January 17th, 2014 / 5:11 pm

Interview with the editors of CATCH UP Magazine

The editors of Catch Up were kind enough to answer a few of my questions about their badass journal.

How did Catch Up emerge?

Jeff: In the early 2000’s, William Cardini and I founded the artist collective The Gold County Paper Mill. Together with our pal Chuch, we produced comics, zines, and weirdo DVDs. But in 2008, I moved with my wife from Austin to Louisville, which meant the performance art we were making together would become fairly impossible. Catch Up started as a way to continue the collaborative projects that WIlliam, Chuch and I had grown to love.

Catch Up was intended to be an object-based series of collaborations put out by the GCPM. The “first issue” was a t-shirt. That idea fizzled out quickly. Having enjoyed producing our own books, we decided to try our hand at publishing others. Will is a cartoonist and I’m a poet, so we just mushed those two things together.

Once in Louisville I met poet Adam Day and designer Rob Bozwell, who both quickly joined the team. Will enlisted the help of another frequent collaborator of his, Josh Burggraf.  The five of us turned Catch Up into the fucking dope journal it is today.

After a few more shake ups, moves, marriages and babies, Catch Up is now run by  myself,  Hannah Gamble, Gary Jackson, Peter Jurmu, Pete Toms and PB Kain.

What is your VIDA count?

Issue 1            Issue 2         Issue 3             Issue 4

W- 22 M- 45     W-33 M-34    W- 22  M-32       W – 9  M – 18

What makes Catch Up stand out amid the plague ground of literary journals?

Jeff: Catch Up is one of the very few literary journals out that publishes comics who actually have members of that community on staff. Our comics are rad because they are picked by people who actually make them. And then there’s Gary. He’s like the soul of Catch Up. A poet whose first book, Missing You Metropolis, was entirely about his love of comics. For us, and what we’re trying to do, it doesn’t get much better than that.

“Poetry and comics are generally ghettoized and we feel there is a strength in teaming them up, bringing together current, smart and sophisticated work from both worlds.” is something William said once.

How would you describe your aesthetic?

“ A journal that publishes literature next to comics, original work next to translations, the conventional next to the avant-garde, the emerging next to the established.” is something Adam Day said once.


 Who are your rivals?

Josh:  cmon, dont do it to yerselves.   jeff, u’ve mentioned some other publications that u chafe against, this is a perfect opportunity to sully the mag’s good name with aggressive back sniping.

Josh:  cmon, dont do it to yerselves.   jeff, u’ve mentioned some other publications that u chafe against, this is a perfect opportunity to sully the mag’s good name with aggressive back sniping.

T.S. Eliot or Gertrude Stein?

Hannah: I love Stein’s Tender Buttons and nothing else by her, really.

PS: Beastie Boys or Rage Against the Machine? Beastie Boys. (I thought of that listening to the radio today.)

Peter: False choice.

Pete: 1.Rammstein

2.Gertrude Stein

3. Chris Elliot

4. H.R. Puffnstuff

5. T.S. Eliot

6. P.F. Chang

7. Ben Stein

Gary:  What Pete said. Also, Natalie Diaz.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve published?

Jeff: Andrei Molotiu’s Inflation in #2

Box Brown’s Andre the Giant comics #2
Pete’s in issue #1

  [Hannah: I loved Pete’s thing! I –before I was a Catch Up editor, before I was printed in Catch Up,    even!– tore it out and hung it on my wall.]

  Douglas Kearney in the states of african american poetry

  Issue #3’s cover. So fucken doh-p
Issue #3 – cause it was entirely guest edited by Catherine Wagner, Sean Bishop, DA Powell, and Hannah

              (before she became one of us). I didn’t pick a single thing.

   Paul Celan’s and Yehuda Amichai’s interview issue #1
Everything ever to appear on Bonus Round. Maybe thats what I’ll say.

Hannah: I was super super excited about Eric Elshtain’s poems in #4. The poems were made by feeding chunks of prose (often victorian novels) into a poetry program (created by Elshtain) that reassembles the text into poems. And listen, I’m not really someone who’s dazzled by process. But the thing was that I found the poems totally magical and even tried to emulate their style in my own writing a couple years ago when I was sick of everything I had been doing.

Peter: Martin Woodside’s translation of Radu Andriescu in #2 – along with the other translations in that issue (and since). I had been reading Gellu Naum at the time and was really proud to have Martin’s work on Andriescu in something I was a part of. ‘The concrete edges of the whale,’ ‘the gelatinous skeleton of the whale’ —

Gary: Matt Hart, Wendy Xu in Issue #1. And pretty much every-goddamn-body in Issue #4. But that sounds like a cop-out, so I’ll say Tyehimba Jess, because that poem is the shit. The bonus “State of African American Poetry” issue was also great, as well as the Roundtable discussion with CC poets: two words: Metta Sama.

Josh:  This seems like a trap, I don’t like to be caught in traps.

What gets a submission rejected?

Jeff: Poets asking us to turn their poems into “cartoons.”

Cover letters that get simple facts of the journal wrong. I got one during our first open reading period, back when we were only on our second issue. In it the poet mention she had “always enjoyed Catch Up over the years” adding that “it’s always been a personal goal to be published in your pages.”

