The Great Crab Rescue!

This August, I worked on two new zines leading up to the 2012 SF Zine Fest. I’d like to write about what went into the creation of both of them.

Click on any photos in this post for larger images and a gallery.

This first zine I’m going to describe I’d been wanting to make for almost a year. When my brother Geoff and his girlfriend Michele visited Mr. Matt and I in SF back in 2011, we had made our customary visit to Ocean Beach. (Yes, the ocean is still a big deal to those of us from landlocked states!) This is where The Great Crab Rescue! was conceived…

As we explored the seashore, we discovered a very large, very solitary crab a long way from the water and possibly in trouble. I won’t give away the ending of the story (so you will buy the zine! #shamelessplug), but we had an exciting time. It was one of those unique experiences that will always stand out in my memory. I immediately wanted to chronicle it and create a zine based on our adventure.

Luckily, my brother’s girlfriend Michele, is a talented photographer, and she had taken many beautiful photos of our Ocean Beach outing. Finally sitting down to sketch out the story many months after this incident had actually happened, I was able to reference both her photographs and my memory to create the zine.

From photograph to drawing…

The most difficulty I had with this zine was drawing people that are near and dear to me. I don’t know why I find this to be so much harder than drawing myself, fictional characters, or strangers. I love drawing people, and they are wonderfully challenging to capture in general, but for some reason, I struggled to really get the “look” of people I know well. I feel like when I draw Mr. Matt, for example, I have more layers to push through to just draw him. Memories, feelings, associations, experiences – do these actually get in the way when drawing people I know? Do they make it difficult to render a person’s physical form? Is it possible to capture all these intricacies in a portrait? Can these layers help in the process? They seem to hinder me, but I’m also a perfectionist, so maybe I’m just worrying about it too much… I did finally sketch our group in a way I felt (mostly) satisfied with.

This was the first zine I tried stitching the binding. I used my trusty sewing machine, heavy duty top stitch needles, and heavy weight thread. I was nervous about ruining the zines, or having to go back to staples (which are fine in their own right I guess), but it was surprisingly easy! I found that paper-clipping the pages helped hold them steady while stitching, and of course, back stitching is a must so the stitching doesn’t unravel! I also tied off the threads, but left the ends dangling for a nice details. I figure, if a buyer doesn’t like the ends, they can trim them easily.

Stitching the binding with my sewing machine was much faster and easier than I had anticipated, but I also really loved the opportunity to add a bit of color to this black and white zine. For The Great Crab Rescue!, I chose thread colors to reflect the seashore setting: creamy tan for the pale sands of Ocean Beach, gray for the ever-present fog, slate blue for the waves of the Pacific… and the stitching you find inside may be the same or it may surprise you!

I’m happy (or as happy as a chronic perfectionist can be) with my rendering of our nautical adventure, and if you’d like to check it out further or even purchase a copy, head on over to my Etsy Shop!

Thanks for reading!