Eugene Weekly : Visual Art : 12.17.2009


Handcrafted For Reals
New art zine stays happy
by Natalie Miller

Remember the mid-’90s? They’re back, with an art twist.

Only three issues deep in production, the new art zine Eugene Optimystics can be found at hangouts throughout downtown and Whiteaker. The zine, as befits its name, is a jumble of black and white drawings, photos, poems and short stories by local artists and writers. Its mission statement: “The theme of our magazine is compost; using visual and written art, we transform fear into freedom, coal into diamonds, sand into pearls, and manure into mushrooms!” 

The zine’s founder, an experienced zine creator and psychedelic artist who goes by the pseudonym Cobby Thatcher, says that the zine strives to remove the feeling that readers are the only audience. Instead, he wants it to be a source of networking and sharing for artists. 

Eugene Optimystics doesn’t try to promote artists — all contributors use an alias. Originally, it cost a dollar, but it attracted the attention of some advertisers and is now free. Thatcher says that by printing in black and white instead of color, printing costs are kept to a minimum. In addition, as one issue explains in much more detail, keeping it black and white allows readers to personalize the zine, adding their own “pizzazz, zing, zip, zest, spice, and sass.”

Thatcher says that Optimystics stands out in the world of politically motivated art zines. This publication, instead of being political, strives to promote happiness with uplifting messages. “You can’t be constructive unless you know there is goodness,” Thatcher says. Optimystics sticks close to its mission. The drawings are amusing, and the writing is engaging, but in the attempt to break the norm of traditional magazine layout, some poems are unreadable because of dark copying residue. 

The zine is a collage of about 10 different artists — “It’s like jazz,” Thatcher says. Optimystics is looking for more creative souls to join in the riffs and improvisations. To check out Eugene Optimystics’ current “Jumbo Holiday Issue,” stop by Keystone Café, One Cup, Deluxe or olivejuice. If you want to see your own writing, artwork or advertisement in the zine, contact the group at