Peter: I write mostly shit. I’m unsurprised when someone rejects something I sent them. Often what someone sends us is shit. And I’m often wrong in my assessment. And I’m always becoming a better reader. Rejecting or accepting something still seems accidental to me. I’m astonished when I want something. And deciding to publish a piece of writing seems like it ought to be a very difficult. I tend to overthink it.

Hannah: An unmistakably misguided cover letter usually predisposes me against the enclosed poems. (Examples: Anything gushily autobiographical, anything implying you want to fuck one of our editors, anything melodramatically attached to your identity as a writer….) But listen: You could send the most wack-a-doo cover letter any of us had ever seen and if there was something about your poems that surprised or charmed or moved me, I would still take them. I just might also block you on facebook.

About the work itself, though: I’ve been in an MFA prog (and lots of poetry workshops); I’ve been a reader for lit mags for about 6 years, and I’ve been to a lot of poetry reading and read a lot of books. That means that I’ve been exposed to a lot of poems that I really couldn’t call bad, but from which I also couldn’t remember more than one line or phrase, if any. So many poems/ poets are indistinguishable from other  poems/ poets and I will reject poems that remind me of 100 other poems I’ve heard or read that year, even if they’re not bad. [Take an unforgiving look at yourselves, poets.]

Josh:  I wouldnt reject a submission to catch up/ because I solicited it.  If Im not paying for a comic, and I asked for a comic, it seems just all around bad karma reject what i asked for.  Sometimes I’ll make suggestions on why its not working for me and hope some sort of middle ground resolution can be reached.  I would however reject something unsolicited if it “didnt work”, but- to the best of my knowledge I never got an unsolicited contribution…

(Josh, I dig the honesty, but im worried about telling the world we never got a comics submission. ha!)

Gilbert Hernandez or Jaime Hernandez? (Josh, Pete, PB (anyone else feel free, but I aint answerin’))

Josh: I just wanna make joke answers or, “moebius” or something to that effect.  I like the way  those brothers draw, respectively, but i dont even have an informed opinion about why one of them is better because Ive never read any of their comics.  There are a lot more comics I haven’t read then the ones i Have, and thats only going to escalate and snowball like an Escalade in a snowball.

Gary: I like the way Josh thinks; I’m always suspicious of the either/or question. I’ve only read a few trades of Love and Rockets, and both Gilbert and Jaime are too good of a team together for me to pick one over the other.

Pete: I always liked Gilbert’s stuff a little more because it’s weirder than Jaime’s, but I think Love and Rockets specifically exists so that people don’t have to make that choice.

Could you talk about your decision to move from print to online?

Jeff: Moving the journal online provides us with a larger audience, a more malleable medium, and less overhead. We certainly plan to continue making objects — just not three times a year in book form. We’ve got some mean broadsides lined up and a few other ideas.

Peter: It wasn’t a big leap. From the beginning we’ve devoted part of our website to Bonus Round pieces, which complemented the print mag. The shift from print to online or online to print for an operation like this doesn’t have the doom flavor.


Josh: I absolutely have no clear picture of where comix and poetry and literature are going in 2014 but its apparent that print is for the lovers, and if u want to reach a broader audience than the lovers- well then yer gonna have to go and find them in their home.  (Pete has Paws on the innerwebs- maybe he will have insightful jokes pertaining to this.)

Pete: The reason I used to put all my stuff online instead of printing it was that I felt like since making comics is the only thing I really like to do, and it’s the only thing where I have no boss, or someone telling me what to do, that there might be a correlation there. So I always tried to avoid having another person, or editor, or publisher too involved, and putting stuff on the Internet seemed like the easiest way to do that.

Now that I’m old, and poor and my morals have corroded, along with my will to live, and I sleep in a hole, cradling a Wacom tablet, no one will print my comics, or look at me, or allow me anywhere near a print shop or publisher’s office, and the blind Internet is the only thing that accepts me.

The online version of Catch Up probably falls somewhere in between there.

Where is Catch Up headed?

Pete: I haven’t had too much time to think about it yet, but I’d like to get some cartoonists involved that maybe people aren’t aware of. I’m also thinking about getting some cartoonists that don’t usually write criticism, or essays to write a little about comics, and art. Also use some political maneuvering to push all the other editors out from the journal and make it all about my muscles and my dog. I already commissioned a Philip Roth piece about my pectoral muscles. Waiting to hear back.

Jeff: Catch Up is narrowing its focus a bit. We’re working on a few themed issues. One may or may not hip hop, poetry and comics. I’d also love to do another Emerging Writers issues. Pete and I are wanting to do our first all comics issue. We also want to make more physical objects. I’m in Tallahassee now, co-curating a reading series Dear Marge, Hello with Nick Sturm. Catch Up will be doing a series of broadsides for each event. Our own Pete is doing the first one for Timothy Donnelly’s reading on January 17th. Stuff like that.



  1. A D Jameson

      “Hail, Queen of Mutants!” That’s an awesome aesthetic:)

      Thanks for posting this, Chris!


      Oh good, yet another hipster lit mag that only publishes other smug-ass white people.