Saturday, September 06, 2014

From The MailboX: Rant Feedback

One rant, two different takes.

My rant [ ] about formatting my zine any way I wanted produced some interesting reactions.

Robert Jennings, Editor of Fadeaway zine (29 Whiting Rd.,Oxford, MA  01540-2035) (FabFicBks[at]aol[dot]com), emailed:

I would suggest that criticisms about the appearance of your zine by readers are not malicious, but are probably intended to be constructive in nature.  Yes, its your publication to do anything you want with it, any way you want, but producing an end product that is comfortable to read and is visually agreeable makes a better impression and helps get whatever message you are writing about across more easily.  I know several people who produce fanzines, and I’m sure you do as well, who may have interesting or worthwhile material to offer, but whose format is so jumbled or cramped that most people won’t even give it a fair chance.  I don’t think your mag falls into that classification, but dumping on somebody because they make constructive format suggestions appears to me to be petty vindictiveness.

In decades past whenever I couldn’t make the pages come out quite to the end of the page in my mimeographed fanzines (not very often) I invented The Embarrassing Blank Space, which developed an independent life of its own in the early 1960s.  When computers and word processing systems came along this problem pretty much disappeared forever.  I would be happy to lend-lease a quire or two of Embarrassing Blank Spaces if you need the things.  Just be sure to label them when you use them.

OK, my rant was over the top but it wasn't meant to be malicious.  In fact the person who made the comment that I should be formatting my zine to look professional, i.e. leave no white space and have an even number of pages, hasn't indicated to me he has taken offense.  My rants should be taken in the spirit intended.

And Doug Harrison, Editor of Zine Explorers Notebook (P.O. Box 5291, Richmond, VA 23220) snail-mailed this:   
Thanks for the latest. That was an excellent rant on your first page. The whole idea of zines to me is to NOT "get with the program". (Which is why I call myself an anarchist.) I don't want to be forced to get with anybody's program, or force anybody to get with mine.
But yes, I have certain aesthetic standards for myself that I try to meet with my own publication. I find the challenges rewarding in making interesting page layouts, using different fonts and column widths, etc. That's my own choice; I don't expect anybody else to live up to my standards in their own realm. I think that's kind of snotty and arrogant; no, definitely so.

Doug publishes a very neat zine (and I'm not just talking about its appearance).  I can appreciate the time and effort he puts into his work; it does show.  Some people enjoy the process of layout and design.  For me, my main goal is to eXpress myself quickly and precisely, not to be overly involved with how it looks on the other end.  As long as its readable and people can grok my words, I'm happy.

Let me wrap this up with a third take from X. Dell of The X Spot []:

People confuse "professionalism" with (1) competence, (2) excellence or (3) value. In reality, I can point you to numerous examples where competence, excellence and value have been slaughtered on the altar of professionalism.

1 comment:

X. Dell said...

As I understand it, your zine has been around for some time. It seems to me that you have certain standards for it. The choice to make it more and more user friendly is completely yours. But given its track record, and my actual observation of the layouts, I wouldn't exactly see it as user-unfriendly.