An Interview with Vampire Hag Distro

Check out Vampire Hag Distro at our 1st Birthday Zine Fair by clicking this link now!!

“vampire hag is a full size zine distro based in chatham, kent and it has been around selling mostly queer & feminist perzines since halloween 2009 (previously known as vampire sushi until 2019) it is run by tukru, a non-binary spooky bitch from finland. they wrote the long running (since 2006) perzine ‘your pretty face is going straight to hell’ until 2020, when they changed the name to ‘bat habitat’ but kept the numbers, because why start from the beginning when you’ve reached issue 28? besides zines, the distro also sells tukru’s art in sticker, badge and print form, but queer and feminist perzines will always be their main thing.”

Who are you? Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hiya I’m Tukru and I run Vampire Hag distro. I’m a non binary spooky bitch from Finland but I’ve been living in Chatham Kent since 2003 (let’s not think about how many years that is) I’ve been making zines since my late teens, but I took a couple of years off while I was at uni studying photography, but I got extremely back into them again in my third year and wrote a terrible dissertation about perzines. I started Vampire Hag distro in 2009, though for the first 10ish years it was called Vampire Sushi Distro, after a song. i run the distro from my corner of the council flat I share with my partner and I keep calling it small, but I recently decided to say full-size instead cos I realised saying “small zine distro” feels like I’m minimising what I do. Like it’s not important, just a little old thing…

What do zines mean to you?

Zines are kind of everything to me. Most of my social life is zine events, I’ll see my long distance pals at zine events or I’ll travel to visit them with the zine event as my excuse. Zinester is very much my Identity. They are communication with my fellow humans and weirdos. I know most of my friends through zines. I don’t know, is it sad how much my life revolves around zines? i don’t make art zines, but my zines are My Art. Now that I think the point of my dissertation was comparing perzines to v biographical art like the work of Francesca Woodman and Nan Goldin (my faves in art school.)

How did you first get started with zines?

I first found out about zines on the internet at the turn of the century. I accidentally stumbled upon a website by someone called Sally Tampon and I learned about Riot Grrrl and zines in one go. I actually made my very first zine before I had seen one because it was really hard to get my hands on any living in a small town in Finland before the age of PayPal. I think eventually I managed to go to currency exchange in Helsinki and got some US dollars and send them off to a distro. And eventually made my first zine in English and sent it to a distro and got paid in distro credit and I still have the some of those zines ?? yeah I made my first English language zine so I could trade. Sadly I don’t have a copy of it but I’m hoping one day I will find someone who does and can scan it for me if they don’t want to part from it. But who knows. (it was called Kersa X #2, it was A6, landscape with yellow covers and i think i’d drawn tobi vail in sunglasses from some iconic bikini kill photo on the cover but i dont know anymore! It’s been 20 years! But it’s also the only zine i have nothing left of)

Tell us about your zines.

i make a perzine called Bat Habitat, however the first 27 issues of it were under the name Your Pretty Face Is Going Straight To Hell. I’ve been making it since 2006/2007. I write about whatever is going on in my life and I cut and paste the text into collages or handwrite it. I like my collage work and tbh I have got nice feedback about it and my handwriting. #28 was made last spring / summer so it’s about the lockdown and stuff.

As for the distro, there I have many different kinds of zine but my fave is perzines so that’s the main type. Mostly by queer folks and feminists, and there’s some comics and fanzines sprinkled in with the perzines.

What resources do you use to create your zines?

Ok so i’m not sure i really understand this question, cos it feels like it could be underneath the next question about zine making process maybe? But i mean i’m extremely fortunate because thanks to a crowdfunder and people’s generosity i have an actual laser printer in my house so i can EASILY print out my zines and material for the zines and scan the finished thing so i can easily print it by pushing a couple of buttons instead of taking my flats to the local copy shop that let’s me work the photocopier myself because i’m a low key control freak and then printing X amount copies and do extreme math to make the bulk discount work for my limited funds.

And i plan to share this resource with other people and print their zines for them, i just need to figure out the logistics of that (like what do i charge and how that’s calculated) because making copies can be a pain in the ass or a huge obstacle.if you need help with making zines, beep me! Be my zine printing guinea pig?

