Art Feature: Drippy Bone Books- Art zines, subculture, & the future of humor publishing

Published January 2010 Vol. 14 Issue 1

by Travis Egedy

In this digital age of hypermedia and endless consumption of temporary, throw-away culture, Drippy Bone Books are a breath of fresh air. Drippy Bone Books is first and foremost a publisher of underground zines, handmade Xeroxed art objects that carry their signature style of pop culture collage and child like drawings. Each copy is a thing of personal touch, love and care, a touch that is becoming increasingly foreign in mass-produced culture.  Started by local Denver artists Kristy Foom and Mario Zoots, Drippy Bone is now based out of Amsterdam and Los Angeles as well, allowing a large mass of zine fans and appreciators to rabidly snatch up everything this extremely creative collective spits out. With zine titles such as “Whore Eyes,” “Sonic Bonk,” and “Bronze Legs” the collective have a playful approach to what they do, never taking themselves too seriously.  I spoke with Mario Zoots and Kristy Foom about building community through art, what it’s like to be making your own books just for the love of doing it.    


Travis Egedy: So, who or what is Drippy Bone Books? 
   
 

Mario Zoots: Drippy Bone Books is a project that started in Denver a few years ago. We make art zines in small runs usually less than 50 per edition. The publishing project has now grown and is being run from Amsterdam, Los Angeles and Denver by Kristy Foom, Keenan Marshall Kellar and myself. Distribution relies heavily on a strong network of underground ‘dealers.’ Some books such as “Sonic Bonk” and “Bronze Legs,” have been printed in unique editions since 2007 without edition numbers, under a single title, as an ongoing curatorial project. 

Kristy Foom:  Drippy Bone Books publishes high and low-arts in xerox form.  The effect is something like champagne and saltine crackers.  There was this moment in 2007 when I came into contact with two magazines that really blew my mind.  The first was a comic called “Oops Goops” drawn by Brian Bamps and David Magdeleno.  There was a page in the comic featuring Cartoon Mother, Brian Bamps’ classic cartoon character, driving a car made of bones with little legs and then crashing and bouncing around.  Later that same year I was visiting Los Angeles and was given a copy of “Lady Daddy” magazine.  “Lady Daddy” was page after page of appropriated images from the internet and old magazines interlaced with photographs from the Peres Projects artist crew.

I talked to Mario and we decided to try to make a zine like “Lady Daddy” with Brian Bamps and David Magdeleno.  We called our publishing project Drippy Bone Books as a tribute to Cartoon Mother’s adventurous ride in “Oops Goops.”  The first zine we published looked nothing like “Lady Daddy” or “Oops Goops.”  It was great.  We’ve been publishing art zines ever since.  Some of our runs are editions of 10. We recently printed an edition of 150.

The project exists without a budget.  Zines are made when we have extra cash.  Last year we began to trade zines with Keenan Marshall Kellar, a Los Angeles native and cosmic illustrator.  At the time he was curating art shows at a gallery called Show Cave and asked Mario and I to participate in a show he was having.  We went to L.A. for that show and a great friendship began.  Keenan joined Drippy Bone Books and has started curating and publishing zines with us too.  Whenever we make something, we send each other extra copies to sling in their respective cities.  Right now, Keenan is working and distributing zines in L.A., Mario is in Denver, and I am in Amsterdam.  Having three people behind Drippy Bone Books makes it more fun and productive.  We have a lot of ideas for the coming year.  I think it’s going to be very special.     


 


Why zines? What is it about the format that excites you? Why is it so culturally relevant and arguably quite important to be doing something like this in 2009? 
   
 

Mario Zoots: Zines are the perfect format for what we do. We like the idea of multiples that are handmade and distributed through a select network. There is something really great about holding a photocopied handmade book in your hands. It’s about the history of zines too. They have really changed our lives, this underground media. Making things and giving them to your friends, trading them in the mail. And it’s really important in 2009 to be doing this; it’s almost a dying format, photocopied zines. We have met so many creative people over the last few years from just running this project. It’s a way to share ideas and translations of what you see every day, with others who you know will appreciate it. And with our books, being printed in such small editions, it keeps true to the idea of sub-culture, as in it allows subculture to sustain itself and not get worn thin by too many people buying into it. It’s not this widely accessible document. Literally 15 people will own this, and that’s it. I think that’s what I love most about the project, it’s still a very underground thing, no one knows of us, until now.

