be.

Q: Give us your top six zines…

A: Not Your Mother’s Meatloaf (comic zine open to contributions), Eaves of Ass by Craven Rock, Full Metal Faggot, Doris, Loitering Is Good, The Roaming Heart by Gina Sicilliano.

Q: Are zines important in 2010?

A: Oh yeah, people are still getting a lot out of printed zines. They still read a zine, and if they think it’s good, they hand it off to someone else. Blogs are great to spread things around the world for cheap and easy, but not everyone has internet or a computer, and giving someone the address to your website and expecting them to stare at a screen connected to the grid is such a different experience than handing them a real physical zine to carry with them wherever they may go. All they need is for the sun to be up, and that I think zines are much more empowering in that way.

Microcosm Publishing Interview with the Team Colors Collective!

Team Colors is an awesome activist collective with members stretching across the US. Their latest venture is in publishing. Winds from Below: Radical Community Organizing to Make a Revolution Possible (Eberhardt Press) and Uses of a Whirlwind (AK Press) are out now and available here and here, respectively.

Q: Tell us a little about Team Colors…

Currently the collective is made up of Conor Cash (Tucson, AZ), Craig Hughes (Queens, NY by the time you read this), Stevie Peace (Minneapolis, soon to be Chapel Hill, NC), and Kevin Van Meter (Portland, OR), though we often work with other friends and organizations. As a collective our purpose is to examine current struggles, organizing, and movements, and to share findings that in turn better radical practice and build radical movements. Though each of us has had or is in the midst of academic training (i.e. grad school), we pull predominantly from our own experiences as organizers and active participants in revolutionary struggles.

Team Colors initially arose out of a decade-long organizing project in suburban Long Island, New York, that involved three of the collective’s current members. In organizing among DIY punk folks, hardcore kids, and related communities on Long Island–and in successful ways–we felt that we had developed a framework and set of experiences for examining how other organizations and projects functioned. This paired with an interest in militant and co-research–that is, research on militant activities and research produced in the encounter between the research team and those looking to produce knowledge about their communities and struggles. This focus brought us to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, where we met our fourth collective member.

The collective sees its role as examining struggles and circulating them, but not in a way that is removed or above or in ideological conflict with them or aspects of them. As organizers ourselves, we feel that it’s important to describe and share how an organization or campaign actually functions. Too often, organizers and activists give the “press release” version of their work: you read a short article on Indymedia or in the radical press that lists what’s great, what’s succeeding, including “orgasmic moments” of resonating power and potential, but what you miss is an in-depth description and analysis of how a particular organizing project works. We certainly need press releases and positive outlooks on our work, but we also need documents and media that reflect the complexity of organizing and struggling in the United States today.  

Additionally, we feel it is important to ground our politics and practices in our own life experiences, and we all have different interests that come through in our collective publications, including issues of class struggle, care work, and struggles around care. Each of us, and us as a collective body, have gone through some pretty traumatic experiences: state repression; a violent racially motivated attack; watching a friend and partner pass away; dealing with mental health and post traumatic stress disorder. We believe that unless movements address in real ways the mental and physical health issues, chronic pain, trauma, grief, and related experiences and realities of its members and surrounding communities, then they aren’t grasping the substance of life and the purposes of our struggles. Similarly, we are deeply frustrated by very problematic and lacking discourses on class and class dynamics around the Left. In our view, it is class struggle (in its multitudinous forms) that drives our history and present, and it is in the working class’s ability to recompose and renew itself and build power that we will get beyond the exploitation and domination of capital and state.

Q: You have two new publications coming out. Tell us a little about them.

Uses of a whirlwindA: Our first new publication concludes a two-year research project into radical movements in the United States. This began with an on-line journal called “In the Middle of a Whirlwind: 2008 Convention Protests, Movement, and Movements,” and has developed into a collection just out through AK Press, called Uses of a Whirlwind: Movement, Movements, and Contemporary Radical Currents in the United States (Whirlwinds).

The book collects over thirty voices from farms, forests, bookstores, streets and street corners, homes, and corporate chains (among many other spaces) so that they resonate with each other and share their stories. It is our intent that readers find this collection as simply one step forward in their organizing work, to encourage reflections about the complexities and cycles of struggle and examinations of their organizing.

