Zines may be the only true voice of the people left. These small-circulation, self-published, produced and distributed magazines carry no advertising or limitations on content. Gannon Gilmore, who publishes Scumbag Tulip in Wailuku, knows all about them. He’s been keeping the underground press alive on Maui for 10 years.
MAUI TIME WEEKLY: What was the first zine you remember reading, and when did it occur to you to do one yourself?
GANNON GILMORE: Truthfully when we started the zine, [Scumbag Tulip co-creator] Shaun Mohan and I had no concept of them, or the whole culture involved. We both fell deeply in love with punk rock and we were a couple losers with no girls around so somehow the idea came around of putting out a “punk rock” magazine of some sort. It wasn’t until later when Rop, from Lookout Records at the time, sent us a package of zines. It was from this package that I read my first fanzine Molasses Soulkiss that I really dug and where I first grew to love the handwritten, handmade aspect of them.
How did you get started?
I remember writing to Aaron Cometbus [creator of seminal punk zine Cometbus in the 1980s and ‘90s] a long time ago and asking him about this very kind of thing and his response was actually, “What are you talking about?” There were no zines on Maui, no one around to help, so we figured it out along the way. I handwrote everything because I hated sitting and typing for hours. I collaborate and get the material together, edit, print, staple, distribute, etc. It’s probably more work than most people would put into something with little reward or remuneration.
Why do you do this?
I really got into writing through reading fanzines like Scam, Cometbus and Second Guess which led to guys like Kerouac, Orwell, Bukowski, and of course, Palahniuk. I just fell in love with the idea of writing and publishing my own work. Too many people who write spend a lot of time trying to get their work to publishers. But why not be your own?
Who contributes to each issue and how do you find them?
As far as the writers and artists that show up in the rag, that just comes down to whoever we bump shoulders with along the way. Naturally, a lot of friends get featured but then some folks get a hold of a copy and want to submit something. What was great was that most of the folks who wrote for ST ended up doing their own zines, too.
How long does it take to put an issue together and how do you distribute it?
Production has taken me from a week to six months. Sometimes I’ll end up spending a week on just getting a title the way I like it. I don’t ever rush myself so I’ll always come around to it when I want to. What’s funny is I’ll give myself vague deadlines then extend them as I procrastinate over time. I try to get them in coffee shops, record stores, mom-and-pop places but really infrequently. So I end up sending them out to people in Oahu for help and pass them out myself. It’s more fun and personal that way but sometimes embarrassing when they actually read them.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to start a zine?
Don’t do it to get girls. Don’t do it for comped CD’s. Don’t do it to get backstage. Do it because you have something to say. Do it because you have creativity and you want people to see it. Do it to help other people get their work out there. Fanzines are the best place for writers and artists to show off their work when no one will give you that big break. Of course in the age of blogging, that’s a moot point but I’m of the opinion that something tangible that you can hold in your hands is more worthwhile.
You can request the 10th Anniversary issue of Scumbag Tulip (#17) by sending $2 (ppd) to P.O. Box 2071, Kahului, HI 96732. MTW