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Micropolis: The Brooklyn Zine Fest

Monday, April 16, 2012

Matt Carman, with his zine (WNYC/Arun Venugopal)

Zines, those handmade touchstones of the DIY-era, are experiencing something of a resurgence -- argues Matt Carman, who co-founded the Brooklyn Zine Fest in Williamsburg where dozens of publishers flocked last weekend.

Carman, who publishes the film-obsessed zine "I Love Bad Movies," spoke to WNYC about the lure of self-published magazines in the digital era, and why he finds awful films so irresistible.

What's the appeal of zines today?

For me personally, I read a lot of content online. That's where most content is these days, at least for our generations, people in their 30s or younger. But I don't really absorb a lot of that. I see it and I read it, but it doesn't really stick. But a zine, I can recall things that I read in a zine five years ago. It's tangible, it's real, you're holding it, it's written by someone who you're sort of connecting with, through those pages. They printed that, they folded it, they stapled it, so you're really getting their story or what they're trying to tell you and you can really absorb it that way.

On one hand you do something very earnest, but at the same time you're doing something like write about bad movies. Ironic, no?

In many ways it's not, though. The title actually says it: "I Love Bad Movies." It's not a strict requirement, but we prefer that a writer or artist actually love the movie they're writing or illustrating. A lot of people when we tell them the theme of the new issue, they'll say, 'Oh, there's this movie, it's perfect, but it's not a bad movie.' And we have to tell them that it is a bad movie. You just love it too much to think of it as bad.

Do you find filmmakers too often trying to craft that bad aesthetic in a very cynical way?

I think it's something that is being crafted more now. A movie like "Machete," which started off as a fake trailer, is now a movie that seems almost like a fake movie. Or something like "Zombie Strippers" with Robert Englund. I think people are manufacturing bad movies, intentionally, and that's an entertaining thing in its own way, that's making fun of genre tropes that we also analyze and make fun of. But it's a different thing from setting out to make a good movie and failing completely.

Are zines the new LP?

Zines have had a renaissance. You've seen a lot of great zines that have started in the last couple years, like "I Love Bad Movies." Something like "Put a Egg on It," it's a great food zine. People like our friend Tom Blunt who made a "Meet the Lady" zine.

Where does one start?

Just start writing. You can look up advice on how to do a layout, how to print -- all that stuff is online. The Internet is still useful for some things. There's also "Stolen Sharpie Revolution," which is a book all about zines, the history of zines, how to make them. Just start writing, and photocopy it or print it out and fold it up, and if you can't staple it, just fold it up and hand it out. As long as you put a story out, it's an accomplishment.

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