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An Upper Valley Zine Hits 10 Years, at 100 Copies an Issue

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    Matt Mazur's "Romantics" featured in Issue 10 of "Oh You!"

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    Matt Mazur's "3 More Strips" featured in Issue 9 of "Oh You!"

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    The 10th anniversary edition of Matt Mazur's zine "Oh You!"

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    Matt Mazur, of Wilder, Vt., binds the latest issue of "Oh You" with a stapler in his basement office on June 9, 2016. Printing 100 copies of each issue at Gnomon Copy, Mazur distributes the zine at three locations in White River Junction. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — Geoff Hansen

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    Photographed on June 9, 2016, Matt Mazur, of Wilder, Vt., has published 18 issues of "Oh You!" biannually for about a decade. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Geoff Hansen

For the Valley News
Published: 6/22/2016 10:00:18 PM
Modified: 6/23/2016 1:41:55 PM

Kindly polymath Matt Mazur can be found most days where he works, in the bulk section of the Hanover Food Co-op, a bandana around his neck, a pair of glasses lightly magnifying his eyes.

He is patiently prepared to tell you the location of a food that you are already standing next to, or, if you ask, about his comics zine Oh You!, which he has been publishing in the Upper Valley now for a decade. On his break from the Co-op, Mazur talked about how photocopied, stapled little magazines are something anyone can make if they want to.

“I wanted stuff like it to exist — more than creating a zine, I wanted to contribute to one. Then I thought I might as well make it myself.”

At the time, Mazur was a few years out from failing to graduate from Hanover High School, a degree he is now completing through CCV. “I took an English composition course. We had to write more essays in it than I did in all of high school. I feel much more empowered to write now.”

I’ve run into Mazur several times over the years, having some mutual friends who played punk music in the aughts alongside his band The Food Stamps, which drew the attention of young people who had decided not to drink or do drugs — part of a story warmly chronicled in Mazur’s introduction to the zine’s decennial issue.

His empowered feeling as a writer is reflected in Oh You!, which aside from an increase in size over the years (it has at times been only a couple inches tall) has matured from the joyful mess that is every zine’s birthright, though not so far as to lose the jumbled beauty of his illustrations.

Mazur distributes Oh You! through businesses in White River Junction: the Main Street Museum, Revolution, Scavenger Gallery, and the Valley Flower Company. We talked about the changes WRJ has seen since we were kids, among them the growth of the Center for Cartoon Studies. And although he observed that Oh You! “falls into a class of publications that many communities in Vermont have, seeming to crop up spontaneously,” he said he hasn’t yet connected with zines the students at the school might produce: “I’m not sure how to coexist with the cartoon school and the students there. I always very much respected and revered their work, but somehow the world of the cartoon school and around here don’t always connect up.”

Oh You! is populated mainly with the home-grown comics of cartoonists from this area: among them in the 10 Years?!?!?!? issue, Alex Bullett’s Stonehenge heads having an inconclusive conversation about whether aliens created them; Ken Adams’s humorously absentminded panels of a cat and pencil; and Mazur’s own array of mundane objects over-literalizing Shakespeare quotes, with an ATM instructing, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be. . . .”

I read all 20 pages of the latest issue on a ride from Hanover to Strafford, and what struck me in the very funny writing (Mazur’s especially, though he includes numerous like-minded local artists) is that it manages to not take itself at all seriously — it’s full of puns and free association — without undermining its own genuine strangeness. See the densely printed poem on page 5 (whose second stanza is interrupted by a cut-and-pasted photo of a viperfish):

Pardon me while I smile at a photo of me not smiling. Recreation of moments in time that are now less satisfying. Routines are making you a stable person. stables are for horses. I start eating hay. more fiber. Eyes rolling in the back of my head now. I couldn’t see behind me. Little green army soldiers fighting against plastic dinosaurs on a grey carpet in the middle of winter.

Riding this line of playful nonsense out from the mundane, Oh You! avoids a tendency I’ve noticed in more polished magazines to be ungenerous or self-protective in their literariness. I think this is the product of a periodical composed by people from one place. And in a moment when a fossil-fuel aristocrat is threatening to make our home into an embassy of Utah, I hope young people in the Upper Valley find some inspiration in Oh You! ’s affirming localism.

 

Abraham Adams is an artist from Strafford, based in New York.




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