2013-04-25 07:43 am

How to Theme, How to Beg, How to Layout by Chris

SO, I'm often asked a simple question - 'How do you do all the zines?" Lately, it's been harder and harder, and for the first time in my fannish life, I've got a bunch of material backed up, waiting for a Drink Tank or a Journey Planet or an Exhibition Hall or whatever new zine I launch on an afternoon when the sun is out and I've got nothing better to do.

These things happen.

So, I started thinking, thinking about how I create. I know why (IT'S SO MUCH FUN!!!!) and I know when (in all those moments when I should be doing something more productive), but the how is an interesting note. I mean, the technologies I use are actually pretty simple: desktop publishing software's at least as old as the Macintosh, PDFs nearly that old. That's simple. Create some boxes, drag some art, make some outlines, find a few quotes. Easy peasy, right?


The thing that's hard is finding a way to actually do it. There are times I want to relax, to do nothing but close my eyes, put my head on a pillow and let the world slip away. You might know this concept as sleep. I'm not actually very good at that. Sleep apnea has been hard on me, and I've suffered from insomnia since at least college. Bummer. One reason I keep my computer so close to my bed overnight is so that when I wake up at 2:38am, head throbbing and nose stuffed like a post-fight boxer, I can pull MacKenzie (my MacBook) and start putting something together. There I'll be, my CPAP mask still pushing air through my nose with that weird engine noise whir, with the laptop balanced on my belly, writing and writing, usually about nothing at all, and trying to connect dots with lines, and lines with boxes. Seldom does it work, and often it's just terrible, but there are times when it's far more fun to just create something and know that it'll never see the light of day.

It's hard to edit yourself in the middle of the night!

Well, for me, it's hard to edit myself whenever. I'm no good at it, and honestly, my best stuff is instantaneous, off-the-cuff, now. Then again, my worst stuff is instantaneous, off-the-cuff, now. There's no other way I create, I just go and go and go. I was reading Harry Warner, Jr.'s All Our Yesterdays column (it's on eFanzines.com) and he said everything he did save for a couple of chapters of All Our Yesterdays (the book) were first draft. That heartened me, the greatest fan writer who ever lived did things in much the same way I do them. The only difference? He had talent.

Here's How to Create a Zine The Garcia Way!

Step One - Write at the weird times. Lunches, while cooking, when you're waiting in an airport, in the car waiting to pick-up the kids. Don't set aside time to write, just write. Once a word hits the pages, let it stand there. If it jumps out at you again, then maybe fix it. Just write. The writing is the hardest part.

Step Two - Lay it out. Get yourself a layout program, and start to put the writing into shapes. I suggest rectangles. Do it fast. Why? Because you'll notice things that need to be fixed if you take your time and you'll fix them. Then you'll find more, and you'll fix them. And you'll find more and more and more, and you'll wait and wait, and want it to be perfect. Perfect is the enemy of the Done. Done is most important. Even if you're moving fast, you'll notice things, and if you keep going fast and notice things, you should fix those fast.

Step 3 - Put it out there. That's the easiest part, whether you're using eFanzines.com or your own site or whatever, just getting things out there is the most important part. Never stop yourself from putting things out. Even if you're not 100% happy with what you've done, and I'm seldom happy with what I put out, you need to get it out there because if you don't, you're doing nobody any favors. Think about it like this: you can create something and keep it to yourself, and guess what, you're a diarist! That's a proud and noble tradition, true, but what it doesn't do is draw people in. The key to zines, and by extension blogs and podcasts and In Other Media, is that you're drawing people in to your creations, your thoughts, in a way, your life, and to do that, you've gotta get it out there.

My way is probably the least good way, I admit, but it works for me because it allows me something that I love. It allows me to interact with folks, often in a one-way presentational form, but even that is an interaction. People ask why I keep creating if I'm not going to get any response or feedback on it, and I simply say "Because I love creating." I love doing zines, and when it's not just me, when people send articles, send art, send eMailed Worlds of Comment, it becomes even more fun.

I love doing zines, and I don't plan on stopping or slowing anytime soon!
2013-03-31 10:36 am

Hugo Nominations & A New Issue!

