Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Calliope Nerve Interview Series: Mark Strickert

Mark, in the time I've known you, I'm not sure I've met someone with so many unique and fascinating hobbies. Tell us about some of the hobbies you enjoy.

To touch on just a few, I trade radio station recordings, enjoy traveling across North America (and, eventually, beyond), ride as much public transit as I can in each city I spend time in, and I just celebrated my 40th anniversary as a zine writer and publisher.

What hobbies have you abandoned along the way?

The only hobbies I have totally given up are county collecting and radio station bumper sticker collecting. Besides being difficult to justify the gas consumption from long, meandering drives, having a family and living in a distant corner of the US make long county-hunting weekends nearly impossible. I’ve been to 2,309 US counties and parishes, but only 9 of them have been new since Y2k and none of those were visited simply to get new counties. As for the stickers, far as I know I had the largest collection in North America when I gave it all up and sold all 26,000 or so in 1992. Was cool though, as I got to about 70 new counties on the drive to deliver them to the buyer in Florida.

How did you get into zines? How many zines have you've written in your life time? Where are your zines available?

I hung out with a fairly creative bunch growing up in Chicago’s Lincoln Park area. By 1970, at least three of us were putting out comix, club newsletters, and what we would only many years later call “zines”. As I moved to other places, the zines also became a way to keep in touch with old friends and relatives. My discovery of the review zine Factsheet Five in the late 80s expanded my mailing list as other zinesters and I discovered each other and began swapping zines. A very conservative guesstimate would be about 300 zines published and another 100 contributed to. My personal zine MarkTime is available by mail ($2 cash or postage, or trade to Mark Strickert, PO Box 1051, Orange CA 92856) or by e-mailed .PDF file; the APA-zine FortyTwo is in the quarterly mailings of Grassroot Reflections (sample $4 from Arnold Hollander, 1598 Old Mill Road, Wantagh NY 11793).

An “APA” by the way is an “Amateur (or Alternative) Press Association”, a collection of individual zines collated and mailed together in one stapled bundle. Most zines in an APA are unified by a shared theme or topic (such as science fiction, comix creation, or hobbies and obsessions), and/or by interaction between each zine writer through comments on the other zines.

Have you written professionally?

Not for any publications…just internal stuff for work. Even my articles for professional publications such as the pirate radio magazine Hobby Broadcasting have not been soiled by filthy lucre

You are extremely prolific. Does it come naturally? If it doesn't, what gives you the motivation?

The only thing that’s been natural has been my desire to write about my travels, and friends I visited while traveling. Even then, writing requires the right combination of time, inspiration, and lack of other distractions. My Netbook travels with me daily in the backpack, but it sometimes does not see me for weeks while I wait for the muse to get on the same train I’m riding to or from work.

How has the internet has affected zinedom?

There are probably fewer new print zines, though I cannot tell for sure since there is no comprehensive zine reference to match the old Factsheet Five, even online! Many long-running zines I have known and loved over the years are still very much available in print, though some zines have adapted by offering the added option of receiving it via e-mail attachment.

What's on your recommended reading list?

Zines I receive and read from cover to cover most regularly include Fred Argoff’s Brooklyn! and Watch the Closing Doors, Dale Speirs’ Opuntia, Don Fields’ Twilight World, Henry Welch’s The Knarley Knews, Guy Lillian’s Zine Dump and Challenger, and Brant Kresovich’s For the Clerisy.

Who is your 'ideal' reader?

Since I discovered APAs and zines with long Letters-to-the-Editor columns (coincidental to first seeing Factsheet Five), I have really enjoyed the interaction between zines, and with zine readers. So, my “ideal” reader either writes and trades their own zines, or likes writing letters-of-comment.

Do you consider yourself an 'underground' creator?

If that means not being beholden to a corporation or other commercial venture, then yes.

What does the future hold for Mark Strickert?

I’ll be on the “Papernet” as long as it lasts, and will do my best to keep the brain active with new adventures. The new wife and kids may seem to slow me down, but also offer more and different opportunities.

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