Mini Comix Co-Op – Danny Ferbert interview

You can find Danny on facebook

ZL – Hi! And thanx for agreeing to this interview

We’ll get into the details about the Mini Comix Co-Op in a minute, but I thought it would be good to get a little background on you first of all, if that’s ok?

Where were you born, where were you raised and where are you based now?

DF – I was born in Nashua, NH. I grew up in Florida, primarily Margate and then in high school we moved to Port Saint Lucie. I currently live in Joplin, MO. I’ve been here since 2012 I think. Still weird to me to realize I’ve been here that long.

ZL – What is your history with zines and mini comix?

DF – I have drawn comics my whole life. It was the only thing I ever wanted to do. I drew a webcomic in high school with a childhood friend. I did most of the work. It was a total South Park rip-off we made up when we were in 4th grade. We did 2 10 episode seasons and then I got burnt out by the 3rd season.

My first comic I printed was right after finishing high school. My friend and I put together a convention in Port Saint Lucie and I did a fan comic, or doujin of a manga called Genshiken back in 06. Printed 100 copies and sold zero. Lost all the books in a move shortly after moving. I have 1 copy. It isn’t good.

I joined the web forums Whitechapel and Gingerbox after high school and those were basically my schools I used to improve as a cartoonist and was shown about printing my own mini-comix. I printed 3 zines before moving to Joplin and I released an additional 3 zines very quickly from there. After printing the zines I searched for places to get more exposure through zine shows like S.P.A.C.E. and FLUKE and I discovered the mini-comix co-op.

ZL – I can’t believe that you lost nearly all of the copies of your first ever zine!

I think the experience of making a zine and then having nowhere to sell it may well have been a very common experience back then, without social media to help. I know I certainly had that experience, I made two and never sold a single copy and had no idea how to get them out to readers. I used to take them with me to the second hand book stall I worked at and no-one ever paid them the slightest attention!

By the time I found out about other zines that I could advertise in or contribute to I’d lost my confidence and given up on the idea.

I never really followed chat groups. I was nowhere near the internet at that time, so you’re part of a generation that had this much more interactive involvement with other zinemakers from around the world. How much do you feel that interaction fostered you and kept you making, or is it a more complicated picture of zine shows, letter swaps and forum friendships? I wonder if there are any groups where people network about zines in the same way?

DF – Oh yea. With my first book I was in high school and I didn’t know anything. I picked up little bits from the manga magazine Shonen Jump but it wasn’t until after high school and I started exploring being a cartoonist more that I discovered different tools to use and the forums were big in that. It also allowed me to collaborate with different writers and contribute to different things.

The internet is a different place now. You don’t see forums as much, there is reddit and Facebook and Twitter that have kinda homogenized the internet so you don’t have to go to as many places. I was big on Live Journal starting in high school and before that I just made my own websites and talked in chat rooms. The information is easier to access now though. You can just watch a cartoonist tutorial on YouTube now to find out the tools of the trade.

ZL – Did you regularly attend events before you Covid came along? How does it feel not getting to have those shows to go to anymore?

DF – I actually hadn’t been to a show in maybe 5 years before covid. I had difficulty with my home life for a while. My partner needed more of my focus so the art was coming out slower as I focused on life. I never completely stopped but I would have long stretches of no activity.

I have lots of social anxiety and I’m not a very good salesman so I was never that big in to selling at shows, but I knew it was necessary. It fills me with dread thinking about sitting behind that table by myself. Normally I would sell enough to cover my expenses. I plan to do a bunch of shows again when this pandemic is over and I have finished the book I’m working on.

ZL – I’m also interested in the fact that you’re linking yourself into the doujin culture around manga as I was reading about Comiket and how huge that fanzine culture and show is in Japan! That’s a zine show with ¾ of a million attendees!! Can you imagine something like that happening? 

DF – I’m still trying to visit Japan. I almost went right before the pandemic but due to some flight shenanigans I ended up stuck in San Francisco. It’s been frustrating. I also wanted to sell at a show there and I’ve looked at the applications for Comiket before to see if it would line up with my visit. I try to keep up with my zine making friend over in Japan, Ian McM, to see what shows he’s going to.

ZL – Circling back to the Co-Op, could you tell us a bit about what inspires you to run it, whether that’s a person, an ethos or a visionary utopian dream. Basically, I’m wondering what do you hope it will achieve and what triggered you to organise this?

DF – When I discovered the Co-op it was kinda defunct. Doug McNamara was running it but life happens and he didn’t have time for it. I emailed him interested in contributing and he told me he wasn’t really doing it anymore so I asked if I could take it over because it seemed like too good an idea to let die. He sent me all the books he had and even transferred the domain to redirect to the WordPress page I made.

I emailed everyone I had a book for who I could find online to let them know I took the Co-op over. I met all kinds of artists that way, like Everette Green who was running the Little Rock zine nite that I became a regular to and even designed a poster for. Unfortunately the show hasn’t happened for some time.

I liked the idea of the co-op because I think it’s an important resource for someone who is starting out. You mentioned earlier about not knowing what to do with your zines when you were starting out. I think a lot of people starting out don’t know what to do with their work and are just trying to get some exposure and make some connections. I get a lot of new zine makers, especially during the pandemic. I wish I had more resources to offer. I need to update the website with some of the new creators and stuff and I don’t really advertise the group that much. These are just the kind of things I struggle with doing for my own work. I can only do so much by myself.

