Ayun Halliday is the Chief Primatologist of The East Village Inky zine and author of the self-mocking autobiographies No Touch Monkey! And Other Travel Lessons Learned Too Late, The Big Rumpus Dirty Sugar Cookies: Culinary Observations, Questionable Taste, and Job Hopper. Little children know Ayun as the author of Always Lots of Heinies at the Zoo, illustrated by Dan Santat. Teens know her as the author of Peanut, a graphic novel illustrated by Paul Hoppe. And Luddite vagabonds may recognize her as the author of the analog guidebook, The Zinester’s Guide to NYC.
As a member of the Neo-Futurists, Ayun wrote and performed in over 500 short plays. Her dream is to play the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet.
Ayun lives in Brooklyn with the playwright Greg Kotis, where she homeschools 50% of their children.
2. How did you get introduced to zines? Were you influenced by anyone?
A stack of Ashley Parker Owens’ “Global Mail” – sort of the Fact Sheet Five for mail art – was dropped off at the theater I ran with some friends in Chicago. I was like, “What IS this strange free newspaper and how can I become a part of this world?” Shortly thereafter, I found my way to Quimby’s, where I bought a copy of Nancy’s magazine…which came with a free seed packet.
The East Village Inky actually looks rather like a small book my friend Gub Gub and I made to amuse ourselves when we were snowed in Indiana, in high school. (Other girls were presumably smokin’ bongs and listening to Rush) It had little line drawings of ourselves. I also had a tiny notebook in which I drew cartoons of things that happened to us in school – and that made me very sought after in French class, if nothing else. In terms of content, I was no Ariel Schrag. It was tame, but people like to see themselves – except the ones who don’t.
3. What does it mean to do “feminist zine-making”? Does feminism appear in your work (explicitly or implicitly)?
Some zines are overtly feminist by virttue of their focus or mission. Some seek to educate, or give a voice to marginilized women whose words might not find their way into print, otherwise. But every zine put out by a woman or girl is contributing to the historic record. As a reader, I prefer the anecdotal to the polemic. But it’s all good. All worthwhile in one way or another … if for no other reason than it’s undiluted. It’s the zine maker doing her best to express what she wants to say, without no outside editor putting his or her own spin on it.
I will also say there are feminist zines put out by men…many of them fathers of girls. Tomas Moniz’ Rad Dad comes to mind.
4. What is your favorite zine or piece of mail art? Do you like any specific style/part of a zine?
I like funny. I like comics and illustrations that have been done by hand. Some favorites are Carrie McNinch’s You Don’t Get There from Here, Jenna Freedman’sWinter Solstice Shout Out, and Kari Tervo’s Shards of Glass in Your Eye.
5. If you could sum up your zinester life in a kitchen appliance, what appliance would it be?
A battered old cappuccino machine that’s been cranking it out since college and refuses to die.