Interview with Mitch Clem

7 Aug

Below you’ll find an interview with poster/comic/zine creator Mitch Clem. There is also a Wikipedia page about him.

How did you become interested in zines?

I’d gotten into punk rock somewhere in my early teens, and, from there, the transition to zines is pretty natural. It started as would be expected, Maximumrockandroll, Flipside, Punk Planet (realizing now I’m dating myself a bit, as only one of those is even still published). But the zine that really changed things for me was Cometbus. Not even sure how specifically I got into it other than it’s just sort of the ubiquitous punk-lit zine, but the first time I read it I was just floored by how much it resonated with me as a writer, and the handwritten pages instilled in me for the first time just how approachable the zinemaking process was. Even though now everything I make is comics, I still consider Cometbus a huge inspiration.

What is your favorite part of zine fests?

Oh my god you guys I’ve never been to one before! Since all my self-publishing to speak of has been comics, and I’ve made friends with some other cartoonists, we’d always just go to comic book conventions. Which, you know, doesn’t really cater to anything I’m about or anything my art is about. That world’s more “hey look at my drawing of an impossibly-proportioned mostly-nude woman holding a light saber in a provocative fashion” type stuff. And, I mean this in the nicest, most open-minded way possible, that shit completely fucking sucks. Eventually I made a cartoonist friend who also makes comics about punk rock and she told me to go to some zine fests or indie expos, and that I’d have a better time. And then this one happened and I got excited! Is there gonna be a ton of Star Wars stuff or what?


What new projects are you working on this year?

Right now Amanda and I are working tirelessly to finish issue #2 of Turnstile Comix, starring a very very exciting band that we’re keeping secret as of right now. That is taking up ALL our time. But I have recently started curating the first issue of a project called As You Were, which is a zine comprised entirely of comics by punk rock cartoonists/comickers. Assuming everyone turns in their submissions on time, the first issue should be out soon! Aside from that, the usual stuff: I still do Nothing Nice to Say, my webcomic about punk rock stuff, with my friend and co-writer Joe Briggs, and I still do the autobiographical comic My Stupid Life with my girlfriend and watercolorerist Nation of Amanda which appears in every issue of Razorcake magazine. I also bought some wild berry Pop Tarts, which I feel like should be super amazing and exciting but really taste almost indiscernable from the cherry ones except that the icing is a way more fun color. Oh, and I started making my own cold press coffee, but I’m not gonna bring that to the fest or anything, that’s just for me.


What will be on your table at this year’s zine fest?

The best thing will be the debut issue of my new series, Turnstile Comix, where we adapt a band’s craziest road stories into a comic book that comes with a 7″ by the band. The first issue stars Minneapolis punk rock quartet the Slow Death (featuring members of Pretty Boy Thorson and the Falling Angels and the Ergs). Issue two should be out pretty soon, though doubtfully soon enough to have for the zine fest. I also made a zine collection of some of the recent incarnation of my webcomic Nothing Nice to Say. I may also bring the Nothing Nice to Say book, but maybe not? Oh, and I made some shirts making fun of crust punks which I might bring because it’s printed on organic, cruelty-free, USA union-made cotton shirts, so the crusters can’t even get mad about them. It’s not like they’re made out of plastic bags, ya know? I’m rambling. Are you guys getting dizzy too or is that just me?

How long have you been creating zines?

I started my first zine in high school (late 90s). It was called Summer’s Over. I published ten issues over the course of five years and then retired it when I eventually started doing the webcomic Nothing Nice to Say. From there it was all webcomics for a number of years, but over the past couple years I’ve regained a passion of actual print stuff, and have shifted most of my focus there. Boy it sure takes longer to fill a whole bunch of pages of drawings than it does to just scribble out three panels at a time a couple days out of the week! Yeesh.


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