Zine: Moss Piglet
Brains behind it: Becky Nosiara
Genre: Experimental sci-fi
Where to buy: either in Melbourne zine shops or here
Oli: Moss Piglet doesn’t sound very sci-fi, where did you get the name from?
Becky: It’s actually ~the most~ sci-fi. It’s a nickname for the Tardigrade, a tiny little creature that can remarkably withstand very high levels of heat, cold, pressure and radiation. It’s able to live naked in the vacuum of space with something like 3% body water. It very easily could have come to earth on an asteroid.
And it looks like a pig bear and lives on moss. You can see a drawing of one on the cover of issue #1.
I had no idea that moss piglet was actually a space creature! Was that glowing space whale in Star Trek TNG a giant moss piglet too?
I don’t think so. Or if it was it didn’t look much like one. Plus it was wayyyy too big.
Did you ever consider Space Piglet?
Do you headhunt contributors or open for subs?
I just open for submissions. I print out flyers and leave them in zine shops and my work, and sometimes bookstores. Actually, there’s one illustrator that I followed on instagram and then asked to contribute. But I don’t know where to find most sci-fi writers, I think they’re hiding.
I think most sci-fi writers a] don’t care about zines, ha, and b] orbit around mags like TOR, Lightspeed, Black Static etc. Have you tried those ones?
That could be true! I don’t tend to read ones from overseas, even though I could order them obviously, I mean this is the future. But I’m really interested more in the local writers who I can get in contact with, and starting a local scene rather than just joining an already established one overseas. Something in my personality makes me have a childish tantrum when I think about trying to infiltrate things that are already established. It makes me go, “I don’t need your crappy thing anyway, I’ll make my own.” Even if it’s good, which is ridiculous.
Issue 3 had a story I liked about a washing machine that was someone’s child, but it was only 2 pages long. Will there be a sequel?
I hope so! I love that one. I think she was planning on making the script into a short film, but I haven’t heard anything from her about it.
Actually, most of your stories are short. Are you worried people will run away if they see anything longer? [I sometimes worry about this when I put a 6,000 word story in my zine]
It’s a combination of things. Because it’s a zine, the logistics of hand making a really huge thick booklet isn’t ideal. I’d rather feature lots of artists than a couple of huge stories. But also, and I’m going to be brutally honest here, most of the short stories I read that are over a thousand words don’t need to be. Unless you’re onto something really excellent, shorter is better. I’m a huge advocate of ‘kill your darlings.’ My editing style is pretty much: if it doesn’t work, delete it. I’d rather have short great stories than long waffling ones that could be good if they weren’t so boring, you know? And MP is about entertainment primarily. Low-brow rather than literature.
What kind of print run do you do? I think you told me you do them all by hand…
It’s changed with the printing style. Initially I was just printing at officeworks, so I did 50 to begin with, numbering them all and everything. When they ran out I thought that’d be it, like a limited edition run thing. But after a while, people who didn’t get a copy were asking for it, and I was like, what am I doing? I can just print more. So now the back issues of #1 and #2 are just printed whenever I need them. I don’t keep a record so I have no idea how many I’ve printed.
Since issue #3 I’ve moved onto risograph printing, which means I pretty much need to do 100 at a time. And yeah, I do them all by hand. It’s not so bad.
The most I ever printed of my zine was 3,000 [I had a friend in Shenzhen at the time who printed them for a pretty big discount], and although I got a few e-mails from people in various places, there wasn’t much response online. I’ve seen this with other zines too, there’s usually a dedicated, small following visible online, but not many people actually write about them. Do you feel this too? Is there disconnect between online and real life that zines can’t crack?
There’s definitely a strange kind of disconnect. This year I started a tumblr for MP, and it’s getting a bunch of followers, so that’s helping. Other than that, there’s the online store, but I don’t get many orders from there. I mostly sell through zine shops. Most of the responses I get are in person.
So most of the people who buy your zine are in Oz? Do you have plans to send the zine out to stores in other countries?
Most of them are, but the orders from the webshop have been to some cool countries. I should probably think about stocking it in other countries’ zine stores. I find the whole thing pretty overwhelming to be honest, making a journal is a lot of work in amongst life stuff. But yeah, in theory I should be doing it.
I ask this question of every zine person, do you think print zines are growing or dying?
Growing! Growing, like our nostalgia and our record collections. I don’t know how it compares to the zine scenes in the 80’s and 90’s, but to be honest, I think it’d be bigger now because of mass communication. I mean, nobody had etsy back then. Only people from your town read your zine, and maybe from a mailing list.
To keep doing zines, you have to forget about making money from them. Is this true?
Yup. I don’t think anyone makes zines to profit. That seems very beside the point. I would like, at some point, to be able to pay the contributors though. But it just isn’t feasible at the moment, unless I was going to pay them like $10 each. I like to keep the price of the zine down because I know that as a zine consumer, I don’t usually buy anything over about $7 unless it looks amazing or I’ve heard about it. $5 is a good price because people who are just browsing and have never heard of it won’t mind shelling out. At the moment it’s more about getting it out there, and just covering production costs.
I’m in Hong Kong so it’s tough for me to get to zine events/fairs, but I’m assuming Melbourne [home of Sticky Inst.] has some. Do you take Moss Piglet to any?
Yeaaah zine fairs are the best. Usually we have two big ones, one at the start of the year and one at the end. This year, the second one was cancelled, which sucks. The first one was super fun though. You just sit there at a table with your zines, while heaps of people walk past and have a look. I always sell the most zines in any one sitting at zine fairs. Plus, you get to chat to all the other zine makers and make friends.
Do you know any other sci-fi zines? I’m trying to find some, but it’s tough…
I don’t! That’s the reason I made MP – I saw a lack of sci-fi journals to send my stories to. And I wanted to read other people’s. It’s been great for that. All these people come out of the woodworks.
I haven’t ordered them yet, but have you heard of Bizarrism, Body Bag or Lady Churchill Rosebud’s Bracelet? Those are the only other three I know of…I think I saw one on a google search called Deathwound too, but I’m not sure if that was sci-fi or not…sounds more like horror…
They sound awesome and I haven’t heard of them, but I’ll definitely be looking them up now. There’s a lot of crossover between sci-fi and horror so I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a mixture of both.
Moss Piglet has a lot of fiction in it, so I was wondering if you had any plans to move into novellas or turn M.P. into a small press imprint?
I have vague plans for the future, of maybe turning it into a proper journal. It all depends on how popular it gets, and whether the momentum and interest is there. I haven’t thought about novellas, probably because of my aversion to long texts. Just joking (sort of.)
At the same time though, I’m really happy making it as a zine. I love that the medium allows so much freedom. The form that it’s in at the moment isn’t a compromise.
You could try doing novellas under 20,000 words…or I think they’re called chapbooks, which is anything between 5,000 – 20,000 words…actually, I’m not sure exactly what the exact definition of a chapbook is, but it seems to be popular now. What do you think? Still too long?
That sounds pretty reasonable. I guess if someone approached me to publish something like that I would definitely consider it, although the nature of zines is that you can just do it yourself, so I’m not sure what I could help them with apart from physically helping to put it together and mail it out. If I ever write my own novel then I’ll probably do something like that. But that would require sitting down and writing. :3