Longform

Zine-ophobia

Page 4 of 5

This zine is quite a project, and one that can't be done without funding. Dunham accepts many ads, but says they only "covered about half the printing expense of the most recent issue. It costs about $1,000 to print it; we printed up 6,500 last time." The zine is free in Arizona, $2.50 elsewhere.

Whether you put it down to zine-biz experience, life wisdom or plain love of the medium, Dunham is a living embodiment of grassroots zine idealism, a guru of doing-it-yourself to benefit everybody. Listen and he will tell you many things.

"This is the information age that we live in, and zines are a great vehicle of communicating information between people who are fringe," says Dunham. "The fringe of society is where any kind of growth happens; the core of society is kind of dead. . . ."
Though Dunham is no teenager, he sees his role--and the role of his zine--as a beacon to budding iconoclasts. "I see nonconformity as a central issue of modern life," he says. "Creativity is so stifled in this society, and the energy of kids is mostly about breaking out of that, which is something I like to support and something that I get a lot from. Nonconformity is about creativity; it's about moving forward."

What better way to move forward on the highway of nonconformity than in the vehicle of a zine--and Dunham has seen it work again and again.

"Zines are worthwhile if for no other reason than the fact that someone cares enough to stick their neck out and say what's on their mind," he offers. "A lot of them aren't very skillfully put together, a lot aren't even well-thought-out, but every now and then, you get some funky-looking zine, some kid in high school putting something out. There's a lot of brilliance out there, and a lot of people put it in zine form because no one else will listen to them. They try saying it to their parents or teachers or their friends and they just don't get it, but they put it in a zine and send it out and they get feedback. A zine is only one step above a note to a friend that you pass in class; if you make two copies of it and pass it around, it's a zine."
Any underground publication is, by definition, a labor of love. And Dunham wouldn't have it any other way; he takes great care to keep the ethics of Attitude Problem pure, and to keep commercialism at bay.

"I have a business that I make my living from," says the glass blower. "I don't want to make my living off the magazine. That's when you start feeling pressure to be an asshole, that's when you're really in danger of losing a certain edge. . . . I have a certain sense that human beings should be not so selfish, and not so materialistic and self-indulgent, and I put that in there in language that people will find more interesting than if I was some Bible-pounding lunatic."
@rule:
@body:Judging by Brian Marsland's zine, Things, he is in no danger of feeling pressure to be an asshole. Unlike the above-mentioned periodicals, his contains no advertising at all. There are no reviews of anything, no articles, no poetry, no editorials. But so what? The only rule in the zine world is that there are no rules.

Things is a small, unscheduled chapbook of Marsland's comics and art--simple, bold, funny stuff that owes as much to the stick-figure school as it does to the economical work of painter Paul Klee, one of Marsland's influences.

"One reason I do it is just for fun, and also so I feel that I have a showcase for pictures I draw," he says, surrounded by his paintings and cats in his Tempe apartment. "It's like making my own art books, and I just can't see ads in it. You wouldn't have ads in an art book."
In one respect, Things serves as a great big plug for the work of its creator; Marsland has sold paintings through interest sparked by the zine (music fans may recognize his work on the covers of the new CD and single by the band Beats the Hell Out of Me).

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Peter Gilstrap
Contact: Peter Gilstrap