Who are you? Where are you based?
My name is Julia Mata – I live in New York
What are zines to you?
Zines are anything on paper that you make on your own – it’s a way to publish without filter or waiting for someone to recognize you.
What was your first encounter with zines?
I first saw zines at The Smell in Downtown LA as a teenager. I thought it was super cool and so me and my friend Valerie made one called “Goober” that was a random mix of a comic I drew, drawings of Robert Smith from The Cure, and us drawing over pictures of people from magazines. We left copies in The Smell the next time we went to a show.
Tell me about your zines. What kind of zines do you make?
I make a comic series called CRISIS! It’s about two friends who turn to each other to have discussions as they have different experiences in their lives that are challenging to understand as a young woman on your own. I’ve been working on it for three years – originally it was based on my life in 2016 but as time has gone on I’ve learned more about how to be a writer and creating narratives I want the characters to go through. I’ve also made one personal comic zine that was riso printed which is a process I’m craving to work with more.
What inspires you to create zines?
I love zines as a medium but I think that I am excited more about storytelling in general, and zines are the way I have now to share those stories. I like to hear how people talk and notice how they carry themselves and describe how they perceive themselves, I take notes of those things and think about how I can incorporate that small gesture or phrase into a comic. Or there are perspectives I have that I want to express through a character or a storyline, common experiences. I like focusing on everyday things, normal average moments because I think they’re really juicy when you get deeper into them. And as more times passes, working on the same project I like expanding the world of the characters and feeling out their personalities.
What’s your favorite thing about zines?
They’re exciting in the way they bridge many communities and topics – it’s a low tech communication method. I like meeting other people who make zines – I think they tend to be really interesting and sincere about wanting to share art or ideas with others.
Tell me a little about your zine-making process.
I’ll write down a couple lines of dialogue and then let it sit for months until I figure out what’s the story that’s happening around that phrase or scenario. Then I’ll sketch out the whole story in really quick thumbnails to get a sense of the entire scene. After that I move to Bristol Board and draw it out for real in pencil, then do the ink layer. After that it’s the digital color and scanning formatting so that it can be shrunk down to print size. I usually draw approximately 2x bigger than the size of the final zine/comic because it helps me get in detail.
What do you hope people get out of your zines?
I hope people laugh when they read them – I hope they can relate to what the characters are going through. My dream is for it to become like a TV show – that when a new issue comes out it gets that type of discussion like, “I can’t believe she did that…” I want to get into longer format stories too – but all in its time. I have to pace myself.
Do you have any advice for new zinesters?
Make a zine about something you really care about or excites you – it will help make it sustainable.
Is there a zine website or resource you would recommend new zinesters to check out?
Check out La Horchata Zine! It’s a Central American run publication that features different artists from the Isthmus. Freak Comix is dope too – a Bay Area collective that does a few issues a year.
Julia’s social media:
Interview conducted by Solansh M.
Photos provided by Julia M.