My eight-year-old Sidney tabled her first zine fair on Saturday. Of her three scary stories my favourite was from a weird dream she had called The Woman With Three Boobs, but I also liked Fonster: The Fish Monster and The Ghost Who Sang a Song. The last one was actually what started it all — I’d taken her to another zine fair and she’d gotten a blank notebook with a cartoon of a ghost with a microphone on the cover. One day, fairly uncharacteristically, she holed herself up in her room and wrote a story in the notebook inspired by the cover. I suggested we could make a few stories like these and sell them at the next zine fair, and she liked that idea. So we did the whole thing — rough draft, good draft, colour copy, collation, stapling, folding — as well as discussed the cost of the table and printing etc. We made 25 of each and decided to sell them at $2 each or $5 for 3. We also had a discussion about how catchy titles and covers were important, and I broke out my first novel Flyboy as an example.
And actually, I’ll interrupt my story to continue the 15th anniversary giveaway, as my free ebook this month is Flyboy Action Figure Comes With Gasmask…
Ryan, a shy, caffeine-addicted university student, can turn into a fly. Cassandra, a waitress at a greasy spoon he has a crush on, can make things disappear. They were made for each other—and to battle the forces of evil! As the Superheroes for Social Justice, Flyboy and Ms. Place take on the villains that inhabit their world: cigarette barons, redneck tabloids, and the patriarchy.
“Jim Munroe has written the first novel to harness the energy, idealism, and cartoon-inspired playfulness of the new wave of culture jammers. It’s about time we have some superheroes to save us after the post-irony meltdown — forces of corporate darkness, beware.” — Naomi Klein, author of No Logo
“It’s an excellent book — a funny, cool riff on superpowers and twentysomethingness.” — Neil Gaiman, author of The Sandman
…But back to Sid’s first zine fair. This year Canzine was at the Art Gallery of Ontario, which she likes, and they put us among the art books near the entrance. We sold out about half way through the fair, which was exciting. She happily counted the money — $155! — and then I took the $50 float, $80 printing cost and $20 table cost and gave her $5. She melted into a sobbing, disappointed puddle. Sure, it might be an economic reality of publishing, but did I ever feel like a bad dad.
But then we turned our sign around and offered drawings for $1 each. Sidney’s friends got in on the action, and they busily churned out picture after picture that were titled things like “Cool design” and “Who is that???” and “Crazy person”. They took requests: someone asked for a family portrait, another person asked for a red dog. Sid ended up making $30 and in the last little bit we went around and bought some stickers and traded drawings for some tiny books.
I’m not sure what the lesson she’ll take from that is, but I hope it’s: money is weird, keep hustling & keep making art.
Free in August: Angry Young Spaceman (now pay-what-you-want)
Free in September: Everyone In Silico (now pay-what-you-want)
Free in November: An Opening Act of Unspeakable Evil
Free in December: Therefore Repent! (illustrated by Salgood Sam)
Free in January: Sword of My Mouth (illustrated by Shannon Gerard)