This is where thoughts become things.

Hi, I'm Daniela. Welcome to my personal lair on the Internet. This is where I write about storytelling, activism, technology and pop culture. Sometimes I post videos. I update my lair when the mood strikes me. Follow me on Twitter for daily updates (@dcap).

Tag : lgbtq

Experiment: How To Make A Mini Zine On Your Mobile Device (Part 1 of 3)

As the founder of the POC (People of Color) Zine Project, I often think about ways to make zine-making and reading more accessible and interesting for young people who spend a lot of time on their phones. I’m not interested in forcing young people into creating materiality—if that is a natural outcome from experimenting with digital tools, great. Sometimes young people use their digital creations to inform the process of making printed materiality and vice versa. I support all modes of exploration that empower young people to be creators, which is why I became interested in finding out if it was possible to make a zine (for free) on your phone, and then share it that same day.

I often observe young people at events (concerts, conferences, parties, etc.) documenting their experience while they are experiencing it—they create photo collages for Instagram, rapidly publish multiple albums in succession to their Facebook page, tweet images, etc. This is now part of the natural rhythm for many people who use technology to share their experiences in real-time. However, often these images & related text live in different places on the web, and if you don’t follow that person on all their accounts, you won’t see everything they made during that event (in one place).

This made me think about the possibility of real-time (or as close to real-time) zine-making directly from your phone:

What if—while processing an idea or enjoying an event—you could fairly quickly & easily make a zine about what you were experiencing on your phone and then share it that same day?

This zine experiment was inspired by real-time news gathering practices and young people. It didn’t work out exactly as I had planned, but it was exciting to explore different possibilities. In part one of this series, I’ll share one of three methods I uncovered:

Here is the experimental perzine I made using my mobile device called “Cat Genie Vol. 2: Chola Fruitz“ 

Chola Fruitz is a dream-like reflection on group travel, subverting Chola identity tropes, Queer Chicana identity and the evolution of self. I made it in an hour while sitting on my couch, using images I edited within my phone and two mobile apps.

DISCLOSURE: I did make this experimental zine entirely on my phone. However, there wasn’t an easy (or free) way to then publish it from my phone in a format that is easy to read/flip through on the web or in someone’s mobile browser. So, in making this zine, it was actually a two-step process:

1) Creating the zine using mobile apps on my phone

2) Transferring files from within my phone to cloud storage (Dropbox), then downloading those files from my desktop computer to combine into a .pdf file (using PDF Combine), which I then uploaded to from my desktop computer.

Issuu does have a mobile app, but that app only allows you to read and download zines from your phone. Unfortunately you can’t upload any files from your phone to using the Issuu mobile app. As soon as Issuu makes this feature possible, it will make creating and publishing zines from your own phone much easier and faster.

I like using to host the digital versions of zines because of how easy it is to use, the functionality (you can flip through pages like a magazine) and sharing tools (it’s easy to embed zines on blogs, in newsletters, etc.). You can even opt in to allow people to download your zine and print it. So this experiment’s focus was “how do I quickly & creatively make a zine on my phone and then get it on”

Here’s what you will need to try this experiment for yourself:

DISCLOSURE: Now that I’ve explored multiple options and workarounds, I will preface these instructions by saying that there is definitely more than one way to make a zine (for free) on your phone. I am showing you one method for doing this and then will show you two more options in parts 2 and 3 of this series. Enjoy!


It took me one hour to complete all steps, using images I already had on my phone

1. Take photos with your mobile device like you normally would at an event. Edit them with text or other modifications using the Aviary mobile app. I suggest this app because there are so many options for editing, adding text, etc. right within the app. If you need more manual editing controls, first edit in Pixlr Express mobile app and then import into Aviary. Save your edited images as new files (don’t replace the originals in case you need to make adjustments).

2. Open up FotoRus mobile app and pick the “InstaMag” option. From there, you can choose different panels to modify with your edited photos and add additional text if needed.

The “InstaMag” feature is basically a bunch of magazine page templates. Unfortunately you can only create files one at a time, rather than an entire publication at once. You will save each modified template as a new file. So, if you are making a zine that is 7 pages worth of your images, you will save 7 “InstaMag” files.

