In the spirit of self-publishing and zines I sent some interview questions to my friend Lara. Her words speak for themselves- my heart is beating out of my chest I’m so excited to purchase some of the zines and look into the distros she’s suggested!
Tell us about yourself
“My name is Lara Hembrow. 27, I like to play in my bands, read zines, watch crap telly series like GIRLS (not so crap), get my hands dirty in the garden and I’m going back to school full time next week studying fine arts/arts.
I first heard about zines when I was about 18. I had started playing in a band with my two best friends and this slightly older guy they had met at our local open mic hang. He was my sisters age and had grown up as a teenager in the 90’s so he knew all about the “counter culture” and “underground” music. He had a whole stack of zines that he had collected and he lent them to me. This is pretty shitty but I stuffed them in the drawer under my bed and read them from time to time whilst they fell apart from crappy stapling. I’m not sure if I ever gave them back to him or not when I moved away. I think the first zine I really remember was the crimthinc* D.I.Y one that I got when I ordered a book from them. In it there was a ‘how to d.i.y abortion’ section that just blew my mind!
“I also remember getting a copy of D.I.Y Health Care for Wimmin. During that time I was super cautious and constantly worried about getting pregnant so I was really into drinking parsley tinctures a few days before my periods… just in case. So I was learning lots of stuff and I ended up making a D.I.Y Gynecology zine.
…I used to go to this place in Brunswick, Melbourne, maybe some community youth place, I’ve forgotten the name but we had a little diy screenprinting operation going there and you could use their office printer for free. That’s when I made my first zine. Some weird little one made from a single A4 sheet of paper folded up. I think it was about my period pain and the types of facades you put on when you’re growing up and trying to navigate adulthood.
Additionally, when I first came to Tasmania I got a hold of Doris. It is written buy a woman named Cindy Crabb from the US. She has been writing zines for like, twenty years and then she had them compiled into two anthologies. Doris – An Anthology, aptly named, and The Encyclopedia of Doris. They are amazing. They inspired me a million fold in my early 20’s. Read them. [Click here for Doris Distro and here to see Cindy Crabb talk about her zines.]
What are your favourite zines- what topics do they cover?
I like a lot of different ones. My recent favourites are The Triumph of Our Tired Eyes #1, 2 and 3 by Amber Dearest, and All the Best Cowboys have Daddy Issues by Julia Eff. I’ve been recommended Vanessa Berry from Australia so I’ll have to get some of her stuff soon. I also really love D.I.Y guides for things like mental health, body health, how to grow etc.. and perzines for experiences with body image, feminism, punk rock lifestyles, anarchism and subversion of mainstream culture.
Usually when I have something to say/a strong opinion/something I’ve just learned about that I think is kind of unpopular or not well known is when I get inspired to make something. I usually just pass out my zines to my friends or at gigs if I feel it’s relevant. I used to drop zines off at PolyEster in Melbourne about 6 or so years ago when they would sell them on commission for you. If I were a more serious creator of zines I would probably look into getting it distributed by online distro’s or at Sticky in Melbourne. I am also part of a zine/book distro collective in Hobart. We distribute mostly anarchist/d.i.y kinda stuff. We will also be setting up an alternative library very shortly. Get in contact if you want to know where our next stall will be. You can email email@example.com
“…Giving Kathleen Hanna my zine was a highlight and now I kinda wish I had made it a bit better. It was titled after a Bikini Kill song ‘don’t need you’, but I’m proud of it none the less. She looked happy to get it and it felt like it just completed some sort of circle. Like, something she use to do in her youth and her actions inspire other young women to write about shit and then that comes back to her in zine form again.. or something.. I am most certainly NOT constantly checking my email for a comment from her..
The distro’s I buy from currently are Fight Boredom and Stranger Danger Distro.
I have also bought from Microcosm in the past and AK press, all based in Canada and the US. Also a lot of zinesters sell their zines through distro’s and independently, so I try to buy direct from them if I can. You can also get stuff online from Sticky Institute in Melbourne, Take Care Zine Distro and doingitourselves.org/zines, all based in Australia. Even good ol’ Etsy has a plethora of people selling their zines.”
Phew. Thank you so much Lara for sharing your wisdom!! All images were supplied. Let me know if you check out any of the distros or have bought and read any of these zines! I’m off to buy Doris !!!