ZFH 2014 Interviews #10: Rough House Comics

19 Sep
Today we interview Rough House Comics, an Austin-based comics collective specializing in riso prints of their work! It is at turns surreal, obscene, hilarious, and thought-provoking stuff. Read more below!


ZFH: How did Rough House come together? What would you say is the glue that holds the collective together in terms of style/content, if any?

RH: Rough House came together as a group of Austin cartoonists who wanted to leave their studios once in a while and engage with other artists with similar interests. Soon after, we purchased a Risograph and quickly started working on an anthology to showcase the best cartoonists we could find in town. We then starting looking beyond Austin to include quality work from both established and unknown comics artists from around the world.

Why do you create zines?

RH: Books are a format that humanity has been experimenting with longer than most of the media we encounter on a daily basis. In this digital age it’s nice to experience a work of art that takes up space in the physical world. The sense of touch is more important than we give it credit for.

Why do you like zines?

RH: There are no rules and they are relatively inexpensive to produce.

How did you become interested in zines?

When people think of zines they often think of black and white photocopied punk zines. While this tradition is certainly a contingent in the zine community, we came to zines from the tradition of artist books and mini-comics and that’s where our focus lies.ZFH:

What is your favorite part of zine fest?

I attended Zine Fest in 2012 and had a great time meeting other artists and zine enthusiasts. There’s such a great sense of encouragement and community at events like this.

What is something that you’re looking forward to about the 2014 Zine Fest Houston?

RH: I heard the venue is great and I can’t wait to check it out.

ZFH: What are your favorite zines/mini-comics etc.?

RH: The last few years have seen a small explosion of micro-publishers of comics. There are now dozens of comics subscription services that are usually printed, stapled, and distributed by one or two people on a very small budget. It’s great to see that the internet has only strengthened the print community. I like the work that’s being put out by Space Face, Retrofit, Oily, and Sparkplug among several others.

ZFH: What made you decide to participate in the 2014 Zine Fest Houston?

RH: We attended the MenilFest and had a great time. Everyone told us to go to Zine Fest. Houston always treats us well.
Gillian Rhodes

Gillian Rhodes

ZFH: What new projects are you working on this year?

RH: We’ll be publishing various mini-comics in the coming months including a SummerZine, some collaborative comics, and a comic by Austin artist James Roo. And we’ll hopefully have the next Rough House anthology out in the spring.

 What is something you think people should know about DIY in Houston?

RH: It exists!

 Haha! Short and sweet. Love it. What will be on your table at this year’s Zine Fest?

We will have copies of our latest anthology, Rough House 2. It contains comics from over a dozen artists. We’ll also have various mini-comics available.
ZFH: What other creative ventures do you have besides making zines?

RH: The members of our collective are individually involved in creative endeavors that range from music and painting to figure skating. Our love of comics brings us together.

Why does self-publishing appeal to you?

RH: It allows you to work with minimal financial risk, which in turn allows for greater artistic freedom.

ZFH: What is the concept behind your zine/zines?

RH: We just aim to publish interesting comics. The avant-garde and slapstick comedy are equally at home on our pages.

ZFH: How long have you been creating zines?

RH: Our collective formed in 2012 but our members have been producing mini-comics for some time before that.

ZFH: What is/are your favorite place(s) in Houston?

The Orange Show

ZFH: What do you think the zine/self publishing scene in Houston will be like in 20 years?

Hopefully it will just continue to grow stronger and gain more visibility.

ZFH 2014 Interview #9: Snapshot Magazine

17 Sep

We are excited to catch up with Snapshot Magazine, an Austin-based publication featuring contemporary art and writing. Both Armando Garcia and Danea Johnson, creators of Snapshot, are sharing the interview space (they have put the name of the respondent after their respective answers!)


ZFH: Why do you create zines?

 SM: Zines are a generous form of expression. They can be personal or include global or social issues. The versatility of such a platform and ease of publishing zines is what makes it worth it.

ZFH: How did you become interested in zines?

