Meet Your Zine Maker: So What? Press
Headquartered in Brooklyn and run by Dave Kelly & Lara Antal, So What? Press publishes A Comic Guide to Brewing, Tales of the Night Watchman, Walking Into Traffic, and two new books in 2013. See their new works at the Brooklyn Zine Fest 2013 on Sunday, April 21st at Public Assembly.
You’ve been expanding from comics-makers into owner-operators of your own press. What have been some growing pains and joys?
Lara Antal: We started So What? Press as a way to connect with more artists and their work. Becoming friendly with such great creators has been a welcomed joy. Diving into long hours with their comics, that’s been an unexpected thrill as well. Much of what we do is review and reconstitute; we take diverse raw materials and compile them into a printable entity.
Dave Kelly: The biggest challenge with everything is time. You never have enough of it. It’s hard to juggle working for others and working for yourself, just like any job. As a creator you have your own sense of style and know how you’d like your work to be realized for an audience. As a publisher you have to incorporate many different aesthetics and consider many different ways to share it. You have a commitment on both sides of the book, to the creator and the reader.
Tales of the Night Watchman mixes supernatural crime with real-world New York imagery. How do you maintain that balance?
DK: By trying to keep things as grounded as possible. When I write, I try not to rely on the “superhero-y” stuff to solve problems. I want the scenarios to unfold as logically and realistically as possible and rely on the fun, supernatural stuff only when it’s necessary and meaningful to the story. The “New York” aspect pulls a lot from my own experience of course. Lara & I met at Think Coffee and we set our story there. Little things like that help authenticate an otherwise fantastical story.
Lara, you were recently an artist-in-residence in central Florida, where you met fellow BZF 2013 exhibitor Jess Ruliffson. Tell us about your experience.
LA: Whenever I try to describe my experience I feel like a kid fresh out of summer camp: I’m speaking a mile a minute about friendship and swimming and art to a parent who smiles and nods. The short of it is that I did go to summer camp but for adult cartoonists. My time at the Atlantic Center for the Arts changed the way I looked at art. It was an experience of constant learning and absorption. I learned from master artists Ellen Forney, Dean Haspiel, & Megan Kelso as well as the other 23 other professional creators who attended with me.
We inadvertently covered everything: comics structure, editing, theory, and materials, all between daily meals, beach trips, and late night studio sessions. The evolution of our work and passion grew naturally. I met a lot of amazing people and they made an impression on me (Jess was one of them). My studio, Team Zep with Ellen Forney, was the only all-female group. Everyone was at a different place in their life and I learned a lot from these brilliant women, and not just about comics. Another great ACA resident, C Cassano [Swingin’ Meat], will be tabling at BZF as well.
What new books will So What? Press have at the Brooklyn Zine Fest 2013?
DK: We have Lara’s new comic 7 or 8 premiering. It’s a darkly comedic tale of a job interview that goes horribly awry. Based on true events, this seemingly ordinary story poses the question whether or not our daily lives are ruled by chaos, coincidence, or synchronicity.
LA: For the upcoming compilation Breakers, we needed to create a visual and thematic through-line that connected the work of twenty-five unique cartoonists. We came up with a “Beach-bum” motif starring a nudist grandpa and a shark, both reoccurring characters in many of the works. We are having a premier party at Desert Island on April 25th at 7:00 pm. We’re calling it an after-after-after-after party to BZF!