OK, so you may have already heard that we're up for the Hugo for Best Fanzine! Journey Planet edited by James Bacon (also up for Best Fanzine for The Drink Tank AND Best Fan Writer), Chris Garcia (same as James!), Emma King and Helen Montgomery (for the Gender Parity issue!) and Pete Young for the Blade Runner issue! It was an amazing year for us, simply fantastic. If you didn't read the three issues we put out, The Blade Runner issue (http://efanzines.com/JourneyPlanet/JourneyPlanet12.pdf) is one of the most beautiful zines I've ever seen. Pete did the layout and it's spectacular. David Hartwell even said so when I gave him a copy at WorldCon! It's got writing from James, me, Pete, Graham Sleight, James Shields, C.A. Chicoine, James Mason, Tonya Adolfson, and many many more. There's issue 13 (http://efanzines.com/JourneyPlanet/JourneyPlanet13.pdf) which has something like 50 contributors including folks I'd been wishing to have words from, including Gail Carriger, Carrie Vaughn, Alisa Krasnostein, and John Picacio! The James Bond issue, the last one of 2012, has thoughts on Bond from Andy Trembley, Kevin Roche, James, Me, Lynda Rucker, J. Daniel Sawyer, Julie McMurray, Taral Wayne, Chris "Glug' Hensley, and Alissa McKersie! It's a lot of fun with an original Alan Beck cover!

Now, the first issue of Journey Planet of 2013 is up on our Weebly site, http://journeyplanet.weebly.com) and is about The Write Stuff, writing and so on, with Guest Editor Lynda Rucker. There's so Deep Cuts on this one! We've got us, the wonderful Gail Carriger, Robin Hobb, Seanan McGuire, Mike Carey, Lauren Beukes, Maura McHugh, Lynne Thomas, and many, many more! It's a lot of fun!

And the next issue is all about Philip K. Dick with Pete Young coming back on to join us! We're working with some great stuff, including a Tim Powers piece AND a couple of things that I'm pretty sure PKD himself would have enjoyed.

And again, Woohoo!
2013-02-06 07:56 pm

On Writing by Chris

SO, more writing has been happening, as James, Lynda Rucker, and I work our way towards our February 15th deadline. We even drafted my Uncle, a recently retired librarian, to write for us! This is only the third time any writing from anyone in my family who isn't me has sent in any writing! Of course, we're looking for more writing about... well, writing.

The one thing that is going along faster than I expected is in the area of art. Every issue I edit, I try to do a visual theme. Sometimes it's something simple like manipulated text. Other times, it's a conceptual thing like the general Victorian theme of the Sherlock Holmes issue. I thought that one turned out pretty good. I'll never be Pete Young, the best layout guy I've ever seen, pro or fan, but I have fun with it and I think my turns at JP layout, aside from a few minor fails, have been pretty good.

This issue, we've got a cover from a first-time zine cover artist! I'm excited! We're also taking dozens of photos of old-timey typewriters! Should be a lot of fun!

One thing that I'm excited about is that I got an image of an automaton! I love automata!

If you've got any art, send it our way!
2013-01-25 06:27 am

Six-Gun Snow White and The Days of the West by Chris

I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of Catherynne Valente's up-coming novella Six-Gun Snow White. Now, right from the beginning you can tell where things are going with this one, no? It's a re-telling of the Snow White story set in the Old West, and it's a beaut of a tale. If I had one thing to say about it, and I will be writing about it in the first 2013 issue of Exhibition Hall, it's that it tells a story of forces greater than love: hate and greed and jealousy and sorrow and loneliness and death and nature and on and on. It's such a rejection of the traditional views we're shown in fairy tales, maybe not a rejection, but certainly it does not take the trail most-traveled upon.

And with the Writing/Writers issue of Journey Planet coming up (and the Deadline is February 15th, and you should write something! Journeyplanet @ gmail.com) it got me thinking about the ways in which we see fantasy interacting with the worlds we know. We all know the Old West, the way the boards creak under the weight of a coming shoot-out, the smell of gun oil, the weight of big iron, the sight of wide hat brims shading steely eyes. We've been soaking in Old West imagery for a century-plus, and when a story can take advantage of that warehouse of concepts we all walk around with, it best better. Valente's prose is wonderful, she reminds me of Ian McDonald in a way, and in Six-Gun Snow White, she powers us through the setting and gives us snippets of what we would be ultimately familiar with, things like the town of outlaws or the Silver Baron's Castle on the Coast. Of course, it's all different, but we recognise it and can make the story fit the world. When Snow White goes on the run, as she must, we see her world is dark dark dark. The ways in which Valente honored the West as a place of magic and cruelty (and ultimately cruel magic) was a blade perfectly fitted to the handle of the Snow White mythos.

I also should say here, I've never actually read a Snow White story. Sure, I've seen at least half-a-dozen filmed versions, but never read one. Mea Culpa.