  
Kristy Foom: 
Zines are easy and cheap to make. Anyone can make them.  I feel homemade objects are precious objects.  Evermore they seem few and far between, until you start looking for them.  It’s amazing how many people make zines but you don’t know until you tap into the culture of it and start making them yourself.  When I show people a Drippy Bone Books zine, I often get the reaction, ‘I have a zine too!’  You don’t have to be an art gallery or a special someone to publish your special messages.

Zines have always been the format of the people.  The word zine originated from the term fanzine, a word that represented a subculture of writers who wrote their own magazines on special topics, mostly in response to popular science fiction magazines in the 1950’s. Over the years, zine making hasn’t changed much.  Most zines aren’t written for large audiences and they usually represent a fan’s perspective on a certain subculture or topic. In that regard, they’re always personal and touching to me.  I enjoy reading zines written by people outside of my own community.  One of my favorite zines is called “Dishwasher Pete.”  It’s written by a guy named Pete that decided to wash dishes in every U.S. state. He reached his goal and he published several editions that detail his experience doing it.       


How did you meet and start networking with the other artists involved and the people who have been featured in Drippy Bone publications?  
 

Kristy Foom:  Drippy Bone Books represents a certain subculture too, I suppose.  All of the artists that we publish are our friends and active artists in one way or another.  Some of them we met online through social network sites, like Flickr.  Mario and I both consider ourselves Internet artists and we post a lot of appropriated artworks, usually collage works, online.  We’ve met great people this way.  We met Keenan and first came to know Show Cave from Flickr.  I recently moved to Amsterdam and have had the opportunity to meet some of the friends we met on Flickr in person.  It’s a great relief to meet someone in person that is actually a living representation of their online persona.  I know that sounds strange, but it happens all the time.  A lot of people fear the Internet and think that anyone can represent themselves any way and that there’s a lot of untruth out there.  It’s nice to know that people are human and approach things like the Internet in a very humane way.  Drippy Bone Books thrives in both virtual and real-time space. Because we don’t have the proper funding to distribute and make many editions, we can post things online where people can access them.       

Mario Zoots: That’s very true. The internet has been a meeting ground for us. We have made so many real connections. And collaborations are continually happening, new friendships being made.  

 


Are zines a way of developing community?  

 

Kristy Foom:  Zines are a great way of developing community.  They can act as an archive of your community or of a certain time.  I’ve met really great people through zine making.  Over the years, you kind of develop a special literacy with your zine contacts.  It involves much more than just reading the zine.  There are mail art aspects of it, hand written letters.  I usually make zines straight off a copy machine, no scanning or use of software tools.  This requires artists to send me their original art in the mail, or very good photocopies of their art.      


A large part of your aesthetic is the use of appropriation and playful manipulation of found material. What is it about the use of borrowed imagery that interests you?
 
 

Kristy Foom:  There’s a lot of visual information in the world right now.  I couldn’t be bothered with trying to make something original and new.  Does it even exist?   I like to pull from the existing because I feel the need to do something with all that content.  I steal from mass media because I’m drawn to it, I have associations for all of those images and can work quickly.  Right now, to me, the appropriated video art coming out of Show Cave from artists like Hazel Hill and Santi Vernetti is some of the most interesting art happening right now. Video themes are so reproduced in culture today that they become meaningless.  It’s hilarious to see them appropriated and re-contextualized.  As you watch, you realize there is no meaning to these mass symbols, and this is an important contemporary feeling to me.  There should be more humor in art.  We all need to have a laugh over art and culture because it is HILARIOUS.   


What does the future hold for Drippy Bone?
 

Mario Zoots: We have more new releases on the way, contact us at drippybonebooks@gmail.com to be on our email list.   Joke:  What’s the difference between a bike mechanic and a park bench?  answer: a park bench can support a family of four.  I feel the future holds more humor.    


Artwork of recent releases provided by Drippy Bone Books
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