From just around the corner with Salem’s Do-It-Yourself community to quite literally on the corner, Salem and Corvallis boast a surprisingly wide variety of independently published chapbooks, or “zines,” available for the avid reader. Many of these offerings feature the offbeat, b-side experience Corvallis’ art scene is known for.
Interzone, the most convenient location downtown to pick up new issues, features several zines for a mere $3 each. These offerings include Dingbat!, On Sadness, and The Worm, among others. This café is one of a few ideal locations in Corvallis for a new artist hoping to connect with their local community of independent artists and fans.
Danny of Dingbat! explained, “In the age of [the] Internet, I thought it would be cool to go back to a more tangible, handheld medium.”
Danny spends months gathering jokes and artwork, generating an issue whenever he feels he has sufficient material to entertain his audience. For him, Dingbat! is an important contribution to the punk-art scene of Corvallis.
Danny insisted, “I think anyone who likes cartoons, humor, and has somewhat subversive sensibilities may enjoy Dingbat!
Madison Killian of the online Sucker Magazine said that she found the Corvallis indie scene very welcoming when she moved here, explaining that she had lots of immediate offers to work on her publication. We are “very girl power-centered,” she said, though she is open to anything that is unique and off the beaten path. She is currently working on a Kickstarter campaign to launch a print version. She is hoping to have it online by Jan. 1.
Katherine Pedersen has worked on both On Sadness and The Worm. She agreed with Killian, saying of Corvallis that “People know each other’s names here, what they are about, and what projects they are working on.”
Cindy Crabb, author of the popular zine Doris, is Pedersen’s inspiration. She said, “It was the first exposure I had to a type of writing that was full of heart and immediately relatable.” From there, she read everything she could and ultimately decided to begin making them.
Though her first outing simply discussed swings and the fun to be had on them, she eventually reached out into deeper and more emotionally impactful areas.
As she stated, “I believe that the personal is political and that it can be a small revolutionary act to speak honestly about what is going on in your life and in your head.”
Pederson created On Sadness to help people experiencing depression, taking the step in the second issue of directing the words towards those attempting to aid a partner or close friend working through the same. She was inspired by the suicide of her partner, and the extreme depression experienced by two of her close friends.
The process of collaboration and sharing herself with others has clearly been of great benefit to Pedersen. “While I like making zines on my own, it’s been a really fulfilling experience seeing what people create for The Worm. Even though there are a lot of different perspectives, the pages always have a sense of harmony and conversation.”
Interzone offers artists the opportunity to engage with others creating DIY artwork of all kinds. Killian and Pederson both describe the positive experiences they’ve had engaging with artists working in other mediums, even musicians; Pedersen mentioned that she hopes to see further collaboration in this area in the future.
Danny explained, “Corvallis is filled with a surprising variety of creative folk. I’ve met musicians, visual artists, writers, metal/wood/glass artists, dancers, jewelry makers, and more.”
Though life in a small town can be isolating and sometimes lonely, these and other artists are reaching out to offer wisdom, support, and lived experience to those around them. Zines offer a unique, relatively low-cost way to share one’s artwork with the world and ease that loneliness.
By Ariadne Wolf