Raw Material

Don & Steve Steinberg, Meanwhile...

Selections: "Final Exits for Aquatic Species" by Don (page 71); "Jim and Mr. Peanut," by Steve (page 72); "Can't Beat Sisyphus," by Steve (page 128); "Penalty Boxes: The World of Hockey Fight Videos" by Don (page 129)

Recent reviews (from Out Your Backdoor): "Well-designed, well-written, creative, wacked-out, funny culture commentary."

Sample: A limited number of "boxed sets" of Meanwhile... back issues are available for $9. Write Don for information.

When did you launch your zine? What inspired you to do so?
Steve: My brother Don (who I bet he could go on and on about the history of Meanwhile..., complete with the name-dropping of several established TV writers and Art Garfunkel, of all people!) asked for my help.
Don: As long as I can remember, I've been thrilled by the idea that you could write something down, hand it to someone, and they would laugh. My brother Steve and I were doing a Mad-style humor magazine, called "Slopp," when we were in elementary school. We worked with two other funny kids, who also were each other's brothers. One of them is now a prosecuting attorney and the other is a staff joke-writer for Conan O'Brien. As a college freshman I received a visit from Art Garfunkel; he'd lived in the same dorm room as a student. After that I started "Art for Art's Sake," a humor newsletter that was purportedly the house-organ of the Garfunkel museum but actually was a vehicle for printing and distributing inane material. After I graduated, I got my hands on Paul Krassner's The Realist and Army Man, the legendary funzine that "Simpsons" writer George Meyer put out to kill time during the TV writers' strike. I thought it should be my calling. He had all of his most brilliant friends submit hilarious stuff. Other inspirations were with Mad magazine, Harper's, and Processed World. I put out the first Meanwhile... in 1990, only moments after I obtained Adobe Type Manager software for Windows and it suddenly became possible to typeset on my computer.

Why publish a zine?
Steve: A lot of ideas you come up with are so timely that if you were to go through normal publishing channels, the joke would be ancient by the time it saw daylight. Also, with a zine you cut out several hundred middlemen. There's no query letters, no editors to deal with, and no paycheck to endorse. It's the best of all possible worlds.
Don: I've published about 40 percent for professional reasons. As a freelance writer, I have a lot of weird story ideas that don't fit squarely into magazine editors' round, firm editorial holes. I thought that by putting all my great, unrequited, rejected and half-baked ideas into Meanwhile..., then sending it as a fait-accompli to influential and sympathetic people in the publishing business, it would be better than trying to pitch dozens of doomed story ideas. The plan worked; Meanwhile... has without doubt earned me more paying work than my college degree has.

Any general tips for aspiring zinesters?
Steve: Don't get too discouraged when you return to the copy place to pick up your finished product and the guy behind the counter yells out to his co-workers, "El Sucko is back!"
Don: Create a lovable, running character that can eventually be licensed to be put on school notebooks, mouse pads, etc.

What's your favorite part of doing a zine?
Steve: Having someone you've never met come up and say, "Hey, I really like your stuff. Don't you have a spell-checker?"
Don: Getting the box of newly printed, still-warm copies back from the photocopy shop, carrying it home, reading the final product, and not seeing too many typos.

In my other life, I'm a:
Steve: Guy who complains about having to write computer game reviews.
Don: Contributing writer and columnist for GQ.

Don Steinberg
Steve Steinberg
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