Tori Holder is an illustrator and comics artist from Los Angeles, CA. Her work deals with capturing the beautiful mundanities of everyday life through image and text. Her works include Sorry For The Inconvenience and Relationshit, among others. More about her and her work can be found at toriholder.com.
How did you get interested in zines?
I really got interested in zines in a sort of backward way. I think so many people first get introduced to zines in a big bang-pow way at an overwhelmingly great zinefest, but for me, it was being handed a little Free Comic Book Day minicomic from an acquaintance. It was a real little DIY anthology thing, and I thought "hey I might be good enough to be in something like this" and submitted to their next issue. Eventually, I was wanting to make longer stories so I started making little zines and selling them at A Shop Called Quest in Claremont. Ray (Duran, of the ASCQ Empire) was a huge supporter of my work and prodding me to apply for zinefests, which with my social anxiety were something completely out of my wheelhouse, for which I am eternally grateful. I've made so many wonderful friends and gotten so much inspiration from the zine community, and it's definitely bolstered me in trying times in my life. Making and sharing has a way of taking you out of yourself while firmly connecting you to the most essential parts of who you are, and I think especially in the past year that's been a kindness.
What are your zines about?
My zines vary in what they're about, I feel each one is a self-contained little story. The line between my heart and my pen is a very short one so I tend to create works that are set in what I'm feeling at the moment, whether that be about mental illness, a breakup, or just something silly I see on a walk that gets me thinking. I always strive to make the personal experience relatable and cut things down to their most bare bones of feeling. I want to make work that transcends the limitations of my personal experience and is relatable to a diverse group of people while still being really singular and intimate. It's a hard line to straddle and there are definitely occasions where I've put something out there that was very meaningful to me but fell flat to the readership because it was too specific, or written in an unapproachable way. Art is hard!
What are some of your favorite zines and zine makers?
Oh there are so many great zines and zine makers that it's almost too hard to answer. The King Cat Comics and Stories series was a huge inspiration for me getting into comics back in the day and just the fact that John (Porcellino) has been doing it for all these years is such an inspiration. Another zine that I think is one of the most interesting voices right now is Koreangry, the art alone is painstakingly astounding, but when you add in Eunsoo's (Jeong) biting wit and commitment to social justice, it's just a powderkeg of brilliance. For non-comics stuff I love the work of Jonas Cannon, Surely They'll Tear It Down is a really great take on exploring gender. I could literally list 100 zines/ zinesters and still have more to talk about, but I'll stop there!
Your zines are in our library collection for patrons to borrow. What do you think about that?
It really touches my heart, to be frank. Libraries have always been a huge part of my life in terms of discovering new books and ways of thinking, especially the Los Angeles Public Library, so to have a zine featured in your collection makes me feel very honored to get to be part of that conversation. I think zines being in libraries, in general, is very important, as they are valid forms of art, of writing, as documents of history, and for the library to acknowledge that really cements their place as cultural output.
Why are zines important?
Zines are important for so many reasons. Anyone can make a zine, and that's the beauty of it: while there are some barriers in popularity and distribution that allow some zines to take precedence over others there is no gatekeeping in making a zine, I've done workshops with plenty of people who think they have nothing to put out there and then you give them a pen and some magazine scraps and they just run with it and make these astonishing contributions. Zines don't beg perfection in the way that other printed matters do, so I think there's a lot more opportunity for people to be freer and more off the cuff with them, which I think is great both for cathartic self-expression. For me, zines are definitely a release, a place to break down feelings and press them between pages. And in the same respect that zines can provide a rawness of expression rarely seen in other types of media, I think the diversity of voices that zines have is important, probably the most important thing about them. Marginalized voices are amplified through zines, and the zine community is so much better for it.
What do you think are the future of zines?
I think we're definitely seeing a shift in digital-only zines, zines that are existing as a social media account or website, that are really able to expand their global reach by not being tied down to a particular local scene. I mean, I don't think print zines are going anywhere for a long time, but these new zine cousins are really expanding what it means to have a zine. Also, I think the study of zines as cultural artifact is expanding, just with what we've seen from the institutional collections and group anthologies of 'quaranzines' that capture some part of this absurd last year we've been through, it really shows there are people out there viewing zines as historical media.