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Writing and distributing whatever I want!

An interview with
Moira from Moon Rocket Distribution

Auckland, New Zealand


by Elke Zobl

January 2003


Can you tell me first of all a little bit about yourself? How old are you, where are you originally from and where do you reside now?
I'm 23, and I've always lived in New Zealand. I grew up in a small town up north, but moved to Auckland when I was 9 and have lived here ever since.

 



What do you do besides your zine?
Besides my zines, I run a distro (Moon Rocket), make art (mostly in the form of books or other things involving paper and printing), maintain a personal website (www.nutmeg.gen.nz), drink a lot of soy hot chocolate and get excited about things. I also work fulltime as an Environmental Engineer.

For how long have you been running your zine and distro now? How many issues did you put out until now? Are you the only editor or is there a team?
I self-published my first little comic book in early 1999, and started Moon Rocket on 1 January 2000. I've put out various different zines under different titles in that time - my current personal zine is Child That Mind, which I'm working on the second issue of right now. All the zines I've made have been self-edited and published, though one of my zines (Woven, a poetry/literary zine which I published the fifth issue of a couple of weeks ago) is contributor-based.

What made you decide to start this project? How did you come up with the idea and the name?
I wanted to start Moon Rocket because I was starting to get into zines and was really excited about self publishing and zine culture and other distros I'd found online, and I saw the need for something like that in New Zealand. I guess I was inspired by other distros that I was working with at the time, like Adore and Starfiend, as well as by some of the brilliant zines I had been getting in the mail. There's no interesting story behind the name, really, I just liked rockets and thought it fitted with what I was planning. It was partly inspired by Tintin.


What topics are most often discussed in your zine or in the zines you carry?
I carry a really wide range of zines - from personal writing to poetry to arty collages to radical menstruation to superhero parody comics to zine reviews to fiction and all kinds of other things. My distro catalogue is based on my tastes and politics, but isn't really limited to one "genre".

My personal zines tend to discuss whatever I'm thinking about at the time - the last issue of Child That Mind was about cities and personal space and secrets, while the new issue will mostly be about working as an engineer and there'll probably be some stuff about gender roles, I expect.

What do you hope to accomplish by establishing your zine and your zine distro?
With my personal zines, I just want to publish work I'm proud of and create a forum where I can write about whatever I want and get feedback on it without the pressure of having to perfect my writing for publishing. With Moon Rocket, I want to support self-publishing and DIY art forms, to be a reliable source for people to buy independent writing and art from and to generally encourage, support and promote the kinds of projects I get excited about, like zines, independent comics and lo-fi music.

What does zine making, distributing and reading mean to you? What do you love about zine making and distributing? What’s the most challenging aspect of making and distributing zines?
Zine making is basically a form of publishing that is really accessible to a lot of people - you don't have to write brilliantly, you don't have to own any fancy equipment or have lots of money and it's not really about profit, so in most cases you don't have to alter your message at all to make a popular or profitable product. So zines can really reflect individuals and talk about peoples interests and thoughts and opinions and emotions in ways that you don't find in a lot of other forums (besides the internet), and there's also a lot more openness to communication between author and reader than there is with novels, for example. A lot of corporate media (mainstream magazines, newspapers, 'reality' television) is really removed from the experience of real people, I think, and sells really stereotyped, normalised versions of what people are supposed to be like. At their best, zines are the opposite of that: published by all sorts of people for all sorts of people, from all different political perspectives and approachable.

What was your first exposure to zines? How did you find out about them? What have they come to mean to you?
I found out what zines were from the internet, though I later realized that I had seen zines before and even owned a few. After I started "Life Sucks", I came across a post on a messageboard about a new zine distro starting up and looking for zines and comics, so I checked out the link and sent Tina my comics, and just started following links from her website, and eventually figured out what zines were. I actually used to buy a lot of local photocopied comics when I was a teenager and had seen really simple comics that made me realise I could make my own, but I didn't know that self publishing was such a big thing until I found zine distros and the zinesters mailing list and stuff.




