I think I’ve already noted here that I’m rarely, if ever, on the ball. I live in a daydream most of the time, which is alright to the extent that I’m rarely bored with my own company, but it can lead to trouble. Yesterday, for instance, I left a folder containing nearly all of the work (collages and collage materials, zine masters and so on) I have completed over the last two years (while studying a Master of Fine Arts) on a bus, and only realised about two hours ago. Needless to say, I nearly died on the spot, but it’s amazing what panic does for your memory. I went from not even remembering having been on a bus yesterday to plotting that day’s movements and conversations to the minute, thus arriving at the conclusion that the only place I could have left my work was the 11:50 inward bound 440, and that the precious folder, if it was anywhere, would be at the Leichhardt bus depot. Which, fortunately, it was.
It’s not surprising then that back in August when the zine world was discussing the ins and outs of Teal Trigg’s book Fanzines, I had spied the book in the window of a certain yuppie designer book/gift shop on King St, Newtown, and smugly thought to myself that, being in said shop, it would be of little interest to me, and promptly forgot about it. Turns out of course that one of my zines is in it, a fact that the author rather dubiously failed to convey to me.
So, in researching (googling) the book I came across this discussion on We Make zines, which pretty much sums up all of the arguments, for and against. To sum up even more succinctly my own views on the matter I can borrow the words uttered by someone at the recent ANG zine fair in Canberra: Triggs fucked up. She only asked a few people for permission to use their stuff before the book was actually published and she rather tardily informed a few other people of their inclusion in the book after it had already gone to print. But it seems that a lot of people, including me, were not contacted at all. The general consensus seems to be that people don’t necessarily object to having their zines published or reprinted, but that it was pretty bad form of Triggs not to get permission first, and that not doing so has led to the inclusion of a lot of factual errors in the book, which people are understandably upset about (my own zine, By The Time You’re Twenty-Five, is a rather trivial example of one such error: it’s described as a ‘music zine’, but ‘perzine’ would be more accurate. The book is full of lazy little errors like this, but there are quite a lot more serious ones, too). When I emailed Triggs to ask why she hadn’t contacted me, I was fobbed off with some line about ‘not having my details at the time’. She even threw in a story about a neglectful assistant who was responsible for contacting me but didn’t, to which I say: bollocks. My address is in the zine, and Triggs even linked to the Take Care site on her blog, so she obviously had some inkling of who I am and how my details might be summoned out of the internet ether. It’s a shame, because as others have also pointed out, and even though my initial reaction at seeing a coffee table book about zines was to scoff, on finally receiving my free ‘contributors’ copy I actually do think it’s an attractive book. Of course, it had the potential to be so much better, if only Triggs had gone about it properly. But if you can ignore the more or less trite and occasionally plain incorrect essays, and the clumsy system of categorisation Triggs employs, apparently for the sake of creating seamless chapters (in which the Zine World blog is described as an e-zine, and nearly all post ’90s zines are lumped in with the ‘crafting’ phenomenon, a ‘phenomenon’ I generally feel about as much enthusiasm for as the idea of stabbing myself in the eye with a crochet hook) it does feature a lot of zines (or zine covers at least) from the ’70s in particular that I was very excited to see…
(The above was written last November, before my friend Ned passed away and things – like the goings on of the zines community – which now tend to strike me as infinitely insignificant, seemed rather more important. But I am aware that my current lack of interest in things that other people seem to care about is a consequence of grief, so I thought I would go ahead and publish this, primarily to draw your attention to the recent Nobody Cares About Your Stupid Zine Podcast in which various zine luminaries discuss the various problems they have with the book, problems I basically concur with but haven’t had the energy to voice, and am therefore thankful that they, and others, have. There is also the anonymously edited fanzinesbytealtriggs.weebly.com, which heroically aims to document all of the errors that appear in the book and to give proper credit where it is due, something which Triggs and her publisher have so far refused to do. It also includes all the contact details for Triggs and said publisher, whom you can write to and request a free copy of the book if your zine appears in it. A complete list of the zines is on the site.)