I guess other resources would be my computer cos typing is tidier, and easier to edit than handwriting, and my excessive collection of old print outs from when i used to randomly photocopy cool stuff from library books both at the public and my uni library, and at work when i worked at a photo shop, and stickers and postcards and all sorts of weird scraps, and my latest favourite; CRAPHOUND books. I have four or five and they are A+ material for zine collage (though i scan and print the bits i want to use cos i dont have the heart to cut into the book + i can just make a copy at home). As are old kids annuals from the charity shops. Also wrapping paper, and note books with squared or otherwise printed paper, for background texture.

Tell us about your zine-making process.

Usually i start by writing. Sometimes i write in a notebook and type it all up later, or i go straight in for typing if there’s A Lot. i like writing in notebooks because then i end up editing as i type it up 😀 then when i’m ready, i’ll print the text out and cut and paste it onto A5 pages, often using squared or graph paper as the background, for the texture (as i said before) and i use a lot of collage materials to make the page visually interesting (possibly because i’m not quite convinced my writing on its own is interesting enough, because ugh self esteem issues). Then when i’m done with those i scan the pages (and resize them to A6) and assemble flats digitally since i can just print them now, instead of taking the flats to the copy shop. When i didn’t have my printer and scanner, i used to resize my pages on whatever photocopier i had access to by shrinking them 71%, and then assembling the A6 size pages into flats that i then eventually took the copy shop when i had all the pages assembled and resized and i’d decided the order. Though sometimes i would still be resizing a page or two on the copy shop trip..

I mean usually i just write about what i want to write about and shove it together and that’s it. Though lately i’ve been working on one subject per issue kind of issues because big things have happened / come up, and i have to say they are kind of harder 😦

Do you have any advice for newbie zine makers?

Just do it. It doesn’t have to be perfect, you learn more as you go!

Also leave margins and number your pages, cos that’ll make your life easier when making copies and assembling.

What is your favourite thing about zine culture?

COMMUNITY AND SHARING IDEAS AND EXPERIENCES AND LEARNING FROM OTHERS IN A MORE EQUAL WAY THAN TRADITIONAL MEDIA. Many of the same things that are good about social media but zines are more permanent and less likely to just disappear into the ether after a very short time like things like tweets. Obviously it’s not perfect and not as equal as we’d like to think but it’s an improvement?

Do you have a favourite zine or zinester?

Sadly my absolute favourites amber of culture slut and maranda of telegram hav stopped making zines 😦 but doesn’t mean there aren’t lots of great zinesters still about. Some of my faves: julia eff of crapandemic distro (too many different titles to list but i literally cried when i found a copy of every thug is a lady at a zine fair) different worlds same heartbeats by nina echozina, anything by kirsty from cross words zines, holly casio, kurt cobain was lactose intolerant, brainscan by alex wrekk, doris by cindy crabb.

Why do you make zines?

I dont think i know what else to do with myself at this point ha ha. I’m only half joking. My zines are my art form.

Do you have any events, zine fairs, zine launches, or anything else exciting that you would like to tell us about?

I have like THREE zines that are really close to done, i swear! (i’ve been saying this for two months now)

I’m currently working on 2 issues; I’m finishing a zine about being non-binary that I’ve been working on since summer 2019 because things keep getting in the way and maybe the universe doesn’t want me to ever finish, or maybe it just thought it was not ready when I first made it.. and im also working on an alphabet zine that started as a 24h zine for Swansea Zine Fest’s 24h zine challenge but clearly that didn’t work out. But rules are meant to be broken so it’s a regular zine now. AND then there’s the long overdue Faith the Vampire Slayer fanzine that’s almost done, i just need to personally write something for it and do the intro and credits etc.. i dont know why it’s been so hard to do it. I think i’m as usual doing so many things at the same time that instead of working on any of the things, i spend my time worrying about what to do or starting up another knitting project to procrastinate 😦

You can check out Vampire Hag Distro by visiting them on their socials…

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