Doing King-Cat


By Brendan Mackie

John Porcellino has been churning out the seminal comic zine King-Cat for nearly two decades, making him one of the longest-running self-published authors out there. Over that time, the zine’s honest sensibility has garnered Porcellino armies of fans. Though the plots of King-Cat are underwhelming—memories of teenage crushes, stories about taking a walk on a beautiful night, dreams, illustrated Zen koans—Porcellino's simply drafted panels belie an inner weight. They’re more about expressing a particular feeling than they are about huge life-changing events. "The thing I was always interested in was this thing called Real Life," Porcellino explained during a recent talk at Minneapolis' Big Brain Comics.

Because of the zine’s personal nature, King-Cat has changed as Porcellino has matured. When King-Cat first started, Porcellino was a rambunctious young punk-rocker and his strips were wild. But somewhere along the line Porcellino started slowing down. He began meditating and reflecting more intensely on his life. Eventually, a more conscious tone resonated from King-Cat’s pages. Porcellino has just released a collection of the comic from 1989 to 1996, King-Cat Classix. fended off a line of awkward hipsters clutching their own zines at Big Brain to talk to Porcellino about making comics, meditation, and “doing King-Cat.”

You've been making zines for more than 30 years, and King-Cat for 18. What do you attribute your longevity to?

Making zines is exactly what I want to do, not only the content of it, but the format, too. I just love the connection with people. And to a certain extent I'm just stubborn: I started something and I want to see it through as far as I can.

In your talk, you spoke about how the business side of King-Cat—the photocopying, the distribution—was as important to you as the actual writing of the zine.

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