Zine creates new outlet for comedy

After seeing other forms of published art around campus, Esposito von Mueffling and Wilks were inspired to bring more attention to printed comedy. Photo By: Alec Ferretti
After seeing other forms of published art around campus, Esposito von Mueffling and Wilks were inspired to bring more attention to printed comedy. Photo By: Alec Ferretti
After seeing other forms of published art around campus, Esposito von Mueffling and Wilks were inspired to bring more attention to printed comedy. Photo By: Alec Ferretti

Although it may sometimes seem that established groups dominate Vassar’s art scene, students are always coming up with new ways to innovate and create new artistic spaces. This fall, at Vassar there will be an entirely new outlet for comedy on campus: a printed comedy magazine. Rather than limiting themselves to the confines of performance comedy, Zack Wilks ’16 and Tatiana Esposito von Mueffling ’16 have created The Dialogue, a zine which will feature comedic stories, drawings and other creations by college-aged students from Vassar and even other universities.

Currently, performance groups seem to dominate the Vassar comedy scene. The Dialogue’s content, however, will change that. Esposito von Mueffling said, “[The zine will consist of] comics, doodles, satire, visual puns, one-liners. And we’re not looking for one voice of humor; any kind of humor at all. We think that the performance-based groups tend to be more specific. Improv and sketch are like that, so we want to broaden the range of humor available [at Vassar].”

The title of the zine is meant to be a play on Vassar’s serious nature regarding discussions, but isn’t intended to be a jab at the college’s administration or student body, explained Esposito von Mueffling. She said, “We’ve had some questions about why it’s called The Dialogue, and people have asked if it’s meant to be subversive or a commentary on the school… it’s  not. We kind of want to give a light-hearted feel to the publication. It’s just supposed to be a poke at how we can take ourselves too seriously, which is an important thing to do but it’s also good to laugh about it.”

Although the zine isn’t meant to be a commentary on the school, that doesn’t mean that Wilks and Esposito von Mueffling are opposed to including works that discuss and comment upon Vassar. Wilks said, “It’s not meant to stick it to the administration, but if you want to stick it to them, then please do that. Anything that someone, somewhere would laugh at.”

After seeing the publishing of other forms of art around campus, Esposito von Mueffling and Wilks were inspired to bring more attention to print-form comedy. Espositio von Mueffling said, “It’s based on what was formerly known as Helicon, and what’s now known as the Vassar Student Review. There was a formal literary publication so we thought there could be a formal humor publication. We ended up not wanting it to be so formal, just something that makes people chuckle. They can pass it around and leave it on tables at the library or the Deece.”

Each zine will have its own, individual theme as well as look to it. Esposito von Mueffling said, “It’ll be printed in a really informal way, we’re gonna put it together ourselves, and each issue will look physically different.” Wilks added, “Basically we would like the physical form to reflect the content inside or at least the theme in some way. If we had a social media theme the issue could be the size of an iPhone, and stuff like that.”

In order to make the zine more of a community effort and shared experience, Wilks and von Mueffling plan to print a small number of zines that can then be circulated throughout the campus. Wilks said, “As long as we can get it out and printed in physical form around campus, just so there’s enough so that people can pass it around would be ideal. I think our plan was that maybe there will be one for every eight to ten students, so we might print 250 for the first publication… There is a lack of written humor and also visual humor. We’ll accept anything that can be printed on to paper.”

Students are encouraged to submit any humorous print work to the zine, and Wilks and Esposito von Mueffling have already received some interesting contributions. Frank James ‘16, a contributor to the zine, said, “I’m not actually that creative or imaginative, so the idea for my piece was inspired by my own experiences. This August, I spent a lot of time watching Jeopardy. Contestants come and go, trivia questions are asked and answered, but the host Alex Trebek remains constant—and over time, I began to develop a love-hate relationship with his on-screen presence. From there, I just began to chronicle my feelings about him, and then submitted that. So really my piece is a window into my mind for those few weeks in August.”

Wilks and Esposito von Mueffling hope to establish the zine around the Vassar campus, but stay away from affiliating it with the VSA to avoid censorship. Esposito von Mueffling said, “Hopefully it will reflect a range of humor and taste in comedy in the student body. We’re not trying to be a pre-org or a VSA org. I think we want it to be more about the student body and what they want. We also don’t want there to be any pressure to censor it. We’re going to make sure not to alienate anyone, but there’s not going to be censorship involved.” Wilks and Esposito von Mueffling strongly encourage anyone to submit to the zine, regardless of their previous experience with comedy. Esposito von Mueffling said, “Even if you’ve never done formal comedy that’s not what this is about, it’s meant to be anything that will make you chuckle or make someone else chuckle.”

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