My preferred form of publishing is the 4 ¼ x 5 ½ eight page mini. It’s like a religious tract, an instructional booklet or manual. Even if it’s loose, it’s dense. Like a pop song, there’s enough room to do something great, and if it fails, it’s no big deal. You can version it in different ways — it’s all just one piece of letter sized photocopy paper. Other necessary materials, excluding a decent stapler, can be acquired for less than 10 bucks. The eight-page mini is light, it’s easily tucked, lost or hidden. A thousand of them will fit in a shoebox. Last year when I was doing a run of a little book I couldn’t decide between a print run of 100 or 150. While dithering at the photocopy shop, I realized the price difference was four dollars. I printed 120. So a buck and a half… I’ve done worse damage once or twice.
In the mid ’90s I started studying philosophy at the University of Toronto in order to make better comix. Pure academia isn’t my place yet, but I love spooky strong ideas, and I love playing with them. I’d been drawing and publishing the wacked out adventures of Rudy the Magic Cat, Ken the Fish with Pants, Phil the Triangle, and friends, and was finding some amazing material for gags in Wittgenstein, Plato, Chuang Tzu, Marx, Heraclitus and Descartes. LSD, punk rock, and anarchist politics may have helped inspire my peers.
In Western philosophy “reductio ad absurdum” is a means of disqualifying an idea in rational argument. I think it’s an excellent starting point for imaginative work, and that point of reduction, when pushed, pulled and incubated, can open the door to the marvellous. So my zine philosophy, in part, is literally philosophy.
I sometimes table at zine fairs. In my teens I started tabling at the Toronto Small Press Fair. It was usually fun, and a chance to meet people, and I did my first reading at a TSPF in a lovely chapel on the second floor of Victoria College. Most of my books sold for 25 cents each, and one year, when a half table was going for $25, I decided not to table and just walked around giving my minis away. The mini comic is a teensy tiny mind bomb of whatever you want to fill it with.
Contemporary communications and surveillance tools spook me. The zine can be part of communications outside patronizing control. The digital panopticon is a fearsome beast, so then why? What is it? Who’s in the middle? Who cares? TubeFace can eat itself.
I rarely get any mail or email from any publications anymore, but got a rather anxious email last year. A family had stumbled across my zine,
Coney Road of the Mind, on public transit. “We were wondering how you write these books because none of us had ever seen them before…We were also wondering what this book was about. Some quotes we read were a bit confusing: ‘speaking with Elohim,’ ‘the pineal gland,’ ‘27%,’ ‘poltergeist, horse and dog meat,’ ‘Any food in my face? I’m hungry,’ ‘TUX, Don’t smoke in bed,’ ‘Nobody likes my pants,’ ‘100% Du champignon statistic,’ ‘mp3 excellence.’ What do these things mean?”
I know two secrets of cartooning copped from comix masters. From Kim Deitch: Ink your dialogue first. From Ernie Bushmiller: find a funny image and create a narrative with it as the punch line. My personal advice is pay attention, carry a pen and paper with you, draw and write when you can.
There are hundreds of people I’d love to thank for support and inspiration over the years. I need to acknowledge the deaths in the spring of 2012 of two people absolutely crucial in my life in my becoming a comix zinester in the first place. My brother, David Connery, was an airbrush and pinstripe master and widely respected in the biker community for his flames, finks, skulls, snakes and vultures. He bought me my first mini comic,
Dishman #1 and exposed me to the Zap Comix school of arts. My high school teacher, Barry Duncan, encouraged my surrealism, introduced me to bill bissett, and fostered a crowd of independent thinkers in Etobicoke. He let me use the photocopy room at the School of Experiential Education and my first mini comix were printed, cut and stapled there.