Zine Columbia launches 8th unknown edition

By HermineBloom

Using everything from original photography to typography, students in the Art and Design Department have teamed up with writers in the Fiction Writing Department at Columbia to create a relatively unknown, 68-page, full-color published product underneath the umbrella of Zine Columbia. The product was first conceived in 2003 as a “one-off” double zine, or two different-themed zines in one, for design majors at Columbia.

The eighth double-zine edition, on stocky, magazine paper with a sensory overload of fonts and colors, is more commonly known as Thumbs and Knuckles and The Dreaded Biscuits and was released in September. This time, however, the fiction writers involved in the project are prepared to bring the short stories to life for a reading at Quimby’s Bookstore, 1854 W. North Ave., on Oct. 22. This is one of the first small efforts by Jotham Burrello, adjunct faculty in the Fiction Writing Department, to possibly distribute the zine to independent bookstores around the city. This way, city dwellers, in addition to college students, can get a taste of flash fiction accompanied by “professional-looking design in a lovely package,” he said.

Zine Columbia began in 2003 in a design publication class taught by Craig Jobson, adjunct faculty in the Art and Design Department at Columbia. The publication was essentially a “one-off” in its early stages, which is when everyone in the class gets a copy of the zine and there are no more copies printed, Jobson said.

Last year, however, everything changed. Burrello’s fiction writers and publishing class and Jobson’s design publication class joined forces, along with a few illustrators, to create a double zine with a total of 36 graphic designers, 34 writers and three illustrators working on the project. The PDF files were then sent to Shanghai, China for the first time and the result was a near-professional literary zine.

About 80 people attended the on-campus release party event in September, but not many others were aware that Zine Columbia even existed—let alone since 2003, Jobson said.

“Part of the problem is that we’ve only printed 1,000 copies and probably 700 of those copies have been snatched up by Art and Design and Fiction Writing Department students,” Jobson said.

Patrick Hogan, adjunct faculty in the Art and Design Department at Columbia, facilitates the publication of the zine online. Though budget constraints have kept Zine Columbia from sitting on the shelves of places like Quimby’s, he said that they’re definitely trying to distribute the publication as far and as wide as possible. Although, the zine on the Internet does allow anyone to view the content, he said.

The content in itself, or the short shorts, also known as flash fiction, is really due to the constraints of the layout, Burrello said. The word count should generally be 475 – 500 for a piece of flash fiction to be included in an issue of Zine Columbia.

Ashley Schroeder, fiction writing major at Columbia, has one piece in each of the themed double zines titled “Stew” and “Recognition.”

Schroeder gushed about the prospect of being able to see her work at a place like Quimby’s Bookstore, as well as her fascination with the near-professional design work in the zine. “You can see the ink and pencil drawings [and] the lines … that gives [my piece] a certain sad tone,” Schroeder said.

Burrello, not unlike Jobson or Hogan, said he believes that the zine has great potential to be sold throughout the community.

“It’s an advertisement for the college, but it’s really for the writers—to feather their caps,” Burrello said. “Getting a big distribution to take it is probably tough because that’s tough for every little magazine, but getting it around the city at least and organizing some more things—it’s just a little legwork.”

Burrello even sees the possibilities of starting an independent publishing company at Columbia, much like the student-run AEMMP independent record label at the college.

Ideally, the designing and writing process would be very similar to the way it is now, but the book would be given to the Marketing Department where marketing majors could promote the book throughout the city.

This process would act as an independent college press, Burrello said.

The reading takes place at Quimby’s Bookstore, 1854 W. North Ave., on Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. For the double zine online, visit adweb.colum.edu/~thumbsandknuckles/, adweb.colum.edu/~thedreadedbiscuits/.