shane patrick boyle, better known as shane, has been a fixture of the local zine scene for a number of years. He is the founder of Zine Fest Houston and a former organizer of the festival. He is returning this year as an exhibitor and volunteer. His occasional blog can be found at www.shanepatrickboyle.com and an interview about his comics work, conducted by Pam Harrison earlier this summer, can be found here.
Why do you create zines?
It’s an addiction. Once you start, you can never stop. You might have longer gaps between issues, but you will always be thinking about your next one. Gerald Burris, publisher of Freak Biker, once compared zines to heroin. I don’t think he ever actually tried heroin, but he used to kind of look like Kurt Cobain, so everyone considered him an expert
Why do you like zines?
I like the fact that anyone can do a zine and a zine can be about anything. A zine is the personal expression of the people who created it. It is not a commercial product that is the result of marketing research. Zines have no obligation to be popular. You don’t have to be cool to make a zine. You don’t even have to live in a cool city. You can live in Houston or Beaumont or even Crabtree, Arkansas.
How did you become interested in zines?
In elementary school, I used to make my own one of a kind, hand-written/ hand-drawn books and distribute them to other classes. I first heard the term, fanzine, sometime in junior high and, without ever having seen a fanzine, began publishing my own in high school.
What are your favorite types of zines?
I hate choosing favorites. There are so many types of zines and mini comics I read. The wide diversity of different styles and themes is what I enjoy most about self-published projects.
If I had to narrow it down, my favorite zines are probably travel zines. I like reading about people’s adventures on a shoestring budget or no budget, because they serve as an inspiration for me to get out and do something.
How long have you been creating zines?
I have been publishing zines since high school. Let’s not worry about what year that was.
What were your early zines like?
My first was a science fiction, fantasy and comics fanzine called Astrozine. It was produced with a manual typewriter. Later, I got an electric typewriter with a 50,000 character memory and four font wheels and I thought that was cutting edge technology. I used this to produce Elsewhere, a literary zine that focused on mostly science fiction and fantasy themes.
Around this time, I consumed any staple-bound, photocopied booklet I could find and discovered that there was more to zines than just fanzines. I was most drawn to the anarchist zines and became a contributor to Black Fist.
Throughout the early 90s, I contributed to, edited or published over a dozen different zines or small magazines on a a variety of topics and in 1993, I was referred to, by the Public News, as the “wonder boy“ of the Houston zine scene.
A couple of the highlights from this period from this period include Virus Board, which was described as “a literary zine with a subversive slant” and was affiliated with the Writers And Artists Group At UH (WAAGAUH!) and Uh . . ., a satirical zine aimed at the University of Houston (hence the title).
What is the concept behind your zine/zines?
shane is a mini comic series. It is not autobiographical very often, as the title implies. Each issue has a different style and theme. Sometimes there recurring characters and sometimes there is no traditional narrative at all.
Cluttered Mind will be a sort of a hodgepodge of sketches, essays, prose stories, comics and reviews. It will contain a mix of new material and reprints with occasional works in progress. The title comes from a drawing that first appeared in shane # 5.
What new projects are you working on this year?
My focus right now is on moving out of Houston to some place with state health insurance. I have not made a final decision about where I am going, but I have a feeling that when I get there and start doing zines again, I will probably do some type of project inspired by my time in Houston.
I am also planning to get back to my top-secret book length projects at some point in the near future.
You were the founder of Zine Fest Houston. What inspired you to create this event?
I basically set out to create the type of event I wanted to participate in. I had been to similar events on the east and west coasts and read about several others around the world and I wanted something like it to happen here.
What is your favorite part of zine fests?
What I enjoy most about zine fests and small press conventions is the sense of discovery. I like the fact that many of the publications I see will be things I will never see anywhere else and may not see again.
What is something you’re looking forward to about the 2012 zine
This will be my first year not being heavily involved in the organization of zine fest, so I am looking forward to just being an exhibitor (and maybe a volunteer) with no serious responsibility or stress. I look forward to checking out the zines, showing my own work, listening to the bands and just having fun.
With nearly 50 exhibitors, there is a lot to be excited about this year. I like Caleb Fraid’s artwork and I want to pick up his new zine, Road and Stream. Other publications I definitely want to get are Raspa and the latest issue of Rocksalt. I also look forward to hearing Robb Roemershauser (from Aboveground Zine Library in New Orleans) speak.
What will be on your table at this year’s zine fest?
I will have a deluxe edition of my Walkin’ Man mini comic, a new zine called Cluttered Mind, back issues of shane, some vintage zines I was involved with in the 80s & 90s and prints of my art.
What is something you think people should know about zines in Houston?
The first thing they need to know is that zines do exist in Houston. In the early years of organizing zine fests in Houston, many people would tell us there were no zines in Houston and that there was no way the city could ever support a zine fest. Many people told me that I should move to Austin if I was interested in zines. But I knew there were many people in Houston producing zines and it was just a matter of bringing them together.
I also think Houstonians should know that zines and alternative media have a long history in Houston and it is important that we preserve this history and learn about it.
Most important, however, is that everyone needs to know that Houston, today, is a major cultural center with thriving art and literary communities (both mainstream and underground). We have a strong zine scene that is growing every year and this is a great place to be creating zines.
If you like Houston so much, why are you leaving?
I know it is weird to be leaving at a time when so much awesome stuff is happening, but I have been living in Houston off and on for most of my adult life. As a kid, we moved all the time and in the 90s, I used to hop on Greyhounds and go wherever. I miss traveling. The last time I moved back to Houston, was 13 years ago and most of the jobs I have had since then haven’t paid enough for me to travel much. I love Houston, but not enough to marry it. It’s time for me to start seeing other cities again.
Education and career goals also play a role in my decision to leave and so do personal and financial issues. I need to go someplace that has state health insurance. Oh, and by the way, it is fucking hot here.
I am happy with the direction Lindsey Simard has taken Zine Fest Houston and I am glad that it continues to grow. Maybe, one day I will come back to Houston just to attend a zine fest.