Zine Supreme #10: Elle and Suzy of Yes Ma'am

Welcome back to Zine Supreme, a series in which I ask purveyors of the printed word about their work. This week, I talked to Elle Minter and Suzy Gonzalez of

What prompted you to become a creator? How did you start making zines?

We were like "let's make a zine" and we did. You don't have to dream about it your whole life to make something successful, but if you decide you really want to do it, making it happen is totally possible. When we started, we had access to our university’s library and our school offered pretty great printing privileges. We took advantage of this (probably abused it) and started getting as many copies out as possible. We wanted YM to be a safe space for people to express themselves and we didn’t want any restriction to it. People like its affordability and our submissions have increased with every issue.

What are your intentions as a creator? What do you hope to achieve when you make a zine?

The goal is always to spread the word about people doing amazing things. All we really want is to give people a platform to have their ideas spread. We ourselves are able to rant and rave, and we want everyone to be able to utilize their right to free speech. We provide it for free so that it’s not limited to any economic group.

How do you feel your identities impact your work?

If we weren’t womyn we probably wouldn’t have started a zine. We were studying Art and Science, and each simultaneously taking Women’s Studies courses, and we wanted to be a part of it. We are unique and we recognize that every one is in some way and intersectional feminism is a part of every aspect of our lives. We try to stay woke, as they say.

What materials do you use in your zines, and what’s your creative process like?

When we started, we were still in college, so we knew a lot of people who were looking for an outlet or simply had a message they wanted to share. We basically just started asking our friends to send us stuff at first. We were pretty amateur at the time so we cut and pasted each page and scanned them in. Now that we have a much wider readership, we don’t have to bug our friends as much, because we get more submissions than ever. We’ve started using InDesign to design the layouts, rather than cutting and taping pieces down, so the quality has improved a lot. We’re even going to be fundraising for a commercial printer soon so that we can start printing for other independent publications.

What’s the hardest part of this work - and why is it worth it?

We do put a lot of time and money into the project, and we are grateful to be able to do so. Traveling to zine fests can be quite an effort, but it’s really the only way to get out there, and always worth it! We knew when we started this zine that it would not be lucrative. We have no illusions about that! But it’s fun and we like it and it’s how we want to spend our time. It gives us the satisfaction of being part of something larger than ourselves and embracing those who need a place to speak their mind.

Which of your zines or zines you’ve been a part of is your own favorite, and why?

Our latest issue, The Vegan Issue, was the first themed YM and we found that when you give people direction they respond really well! We have another themed issue on the way called the Microzine of Microaggressions. It’s basically a miniature twitter-style zine of people’s microaggressions. It’s cute and also not; a juxtaposition. It will be something a little new for us, so we look forward to publishing it.

Carmen Rios is the Managing Editor at Argot Magazine, Digital Editor at Ms., Feminism Editor at Autostraddle, and a Contributor at Everyday Feminism. Her words have been published by BuzzFeed, BITCH, ElixHER, MEL, and Feministing, among others, and she was once a blogger and activist with the SPARK Movement, a writer at Mic, and Managing Editor of THE LINE Campaign blog. Carmen's successful work for over eight years in digital feminism—as a writer, social media maven, and activist leader—has earned her the titles of “digital native,” “intimidating to some,” and “vapid and uninteresting.” She's too honest on Twittertoo vague on Tumblr, and consistently uses the same filter on Instagram. You can also find her at carmenfuckingrios.com.