There is a tradition of Weird West Tales. The West was a place of mystery, of a kind. It was the kind of place where you heard stories, sometimes even read newspaper articles, of strange things happening. You might hear of the Thunderbird shot out of the sky, or a Wild Man the size of a standing bear, smelling of dead meat and horse leavings. These things are strange indeed, but even the things that actually happened, like the green skies over the desert, were odd enough. Playing with the images and characters of the Old West, not to mention Native American imagery, gave Six-Gun Snow White so much more power that any of the filmed versions, for sure. It is a very American slice out of a very European tradition.

The story is one that's told, like those rumors of Thunderbirds and Demon Cattle, and it is told to us in a way that often makes you wonder if even the teller knew the strangeness surrounding it. Too often the teller of tales in the West are stunned by the spectacle, and here that is not the case. It's all strange things that happen in a strange place with strange characters, but they are not strange for the sake of being strange. They're strange because magic is strange, and everything that makes up these characters is a kind of magic, and a kind of magic that can only take place in the West.

Or maybe Western Europe...

When Six-Gun Snow White is released on February 28th, you should go out and buy it! It's a great read, some of the finest writing you'll ever see. It's a fun read, and even when we see the narrator switch-up from Snow White to someone else, we're still pulled along behind 'em through the scenery, and what wonderful scenery it is, too.
2013-01-11 10:20 am

Write Stuff: The Writer's Issue of Journey Planet by Chris

So, the next issue of Journey Planet is all about writers and writing. There's a lot of stuff we're looking at, and we'd love to get more folks who work in the world of writing to send stuff our way. And not just novelists and short story-ists, but all manner of writing, from screenwriting to songwriting to stuff!

One issue we'll be looking at is the 'de-selecting' of an Alan Moore graphic novel from the shelves of a Greenville, SC, public library. There's a lot of talk about this as censorship (and you can read a really good piece on it by James at http://forbiddenplanet.co.uk/blog/2013/comics-james-bacon-on-de-selection-and-the-smiling-face-of-censorship/ It's an interesting problem and there's a lot of different things to talk about.

My big thing is the question of censorship (and this Greenville case falls into that category) vs. Prioritized collection. Is it equally as bad for a library to just not buy a book of 'sensitive nature' in favor of safe, sanitized works? What exactly is the goal of a Library's collection? What best serves the community in the selection process. These are things that we'll talk about in addition to the particular case of Greenville. We've been approaching Librarians to get a professional opinion, and there are several sides to this one, as difficult as it may be to see that.

The deadline for the writer's issue is February 15th, so there's a little over a month to send stuff if you've got anything!
2013-01-03 10:18 am

The Folly of the World by Jesse Bullington - Reviewed by Chris

The term 'herring-fucker' gets thrown around a lot these days, but no one flings is better than Jesse Bullington. In The Folly of the World, Jesse throws around a lot of words, and pretty much every single one of them lands perfectly into place in a plot that at first had me looking backwards-and-forwards for connection and control functions. It's not Bullington as a writer, but me as a reader that was having issues, but when it all came into view, when I could feel that there was a direction and it was clear, I was as drawn in as I have ever been with a novel by an author I've not yet read!

The characters are so richly drawn, and the historical setting of Dordrect, a part of Holland (also known as Dutchlandia) which ends up an island following the Saint Elisabeth floods, is wonderfully portrayed. It's the introduction of the awesome Jolanda that really moves the story, introduces a sense of disquiet to pretty much everything that happens after we first encounter her. She is exactly what the plansmen of the novel, Sanders and Jan, are looking for as she is able to retrieve the real focus of the story. There's a set of dynamics at play between the three mains that is so complex that it did take some serious attention. I thought that the way the characters played off each other, and used the entire situation of the story and the setting, to be very dark and twisting.

Not Twisted, but twisting.

Every step of the way, Bullington is making you love and hate every character. At times, I was thinking "Poor Jo." and at other "Fucking Jo!" and the same about Jan, and ESPECIALLY about Sander. It's hard not to like a character who walks to his execution excitedly in the first few pages, and while I thought Sander was a lot of fun, he was dark dark dark at time, and a heavy bit of action at others.

While the characters are great, I did find myself a bit ragged reading in the middle. The prose worked, hard and dark and disquieting, but the plot seemed to take too many steps of the music that was playing. A lot of time is spent on character development, which is good, but at the same time there are stretches where I'd have liked some movement. The opening is one of the most engrossing I've ever come across, and the finish is a bit harsh in its brimstone, as it were. At 400+ pages, it's something of a tent-pole novel: highest on the front and back, a bit slack in the middle.