ZL – Getting into brass tacks for a moment I thought it might be useful to get some extra details around the Co-Op. I’ve read the details on your site Mini Comix Co-Op and they make it clear, but I just thought it might be interesting to know a few extra things.

You mention only having to pay the cost of mailing comix but I was wondering whether that meant just the cost to whomever is sending their zine or whether there needs to be a contribution towards the return costs as well?

DF – A contributor only has to pay the postage to send their books in. I cover the cost of sending books out. I only get a few contributors a year so it’s not a huge burden on me or anything. I think it’s an important resource for the mini-comix community so I don’t mind.

ZL – If people did want to chip in towards the costs, is there a way of them donating towards those costs, do you have an account or are you happy to receive stamps etc?

DF – I have a PayPal ferberton@gmail.com. No one has ever offered that though. I just occasionally get extra books from people just for me which I appreciate as a comic fan. I just got a nice care package from Adam Yeater recently and Charles Brubaker is always sending me stuff.

ZL – You request at least 5 copies be sent in, does it have to be 5 of the same comic or can it be a mix of different issues?

DF – A mix is fine. The 5 is simply so that there is plenty in stock for the next contributors.

ZL – You also mention it being best to send 10 but are you happy to receive more than that and if not, is there a reasonable gap you’d suggest before sending in another batch, I mean, could you send in 120 and then say, send me 10 each month?!

DF– I have gotten some really big lots. There are only so many different books so if you contribute 10 books 30 times that’s 30 different books. I don’t know how many different books I have right now but that is pretty close. So I appreciate it if the book lots are limited and infrequent. 10 books once a year is more than enough honestly. I used to have a spreadsheet to keep track of who got what books so they wouldn’t get doubles but that laptop was stolen and I didn’t bother trying to make another.

ZL – Are there any types of content that you’re not willing to handle within the Co-Op and, on a similar note, are you happy to manage the content sent out to contributors if they let you know they may be triggered or offended by certain content?

DF–  I don’t put any limits on the artists like that. I’ve gotten stick figures, I’ve gotten gross out humor or graphic illustrations. I’ve never had anyone say they didn’t want any types of books but I’d be willing to cater to someone’s wishes. I don’t mind.

ZL – Taking a deeper dive and possibly stepping into controversy here, what do you class as mini comix, as within your remit and outside the remit? I mean, I’ve done what I class as a comic and it’s A6 in size but I’m wondering whether an abstract photo comic would be considered for inclusion in the scheme?

DF – I think “mini” comix doesn’t really describe what I accept. I want to share any work from any artist that prints their own work. I’ve gotten magazine size books. I’ve gotten hand drawn books. I’ve gotten photozines. If an artist is willing to take the time to make it and wants their book sitting next to other “mini” comix then they have a spot. I’m not super into a lot of rules honestly.

ZL – You’ve mentioned being happy to send work around the world, so I was wondering whether you had links to some worldwide creators that have been involved in the Co-Op?

DF – I don’t remember which one’s come from where so I don’t really know any, I just so happened to get a new mini just recently though that I am mailing out for now from @pkortjohncomix in the UK. It’s a fun mini, a French Ultraman fighting a giant monster. I remember doing something similar as one of my first comics.

ZL – It would be great to see what kind of comix you’re stocking right now, if you’re able to share any.

DF – Here is what I’ll be sending to that UK contributor. I try to give a wide variety of different creators and styles. Some of these artists I have multiple books from, such as from Brian Pepicelli who did the Fault Line book.

ZL – We have two traditions on Zine Love, one of which is to always ask people to share their love and tell us about three creators whose work they are loving right now. Who would that be for you?

DF – I haven’t been buying any new books recently. I’ve just been reading what people send in for the co-op and stuff I find in the dollar bins. Adam Yeater has been sending me some cool and interesting mini-comix lately. I always love getting a package from Charles Brubaker and seeing what he’s doing with his animation. Everette Green released a pandemic book and it’s as funny and gross as you’d expect from him. I’d also like to say my buddy Cameron Callahan has released his second volume to his anthology Built From Human Parts. Cameron is one of the first people I started talking to online who was making mini-comix like myself and we’ve been struggling through it ever since. He’s going to be taking a hiatus from his art and I know I’ve had to do the same several times, life just gets in the way sometimes. Get a copy of his new book while you can, lots of people worked hard on it. 

ZL – The other tradition is to always ask about what you’re up to right now and what you have available, so feel free to tell us a bit more about your own work?

DF- Last year I created a mini-comix for Halloween and this year I printed it with a new back-up comix added for Halloween with a sticker pack I did with my girlfriend. I’ve got a comic that will eventually maybe come out through a friend’s zine. Not sure when that’ll be. I am currently working on a submission for Antarctic Press.

Most of my books are still available on my website where you can also read the Halloween comic I made along with most of my comix that are in print are available on my website for free. I don’t work in any particular genre, you’ll find auto-bio, sci-fi, fantasy, humor, action, love stories, something for everyone.

all art copyright and trademark it’s respective owners.

content copyright iestyn pettigrew 2020