 SM: I first became introduced to zines when I started attending local music shows in South Texas. I was in my teens then, but I didn’t really become interested in zines until college. That’s when I met and made friends who actually took some part in zine culture, even if it was just reading or collecting them. They talked to me about them and I fell in love with the idea. — Armando

 I also became interested in zines during undergraduate in San Marcos, Texas. My sister and a good friend would spend our free time cutting, pasting and writing things for our zines. They were never published or formalized in any fashion and ended up in the trash. We were young and experiencing life outside of our privileged, formative years, so I’m sure the issues we talked about were personal, about girlhood and growing up. Every once in awhile we would go to Austin and visit Tower Records on Guadalupe (closed 10 years now!) to check out their selection. — Danea


ZFH: What are your favorite zines/mini-comics etc.?

SM: Our friend Sarah Frey —a major contributor to our magazine and a fave artistpublishesLessons in # Reality from time to time. It’s hardly available, but I’m pretty grateful that I have the past two issues that she’s made. I was able to get my hands on a reissue of Guide to Dating Gangsters Volume 1. I love stuff that takes a good look at ridiculous stereotypes and how f’ed up views on sexuality have become between cultures and within subcultures. It’s really harsh and hysterical, but only because it’s true. It’s handmade by Vice Versa Press and I think they were at your zine fest last year. — Armando

Right now I’m really into Vagina: The Zine based out of Austin, Texas and published by Hillary-Anne Crosby. Crosby exclusively provides a platform for women to express their creative sides, whether it’s drawings, poetry or short stories. It’s a role model of a zine. — Danea

ZFH: Why does self-publishing appeal to you?

SM: Besides abiding by your printer’s standards, there are no rules in self-publishing. I have found it to be a culmination of the many aspects of design: creative writing, technical writing, layout, graphics, printing, crafting, and conceptualizing.

 On the other hand, I can’t hide behind the fact that I was pretty privileged to have a job when we made the first issue. I was able to spend a good chunk of money on design software, a printer and a binder to compile and saddle stitch the magazine for us. Now I don’t really have a paying job, but we still plan on using the money we made on the sales of the first issue to put towards printing the second issue. It’s a vicious and beautiful, art cycle. It’s also the beauty of self-publishing. You have full control over all the aspects that are involved in making a book, magazine, or zine. The point being that I am focused on publishing forms of self-expression.

 We are both vested in the DIY mentality and we love that Snapshot Magazine can be whatever the reader wants it to be. To some it’s a pretty-looking zine, some consider it a new magazine format and there are even some who look at it as a coffee table piece. That’s what I aim for — bend/break the rules of traditional publishing. If you will, we shouldn’t be concerned with separating the cultures. Publishing should be fun and free. It should be a platform for art. — Armando

Self-publishing allows for different voices to be heard and legitimized through the power of readership. There’s freedom in not having an editorial board backed by advertising interests. You can do whatever it is you want to do and freely admit your biases. This freedom also comes with a responsibility to the work that you produce.

And yeah, it’s fun. The best part is getting to know our contributors and hearing their stories. — Danea


ZFH: What is the concept behind your zine/zines?

SM: Our focus is artists, designers, musicians and creative forces. We feature interviews, writing and photography. It’s our take on arts and culture in Texas. We may branch out of Texas, but so far we have focused on our home state.

ZFH: What is your creation process like when starting a new issue of Snapshot Magazine?

 SM: Concepts usually brew in our minds for what seems a lifetime. We light a candle and make a wish and say a prayer. Then, the universe kicks our asses into high gear and we gather content and design for an issue in less than two months. At least, that’s the approach that we have taken for the past two issues.

 In those two months, we may interview almost a dozen artists through emails and at meetings or events. Sometimes people contribute their photography, but for the most part Danea shoots all the photos. Meanwhile all the concepts come to fruition in the layouts, design quirks and typesetting. I tend to lose track of the number of test prints that we go through and then VOILA!