As we wrote the introduction to Whirlwinds to help set up the context of the collection, we found we had a lot we wanted to bring forward but no space to do so. We wanted to examine the past thirty years of struggle–of this cycle of struggle, of capital’s response to it and the state violence used against it, and how this has developed into the current situation radical movements and communities face. So instead of straining to fit such a large amount of material into an already ambitious collection, we decided to place it in a separate pamphlet, called Wind(s) from Below: Radical Community Organizing to Make a Revolution Possible.

Winds from belowBoth of these projects are interventions. We are intervening into the current state of radical organizing and revolutionary struggle, and pointing toward exciting developments as well as the impasses that are limiting these potential struggles. One thing we want to stress, and we hope it comes off in our work, is that radicals need humility. We don’t have all the answers, we cannot understand all the complexities of life and the conditions of peoples’ lives through ideological lenses, we cannot presume that we are correct and that those who don’t agree with our politics are somehow immoral, ignorant, or corrupt. But we can walk together, ask questions, and create new ways of moving and living.

Q: The pamphlet’s being printed over at Eberhardt Press, who we love and support with all our heart. How’d you guys get hooked up with Charles at Eberhardt.

Since Kevin moved to Portland, OR two years ago, all of us have become fast friends with Charles and Eberhardt Press. But actually this is not how we encountered him and his unique and incredible printing work. Three years ago, we were looking to print a small run of about 350 cookbooks as a memorial and tribute to a friend who had recently passed away, and current “Green Scare” political prisoner Daniel McGowan pointed us in Eberhardt Press’s direction. (On that note, Team Colors would like to strongly suggest that those reading this take a moment to write a postcard, short letter or send zines to Daniel ( or another imprisoned activist ( It is these notes and printed materials that allow their lives to continuously flow into ours, and is among the best ways to show support for someone behind bars.)

Q: Tell us a little about what happened at the US Social Forum that took place between June 23-27th in Detroit?

Team Colors organized two workshops, a panel discussions, and a collaborative book party during the USSF ( in Detroit at the end of June. We hosted a panel on radical research (with Chris Dixon, Harmony Goldberg, and Michal Osterweil of the Turbulence Collective), a workshop on research for radical movements (with Midnight Notes Collective, Institute of Anarchist Studies, Radical Reference, Frank Edwards and Robin Hewlett of AREA Chicago, Julie Perini, Chris Carlsson), a workshop on care (with SICK: A Collaborative Zine on Physical Illness editor Benjamin Holtzman, Philly Stands Up, Domestic Workers United, and Rockdove Collective), and finally, an amazing collaborative book release party with eight other authors (including Ben of SICK and Justseeds’ Firebrands, both Microcosm titles), co-organized by AK Press, Autonomedia, Black & Red, Fifth Estate, the Institute of Anarchist Studies, Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative, Microcosm Publishing, PM Press, Turbulence Collective, and author Jordan Flaherty.  New York based artist Seth Tobocman concluded the party with a slide show of recent work.   

All of this was part of a radical track of workshops and events called “A New World from Below” and we will be uploading audio from many of these events on our website as well.  Additionally, Whirlwinds was officially released during the Forum and we were super excited about the positive responses we received from new and old friends alike.  

Q: Do you have any other book events people can come meet you at?

Team Colors will be doing a national tour for most of the summer and into the fall. Immediately following the USSF we visited, and then Chicago, Madison, and Minneapolis. In July we will be doing events in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Asheville, Nashville, Gainesville, Lake Worth, Hollywood (Florida), Miami, and other areas of the Northeast and South. We are excited to do August events in Portland, the AK Press warehouse in Oakland, and San Francisco, as well as events in the rest of the Northwest later that month. Many of our events will include contributors to the book and other friends. It is the discussions that arise during these events, and from the book, that we hope to learn from and continue to circulate. Our USSF events and tour dates can be found at:

Q: What’s next for Team Colors?

Aside from the book tour, each member of Team Colors has their own interests that they are excited to explore as the intensity of this project slows down in late fall 2010. Stevie will be going to graduate school and pursuing research on radical Asian America. Craig will continue his research on suburban social struggles. Kevin will focus in on issues of care, death, and mourning, and will look to produce a pamphlet and other pieces of writing on these subjects. As for the collective itself, we are always looking at new ways to connect with projects that we love and respect, and share how they function in order to improve radical practice and movements.  

