Questions for SWAP! Magazine’s Hayley Thomas

NEW TIMES: Have you published any zines prior to Swap?

THOMAS: Like a lot of socially awkward teens into punk rock, I created a few zines that never saw the light of day. One was called “The Gum Alley Rat,” which I Xeroxed after hours at an elementary school my step-mom worked at down in the L.A. area. At the time, I was pretty troubled. That project was about my life and my friends. I was in an all-girl band at the time. I featured a diagram of “How to Goose Your Man” with lewd, anatomically correct drawings. Sadly, I left the original in the copier, and the zine was circulated around the P.T.A. It was eventually given to my therapist, who actually really liked it.

NEW TIMES: What can we expect for the next issue of Swap?

THOMAS: Nancy Westerfield of Apothecary Tattoo is doing the next cover. Each issue features a different local artist’s work. So far, I’ve been stoked to work with Neal Brenon, Jeff Claassen, Danny Derrick, Morgan Condict, Dr. Cain, Seth Lowe…the list will continue. As for content, the zine is an open forum, and I never go into an issue thinking, “This is what I’m going for.” That’s the real joy of it. I never know what I’m going to find in my inbox. It could be a poem, a review on a local garage band or even a mysterious drawing of Princess Leia riding a Harley. I’m still scratching my head over that one.

NEW TIMES: Where is Swap available in SLO?

THOMAS: Wherever people meet up, loiter and congregate. Find Swap! at your local, independently owned shops like Boo Boo Records, Dr. Cain’s Comics & Games and Retrofit. I have to give a shout-out to the local businesses that support what I do, and in turn, I support them. It’s a beautiful thing. I’ve also heard reports of Swap! being found in barroom urinals and park benches, which actually makes me really happy. I know it’s slowly seeping into SLO’s bloodstream.

NEW TIMES: Of the past issues of Swap, which is your favorite?

THOMAS: I was afraid of that question! I’ve done one issue per month since January 2012, and now I’m down to one every two months. I love them all. Thanks to the contributors and local advertisers, Swap! has covered a raucous landscape: Cheap beer reviews, horoscopes (thanks to KCPR’s Biba Pickles), in-depth interviews on local writers, businesses, artists and bands – you name it. June was a big deal because it was published in conjunction with The Cause & The Cure, a compilation I put out with Twang & Bang Records featuring local bands like American Dirt. Each issue had its own download card, so readers could check out free, local music. That issue really embodies my mission. Let’s share, let’s do, let’s swap. That goes for whatever you got – unless it’s contagious.

NEW TIMES: Who are your favorite zine writers?

THOMAS: I’ve been obsessed with Aaron Cometbus since I was 13. You could say my life in po-dunk Atascadero didn’t have much to do with the Bay Area punk rock scene, but at the same time, it saved me. Cometbus assured me that there was something out there that I could be part of – and that I could do my own thing. When I moved to LA at 16, I realized that there’s these awesome self-made zines everywhere you go, like The Rise & Fall of the Harbor Area. You just have to walk around with your eyes open. Now that I’m back in SLO, I’m trying to provide that public, creative thing that is part of the scene and you just can’t shake. You know where to find me! I’ll be hanging out on the periphery, stapling.

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