Do you consider grrrl zines as an important part of a movement of sorts? Do you think zines can effect meaningful social and political change?
I know zines and the culture(s) surrounding them have made me think and continue to challenge my thought patterns, and have taught me so much about politics and identity and the world in general outside my little perspective on it, that I know they have to mean something. In some ways, social and political change only happens like that, through individuals learning and challenging themselves and encouraging those around them to learn. On the other hand, it seems like zines are pretty far under the cultural radar in general, and how can something that so few people (relatively speaking) have heard about instigate widespread social change? And just because zines have meant so much to me, that doesn't mean they will be interesting or useful to everyone. So I don't know, as more zine stuff is done and more zine libraries are set up and they become more visible, maybe zines will be part of a movement for change. Meanwhile I definitely think zine publishing and reading can change people's perspectives on things in positive ways. Um, so yes and no.


What advice would you give others who want to start a zine or a zine distro?

Do it! Well, read up about it first and think about why you want to do it and how other people have done it, then do it! There are tons of good resources on the internet from tips to horror stories to step-by-step guides. I'd also suggest checking out the zine "Stolen Sharpie Revolution" (published by Microcosm Press: www.microcosmpress.com and available from lots of distros all over the world including mine) - it's a resource zine that has a lot of tips on making zines, running distros, zine etiquette and things like that.

What are some of the zines you admire?
I really like "Doris" - Cindy's writing is a really careful, yet effortless blend of personal and political elements and she always talks about interesting and important things. "Hope" is a new favourite, it's really well written and edited and exciting. "subject to change" is always smart and considered and always makes me think. "I Am A Camera" and all of Vanessa Berry's zines are really well written and she's just so prolific, I don't know how she writes so much great stuff. The last issue of "That Girl" was like a novel, such a satisfying read. Those are just a few.

Could you please describe a little bit the grrrl zine community in your country?
I don't think the "grrrl" zine community over here is really seperate from the zine community in general - there are definitely zines that came out of or were influenced by Riot Grrrl specifically, and feminism generally, but I think there's a decent amount of interaction between zinesters who write about different things. The zine community over here is healthy and growing all the time, there are heaps of zines being produced, two mailorder distros that I know of (Moon Rocket and Red Letter in Wellington), a zine reading library in Auckland (The Misfit Theatre) and other projects going on around the country.

Do you define yourself as a feminist? What are the most pressing issues you are confronted with in daily life (as a woman/feminist)?
I
definitely identify as a feminist, though I'm always aware that people have different perceptions of feminism and what the feminist movement should be. As a feminist, I think it's important to remain critical and questioning of feminism and what people do under the heading of "feminism" (I'm thinking about the transphobic "womyn-born-womyn" entrace policy in place at Michigan Womens Music Festival and lots of women's centres and spaces around the world as I write this, but there are so many other examples).

What do you think about feminism today? Do you see yourself as part of “Third Wave Feminism” and what does it mean to you?
It's hard to comment on feminism in general today, it's so broad and exists in so many different ways in different places. I don't see myself as part of any "wave" really, a lot of the main figures and ideas behind the 'third wave' have turned out to be as disappointing as some of the second-wavers, and while I think both were important and accomplished a lot, I don't know if I fit in with either. There's been a bit of talk lately about "no wave" feminism as a feminist movement that takes lessons from the past but remains open to critique and dialogue, doesn't create idols whose theory can't be questioned, doesn't excuse oppression in the name of feminism and genuinely tries to be a movement for more than white, middle/upper class women.


Which role plays the Internet for you? Does it change your ideas of making zines and doing/reading/distributing zines?
I started making zines after I'd been doing the personal webpage and online journal thing for a while, so I don't know what my perceptions of zines would be without the internet. I doubt I could run Moon Rocket as successfully without the internet, it's just so much cheaper and easier to have a constantly updated online catalogue than it would be to make a paper catalogue, and to be able to promote my distro through online communities and stuff rather than sending out a bunch of paper ads. Communication with other zinesters is also heaps easier with the option of email - I do still write a lot of letters and send a lot of packages out by mail.





moira
moon rocket distribution
http://www.moonrocket.co.nz

p o box 7754
wellesley street
auckland, new zealand

moira's personal web site:
http://nutmeg.gen.nz/zines/

moira [AT]moonrocket.co.nz


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