Friday, November 17, 2006
Flipside Interviews Aaron Cometbus
AL: What's the name of your fanzine?
Aaron: The general name is Cometbus, but every issue has a subname.
Joe: Are the different names just to trick your way into getting more fanzines from Flipside?
Aaron: And records!
Joe: Has this actually happened before?
Aaron: Oh yeah, but mostly in the past. Then, they found out that I don't do reviews.
AL: Why didn't you ever review fanzines or records?
Aaron: I figured there were already plenty of others doing it and that people didn't really give a shit about my opinions. I want to be different, so I do book and movie reviews, cereal news and things like that.
AL: You started out as a small fanzine, right?
Aaron: It started out with me and a friend doing a weekly little newsletter during the summer of '81, when he was 12 and I was 13. When he left for Pittsburgh, I started doing my own, Tomorrow's Hope in October 1981. The names were never terribly important. They were just to confuse people and have some fun. Originally, it was 1/2 page size, but my printer thought it would be kind of a novelty to make them 3" X 2". So, we ended up printing them that small for two years until it got kind of boring. Then, I went bigger because I wanted to do more with graphics and stuff. Originally, it was only eight pages. Eventually,
it got to be forty eight.
AL: I can't believe that you actually sold to distributors that small.
Aaron: No, because I didn't sell them. They were always free until about a half year ago because they were so cheap to print. It was always easy to distribute them because people would always put them in with their mailing. For example, MDC would send them out with albums.
AL: Do you prefer doing zines with hand printing instead of typing?
Aaron: I believe hand printing adds a personal feeling and quality. But, it's not always that easy because it takes a lot more time to do. I forgot how to type after I learned. So, now I have to use the two finger method which seems to take me just as long as writing.
AL: You mentioned that you took the pictures in the early fanzines.
Aaron: I used to do a lot more photography because I had a class at school which gave me a good opportunity. Later, I changed schools, so I can't do that any more. I did try having a darkroom in my basement, but the quality of the pictures just wasn't good enough.
AL: I know that many of the bands which you've interviewed became popular as opposed to bands that get together, you interview, then they brake up. What criteria do you use?
Aaron: The important part is the local aspect because I think that there are enough local fanzines covering only big out of town bands. I like to interview bands that aren't known. I don't wait until they have a record out. Right there, I think other fanzines miss out. I'll interview a band which has something interesting to say even if I might not agree with them. I think that, if you interview a band, it's not unfair to put them on the spot because they get the chance to prove themselves or come out looking pretty stupid. Either way, the interview turns out to be better.
Joe: What's kept you motivated over the years? Many people burnout on fanzines fairly quickly.
Aaron: If I didn't do it, I wouldn't feel right. I can't exist without being productive.
Joe: Have you ever thought of channeling your energy into another area?
Aaron: Well, I tried to channel it into a few other areas, like music and a few others: a tape magazine, four compilation tapes, and some radio stuff. But, when I was in school, it was pretty hard to slide through that and, at the same time, do a fanzine.
Joe: Do you find doing your fanzine a rewarding experience?
Aaron: Sometimes... I put more into it then what I get out, but I don't think that is necessiarlly bad because I want to do the fanzine and the rewards are just extra.
AL: Did you ever think about writing for another zine instead of doing your own?
Aaron: After the five year anniversary issue, I may be changing the way I channel the fanzine because it's going to be the best of the last five years. All the small issues that people, like Tim Yohannon, couldn't read are going to be in big print. After summing up those five years, I'm going to move on and I will probably not be doing Cometbus anymore, but I may be collaborating with someone else on something or contributing to a lot of fanzines or something. I still going keep the same mailing address and keep doing projects.
This stuff was printed in Flipside 50. RIP Flipside