Q: Where can people find more info on you guys?

The collective’s website, which includes numerous articles we have published as well as excerpts from both of the books, is at For the website for the Whirlwinds collection, you can go directly to  

Meet Microcosm, Episode Eight, Meet Portland Store Intern Robin Yourgrave!

Ain’t nothin’ like a good, hard-working intern. For this episode of Meet Microcosm we introduce you to the super awesome Robin Yourgrave, who interns down at the ‘Cosm store in SE Portland.

Q: Hey Robin! Tell us how you got the intern position…

A: I got the intern “volunteering” position at Microcosm pretty much by making cold calls to businesses around Portland. I just moved here about a month and a half ago and the job search was getting quite frustrating. The initial intention of my phone call was to get a paid position, however I have been aware of Microcosm for a while and really support what they do so I was more than willing to take up a volunteer position there. A few days after I called, Joe and I met to discuss the position and I started that very day.

Q: What kinds of zines are you into?

A: As far as zines go, I’m a huge proponent of personal zines (e.g. Cometbus). I like the personal stories that I can draw from and relate to my own life and maybe get a different input of how to handle certain situations or, if the situations are not to be handled, make the best of them. I make a zine entitled Bird Shit which is pretty much a Cometbus approach to zine writing. I self-published my first issue back in April and a re-print is coming along with self-publication of my second issue. I am also working on a zine with my boyfriend entitled Coffeedrunk which is essentially about our traveling endeavors pursued together.

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Q: What do you do outside of your interning position?

A: Until recently, I didn’t really do much outside of my intern position other than writing and reading on my own time. Until last week, I was still unemployed. Now, though, I struggle for free time. I work at Whole Foods Market and continue to strenuously work on the assembly of my upcoming zines.

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Q: Give us your five favorite and five least favorite things about Portland…
As I am new to the area, it’s difficult to define what my favorite things about Portland are and what my um… un-favorite things entail. But, I will construct the best list that I’m able.

1) MICROBREWS!!!–I live right down the street from John’s Marketplace and, needless to say, they consistently have my business.
2) Public transportation–I have had quite the string of bad luck when it comes to vehicles because I had to rely on one in my hometown (Fort Wayne, IN) and, of course, I was always broke and could never REALLY afford upkeep. Here, it is not necessary to own a vehicle at all. I really appreciate that about this city.
3) The Cheerful Tortoise–Thursday nights… dollar beers and thirty cent wings. Enough said.
4) Ground Kontrol–Classic videogames and cheap beer.
5) Untouched nature–I love that this city is a perfectly blended landscape of concrete jungle and naturally wooded areas.

Least Favorite
1) ALLERGIES–Apparently the Willamette Valley has the highest allergen count of anywhere on the planet. Didn’t receive a warning on THAT one.
2) Hippies. I work at Whole Foods. Need I say more?
3) Road Construction.
4) Bad drivers.
5) Raised bridges.

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Q: Finally, what do you do at the Microcosm store?

A: While at the store, it’s a variety of things that I do that range anywhere from making buttons, cutting patches, straightening up shelves, or painting things. It really just depends on what needs to be done for that particular day.

Steven Leaving Microcosm….Not Goodbye, but See You Later.

Hi, this is Steven from Microcosm. 

Also from Boxcar Books- volunteer powered, collectively run bookstore and community space in Bloomington IN.

For those that may want to know, I’m leaving Microcosm and Boxcar and moving away from Bloomington.

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone I’ve worked with over the years and all the friends I’ve made along the way.  On tour, tabling, at conferences, and via the internerd.  Everyone doing anything to support independent and radical projects deserves a big old pat on the back. 

But a nod and a wink sometimes aren’t enough in these fucked up and troubled times.  It’s like how frustrated I get when the punk kid won’t pay the $5 for the show but have cash for beers all night long.  Fuck that kid.

I was talking about this with Bill Daniel, author of Microcosm’s title Mostly True, on his recent film tour stop in Bloomington.  Things are so fucked and getting way worse.  I’m talking about collapse.  I’m talking about the Gulf Oil Disaster as a clear wake up call and chance to embrace a completely different paradigm.  But we don’t grasp it, signs and warnings will continue to fall through our fingers.

Are we going to dig our feet in and fight it out?  Or are we going to pull up shop and relocate to New Zealand or someplace, any place that doesn’t seem as fucked?

