If you’re looking for a publication where articles on atheism, movie reviews, cultural comparisons, and recipes all come together on a (wide) variety of Korean stationary, look no further than Nanaimo’s own zine, The Free Wheel. The curious and creative publication is headed by a VIU student, who, choosing to remain anonymous, will be referred to as The Free Wheel.
the Navigator: Tell me a little about yourself.
The Free Wheel: Well I’m currently a homeless and unemployed Philosophy major…not that these things are related. After graduating I taught English in Korea for a year and since being back I’ve continued to avoid the real world by living in people’s homes and loving their pets while they’re on vacation (and getting paid for it). It’s been awesome. I’m a cat person now if that says anything about me.
the Nav.: One of your articles is about living in a van?
TFW: Yeah! I live in my van in the summers and between gigs (also by choice). I just switched from an older Westfalia to a newer Caravan with the seats taken out. For comfort and safety reasons and to be less of a cliché. I’ll be driving to Toronto in the summer for Montessori teacher training and living out of it then… maybe. Word on the street is that Toronto is kind of hot in the summer so maybe not. Oh well, plenty of people going on vacation.
the Nav: When did you decide to start The Free Wheel? Why?
TFW: I started about five months ago. I didn’t think about it for very long before going ahead. Realizing that the massive amount of stationary I’d collected in Korea for no apparent reason could be used to print it on was the tipping point.
The main reason probably being a neurotic need to get my point across and share what I feel strongly about. I can’t even think of a common denominator to the articles. It’s just random stuff I care about and think others might too (or should, for some things). I think it’s so important to take your time when talking about things that matter to you. To consider word choice and structure and all that, so you can say what you mean as clearly as concisely as possible. It’s the best feeling. I tend to confuse myself when I talk for too long about one thing, so I don’t. Also I don’t like to be looked at while I talk. Also I talk in constant fear of being interrupted. I did too much MSN as a teen.
That’s why I write anyways. As for why a zine rather than a blog, it’s just more fun all around. Fun to make and fun to read. It’s part of trying to become a better writer, too, since I put a lot more effort into something that has a final state and can’t be taken back. I wouldn’t want to waste my stationary!
And maybe it could remind people that zines still have a place set quite apart from blogs and websites (which are to blame for its decline). It would be so cool if Nanaimo had its own little zine community. So many great thoughts and opinions are wasted as status updates and dismissed at about the rate of the news feed—people should be developing their ideas more, and sharing them! Not just with friends. Or just with friends, whatever. Bring it to parties. Impress your mom. I hope this encourages people who are passionate about anything at all to either submit to mine or make their own. It’s so easy! Just Google “how to make a zine” and you’re set.
the Nav.: What is a zine exactly? TFW: A zine is any small-circulation, self-published, non-commercial, cheaply-made (typically photocopied and folded or stapled yourself ) magazine. They were popular before the Internet (as mainly political and fanzines) and seem to be making a bit of a comeback now. As far as I know there’s nowhere in Nanaimo that distributes them. Two places in Victoria that do are Cavity Curiosity and Camas books— both really neat stores. There are also some zine distributors online where you can buy zines and sell your own. Toronto has a giant zine library that I’m quite excited to visit this summer.
the Nav.: Can you tell me more about the publication and how it works?
TFW: I try not to put much pressure on myself or anyone else to get it done so there aren’t really deadlines. It’ll probably work out to every 2–3 months—more often if people contribute, which I hope they do. Especially rebuttals to my more opinionated articles and submissions to the recurring features (like Product Placement and Minor Differences). There are a few pieces by friends per issue and the rest is me. As soon as I have 20 pages worth I’ll print it out, cut it up, choose the stationary (yay) glue it on, decorate with clipart and stickers, do final edits with pen, and get it printed and put together. The process is very fun up until the last part—Full-serve is the way to go because they’ll make it into booklets for you and it actually works out to be cheaper somehow.
the Nav.: What do you think is the best part of The Free Wheel?
TWF: The stationary! That is my favourite part. It’s so ridiculous. I have so much that the English on it often relates to the article. I am just thrilled that my hoarding instinct proved fruitful this time. I had no idea what I was going to do with it all, and without it I wouldn’t have even done the zine because I didn’t want to be responsible for any art or drawing which I’m really bad at.
the Nav.: What would you like to work on?
TFW: It has about as much structure as my life so I’d like to make the more serious bits of each issue focused on a topic. I’d also like not to make any really embarrassing spelling mistakes on the cover anymore.
the Nav.: How can students get involved with the publication? Where can they typically find it?
TFW: You can find [it] in and around the shops on Commercial St. that have a magazine area (Fascinating Rhythm especially is the closest thing we have here to a zine distro. Also Thirsty Camel), on benches, toilets, in the public and school library, in hijacked newsstands if I can get away with it, in the social sciences/liberal studies buildings, and in your mailbox if you want to be on the mailing list. You can “like” The Free Wheel on facebook to get updates, corrections, and links about stuff in it. You can also email me at <firstname.lastname@example.org> with contributions or whatever!
the Nav.: Anything else you’d like our readers to know?
TFW: If you ever go to Korea please bring me back more stationary. And my children. Also thanks for reading this and my zine if you do that too. If you can’t find a copy and are curious, e-mail me and we’ll find a way. Also if you do decide to make your own I would like to review it in my mine, so email me about that too! Also thanks to the Nav. for finding this on top of your own fine publication and deciding to interview me instead of report me.