On a personal note, reading about the creative process has made me feel MUCH better as I scramble to get my own zine together in these last few weeks!! Thanks guys, can’t wait to see Snapshot at fest!

ZFH 2014 Interviews #8: Dalton Stark

15 Sep

Today’s interview features a Jurassic-sized helping of deets about Dalton Stark, illustrator and full-time dinosaur lover! Raarr


Stark-Its a ME!

ZFH: Why do you create zines?

DS: My making of zines comes from my will to simply create cool stuff. Zines are just such a fun format to express my own silly muses in.

ZFH: Why do you like zines?

DS: I have always adored DIY style projects, and zines are a medium in which artists are really given that ideal playground to showcase ideas. Pens, printer paper, and a copy machine. Folded and stapled into sweet chocolatey goodness. Doesn’t get much better then that. I think.

ZFH: How did you become interested in zines?

DS: I made my first zine during my freshman year of college to really just amuse myself. When I showed it to my English professor, he made me informed of the entire community surrounding it, and so i decided I needed to make more and get into zine fest!

ZFH: What is your favorite part of zine fest?

DS: My favorite part of zine fest has to be being surrounded by so many brilliant creatives. Their energy is all so wonderful and being in their presence is so thrilling. I just love the people.
What is something that you’re looking forward to about the 2014 Zine Fest Houston?

DS: Im definitely looking forward to seeing all the other zinesters and their creations, and hoping mine are received genuinely as well!

ZFH: What made you decide to participate in the 2014 Zine Fest Houston?

DS: After participating in 2013, I found this was an event I had to make another appearance too!

ZFH: What will be on your table at this year’s Zine Fest?

DS: If everything goes well enough that I manage to complete these in time, I’ll hopefully have The Book of Dinosaur, which is essentially an illustrated dinosaur encyclopedia zine, and some sort of Pokemon zine

ZFH: What is the concept behind your zine/zines?

DS: I love drawing cartoons, and mainly just filtering reality through them. I just want to draw the world and the things that reflect my own inner child.

ZFH: What is/are your favorite place(s) in Houston?

DS: The Houston Museum of Natural Science Paleontology Hall. Oof.

ZFH: You’ve been developing a lot of new designs lately. What are your influences overall and what direction are you trying to take your work in these days?

DS: Im highly influenced by both old and new cartoons, and in saying that, Im currently just developing my portfolio so I can perhaps show it to Cartoon Network or something super sweet like that.


Sweet! Thanks Dalton!

ZFH 2014 Interviews #7: Blake Jones

12 Sep

Today’s interview is with Blake Jones, illustrator and creator of the effervescent Cool Dog. Check out his work here, as well as the Lousy Deal collective!

ZFH: Why do you create zines?

Blake: Im constantly CONSTANTLY sketching and doodling and churning out zines just became a way for me to show off drawings and ideas I was proud of and ready to show-off

How did you become interested in zines?

Blake: The first zine i ever got was from this artist named Jason Sho Green, I found his website through stumpleupon in like 8th grade and bought just the cheapest thing on his site, I didnt even know what a zine was I just bought it and cherished it because I had never seen anything like it and it just blew me away and heavily changed how i look at art and illustration.

ZFH: What is your favorite part of zine fest?

Blake: trading with people for sure.

ZFH: What are your favorite zines/mini-comics etc.?

Blake: I don’t know if they are considered zines/mini-comics but they arent full fledged graphic novels but any work that Adrian Tomine puts out instantly gets added to my shelf.

ZFH: What new projects are you working on this year?

Blake: This year I’ve got a new 80+ page book coming out full of photos and drawings I’ve taken this year, I also recently cleaned out my studio and found literally a few hundred quick drawings just spread on scrap and loose paper, instead of trying to organize them and scan them or anything, ive made about 50 original folders that all contain 5 to 8 original drawings that will be present kind of blind box goodie bag style.

ZFH: What is something you think people should know about DIY in Houston?

