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27 May 2010 @ 12:08 pm
Donor Spotlight: Marissa Falco  
Barnard Zine Library’s collection has some great vintage holding thanks to the donations of generous zinesters. Recently retired zine intern Rhonda Kauffman interviewed Marissa Falco, one of our favoritest zine and minicomic publishers.

Barnard Zine Library: How long have you been making zines?  Do you still make zines? Why/why not?

Marissa Falco: I started making zines in high school and had an intense publishing schedule from the ages of 15 to 18. When I was in college I had less time for zines, but still tried to work on them as time allowed. I'm still not sure when I found the time to work, go to school, and make zines, but I definitely made a few issues each year. After college I suddenly had tons of time and yet made only a couple of issues before going on zine hiatus for six years. Maybe the pause wasn't completely mysterious: I went back to school to study graphic design, and heard a lot of talk about making things that looked professional and fit the client's standards. That scared of the idea of zines for a while--I wasn't sure how to reconcile my formal design training with my love for cut and paste. For a long time after design school I didn't know what I wanted to write about, and wrestled with the idea of a comeback zine. I started making zines again last year. I think it was a combination of feeling that turning thirty was super-liberating, and being sick of having all these adventures that I'd never gotten around to drawing.

Barnard Zine Library: What zines have you written and what was your motivation for writing them?

MF: /nothing/ was the zine I wrote in high school, mainly as a distraction from school and a much-needed creative outlet. I was an academic overachiever but had met my breaking point sophomore year of high school, when I realized that there was no art in my life and that it felt very, very wrong. At around that time I saw Pagan Kennedy's article on zines in Seventeen and, like a total badass, sniffed, "Well. I could do that even better." And I don't know about better, but I did it, and I made a whole series of zines about nothing in particular, and met all kinds of interesting people as a result. It was at a time when I was very shy and self-conscious in person, but I found that my zine was a way to share more of my real personality.

Red-Hooded Sweatshirt rose from the ashes of /nothing/. I don't know if the subject matter was ever all that different, but at the time I felt that I needed a new name for my project, since I was entering my twenties. This zine still featured a lot of silliness but added more navel-gazing, which was something I picked up in college.

Miss Sequential is the zine/comic I draw now. I'm leaning more towards comics at this point, because lately I like my drawing more than I like my writing. I find that I still end up writing/drawing about the random weird things that happen in life, even though the characters and the settings may be different than they were when I was fifteen.

Barnard Zine Library: How long have you been collecting zines?  What types of zines have you been collecting/reading?

MF: I've been collecting for almost sixteen years now. When I was a teen and in college I read mostly zines by other teens/young women, a lot of grrrl zines, definitely. These days I gravitate toward personal zines and personal mini-comics, and I'm much more interested in reading about lives that aren't exactly like mine. I find that I don't need to relate to everything 100%, if that makes sense. Growing up? Probably.

Barnard Zine Library: Do you have any favorites or ones  you couldn’t wait to appear in your mailbox?

MF: All-time favorites are Tyger Voyage, Puberty Strike, and all of Emily K. Larned's many projects. I've been reading The East Village Inky since it was "born," and I still find it so brilliant and entertaining. I used to read Carrie McNinch's The Assassin and the Whiner when I was a teen, and now I read her new comic, You Don't Get There From Here. It's interesting to see who's still working on zines, and how their projects have changed over the years.

Barnard Zine Library: What made you decide to donate your collection to Barnard?

MF: My collection had been sitting in my childhood bedroom since 1997 or so. Every few trips home, I'd flip through a few zines and then put them back on the shelf. I couldn't bear to throw them away, and yet they didn't really feel so relevant to my present-day life, since they ever made it out of my parents' house and into my apartment. I knew I wanted to donate them somewhere as a collection someday, and when I heard about the zine library at Barnard, it seemed like a perfect fit. I really appreciate that the collection at Barnard is as much about fostering zine community today as it is about preserving and documenting zine artifacts of the past.

Barnard Zine Library: Why do you feel it’s important to make your collection available to others in a library and archival setting? 

MF: In college I studied journalism and American studies, and found that projects for both areas required reliance on primary sources. For journalism, I could easily call the people involved in my research, and often conducted interviews in person. For my American studies projects, though, it wasn't possible to talk to post-colonial plantation owners or mill workers from the turn of the 20th century. I read census records, property deeds, and company records, but found myself wondering what these people were really like-- what did they think about, what were their opinions of current events, what were their dreams of the future? That's not the sort of information that's readily available. By making my collection of zines available, my hope is that future readers and researchers will better understand life in this era through the intimate, unique perspectives on the lives of zine makers.

Thanks for the opportunity to share my thoughts on this stuff! And thanks for taking such good care of my zines :)