Over the course of the past two years, Coilhouse, both the blog and exquisitely designed print magazine, has become required reading for those who enjoy geek culture as much as they love art and fashion. Co-founders Nadya Lev, Zoetica Ebb and Meredith Yayanos have taken their “loveletter to alternative culture, written in an era where alt culture no longer exists” and helped to create a space for underground culture without relation to genres or trends.
Coilhouse 05, now in book stores, features Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer, Wil Wheaton and Clive Barker. With the publication present at Comic-Con this year, we asked Ebb and Yayanos about their experiences with the convention.
When was your first Comic-Con? What were your initial impressions of it?
Zoetica Ebb: Actually, that experience feels so incredibly long ago that I barely remember anything. I can tell you that it was in 2001 during the short, regrettable period of time when I lived in San Diego. A friend sneaked me in with Kirsten Dunst's pass and I was changed forever.
Also, we met Danzig and ran into a few of my old college friends, who all had swords and appeared to be squatting in town for the week. That's all I got.
Meredith Yayanos: I was born and raised –with extreeeeeme nerd proclivities– in San Diego. The Con and I kind of grew up together! I've been attending just about every year since I was wee. SDCC was very different in the '80s. Back then, they were still hosting some of it in hotels. It was far more homespun, with a true emphasis on comics and comic book creators, as well as gamers, tape traders, and more obscure film folks. There were less than 20,000 people in attendance around the time I started going, but it still seemed absolutely huge to me at the time. I was hooked. I've rarely missed a year since I was a kid.
Do you find inspiration at conventions? If so, where?
ZE: I imagine this experience is pretty common, but my favorite part of the Con has always been the Artists' Alley. Though it's gotten progressively more difficult to spend enough time browsing the tables and seeing everything, I still manage to find invigorating new stuff each time I do manage to squeeze beyond the moist meat barricade of attendees.
MY: It's always inspiring to me to see people be enthusiastic, unguarded and unabashedly passionate about something they love. I feel a lot of kinship with con-goers. I know my co-editors, Zo and Nadya Lev, are right there with me. That feeling of enthusiasm and solidarity is a big part of why we do the magazine.
There are so many fandoms present at Comic-Con, from comic books to anime to science fiction. What are your own fan interests?
ZE: At the Con? EVERYTHING. Actually, no, that could be a dangerous overstatement considering just how much the Con has grown and now encompasses. What I'm trying to say is I don't go in looking for anything specific; for me it's always been about discovery.
MY: Heh! My geekdom is a multi-faceted thing. Downright polyhedral. Trekkie for life. Gamer for life. Obscure ephemera-trader POR VIDA.
Because of its relatively limited run, as well as its design aesthetic, there's a collectible aspect to Coilhouse that's often missing from print publications. What do you find attractive about collectibles and do you collect anything?
ZE: Though with our current issue we've increased our distribution, it's true that Nadya, Mer and I always aspired to make a magazine that people would want to hang on to. It's why we strive to include special flourishes in each issue, why our design virtuoso Courtney Riot creates unique, elaborate treatments for each article, and why we insist on our beloved rounded corners.
As far as collecting myself, I've mostly reigned in my old love of odd medical implements, bones, and vintage computer parts in favor of a more sane, streamlined habitat. However, I still love old medical illustrations and have a near-impossible time resisting books, especially lavish art books and beautifully-illustrated encyclopedic tomes. Some of my favorite printed possessions are Taschen's Magic 1400s – 1500s, a massive Pictorial Women's Medical Guide from 1949, George Sprott 1894 – 1975 and Absolute Promethea, in addition to as many Ashley Wood and Dave Cooper books as I could get my hands on.
MY: For me, there's something so comforting about having a personal, tangible archive of the media and art I love. Occasionally, collecting has been lucrative as well. Selling off some of my more rare, coveted mint toys and signed/limited edition comics helped me avoid working long hours as a fry cook in college. I used to hoard action figures and fantasy-themed Trapper Keepers (dragons, unicorns, etc). These days I collect vintage ephemera, mainly from the Victorian and Edwardian periods, rare books, and of course, comics. Always comics.
The Coilhouse team will be on hand to sign copies of Issue 5 at Weta's booth (#2615) on Saturday from 11 a.m. – noon.