Raw Material

Jake Austen, Roctober

Age: 28

Selection: "Chuck Berry: Rocker, Legend, Landlord" (page 104)

Recent review (from 8-Track Mind): "The most interesting, non-clichéd music mag." (From Lumpen Times): "Do not make the mistake of thinking this is some cheap little shit zine. It's just too weird to be bad and so idiosyncratic that it's good."

Sample: $4 from 1507 E. 53rd. St., PMB 617, Chicago, IL 60615 (checks: Jake Austen)

When did you launch your zine? What inspired you to do so?
I started the zine in 1992. In mid-1991 some punk kids were talking about starting a zine in Providence (where I was living) and asked me if I wanted to do something for it. The great, bohemeth-esque rockabilly singer Sleepy LaBeef was playing in a Chinese restaurant, so I got some friends to go with me and interview him. Of course, being punk, that proposed zine never happened. So after a while I decided to do my own zine to print that interview. I figured I knew enough outstanding comics writers and artists whose work was far better than most stuff you see in underground and mainstream (especially mainsteam press, and also since 99 percent of music mags are boring as shit I thought it would be easy to do outstanding work.

Why publish a zine?
To entertain and inform myself and others.

What can you tell us about the selection you provided for "The Book of Zines"?
There's a theory that many zine editors work with. At some point, everyone you know will tell you a great story that fits in with your theme, be it music, Asian culture or dishwashing. Thus, everyone you know could contribute at least one outstanding piece. Skippy Lange is a good writer, so I didn't have to do much editing, but like many contributors whose skills come from being interesting, rather than from getting a journalism degree, he sent his piece to me handwritten on about 50 sheets of looseleaf paper. Also, this shows how an interview doesn't have to be with a star to be a compelling read.

Do you publish any other zines?
I've published mini-comics about monsters, baseball, lowbrows, The Phantom and Houdini.

Any general tips for aspiring zinesters?
Do whatever you want, but if you do something that not a lot of people are going to like don't expect to get it distributed, or to sell a lot, or to get a ton of mail. Of course, that stuff isn't too important, but don't gripe. Also, steal as much cost-items (Xeroxing, paper, glue, computer/scanner time, etc.) as possible.

What's your favorite part of doing a zine?
Making friends with strange people.

In my other life, I'm a:
Dog and cat handler.

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