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Blister Interview (Lights Go Out Zine)

lgo-39-bwFrom Lights Go Out Zine

Hey Eric, thanks for taking time out to chat to us. Can you tell us a bit about your work on Blister please?

Sure, thanks for making time for me. Blister is a project that spans a few mediums. There’s the prose book, some actual music, and some short comics. I’m the writer on the book and comics, as well as the artist on the comics.

So what gave you the idea to bring the Blister story into a zine?

A buddy of mine started putting out this anthology mini-comic, which is really a zine with a focus on comics, called Rejected Hammer Thesis and he has expressed interest in having other artists and writers involved in the book. After writing the book I had a handful of stories and ideas that weren’t used. So I suggested I could draw them up as, what I’m calling, “B-Sides” and put them in the book, and he was all about it.

I understand you’ve also worked on some other works, can you tell us about these please?

Sure, I’ve been working on a comic book called Defective Comics for about two years now. It’s basically a superhero parody book. My friend, Darren Fitzpatrick, and I have been putting out comics with the characters in that book for almost 25 years now.

What else are you involved in and what other projects have you got coming up?

I’m continuing to work with Defective Comics, but I’m putting a strong focus on promoting and continuing Blister right now. It’s a project that’s near and dear to my heart.

What got you involved in self-publishing?

Well, a couple things. I like to own and control my own properties. The other big thing is that, in order to get work with a big publisher, you have to have been published. In the current climate it’s so easy to just do that. Why not?

Do you feel that self-publishing is as relevant as ever in the current climate?

Yes! The internet offers so many solutions for promotion and building a community around your work, as well as options for self-publishing assistance, such as Amazon’s Createspace or Lulu when it comes to books, or Kablam when it comes to comics and zines. Even if you do it all yourself, as we do. The internet offers much assistance in online sales. I love that balance of the new technology assisting in one of the oldest.

You hail from Chicago, is there much of a zine scene there?

There has been, particularly with Jaded in Chicago back in the 90s. There are quite a few on the scene now. There’s actually a great store in the city that sells and promotes these kinds of self published works. It’s called Quimby’s. It’s shelves and shelves of independent books and zines.

I understand Chicago has a zine fest, is that right and have you attended it at all?

I have not, but we do. It’s going on 5 years now.

What’s your take on webzines? Are you a fan and do you think they’ll ultimately lead to the demise of the printed zine?

I think digital needs to be embraced. If you don’t find a way to incorporate it, you’ll eventually be left behind. There can always be a place for both.

I know you have a presence online, where are the best places for people to check out what you do, get in touch and pick up copies of Blister?

Sure, you can find out more about me and Blister at www.ericcockrell.com. You can order the Blister book at amazon.com or studioerbo.com. You’ll find the Rejected Hammer Thesis series for sale at studioerbo.com as well.

What have been the biggest challenges for you in putting out Blister?

So far, finding time to work on it, between working full time and family time. I have a son who’s almost four.

So, Blister deals with the story of a band, are you yourself a musician and what bands are currently on your stereo?

I have a guitar and I practice now and then, but I couldn’t go as far as to call myself a musician. I have spent a lot of time marketing musicians in my past, however. So I’m very familiar with the plight of an artist. It’s very similar to being a visual artist.

Actually, a couple bands I have had in constant rotation recently are The Bigger Empty and Turnspit. Both are amazing Chicago bands. The Bigger Empty features Mike Felumlee, of Smoking Popes, and he and a couple other members have actually been helping me out with the Blister project. You can hear a track they recorded as Blister at blisterpunk.com. Turnspit opened for them at a recent show and I had to buy their EP after their set. It hasn’t left my stereo since.

I have to ask as I’m asking everyone, have you got any words of advice for potential zine editors out there?

The biggest thing is, it’s going to feel like a failure at first. It’s an uphill battle. Be patient and stay passionate. If you are both of those, as well as consistent, you’ll find an audience.

Thanks for chatting with us, one final question, what would you say to people to urge them to support the printed zine format?

They are put out by the most dedicated fans on the planet for very little reward. Something created with such warmth and love deserves a chance. That’s something you won’t find on a blog.