Scribbling Women: Editors Talk Back
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The third part of this article was published in Legacy #5. It is subtitled: "Editors Talk Back."
It includes comments of Berit, the editor of the German K/S zine Nevasa, Rosemary, the editor of Village Press, Dovya Blacque, publisher of US zines from early years to the present day, Linda W., editor of Bondmates, Robin Hood, Merry Men Press, Kathy Resch, and Jenna Sinclair.
This is a really, really meaty article. Many topics are covered including print shop adventures, the decision to put explicit art on covers, the first true four-color art on the front of a media zine (The Captain's Woman), the first CGA printed in a media zine (T'hy'la #15), whether women are turned on by erotic/explicit art, choosing art to fit the story….
It is part of a series:
- Scribbling Women: The History of Our Art
- Scribbling Women: Artists Talk Back
- Scribbling Women: Editors Talk Back
What made you decide to print artwork given that it is expensive and difficult to reproduce?
Dovya writes “I wanted art and lots of it. I wanted a Gayle F. cover for my first issue of As I Do Thee. I didn’t think I’d get one but that’s what I wanted. I wanted to dive right into the thick of K/S and go for what I thought was the best for my cover. To my utter surprise, Gayle was more than happy to do a cover for me, she even ‘edited’ part of the drawing that was a bit too risqué for my cover tastes. We worked together on many projects through the years, even non-fan projects. In general I’d send the story or poem to a particular artist and they interpreted the fiction or poetry in the most wonderful ways. It added such a rich texture to the zines.” Dovya explains that nowadays, “art is not expensive or difficult to reproduce if you have the right printer (which is a good thing—and a hard thing—to find). In the old days, half-tones—pencil work—were quite a bit more expensive than ink work but not so much so that I shied away from printing it. I always preferred to accept pen and ink as it is simpler to reproduce but I never hesitated to publish pencil work. Now, if you’re talking color work, before the excellent color photo-copy machines we have now, yes, I did hesitate to publish color art. In fact, until recently—because of the color photo-copiers and how good they are—I never published color work.” Robin’s reply is typically succinct and to the point, “Every editor before me had art, I loved it, therefore....” Ergo her zines are lavishly illoed from cover to cover. In fact the very first thing I do when I get a Merry Men Press zine in the post is flick through for the artwork. Kathy also enjoys the visual elements of the zines she produces. She writes, “I studied Commercial Art (now called Graphic Design) in college, and so I was always focused on producing the most attractively laid-out zines I could achieve, given the constraints of materials and technology.” This certainly shows in the zines whose visual pleasures go far beyond the nice artwork. T’hy’la is immaculately laid out and the title pages of the stories often include neat graphics.Linda has strong memories of seeing K/S art early on, in fact it was the cover of a zine that converted her! Her meeting with K/S art went something like this: “‘Ohmigod, what the bleep.’ Slam zine down and walk away, come back, look again ‘maybe.’ It was a Naked Times at Worldcon ‘93. I don’t know who the artist was. That was a shocking introduction, and I’ve been converted to the dark side ever since.” So it was no real surprise that Linda never considered having a text only zine. She writes, “I love artwork of various media for K/S. Good artwork should be reproduced to best advantage, showing all the tonal gradations...er...keeping expense in mind of course. It’s not that expensive anymore to print artwork because of scanners, personal printers and color copiers so you can reproduce art fairly inexpensively, not cheaply, but fairly inexpensively. But when I decided to publish a zine my major thought was ‘I hope I get some art. I don’t have time to draw any to supplement the zine.’”
Ah ha, copy shops. More than a few editors can tell a funny tale or two about copy shops and their reactions to K/S! This is what Kathy has to say: “I remember how nervous I was taking T’hy’la 1 to the printer! It didn’t matter that they had already printed an X-rated Trek zine. The Other Side of Paradise had been a het zine, after all. I was asking them to print explicit art of naked men doing sexual things with each other. Explicit art of culturally-recognizable naked men doing sexual things with each other. Never mind the fact that they were obviously used to the idea of culturally-recognizable naked people doing sexual things with each other. And, I had made it absolutely clear in my initial phone conversation what I would be publishing. None of that mattered when I pulled up in front of this little hole-in-the-wall storefront print shop in a less-than-salubrious part of Oakland, California, and faced the prospect of taking in my brand new zine—with all that art.... I could barely walk through the door. How I managed to get through the process is beyond me, but they were so cool with it. The printer didn’t raise an eyebrow, and everyone was completely professional.” In fact so cool are some printers that Kathy’s current printer once told her that they always looked forward to printing her zines, and often posted the artwork on the walls of the bindery (the more explicit, the better), to keep the women who bound the zines entertained. That says it all!
When you decided to publish a zine what were your thoughts about art?
Dovya’s response is interesting. She writes “Well, I remember that, speaking as an editor, there were more artists than you could shake the proverbial stick at when I started publishing zines. Artists contacting me to submit, asking if I wanted a cover from them. Artists, artists everywhere. Not so much, in my experience, now.” And Dovya certainly loved the art she saw, explaining, “For me as a fan, the art shows at cons knocked me out. So much talent by so many people. The variety of how people interpreted K/S was truly awesome. And I loved the art in zines, just loved it. Couldn’t wait to see the cover of the new issue of whatever zine I was expecting. I remember just staring at the covers of zines like Thrust and Naked Times and Out of Bounds and The Price & The Prize and Command Decision, etc. The art brought K/S to life for me in a way the stories themselves didn’t, couldn’t.”How wonderful. I certainly know how visceral a thing art can be, I actually remember pouring and pouring over a few almost K/S pictures I had in a book but I also recall that I found the art on the cover of the first zine I bought so “disturbing” (in a kind of, look/look away type, way) that I am ashamed to say I ripped it off, so that I only had to look at it on pre-planned occasions! The next thing I did with it was copy it with pencils...and that I suppose was the beginning of my journey to K/S art!
Berit explains the artistic background to her German zines “Til 2003 there was a German newsletter-zine, some sort of a mix between the KSP and a real zine with stories and recs and discussion etc. I was a member of the club (called “ClassiK/S”) who published this, as were my two co-publishers. As we wrote more stories than this newsletter could print the idea was born to publish a real story zine. At first we wanted to do it with this fan club but then there were some differences with them and we decided to go our own way. In fact we first had the stories and looked for some people who could illustrate them. My co-editor Myra draws and a couple of our authors also, so mostly a story comes with drawing added or we asked them if they could do a picture for their story.”
I also questioned Dovya about her attitude to very explicit material. She says, ”Hell yeah! But not for a cover. No penises hanging out on the covers please! Explicit covers are impossible for editors or agents to put out on their table at conventions—or should be in my opinion—which is why I choose not to print explicit covers. But inside? Absolutely...if I deem it acceptable.” But Dovya, like Robin, will not take CGAs.