Raw Material

Donna Kossy, Kooks

Age: 39

Selection: "Inside the Kooks Archive" (page 63)

Recent review (from Bruce Sterling): "Donna boldly blazes new trails in the vast intellectual wilderness of American writers, thinkers and philosophers who were or are completely nuts."

Sample: #2-8 and Book Happy #1-6 are $5 each from P.O. Box 86663, Portland, OR 97286 (checks: Donna Kossy)

When did you launch your zine? What inspired you to do so?
I began Kooks in about '88 or '89, as a "supplement" to my previous 'zine, False Positive, which I'd been doing since '84. FP had included "kooks pages" in each issue, and there had also been two "all-kooks" issues of FP. After doing the second all-kooks issue, I realized I had enough material and interest to run a separate kooks supplement with each issue of FP. The natural next step was to kill FP altogether and concentrate on kooks.
The inspiration came from all the kook material I had. I thought if I just read enough of kook material, I might be able to solve the mystery of the kooks. What makes them tick? Why do they believe what they believe? What are the kook types and traditions?

Why publish a zine?
Head CasePublishing is power, pure and simple. When I publish I get to decide what people will read, which obviously influences how they think. Of course, the higher the quality of what's published, the greater the influence; publishing requires good judgment & talent for it to be effective. On the one hand the concept of publishing is simplicity itself, which makes it very easy to get started. But on the other hand it's a great challenge to create something that people will want to read. If you're up for the challenge you can't help learning something about writing, editing, designing, and printing.

What can you tell us about the selection you provided for "The Book of Zines"?
Kathy Marquis is no longer at the MIT archives. It was a taped interview, which I edited down a bit for publication. It was the first interview I ever conducted.

Have you published other zines?
False Positive (mentioned earlier)—each issue focused on one topic (e.g. technology, sex, Japan, cars, crime, kooks, food & drugs); it had excerpts from books I'd been reading, original satire, collages, drawings, just about anything, as long as it related to the topic in question. Each issue had a color Xerox cover collage.
If you want to get historical, my first zine was Kid Stuff, which I co-edited with a friend when I was in sixth grade. It had gossip, fashions, poetry, jokes and even movie reviews. It sold for 5 cents. My mom typed it up and Xeroxed it at work!
I recently started a new zine now called Book Happy, about weird and obscure books.

Any general tips for aspiring zinesters?
Make the mistakes you have to make, instead of listening to a lot of advice. The only way to learn anything is by doing it.

What's your favorite part of doing a zine?
It would be a tie between watching the pages take shape as I pasted up, and opening up my full post office box.

Fan Mail
Kooks: The Book
Book Happy

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