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Author Fri Oct 18 2013

From the Copy Machine to the Printing Press: Zinester Jonas Cannon Joins Growing Trend in Zine Community

Jonas Cannon has been releasing zines since the mid-nineties, including the semi-autobiographic perzine Cheer the Eff Up (now on issue 5) since the summer of 2011. But Cannon's next work, a fiction collection titled The Greatest Most Traveling Circus will be published by Olympia, Washington based Sweet Candy Press , marking a big departure from his zine's do-it-yourself aesthetic: black and white copies on horizontally folded legal sized paper.


Cannon isn't the only zinester moving from the copy machine to the printing press. Many long time zine makers are opting for hard bound copies of their works. Philly-based comics artist and zinester Ramsey Beyer released her memoir, Little Fish, on Zest Books earlier this year. Chicago zinester Dave Roche self-released his first novel, If Nothing Else the Sky, this spring. Going the "professional" route can seem like a leap from the do-it-yourself mentality, but the process invites a new audience via internet marketplaces like Amazon.

"It's really just the format that's different," said Cannon. "Working with Sage Adderly and Sweet Candy Press didn't really feel removed from the zine community."

Working with Sweet Candy allowed Cannon to collaborate on a crowd sourcing campaign to raise funds for the book, a new process for Cannon, but a means employed by the press to help fund the release of previous titles.

"It's a great way to get the word out for the book, and generate interest," Cannon said. "Honestly, I knew that there were a few fans of the zine, but I wasn't sure if there was enough interest to actually justify releasing the book. The support that the campaign has received was great assurance that this could actually work. "

Printing isn't the only new process Cannon will try with this new work. In Cheer the Eff Up, the narrative offers glimpses into Cannon's past and present, though the book will be mainly fictional.

"While Cheer the Eff Up is far more autobiographical, the book really blurs the line between fiction and nonfiction. I wanted to write an anthology of short stories that were self-contained, but when put together in a certain order, tell a larger,complete story."

The biggest change for Cannon and his writing may be more subliminal. In issue 5 of Cheer the Eff Up, he explores his relationship with his father, and how it was difficult for his parents to relate to him, a punk rock kid who would rather read a book than learn about fixing cars. These musings are especially relevant as Cannon and his wife expect their first child. Cannon wonders if he will be able to relate to his future child in a way his parents never did, and contemplates how he and his partner will be able to sustain their creative sides with a child.

"I'll still make zines as a dad, though maybe not as often. I know I'll have to put a lot of time into raising my child, but writing is kind of my passion," Cannon said. "I'd never want my child to grow up believing that walking away from a passion is ever an option."
One way Cannon looks to channel his newly acquired parental status is to work as an editor on Rad Dad magazine, created by California-based zinester Tomas Moniz. "This is a great way to keep writing, but in a way that relates directly to what I'm living," Cannon said.

The title, The Greatest Most Traveling Circus, references "how closely connected everything in the world is." With all the changes in Cannon's life and writing, this may be more appropriate than he envisioned.

Catch Cannon Friday October 25 as a featured reader at Hallowzine, a Chicago Zine Fest fundraiser at the Chicago Publishers Resource Center, 858 N. Ashland Avenue, at 8pm.

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