Michael Verdi


When I was a kid, my friends and I created our own mini comic books. When I began designing for print in the mid-nineties (mostly promotional material for local theaters) I made zines as a way to practice and experiment. So when I started teaching design in a high school, I immediately got students making zines. It was perfect for getting everyone involved because they’re easily adaptable to a wide range of abilities and interests.

A recreation of the cover of Zorak—the comic I wrote in grade school.

Fast forward to 2020 and the pandemic forced Zine Club Chicago to move their meetings to Zoom. Now that they were online they opened them up to people from all over. I began joining each month and it wasn’t long before I was making zines again.

The Challenge

Create new design problems for myself that are not related to software.

My Roll

Grey Matter Gravy

I used this opportunity to resurrect Grey Matter Gravy, an old video blog (which was a public access TV show before that) as a zine.

I gave myself a couple of constraints to make it interesting:

The issue about my public access TV show has a slipcover that looks like a TV. When you pull the booklet out, the TV loses it’s signal. I created an web version of this issue that you can read here.

TV slipcover and inside booklet from Issue 1.

Inside page from Issue 1.

The issue about my love for the vision of the future from the 60s and 70s looks like the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Inside cover of Issue 2.

Issue 2 title page.

The third issue is a deck of cards that you can use to make a mini movie.

Issue 3 card deck and pouch.

Instructions and cards from Issue 3.

I’m currently at work on a fourth issue. This one will be completely hand written and illustrated.

Zine Party

Inspired by the Chicago group, I started a complimentary monthly Zoom meeting and a Slack instance called Zine Party. Each month we hang out on Zoom while we work on our zines. We talk about what we’re making, give each other advice, brainstorm, and hold each other accountable. It’s my favorite night of the month.