Zines have been a part of my life since I was a kid, though I didn’t always call them that – since I was a small child I have written and illustrated little books. The first zine I ever bought was when I was 16, a punk zine from this guy name Jonny – boyfriend at the time’s bandmate. I wanted so bad to make one, but didn’t think I was cool enough. Imagine my delight when I finally realized (at about 22), that anyone can make a zine. No “cool” card required. I think that’s the thing I love most about them. There’s no qualification. No censor. Just unbridled expression. By anyone.
After selling zines for about 3 years as my primary income, I thought it strange that pretty much the only place I didn’t sell them was Iowa. So I set about looking for a used book store or zine distro that would. It was rough going. I was a bit surprised to find that there was (at the time of it’s founding), no active distros that were easily accessible (as in had a website, had an easy way to contact them, had submission guidelines, had a physical location). Distros open and close in record time and most book stores and even comic shops don’t really know how to incorporate zines. From selling them to distros and craft shops, being a curator, working at consignment shops, I knew that running a distro was easy – it was paying the bills from being a distro that wasn’t. Partnering with a local business was the ideal solution. I wanted it to exist so badly in Iowa that it finally came down to putting my time where my heart was.
The Roach Motel is a zine distro that I founded in early 2013 by partnering with an Ames indie boutique called Where It’s At. The second Roach Motel Distro was opened in Des Moines in May 2014 by partnering with the Des Moines Social Club and Viaduct Gallery where it continued until June of 2015. In September 2014, the Ames location moved into the Iowa Music Store where it has found its permanent home. In 2014, local artist and zine maker Rachel Buse partnered up with me and we hosted the first Roach Social Zine Fest, a biennial day long event focused on bringing the midwest zine community together and spread awareness of zines to the community at large.
The distro specializes in Iowa authored and themed zines AND national/international slice of life, comic style, gardening, crafting, creativity, diy, homesteading, and animals. Though I admit to pretty much trying to sell anything you make if someone sends me a copy.
Why “Roach Motel”?
I’ve always had a morbid sense of joy in the weirdness of my last name. And for a zine distro it just makes sense. I really like the idea of Roach Motel because it has all these scuzzy, random, eclectic, mashing together of people, germs, and drama contexts. Ranging from raw and crude to simple and homely, unexpected adventures and varying in quality.
PO Box 1314
Ames, Iowa 50014
General: info AT roach-motel.com