February 21, 2010

zara interviewed by the providence phoenix

interview recap'd
i was interviewed about taffy hips by the providence phoenix at the issue #6 release party. reporting this from my blog, here.

here it is again for you taffy hips readers
At the most recent release party for Taffy Hips Magazine Issue #6 , I was interviewed about the magazine's history/origins and potential future by a reporter from the Providence Phoenix , a weekly media/etc newspaper around town. the interview, quite brief, was published yesterday. Below is the full article, and link, topped off with a snapshot of me in Ada Books at the release.

"     Last week, friends of the zine Taffy Hips gathered at Ada Books on Westminster Street to celebrate the sixth issue: robot comics, prints of giant tsunami waves, and an interview with Chicago-based cartoonist Anya Davidson.

Providence's lively underground arts scene may not be what it once was. But here was a sign that the DIY aesthetic still lives.
"It draws a large crowd," said Brent Legault, owner of Ada Books, of Taffy Hips.
Editors Zara Messano and Gil Gentile launched the zine in September 2008 while undergraduates at New York's Sarah Lawrence College.
Messano, a Providence native, says the publication was inspired in part by Paper Rodeo, a now out-of-print comic book associated with the old Fort Thunder art collective. And the name, Taffy Hips, was meant to capture its oddball spirit.
"It's silly in a curious way," says Messano. "You think, 'What is it?' "
The zine, with a circulation of about 700, has national ambitions. There are copies scattered around New York and Chicago and Messano and Gentile have built a small online following.
But while the editors have landed interviews with far-flung figures like graphic artist Gary Panter, who made his name as the set designer for the madcap Pee-wee's Playhouse television show, Messano says much of the work that appears in Taffy Hips comes from Rhode Islanders who might not otherwise find a place to publish.
Providence artist Meg Powers says her work is too dark to be featured in large-scale art magazines. But her aesthetic, which often features "girls being gross," was a sensible addition to Taffy Hips. For the most recent issue, Messano asked Powers to sketch a female transforming into a bat. Powers took the concept a bit further.
"I wanted to draw conjoined girls puking up bats," says Powers. "It's violent in a goofy way."  "

I'm glad this article was published, and it was great to be interviewed and see some press/outside interest in the magazine. Yet, it definitely doesn't really give a complete picture of everything--reasons or inspirations or intentions of Taffy Hips. So, here are some answers to questions I was asked through email for this article, perhaps it will help give a fuller view of what the magazine is all about.

Would you say Taffy Hips is a throwback to the Providence zines of the 1980's? Continuing a trend after Paper Rodeo left the scene? Or is it altogether another type of media animal? (And what happened to Paper Rodeo?) Where do you think art magazines/zines like yours are going?

I don't know that much about Providence in '80s, but as for Paper Rodeo (which my impression of is 90s/early 2000s)--- I don't know if it's a "throwback" so much as it was definitely inspirational for me in wanting to make a zine/magazine in newsprint. When I was in high school (early 2000s), I would pick up copies of Paper Rodeo sometimes around Providence and have no idea what it was (often, none of the artists were cited, etc etc) and I would cut out a page I liked an hang it on my wall. Now, those zines are pretty coveted and not many copies are around--the relationship of the reader now would be very different than me picking it up off the street. 

So I hope that Taffy Hips is more like something you just find, say in a weirdo bookstore or at your friend's apartment, and read it without it being too precious. I think that's what I really loved about Paper Rodeo

But, I think that because we cite all the artists, and call ourselves editors, and have interviews, it's definitely a different media beast. I know that PR inspired me a lot, and I like that we're able to print Taffy Hips on newsprint -- that was always our original dream, partly because of Paper Rodeo, partly because that's where comics started out, partly because it's huge, and partly because it's so cheap. 

I think that Paper Rodeo ended in 2005/6, post- Fort Thunder? See here maybe:

I think that art magazines/comics zines like Taffy Hips are cropping up lots of places and I'm glad of it--there are anthologies of just comics like Smoke Signals, or interview magazines likes Comics Youth, or the more editorialized Comics Comics, also newsprint. All these little publications have a place in the art/comics community, and in my opinion only work to compliment each other. I think that more and more artists/etc are finding ways to showcase their friends, interview artists they admire and by creating a publication contribute not only their own art but also something that presents an collected idea of art/comics, maybe to try and shape the genre/scene or maybe just because they know can contribute something people will enjoy. As for Taffy Hips, we started it because we wanted a chance to talk to artists we admired and to put our own work out there, and I would say we're definitely continuing for those reasons, but equally for the opportunity to showcase the work of younger artists and friends, work which has continued to grow and change over the year and a half since we started the magazine. 

that's all

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