Blake: more people just need to do it in general, theres so much untapped talent in this city. i mean shit even if you suck you can only get better, you don’t just get worse at stuff after practice

ZFH: What will be on your table at this year’s Zine Fest?

Blake: i’ve got shirts, the new book, some old books, zines left over from last year, stickers, and some new screen prints that i’ll be hustling. Im also going to attempt 60-second drawings for $1 each.

ZFH: Why does self-publishing appeal to you?

Blake: Its let you be in 100% control of the content you are presenting. It seem’s like a no brainer for me.

ZFH: What is the concept behind your zine/zines?

Blake: I never go with a certain theme or story really, when laying them out i try to pay attention to how spreads will look next to each other but thats about it. I’m too ADD to have any type of narrative.

ZFH: Can you talk about the creation/content of Stud Muffin?

Blake: The content is going to be 80+ pages of new drawings and photos i’ve taken over the past year. I went out of the country a few months ago and got to see a lot of wild stuff, this has also been a crazy emotional year for me and I just decided rather than trying to hurry and put out 3-4 zines with everything I’d just combine it all into a book so everyone can get the full package.


Lots to look forward too. You can also get a sort of sneak preview of his work by picking up this month’s issue of Free Press Houston!

ZFH 2014 Interviews #6: Jah Jah Gray

10 Sep

For today’s interview we sit down with Jah Jah Gray, an energetic producer of paintings and drawings in Houston – his kinetic style has been seen more and more as he expands his practice into the public sphere. Let’s get a sneak peek into what he’s got brewing for this year’s fest!




ZFH: Why do you create zines?

J: zines offer an effective portal through which I can slingshot my seeds beneath the soil. There they can grow just with a bit of water and sunshine.

ZFH: Why do you like zines?

J: Propaganda can mold a culture and society. When we submit our gaze to books, magazines, art and other visual or printed material we subject ourselves to influence of propaganda.

ZFH: The line work and shapes in your drawings are so intricate!  What do you think about when you are making drawings and what else inspires you?

J: as soon as I touch the pen or brush to surface I become completely aware. A feeling of infinti settles in soon becoming the driving force. Momentum builds as I watch a world unravel.

Ive been inspired by many things. Shout out to Baltazaar. We’ve shared with each other our knowledge and findings of calligraphy, lettering, pen & brush making and ink making. we have collaborated on several pieces. Also I wanna mention Bizzy Biz and Uriel Landeros because they have been influenctial in my development with the exchange of idea and brushes strokes. I take not e of the work ethic of many of the people around me.

I admire traditional Japanese and Chinese calligraphy. I appreciate all forms of abstract art. My current method originated in the abstract. I am currently studying the styles of pin-striping form. I also admire Ghanaian wood works and coffins and kente cloth and other patterned textile. I watch the intricacies of the patterning on rugs. Painting is like swinging a pendulum. I used to draw lightning bolts and ak 47s and fire. I like the concept of a billboard but I hate how they are used.

How did you become interested in zines?

J: I want to publish books filled with art.

ZFH: What is your favorite part of zine fest?


ZFH: What is something that you’re looking forward to about the 2014 Zine Fest Houston?

J: zine fest for me is a check point marking a particular stage in the development of a great thing.
ZFH: What made you decide to participate in the 2014 Zine Fest Houston?

J: Zines

ZFH: Fair enough, haha. What is something you think people should know about DIY in Houston?

J: With DIY we always have work.

ZFH: What will be on your table at this year’s Zine Fest?

J: Illustration zines, original postcards, t- shirts and flags and banners. LIBRES Y LOCOS!!!

ZFH: What other creative ventures do you have besides making zines?

J: Kalunga Ngolo offers Capoeira class twice a week @ SHAPE wed 7:30 and sat 2:00. We do performances and events. Music and movement.

Why does self-publishing appeal to you?

J: I like controlling the flow of production and distribution.

ZFH: What is the concept behind your zine/zines?

J: To exhibit inspirational imagery while providing a positive and self impowering message.

ZFH: How long have you been creating zines?

