In November 2013, Aaron Cometbus traveled to Canada to give his first ever readings. When I saw the announcement, I thought I was hallucinating… I attended the Hamilton reading at Hammer City Records; it was a special evening, but rather than attempt to document it with a review of a reading, we asked event organizer and long time zinester, Jeff Miller, a few questions instead.
ZN: Aaron mentioned that despite publishing for 25 years this was his first time doing a public reading. How did this mini-tour come about?
Jeff: When I was on my book tour for Ghost Pine: All Stories True I gave a reading at the used bookstore in Brooklyn that Aaron works at. We kept in touch after that and I began distributing Cometbus on my zine rack at the Depanneur le Pick Up. All the while I suggested to Aaron that if he ever wanted to come up to Montreal for a reading or do a short tour through Ontario I’d be happy to organize it. After thinking it over for a couple of years Aaron decided to take me up on my offer. I had no idea at the time that he had never done readings before.
ZN: You’ve done a lot of readings and touring, how was this tour different from some of the others?
Jeff: I’ve done reading tours of central Canada with zine writers such as Erick Lyle (Scam), Dave Roche (On Subbing), and Cindy Crabb (Doris). I’ve also toured in the eastern U. S. This tour was pretty similar; a lot of hard work to set up, but a lot of fun too. It’s always so encouraging to see that people are so enthusiastic about zines and want to come out and hear stories. The audiences were a bit bigger on this tour because Aaron is quite well-known, but the spirit was the same.
ZN: Were there any bizarre/interesting/endearing things that happened on tour that you are comfortable sharing with the readers?
Jeff: No specific incidents come to mind, but in general it’s amazing to interact with the zine community and be reminded how vibrant it is. The excitement that people have for zines and stories is inspiring. Both Aaron and I traded copies of our zines for lots of cool new titles.
ZN: You did Montreal, Toronto and Hamilton? How were the readings different in each of the cities, or were they?
Jeff: We read together in Toronto, Hamilton, and Ottawa. In Montreal I didn’t read, but instead conducted an on-stage interview with Aaron after his reading. Everywhere we went we were helped out by amazing people and greeted by enthusiastic audiences who were excited about zines. The audiences were bigger in the bigger cities, of course, but it was amazing across the board.
ZN: I wouldn’t ask or expect you to speak for Aaron, but from your vantage point did he enjoy his experience meeting readers and writers in Canada?
Jeff: Yes, he told me that he really enjoyed the readings and was really happy with the audiences. He’d never visited this part of Canada before and Cometbus wasn’t always readily available here, so my sense was that he wasn’t sure what to expect and was pleasantly surprised by the response.
ZN: What are you working on now? When is Ghost Pine #13 on the way?
Jeff: In the last few years writing Ghost Pine has taken a back seat to my Master’s degree in English Literature, which I completed last year. I also wrote a draft of a novel this summer that has been taking up most of my writing time. I am slowly starting to plan a new issue of Ghost Pine, but don’t have a set release date yet. Hopefully it will come out well before the zine’s twentieth anniversary in 2016!
Jeff Miller has published the zine Ghost Pine since 1996. His writing has also appeared in The 2nd hand, Broken Pencil, Zine Yearbook and The Art Of Trespassing. Born and raised in Ottawa, he has lived in Montreal for the past decade, where he continues to write.