ARTIST PROFILE: ROB KIRBY
What inspired you to start making zines?
In 1990 in an Uptown comic book store called the College of Comic Book Knowledge (anyone remember that?) I found a little zine called Holy Titclamps that was not only Free but marked as “File Under Queer.” Color me intrigued! Inside were all these great, hilarious comics and articles and a whole worldview that was decidedly out of the mainstream, on the fringes - which is where I’ve always dwelt. In the back were zine reviews with contact info and I was on my way, sending out cleverly concealed cash to total strangers through the mail (this was in the era we call “pre-internet”).
Inspired by all these cool publications that soon began to appear in my mailbox, I very quickly decided I wanted to do this DIY publishing thing myself. It is very true that zines beget more zines.
My titles to date include Strange Looking Exile (5 issues produced between 1991-1993), Boy Trouble (5 issues produced from 1994-2000, with 2 trade paperbacks published with Green Candy Press in 2006 and 2008, respectively), and currently THREE, a queer comics anthology, of which there have been appropriately enough, 3 issues published. The first issue of THREE was nominated for an Ignatz award last fall for Outstanding Anthology or Collection and I won the Prism Queer Press Grant in October 2011 to aid in publishing the third issue. (2011 was a banner year for me for sure.)
I also have been making solo comic zines again: King for a Day (2011) and Ginger the Wonder Dog (2012). There are more of these to come.
What is your creative process like?
I wish I could say I’m one of those cartoonists who keeps a sketchbook on hand to jot down ideas and draw quick studies in, but that’s never been the case. I generally just bumble along through daily life until lightning strikes. I do find the more I write and draw and stick to a schedule the better things tend to roll. Reading is also a passion and adds fuel to the fire for me. When I occasionally get blocked I find journaling very helpful. Finally, even though I’m old fashioned and still draw on paper with pencils and ink, I think of Photoshop as a very good friend.
Which part of Twin Cities Zinefest are you most excited about?
Being amongst like-minded DIY-minded souls. There are times where I can forget there are lots of other alternatively oriented artists, writers, and readers out there. Drawing and writing and the creative process itself can feel isolating at times.
Who are some of your favorite fellow zine writers?
There are so many, really – I hardly know where to start. Certainly Larry-Bob Roberts of the aforementioned Holy Titclamps was seminal for me; of the folks tabling at Twin Cities Zine Fest this year John Porcellino of King Cat Comics and Spit and a Half has always been inspirational. Of course I’m always open and eager to finding more inspirations. Mini comics rule.
Do you have any plans for your zine-related future? If so, what are they?
The THREE concept will be expanded into a trade paperback book of all new comics with Northwest Press sometime next year; meanwhile I will not be abandoning the zine format and have a number of solo things I would like to publish, including a book of my diary and autobio comics, some of which can be seen on my website and my Tumblr page.
Anything else we should know about you?
I’ve been writing and drawing and self-publishing for 21+ years now and have no plans to stop anytime soon. It’s been a great ride and one that has changed much of my life perspective.