J: For two months.

ZFH: What is/are your favorite place(s) in Houston?

J: I like seeing graffiti and tags everywhere. More propaganda.

ZFH: What do you think the zine/self publishing scene in Houston will be like in 20 years?

J: Dope.


GOOD PROGNOSTICATING! We agree! Thanks Jah, we’re looking forward to your big debut at Zine Fest Houston!

ZFH 2014 Interviews #5: Sarah Welch

9 Sep

Today’s interview finds us catching up with the immortal Sarah Welch. A prodigious illustrator, comics artist and purveyor of fine zines and prints, she is the author of Misseen and Endless Monsoon, and her illustrations have been featured in Free Press Houston and Cite Magazine, among others. Let’s take a turn ’round the block and stay a spell with Sarah.


ZFH:Misseen” deals with your issues living with low vision. Do you think it has affected your aesthetic choices when drawing? If so, how?

SW: I think the most prominent, literal effect it’s had is that I use a lot of black. I wasn’t really conscious of this until recently, but I think it probably makes my life a little easier when I’m workingto see everything divided into bold, distinct shapes, I’m not about demure line work really. I used to aspire to perfect, clean lines, but I think I’m team chunky whether I like it or not. Team Chunky y’all.

Sidenote–I tried to buy one of those blue non-photo pencils once so I could feel more ~professional~ making comics hahaha and it was a complete waste of time because I couldn’t see jack. So my originals always look like a mess.

EMpt2_pg6 copy

ZFH: What will be on your table at this year’s Zine Fest?

SW: A lot of what we plan to have this year has yet to be printed, so I’m going to cross my fingers that all this reaches fruition. The top priority for me is to have second edition copies of Endless Monsoon I (which we premiered and nearly sold out of at last year’s ZFH) and of course, the new Endless Monsoon II: Cry Me a River. Monsoon II ended up twice as long as the first installment so we plan to release it as two books. We should have some new little riso printssome gator printsin my fantasies I’m also making a set of Halloween themed cards. I like Halloween.

ZFH: What is something that you’re looking forward to about the 2014 Zine Fest Houston?

SW: ZFH after party prom. I hope they play lots of Mariah Carey. I’m ready for my prom slow dance to some chopped and screwed Mariah please. Is there a request list?
ZFH: There is now! Next question: What do you think the zine/self publishing scene in Houston will be like in 20 years?

SW: I don’t know about 20 years, I think I’m only willing to forecast 5-10 years into the future. Like all things in Houston, I see growth. I think we could be a good hub for the south and southwest zinester, self-publishing crowd. I like the idea of ZFH becoming an event that is attended by folks all over the country like SPX. There’s a lot of comic, zine, DIY talent in Texas, and there’s no reason ZFH doesn’t draw more attention in the future.

ZFH: What is/are your favorite place(s) in Houston?

SW: I don’t leave my duplex often, but when I do, I like to go to the Dan Flavin grocery store building on Richmond. I’m also in a serious relationship with Hot Bagel right now. I get the toasted garlic bagel with lox cream cheese. James likes the bagel kolaches.


Thanks Sarah! Can’t wait to see what happens next in EM.

ZFH Interviews #4: Sugar and Rice Magazine

7 Sep

To whet your appetite on a gloomy Sunday afternoon, we bring you our fourth interview! Sugar and Rice, “the Gulf Coast’s Food and Culture Magazine”. David Leftwich shares more below. 

sr_blackZFH: Why do you create zines?

DL: Because you can take a “what-the-fuck” attitude and create something that you think is cool and important.

ZFH: Why do you like zines?

DL: I like zines because they expose you to so many different voices and perspectives. They’re a great way for people to bring writing, artwork, and photography into the world and do it in print. Also, with the rise of online everything, I think their underground attitude is important for keeping print alive.

ZFH: How did you become interested in zines?