In a way, that’s one of the reasons why I’m moving to Knoxville TN to get a masters in social work. C’mon….there could be way more radical and anarchist professionals, right?  Lawyers, doctors, social workers, psychologists, instructors, scientists, maybe even anti-capitalist dentists?  Ha!  Whatever we can do to support our local communities and enrich our lives with good, local, meaningful work.  I’m trying to use my privilege and my roots in punk and DIY to try and dig deep and create better organization, adequate funding, and sustainability for radical projects.  Or just attempt to do more.  As my co-worker Chris says..”Something, anything.” 

I don’t want to lose touch with people doing good work, contacts and friends I’ve made along the way.

So please stay in touch, let me know what you think, and keep on keepin’ on.

I’m now on facebook, no matter how long I tried to avoid it:

Please support Boxcar Books and other radical bookstores and spaces like it — they are too few and far between.

Love always and every time, Steven

another new intern.

Hi ! I’m Giz, the new intern here at Microcosm Publishing in Bloomington, IN.
I came all the way from france to stuff packages and stick pages but Bloomington is a really nice place for this kind of work. I find out about Microcosm about two years ago when I read Alex Wrekk’s Stolen Sharpie Revolution and I kept ordering things from them since they were the distro with the cheapest international postage out there. Besides that economic interest, my relationship to the zine medium itself is mostly based on trades and I’m even planning to do a research about it as a master degree thesis at the University of Nice.

As the subject exist mostly within postals system, I’m looking to connect with some zinesters who trade zines, some who don’t, non-zinesters with interest on zine making and trades (like if they trade zines for something else), and any people with an interest in collecting zines. here’s a few questions for which you can send me back the responses :

1- do you trade zines ? for how long ?

2- did you ever get non-fair trades ? did you sent yours anyway ?

3- did you ever refuse a trade ?

4- do you keep your zines as a collection ?

5- is trading a good way to expand your collection, compared to donations (for the zine libraries) or sales ?

6- except money and another zine, did you ever get something else for a zine ?

7- then some presentation : name, age, gender and the city/country you’re coming from.

contact :

Brand New Microcosm Zine Store Grand Opening!

Ain’t no party like a zinester party! The Portland Microcosm Publishing zine store has moved to a bigger location yet again! After leaving the super rad ActivSpace building in SE, the zine store is now settling into its new digs down on 636 SE 11th .

To celebrate, the zine store folks are throwing a big ol’ zine fiesta grand opening on July 1st. Says party organizer/store employee Rio Safari, “After several moves and spaces with less than adequate dimensions, the Microcosm Store has finally found a spacious home in inner SE! Not only does it have room for awesome literature and the resident zine trike, we can finally host the grand opening party that we’ve always wanted.”

The party starts at 6pm and will feature zine readings by Sarah Royal and DIY Guide to Screenprinting’s John Isaacson along with a super sweet and super free vegan barbecue in the parking lot. Says Rio, “Microcosm Store finally has a parking lot, and we intend to fill it up with good people and grilled veggies!”

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(Photo by Elly Blue)

Meet Microcosm, Episode Six–Meet The New Portland Store!

For this episode of Meet Microcosm we talk to the newly moved Portland store!

Q: So, Portland store, you just moved to a new location. Tell us what people can expect from the new spot and how it’s different than the last two…

Joe: Well, the store can no longer be compared to metaphors about a clown car. I was honestly amazed to see how much stuff we had shoe-horned into the old store once it was spread out in our warehouse. And prior to that we were in Liberty Hall, which was more like an office than a store. Our setups were just not geared for browsing; they were setup for packing orders. Now we have 600 sq’ of store with all of our stuff nicely spread out and with lots of displays and attention to each little area. We get to show off all our little murals and you don’t have to pick stuff up to find what you’re looking for. Yes, that was fun but people also need to be able to browse. My favorite part is that, because the books were so jam-packed onto the old shelves, people always think the book they just noticed is new, when we have often had it for 2-3 years. But we are still getting in new books regularly—at least as fast as they come out—and we’ve got lots of books that our mailorder catalog doesn’t. What fun. It’s like a diamond hunt. We’ve also got tons of old and new zines and even more shelves for them. It’s still fun. Maybe I just like building shelves and seeing the signs that Matt, Rio, and Pamela paint on them.

