Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A week of zine production

Here's a peek at my process for my new mini comic Rock On!

First, some back story. When I moved to NY, I didn't know a whole lot about music. My high school and early college taste included Nirvana, The Smashing Pumpkins, Weezer, and lots of classic rock like Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones.

My new circle of friends introduced me to the world of hardcore and post-punk which soon included going to live shows. In the late 90s, bands played almost every night in NYC and most shows were easily under 10 bucks. A few years after I discovered the scene a lot of the venues came under scrutiny. As new club laws passed and rents were raised, many of the bars closed or stopped hosting live shows.

I decided to record some of my memories in comic form and include each venues' address and years they were open for posterity. There is also a handy map on the back if you're so inclined to take a walking tour of NYC's musical past.

Research for this project was actually a lot more time intensive than I had anticipated. I had some blown out photos of shows and bands, but because this was the era before everyone had a phone or digital camera at their disposal there isn't much documentation online. A lot of the venues are barely mentioned aside from an article or two on their closings. I ended up digging through a box of memorabilia (or "junk" as others might call it) under my bed. I unearthed a copy of the Village Voice from September 2001 which is how I found out about weekly shows back in the day. Luckily my analog file helped me out here and I found all but one of the fonts I was looking for from this source.

Since this is the smallest I've ever worked, I wanted to make sure that my writing and images would be legible when they were minimized. I thumbnailed the comic on one sheet of paper just like I planned to print it.

I scanned it in and did a pass in photoshop with blacks so I could see where I wanted contrast. I also found some of the logos from the bands I was mentioning and pasted them onto the pshop document. I wanted to get a show flyer look, but much preferred to ink all the lettering by hand. This part took a long time. I've made a font from my handwriting that I tend to used for my diary comics, but I feel like lettering is something I wanted to work on more. And well, after the lettering took much longer than inking the art, I think I got that out of my system.

When I was happy with the basic layout, I made the thumbnails larger and printed them out. I did my tighter pencils and lettering on another sheet of printer paper. When everything was lined up how I wanted it, I penciled each page on a sheet of bristol board with the roughs on a lightbox. My final pages were pretty small, 5.5" x 8.5"

I inked each one with a brush, erased the pencil lines long after the ink dried to prevent smudging, and voila! It's ready to be scanned and re-formatted for print.

I did minimal photoshop cleanup on each page, re-sized them and laid them out in the same file as my inital thumbnails. I did a few test prints and needed to tweak the layout so everything lined up right when the zine was folded. I figured out the folding process by taking apart some minis I've gotten at cons and reconstructing them. I'm sure someone has written out far better instructions on how to fold and cut comics like this online.

This was my first foray into one sheet comics and it was fun. A little more time intensive than I anticipated, but I put in the hours of research and fixing layouts so that it would be something I was proud of, no matter how little it is. And it was only about a week of production time, not including a few hours of thumb-nailing and brainstorming on my commutes last month. Hope you enjoyed checking this out and are possibly excited to try making your own mini zine!

Rock On! will be available for the super low price of $1 at the 2nd Annual Pete's Mini Zine Fest this coming Saturday at Pete's Candy Store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn from 3pm-7pm. Live music, beer, zines, what more could you ask for? The fest will be indoor/outdoor so be aware the rain date is June 4th.

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