What Did You Call Them?

by Turner Hilliker

Last year I had three subscribers to my zine, Holiday Pay. More people probably read the email you sent your coworkers this morning than have read any of my zines all year.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, I can describe what a zine is through a conversation with a girl I had recently dated:

“What kind of art do you make?” she asked. It was a basic date question. No sweat. I was used to answering stuff like this.
“I make these things, they’re called, like, zines.”  Of course you would think this was my first time answering said question.
“Hmm. Okay.” She seemed slightly intrigued.
“They’re books, but I make them myself. They mostly have jokes and drawings in them. Writings too.”
“What did you call them?”
“Oh, uh, zines. Sorry, I must of mumbled.” Maybe she was more interested than I first thought.
“That’s a stupid word,” she said.

That’s the moment when I flipped over the table we were at, flicked off everyone at the restaurant, and strutted my ass out the door.

I didn’t actually do that. But it’s these types of stories that make up my zines. That’s the point. Making a book that’s all you.  I mentioned earlier that I had three subscribers last year for Holiday Pay. Three subscribers is really just icing on the cake. The real audience is the zine itself. No matter what you have to say, it has to listen to you. AND it has to keep a record of what you said. When taking the route of mainstream publication, you have way too many hoops and hurdles to jump over. Yeah, you made a book (which is still pretty impressive), but there’s at least one other person’s say in its creation besides yours. The story I just told, it probably wasn’t even that great. But it doesn’t matter. If you produce a zine, it will get published.



Turner Hilliker is a Virginia based artist and designer. He received his MFA in Book Arts and Printmaking from the University of the Arts. In 2010 he created Holiday Pay, an ongoing zine series documenting his personal experiences and ruminations. He has a day job in retail.


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