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Mary Mack Zine Interview on Paper Trail Site

September 13, 2009


ally reeves and me—this is very zine-y, right?
Ciara Xyerra, the proprietress behind Learning to Leave a Paper Trail zine distro, did an interview with me a few weeks ago, and it is up on their site.
Go to and click on “dossiers” at the bottom of the page. There are lots of other zine folk interviewed with the same ten questions in that section of the site, many of my favorites. Good company! You can order my zine there as well as from justseeds, but there are heaps of other wonderful zines on this site. Support d.i.y. publishing!
Check out the full interview with miss mary mack down here:

INTERVIEW WITH MARY MACK TREMONTE (posted august 18, 2009)
how did you get involved with zines/d.i.y. publishing?
i am one of many women who came of age in the early 90’s and discovered zines through Sassy magazine! i started ordering zines & tapes & records by ladies after reading reviews in there. a crucial discovery was Action Girl, a newsletter of reviews of zines by ladies, i started making my own zine with my buddy leah early on sophmore year (this was 1993). zines gave me a way to connect to like-minded folks in other places—i had a very active pen pal life all through high school, it really saved me from feeling alone and gave me a big outlet for art and ideas.
why do you continue making paper zines in the age of the internet? how do you think the internet has affected the world of paper zines?
there is something really important about real-life experience, holding it in your hand. i like a lot of forms that are handmade, analogue, having more personal communication is more important to me than reaching a thousand people. holding something in your hand that someone else has put loving care into is like receiving a direct signal from their brain and heart. it’s also magical to think of these objects travelling into new spaces. i do a radio show too, and i like thinking about my voice and records that i choose coming from a car radio or jambox on the riverbank or some teen’s bedroom. i work a lot with teenagers now, teaching, among other things, how and why to make zines, and even kids who have grown up with the internet can appreciate communicating with handmade tools. it doesn’t speak to everyone, but it is magical to receive it if you are open to it.
what is your writing/editing/layout process like?
i write a lot i my journal, draw a lot in sketchbooks, have conversations, collect it all handwritten and usually end up with some combination of typing on the typewriter and writing longer pieces on the computer, where it’s easier for me to edit. generally more personal stuff is typed, more essay/how-to stuff on the computer. then i print it out and cut and paste with rub-on letters (CHARTPAK FOREVER!) and drawings and clip art and found objects and photos and such. i really love the look and feel of cut & paste, most of my favorite zines ever use this technique. and i love silkscreen and letterpress printing, so i always hand print the covers.
how do you think the zine community or the process of making zines has changed since you’ve been involved?
well, i’m not sure how much i still feel like i’m part of a zine ‘community’ — i do still write to and trade zines with folks, and sometimes go to zine fairs (I’m planning on going to the big one in Montreal in November!) and readings locally. i do feel somewhat part of a local pittsburgh zine community, but what i see changing is less person-to-person contact, what with big distros to order from, and less kinko’s scamming. that was such a huge part of the culture back in the 90’s, man! remember going to hardcore punk fests and every other record distro was selling kinko’s cards with $100 on them? i miss that!
i think i can speak more to how i have changed than how the zine community has changed.
are you “out” to people in your life as a zinester? how do you explain it to people who don’t understand?
other things i do are more central to my identity now; i identify more as a radical printmaker and artist educator and DJ than a zinester…but i totally teach zinemaking to young people and support local events and younger zinesters…i think i’m pretty ‘out’ but it isn’t a crucial signifier.
what do you like best about the zine world? what do you like least?
i still love connecting to others with this thing i have made, this thing that lets me be vulnerable and (hopefully) smart at once, this thing that is (hopefully) a beautiful object that can inspire with ideas. basically the more ways we can support each other and not feel so alone in the world, the better! zines are good for that. i’ve also met many of my zine heroes over time, like a lot of d.i.y. if you are active you will meet others who are so. what do i like least…maybe that there is some kind of ‘scene’? but that’s not a totally terrible thing…
do zines play a political role in your life? are you involved in other d.i.y. projects? do they play a political role?
i am really into the second and third-wave feminist stance that ‘the personal is political.’ it is important that marginalized people tell their stories. but my main d.i.y. project now is justseeds artists cooperative (, a decentralized group of 27 political printmakers who support one another and social movements, through selling work online, at events, and collaborating with one another and organizations working for radical social change to make graphics and prints as tools in organizing and fundraising. i really feel like these are my art peeps! i also throw benefit parties for local projects and causes, such as Book ‘Em, pittsburgh’s books-to-prisoners program. i think creating social spaces is really important, as a means not only to raise funds but for us to build and sustain relationships in the work that we are doing. i also have been organizing a monthly queer-lady danceparty called Operation Sappho for almost three years, and that creates its own kind of safe space that i feel is important for creating agency and community amongst the queerdos. i kind of think of myself as a radical party planner!
what advice might you have for someone who is new to the zine community?
share! give zines to friends, send them to folks whose zines you like and ask nicely for feedback. check out distros and order a buncha stuff that looks good, then write to those folks! don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and make connections.
what role do you think distros can/should play in the zine community?
distros are wonderful! i often point new folks towards them, they are a great way to feel connected to a larger community of people making things. they are also an invaluable support for zine makers themselves in giving us some sustenence for our work, and getting it out there. a lot of us don’t have the time and energy to distribute our zines ourselves, so it’s important that folks are taking that on.
are there changes you’d like to see in the zine community or your own zine creation?
i would like to be making more zines more often! right now i think i average one every two years? empowering others to make them, but not putting myself into them. and i love collaboration, more of that please!


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