Tonight at WORD, stretch, a new Bushwick zine (“with dreams of becoming a real magazine”), holds a reading to celebrate its second issue, featuring prose, poetry, illustration, a serialized work of fiction, and a cassette featuring a radio play. The editor of stretch, David Colon, who lives in the McKibben Lofts, introduced us to this fledgling publication.
Where can we find stretch, physically or online?
Part of that depends on how many copies we run through at the reading. We’ve only got 200, so we have to space them out carefully. Two places you’ll definitely be able to find them are Lucky Dog and the Brazen Head—both of those bars were kind enough to let us put a stack of issues out last time around. I guess it sounds dumb or like a major oversight right now, but we don’t have a website. I know print is dead but I still like holding something in my hands when I’m reading, especially when it’s fiction. I was planning on putting a website together after this issue came out, but for now I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is stretch a one-man operation?
Hardly, I’ve had tons of help. Conal Darcy and Annie Horanyi are two people who I have to give a ton of thanks to. Annie went over every submission for this issue like a hawk, and Conal was able to find a good printer and deal with them. I have the dream but they both have good eyes for detail. We’ve also had two different cover artists, Nick Urban for the first issue, and Derrick Kennelty-Cohen for the second issue, and hope to have a different artist do the cover every issue. We also went through two graphic designers so far, but hopefully we stick with Nate Torres, who did Issue 2, and don’t get into a Spinal Tap exploding drummer thing with designers.
Walk us through the physical aspect of the ‘zine: how many pages, what’s it printed on (and how), the art…
This issue has 31 pages, the previous one had 32. It’s about as long as we can go right now; we’re limited by the economic realities of being a free publication. We got #80 Sterling glossy paper this time around—I was pretty psyched when I saw the proof, it makes us look more legit. The first issue was handled by my friend’s dad, he owned a printing company. Then that place went under so we went to SaveMor. They were really nice to us, really helpful. For these first couple issues I’ve tried to go with cover art that looks comic book-like, I think it helps to pull people in. It hasn’t hurt that the first two issues have had stories about a human cloning farm that breeds Michael Cera clones and a guy whose cell phone comes to life—those make for good pictures. After we find someone who wants to do the art, I just send them the story we’re going to be emphasizing and let them go to town. It’s worked out so far.
What kind of content will we find in the first couple issues, and what’s your editorial/curatorial outlook generally? (That is, what are you interested in publishing, and what are your goals for it?)
The first issue was kind of a trial run. It was three stories I had written and it was split between my more romantic side and my wacky sci-fi side. When I took submissions for this issue I didn’t set a theme or anything along those lines because I didn’t think I was in a position to dictate terms to anyone. What I like most of all is good writing. I know that sounds like one of those things that people say like, “I hate assholes.” Well of course you do. The great thing about starting out and learning as I go is that I can be open-minded enough to accept poetry, to accept short fiction, or even short comics. Your old intern Bob Tumas [Reading tonight… -Ed.] told me he wanted to serialize something over a few issues and I love that idea. This issue comes with a tape cassette in the back that has a radio play some of my friends recorded. About the only thing I wouldn’t take right now are reviews, but that’s because we don’t publish often enough for it to be timely. I’d run a longer piece of criticism though, something that looked at deeper issues in the arts. I think I’m in a good position to reward people for their creativity, so at this point in time, I’m never going to tell someone, “This isn’t the right fit for stretch.” Annie will definitely let them know it needs work though, and she can’t abide typos.
When I started stretch I didn’t have a set goal in mind, except to prove to myself I could do it and that people would like my writing. Now that Issue 2 is coming out and people are excited about it, I’m going to have to teach myself how to be more than a writer. I have a publication to represent and try to grow. My most immediate goal is to figure our how to get a couple people willing to advertise in the next issue and to get it out by early spring. If we can do six issues next year I’d be thrilled. There are more far off, ethereal goals too. I want to be able to pay the people who do such good work for me. I want to quit my day job. I want to make my mark on the city. I want to be riding the subway and see someone flipping through an issue. I want people who come here trying to make it as writers to see that you don’t need to go through traditional channels to get published. But, uh, not so untraditional that they don’t want to submit something to us.