Anyone that has followed The Undercroft knows that the first issue is more-or-less an auteur work, whereas for the second I trawled the OSR (quite successfully) for contributions. The second issue isn't out as of the time of writing, but it is finished for all intents and purposes. From this I can tell you that I enjoyed making #2 an awful lot more. I met good people and got good work from them, I even got a collaborative Mystery Top Secret side-project out of it that I'm just itching to get done. I also believe that #2 is the superior work in terms of pure content, my own and that of the writers and artists, but that's yet to be confirmed so we'll ignore that for now. The change in production has spurred me to thinking about the future of the zine, what I want and where it needs to go.
In a world of rampant blogging it's hard to decide on a place for a zine. Where does one draw the line? Do you pull back from vomiting your brain onto the internet so as to save it for print? For the auteur the decision is obvious: you need to keep your mouth shut sometimes. As a curator you can continue to give it away for free like the slutty little writer you are. I know I can't keep my creative legs crossed, it's why I keep getting knocked up with side projects.
You could of course just take your blog as a collection of first drafts, which it probably is in most people's cases. Even the best blogs aren't putting out publishable content, it takes a whole new level of work to get something clean and tight enough to charge money for. I'm certain there are people that disagree, that rough raw ideas from your blog are worth publishing, but I don't buy it. Ideas are cheap, tortured artists are two-a-penny. Anyway, I've stolen from myself a couple of times now with, I feel, good results. Like all second (3rd, 4th, 5th...) drafts it reveals more about that nugget of an idea you had one late night of attention whoring some months back. Is this good enough though? Does the nugget have to be new to be worth selling? Does anyone even read or care about blogs that much? It's easy to forget that the OSR is pretty damn small, well read and inbred, expecting outsiders (hisss!) to be familiar with your work is pretty silly.
Should a zine and a blog happily step on each other? I know I don't keep up with everything everyone makes but I do buy your zines. The instant it's on paper it's permanent and important. The magic of the printed word, can't avoid it.
The Undercroft will continue as a collaborative work, if only so I can interact with people in a productive environment. You learn a lot about folks when you work with them and have to produce a finished product, you can't just faff and waffle like the internet loves to do. You need results, you create a mini parenthood and raise a horrible monster to set loose on the world. It's a thrilling shared experience that can lead to bigger things.
Another important distinction between curators and auteurs is that one needs to define their working relationship. From the beginning I didn't want it to be a fuzzy"do me a favour" situation, I wanted there to be definite compensation for work. Yes, I pay awfully (as much as the zine can afford, which will hopefully raise if things go well), but I pay. It's a token with no ambiguity, it defines a relationship and creates an exchange. This is not a favour, you are being rewarded for being good at something, as you should. I know some people do it for the joy of it, which is great, but that's a risky situation for a curator to be in. People help you because you are popular, well respected, or their friend. You can't enter a scene from out of nowhere and expect to get free help, at least not of any great calibre. Maybe you aren't the most personable guy? You don't have to be a good person to make good stuff, arseholes are arguably better at it even. How do they get help before they've attracted their groupies? Maybe when zines were novel you could just roll up and thumb the back of your truck, but today you're tripping over new zines. You could say "I don't care if no one reads my zine (or blog, or whatever)" but that's a big old porky, isn't it? If you don't care if people don't read your work, don't present it to them. Have the decency to care and believe in what you're putting out.
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So there you have it. A rambling insight into my zine-related thoughts as of the last week or two. If you look carefully you can pinpoint the exacpt moment I started to stumble into "And another thing!.." territory. Please feel free to assist in sifting through them or add your own.