By James Olson
VANCOUVER — Gargoyle Publications is a passion project in every sense of the word for Axel Matfin. Drawing from his experiences as a young writer and early attempts at zine publication, the editor-in-chief conceived Gargoyle with the importance of collaboration, community, and creativity at the forefront.
The lessons that Matfin learned through the seven-issue run of Stay Positive, an experimental zine, plays largely into his ethos for Gargoyle. “My editorial process is far less me trying to impose some sort of standard of style and more helping people develop their work to a point where it’s professionally presentable,” he explains. “I learned through the embarrassment of not knowing how to publish with Stay Positive how to do it properly. I’m all about coaching people to get their work to the best level that it can be before it comes out. In terms of standards, it’s more just if someone is passionate and wants to write something, I am open to submission.”
In the spirit of collaboration, Matfin conducts a series of open writing sessions, called Genre Lab, each centered around producing a 500-1,000 word piece within a specified topic. “So far, the events have been successful,” he says. “We don’t see massive turnout every time, but we have had three or four people show up every time who have something to present. That’s all I’m looking for. I find it takes some consistency before people start picking up on it as something that they want to do. It’s easy for me to keep doing it because it gives me the extra bonus of getting to write stories I wouldn’t necessarily get to pick up on my own time.” Some of the topics covered in Genre Lab have been cyberpunk, historical fiction, and, up next, police procedural. Matfin believes that the sessions have a lot of potential for contributors to let loose with in a fun, non-judgmental atmosphere.
Over the course of the summer, Gargoyle will begin to expand its catalogue with the inclusion of two books of poetry. The first work will be a fantastical account of a trans-Canada road trip in a Toyota hatchback by Will Davies. The second will be a collection of lyrics by Vancouver-based rapper Cander (Cole Dion). Both promise to be intriguing reads and Matfin reiterates that submissions for Gargoyle can be broad and multidisciplinary. “I am so interested in meeting people who are passionate about writing,” he maintains. “I wanted it to be as open as possible so that anyone who had maybe a slight inkling of publishing wouldn’t be intimidated.”
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