interviews with zinesters – matt cordell

Note – I am slowly going through and cleaning up my folders on our hard drive. I just came across a bunch of old interviews I did with people while I was a journalism student at Columbia College Chicago. I think this interview is from an article I was working on for a magazine writing class. I am not sure. I only vaguely remember working on this project. You can tell from my repeated questions that I had some thesis that I was trying to cover, but I can’t remember what it was specifically. I think they are from 1999. At that time, I was a dumb kid, so I probably didn’t appreciate the time that these people took to answer the questions. But I do now. Thank you very much to Andrew Scott, Dan Sinker, Matt Cordell, Karl Erickson, Gretchen Larsen, Julie Halpern and Katherine Raz. If you are one of the interviewees and want your interview taken down, please let me know. I am putting them here for posterity and nerdy archival reasons.

Matt Cordell – The Plan

What’s your zine making process? Do you start in a notebook and then move to the zine, do you write directly into the zine, what? How do you print? Do you xerox, do you actually print? Do you scam? Do you have connections or do you have to pay, like me? Do you have any advice on any of this?

I was writing everything, hand-writing everything, in a legal pad and on notebook paper and on backs of old photocopies and other scraps of paper, then editing all of it, over and over. Then when I was finally done, I would jump onto one of my old typewriters and start typing away. I typed on the pages, actual size (1/2 of a letter size sheet of paper), made some paste ups and on to the copies. Now I’m typing it on the computer. It’s easier for me that way, with all my editing time. I think I’ll still end up using my typewriter for final type. I have a formula for printing the zine. I pay for half of the ones I print, and the rest I, uh, acquire through other means. It’s all photocopied. I don’t have the money or the quantities to have it offset.

Once you start a zine, how do you keep the momentum going? How do you finish the issue? How do you keep making more issues? Any advice?

With me, it’s hard cause my zine isn’t my number one priority. Primarily I’m working on paintings. But I love to write, so I’m finding time to do both. The zine will be much less available than my paintings, but I’d like to think I’ll keep it going. I always have these ideas of things I want to put in it. The main thing, for me, is getting the stories down when I’m thinking of them, or soon after, or I’ll just forget. It’s hard to get started on doing anything like that, but once I’m started it rolls.

What makes a good zine to you? What are the elements that you look for in a zine?

I just like good stories.

Could you take us step by step into the process of making your zine, from beginning to end? Like, say you were giving a workshop or class on how to do your own zine or something for a bunch of people who have never done a zine.

Okay. I’m presently fucked up on an over-the-counter drug named Drixoral. And that’s not in a cool way, like, I didn’t buy it to get fucked up, it just sort of happened that way – by default – since nature picked this (2000) for the first year she’ll fuck me down with a springtime allergy problem. I don’t understand it. Maybe it means I’m getting old. At any rate, I went out on a limb and bought a box of this so-called Drixoral and it’s got me all the loopy. This person in a desk beside me, she just said David Duchovny. Indeed she did.

My process is very simple, and it goes a little like:

I write the stories. I pick 3 or four or however may make a meaty little magazine and I start jotting them down on pieces of paper or backs of pieces of paper and then edit. Oh the editing. The editing is a thing that I do not like, but it does tell of my problem with not being able to let a thing go. I edit til the cows do come home. Then I make it into a readable piece of thing. I.E., I start typing on some sort of machine. I like to stay away from the computer on most occasions, cause everyday at work I must bond myself to one of those. Computers. I used a typewriter (sans correction tape or ribbon or film) for issue one and it was a bitch. I might not do that anymore, but it does look nice. Then after I get it all typed up and ready to reproduce, I have to make a little mock up (about the size of a wallet sized photograph – that is, when the mock up has been folded) and figure out what page goes on what sheet or back of sheet (you have to do this thing with a saddle-stiched book). Once I get the idea of how it works, I make a master – a paste up. Then I figure out how to do it as cheaply as possible – meaning creative ways to acquire cheap if not free copies.

Soonafter, it’s money, money, money. The zine is on the shelves (oh, I distribute it to the few zine-y shops of Chicago, just before the whopping payback arrives). I take a bath in the paper moneys and bite all the coins to test that they’re real gold.

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