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Q: Who are you sharing a space with this time around and what’s it like being with them? Do you guys ever have roommate fights (or haughty pillowfights?)

Joe: We share our building now with Printed Matter who does textile screenprinting like our patches, Eberhardt Press who does offset printing like our zines, and Bruce the letterpress guy who we haven’t figured out how to incorporate into our shop yet. The artist Klutch (not to be confused with the comic Clutch) also has a studio in our building for painting. It’s rad to be with people that have aesthetic, ethical, and political similarities to our organization and who work really hard for everything they’ve got. I find it really encouraging to be around other people who are putting in long hours. Sadly there have not yet been any pillow fights. But we haven’t lost hope.

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Q: The neighborhood you’re in has some really cool stores, including the Vegan Strip Mall. If someone was coming from out of town, where would you suggest going for a mini tour of the ‘hood?

Joe: We are two short blocks from Sweetpea Bakery, Herbivore Clothing, Food Fight Grocery, Scapegoat Tattoo, and The Red & Black Cafe, all of whom we seem to share a lot of patrons with. I think it’s important to visit each one to see what the deal is. With all of us in tow, and the hardware store in between, virtually all of your needs can be met! You’ve also gotta visit the dog park, to play everybody else’s puppies, which is great, because you can play fetch and rub bellies without having to clean up after them! I really like this neighborhood and we plan to be here for years to come.

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Q: Last I heard you have a lot of people coming from other countries to check out the selection. True? What kinds of things do they buy?

Joe: The people from Canada are the sweetest, the cutest are from Australia, but the Europeans really nail it just for being so damned interested—and interesting! Strangely, they are just like you or me. They buy zines though they tend to read a little more and have longer attention spans. So when I see a Canadian or European, I try to point them to the “you must be insane to read over 600 pages” or “things no one is ever going to buy” sections. I particularly enjoy it when you get a friendly person from a country that is primarily non-English speaking but is a huge fan of zines. Because they don’t often have a lot of zines being produced in their native country and the only ones they can get are written in English, they are very excited to load up while in the store. And in that regard, Americans often tend to ask for what you, the shopkeeper, like. People from other countries still have the skill that I hear Americans had in used bookstores before the 1980s, where they could browse a zine for 5-10 seconds and determine if they are interested in it. Fascinating. I think it’s worth mentioning that Japan sends over some visitors who are SO excited about bikes and zines that they buy tons of stuff. Watching out-of-towner’s faces take the magnitude of the store in is pretty funny, too.

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Q: What are some of your favorite things you have in you right now?

Joe: That Gabby Schulz/Ken Dahl book Monsters is just so-fucking-unbelievably-good. The new Ariel Gore book Bluebird about happiness is great. That and virtually any zine in the store.

Rio: R. Crumb’s Illustrated Book of Genesis. And a micro-zine about bad ass women called Bad Ass #2 by Mark Todd.

Matt: The Getting Out book on leaving the US is pretty rad, and that new Gristle book rules! Zine Libs is always a favorite.

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Q: What have people been buying a lot of lately?

Joe: Two women bought over one hundred stickers yesterday. Other than that, a close runner up is Henry & Glenn Forever.

Rio: The Poor Man’s James Bond 2!

Matt: We sold three copies of Girls Aren’t Chicks coloring book the other day. DIY Submachine Gun was a major victory.

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Q: Give us five things you have that might surprise us…

Rio: We have a section for coloring books! All of our shirts are neatly folded and displayed! A jackalope watches over our Cometbus/Doris display! The last two surprises are that we can fit thirty odd people in here (for a change) and they’d all have room to dance.

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Q: Finally, who works inside your storebody and what are their superpowers?

Matt can paint on any surface with any material as ink. He can make anything like visually amazing. His work stills beating hearts. Rio retired his lucrative gig as a snake oil salesman to work here. He can find the perfect zine for any customer that walks in our doors. He also fixes shoes. Robin worked in stores before this one and knows how to do mythical things like “help customers” and “interact with the outside world.” Pamela has the patience to spend over an hour painting single millimeter brush strokes onto a canvas because she can envision the final result. Joe can find any pile of trash and conceptualize how it’s practical or even useful to build into something for the store.

(Photo credit: All photos by Elly Blue)