I would say that The Folly of the World is a fine novel for readers who have a fondness for depth and for the kind of prose that goes straight at your throat. Bullington isn't a light read, no doubt, but the prose is so good, the characters so very layered, and the setting so looming, that you'll be dragged under faster than you can imagine.

2012-12-31 10:00 am

2012 by Chris

So, the year is over and we're still standing. It's been a good year around Journey Planet Towers: Hugo-nominated for the first time (for JP), three solid issues, got Exhibition Hall back to a more regular schedule, got together at a couple of cons, had a blast in Chicago, and in general, had a good time working on the zine.

Next year? Yeah, we're planning on next year. The writer's issue is first, then we're planning a Philip K Dick Explosion and more. I'm hoping we'll make it to 4 issues next year (for the first time since 2009, I think) and I also hope y'all'll send in art, writing, photos, whatever, for us!

Speaking of photos, you might have heard, but we are looking for photos of typewriters. Old, New, weird word processors, any of that stuff. We're looking at a February deadline for Journey Planet 15, and that's going to be part of the visual theme!

Happy New Year, folks!
2012-12-24 12:21 pm

So, new Podcast is up! by Chris

Wanna hear about my Science Test with Green Russians? http://www.buzzsprout.com/8236 is the latest Themed for Your Pleasure!

It is proof that I should never be left alone with insomnia to read zines when there is alcohol in the house!
2012-12-18 02:50 pm
Entry tags:

On the matter of James Bond and Skyfall by Chris

This has a lot of Spoiler-y content, so you might wanna not go through it unless you've seen Skyfall.

You see, I did a run-through of all the Bond films leading up to the Bond issue of JP (which, if you haven't read it yet, it's up at (http://journeyplanet.weebly.com/uploads/1/5/7/1/15715530/journeyplanet14bonds.pdf)
and I finally watched Skyfall a couple of times, and had a lovely chat with John The Rock Coxon (and you should be reading him at Chickensinenvelopes.net now, as he does AWESOME stuff!) and he pointed out that it was no less sexist a movie than any of its predecessors. He pointed out that the female agent couldn't hack it, was put out to pasture as an office worker to be there for Bond to hit on in the future as Miss Moneypenny. I thought for a moment and found that I both agreed and disagreed.

You see, yeah, I can see where John's coming from, that the only two strong female characters in this movie are M and Moneypenny. You know what happens to M if you've seen it, but we lose Moneypenny to the trill of the Office. This is after she performs both admirably, and less-than-admirably, in the field. Does choosing to not be a field agent make her any less of a important figure? I don't see it that way. She settled down, and I think this talks more and more to Bond's inability to settle down; his deathwish. She's smarter than Bond and knows when to get out with her life. M said it long ago: Double-0s have a short life expectancy. It is not unreasonable to leave that, no matter what gender you are, and Bond doesn't have that option, largely out of his own sense of duty. And Moneypenny stands as almost as tough an agent as Bond, especially when she tracks him down, obviously without his knowledge.

Now, what interests me the most is that we finally have a reason for the Moneypenney-Bond flirtation. Watch Skyfall and see all the points where she takes the lead, grabs Bond by the sensual short-and-curlies, and then apply that to the back-and-forth that the two shared in the various other films. It finally makes sense. The two work beautifully together in the film, and my guess is that the two of them in the future will see Moneypenny taking more of the lead. I can't wait to see what they do with it, but there are so many options!
2012-12-13 08:19 am

Welcome to Our Blog - Chris

OK, so we've started a blog! Don't expect this version to stick around forever (we're doin' a site (http://journeyplanet.weebly.com and it'll eventually expand and grow and probably host a regular blog) but it'll be our way of getting y'all some more information on JP's comings-and-goings, plans for the next issues themes and so on.

The next one is The Writers' Issue, all about what it is a writer goes through while being a writer. We're always hearing stories, usually of the Horror variety, of what it takes to be a writer in this world of SF&F, and these are going to be stories of what it takes. Lynda Rucker is Guest Editing with us this time, which should make for a good issue. I'll be handling the layout, which means I get to go and find art!

If you've got writing stories, or writing art, send 'em to journeyplanet (at) gmail,com!

SO, watch this space, it's going to grow and change and probably morph into somethign we hae no ida about now. Isn't that how it always goes?