DL: My first exposure to zines was 20+ years ago when I managed the magazine section of an independent bookstore in Washington, DC. We had a nice selection of zines that covered everything from music to poetry to politics. I thought they were a great way to learn about stuff—new music, new poets, etc.—that you weren’t finding in the mainstream media.

ZFH: What is your favorite part of zine fest?

DL: I have to admit this will be my first time attending, but I’m really excited to see all the different zines and hopefully add some to my collection.

ZFH: What is something that you’re looking forward to about the 2014 ZineFest Houston?


From “Creole Coffee,” by David Leftwich. July 31, 2014.

DL: Ha. See #4. The zines!

ZFH: What are your favorite zines/mini-comics etc.?

DL: I may have a broad definition of zines, because I include a lot of small, independent literary journals. I just discovered a new one called Agriculture Reader, which I really like. They are publishing a lot of great writing, poetry, and art. Another one I really like is The Hat. They went on a hiatus for a couple of years but just published a new issue, #8, and are currently working on #9. I’m excited to have them back in the game. I’m also a big fan of Saucy Magazine, which explores the interactions between food and art. Each issue explores a different them using a different format and trim size, and feature some great photography and writing.

ZFH: What made you decide to participate in the 2014 Zine FestHouston?

DL: The opportunity to see other people’s works, to meet other people trying to keep alternative print alive, to share our work with others, and to support an important community in Houston.

ZFH: What new projects are you working on this year?

DL: Issues 3 & 4 of Sugar & Rice. I’m really excited about the graphic novella/essay I’m working on with artist Sara Hinkle for issue 3. She’s a kick-ass artist. And she is doing some amazing illustrations for a graphic recreation of the infamous opening night of Houston’s once iconic Shamrock hotel.

ZFH: What is something you think people should know about DIY in Houston?

DL: That you can do it here. Houston is wide open. It has a pretty amazing DIY/entrepreneurial spirit that people support. I’m constantly meeting people here who have an idea and then successfully pursue it—whether that’s starting a successful bar on some maxed-out credit cards, launching a worm-composting business, starting an urban farm, opening an art gallery, or launching a food zine. Just go for it.

ZFH: What will be on your table at this year’s Zine Fest?

DL: Issues 2 and 3 of Sugar & Rice.

ZFH: What other creative ventures do you have besides making zines?

DL: Cooking and writing poetry.

ZFH: Why does self-publishing appeal to you?

DL: You can do what you want. You can pursue and tell the untold stories—the stores that the mainstream media ignores.

ZFH: What is the concept behind your zine/zines

DL: Sugar & Rice is an independent publication that is telling the stories of Texas and the Gulf Coast through the lens of food. We believe that Texas and the Gulf have vibrant cultures whose stories often go untold—stories we are dedicated to telling well.

ZFH: How long have you been creating zines?

DL: We’ve been working on this venture for about a year and half.

ZFH: What is/are your favorite place(s) in Houston?

DL: There are so many. Here’s a random, but not all-inclusive list, of favorites:

The neighborhoods and buildings around the Houston Ship Channel where it is inside the Loop
Urban Harvest East Side Farmers market
Pollos Asados La Sillas food truck (really a bright yellow school bus) at 1416 Broadway
Little India (the area around the intersection of Hillcroft and Harwin)
Brazos Book Store
The Art Car Museum
The Station Museum of Contemporary Art
Long Point Road from Gessner to Hempstead
Hong Kong Market on Bellaire Ave.
The trails at the Houston Arboretum
Antidote, Blacksmith, and Catalina
Alice’s Tall Texan, Bad News Bar, Poison Girl, D&T Drive-Inn
The now closed Blancos
Buffalo Bayou
Alabama Community Garden
Revival Market
Kaboom Books
Airline Drive from Cavalcade to 610

And that’s just a start.

ZFH: FInally, what do you think the zine/self publishing scene in Houston will be like in 20 years?

DL: Magazines printed on paper collectively made from recycled cardboard sold at noodle stands lining Bellaire Avenue.


A beautiful vision indeed! Thanks David! We look forward to seeing your stuff at fest this year.