There are some annoying aspects to the “InstaMag” templates such limitations on modifying layouts and the “Instamag” logo that sometimes appears on the template. If you don’t like that, open up your completed “InstaMag” file in Aviary or another photo editing app and edit that logo out.

3. Export your completed/modified “InstaMag” files to your Dropbox account using the Dropbox app for mobile. You will need to have set up a Dropbox account in advance for this to work (it’s free).

4. From a laptop/desktop, login to your Dropbox account at and download your “InstaMag” files from wherever you saved them to your laptop/desktop. I suggest making a specific folder for this experiment so you can easily fine your files.

5. On your laptop/desktop, open up the PDF Combine application (you will need to have installed it). Drag your “InstaMag” files into PDF Combine and export it as one .pdf file. Make sure your pages are in order (you can sort as you like before exporting).

6. On your laptop/desktop, login to your account (set one up if you don’t have one, it’s free). Upload your PDF Combine export that contains all your “InstaMag” FotoRus files. If you want people to be able to print your zine, make sure you opt into the “download” option so others can download. Now, publish! The zine you made on your phone is now online!

7. Make it sticky: If you didn’t have time to add other images or text you want folks to see, you can annotate your published zine with links to any content you want (a public Facebook gallery, a hashtag search results page, etc.). See examples in my zine, shared above.

I do want to note that there are some definite cons to solely using your phone to make a zine. Here are some standout bummers:

1) If you don’t have a phone that supports multimedia content creation through apps (because of lack of memory, power or storage space), it is faster for you to just make a zine the traditional way with paper, written/printed text, magazine cutouts, a printer and copier, etc.

2) Right now there isn’t a streamlined and free way to both create AND publish an e-zine FROM your phone. If you know of a way, please tell me: So, my experience so far has been creating the zine on my phone and then publishing it from a desktop/laptop computer. If you don’t have immediate access to a desktop/laptop computer, you may not be able to publish your phone-created zine as quickly as you would have liked to.

3) The Lazy Artist Factor: Part of the fun and empowerment of making a zine by hand (and offline) is that you can explore your creativity and develop your design skills. Experimenting with layouts, collages and other techniques as part of a print zine workflow can be a really satisfying experience. You miss out on that experience by just using the provided templates in apps, to a significant degree. If everyone used the same zine-making templates, all zines would start to look the same, which would be a bummer.

So, I would never suggest that you ONLY make zines with your phone. There are definitely some artistic restrictions by sticking to that workflow. I see it being more beneficial to (while on the go) explore with zine concepts on your phone, flesh out a rough idea and get feedback, then get your hands dirty and make the zine with print/materiality, in the real world. <3

Many folks also take their IRL zine pages, scan then and then further modify them in applications like Photoshop or InDesign, print them out and then create their flats from that. I think that the combination of technology and old school zine-making practices is an exciting third space that will continue to inspire many.


I had a lot of fun exploring different ways for making a zine on your phone and then publishing it to the web the same day. I look forward to sharing additional options through this series.

ZINESTERS: What starts out as an idea you experiment with on your phone could ultimately end up a print zine. Yup, another benefit to making a zine on your phone is that the process itself can help you sort out factors you may still be considering for a print version of the zine; you can pretty much be anywhere and experimenting with how your zine will ultimately look, from your phone. You don’t even have to keep the zine you make on your phone—the process of just making it and sharing it with others from your phone for feedback on the text, imagery and layout can be really helpful (if that is something you are looking for).

JOURNALISTS: You might also find some value in making real-time event-based zines as part of your news gathering process. A blog post that would have held a few images or gallery could instead contain a mini-zine created on your phone, at the event. This zine, made up of 5-10 pages of images, text and video, would contain content that you had already gathered anyway for your own research, that you then shared through an interactive e-zine embedded in your recap post.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this series, where I will give a few options for making text-heavy zines directly from your phone.

Many thanks to Corvida Raven for introducing me to FotoRus.

REVIEW: Spit and Passion, a graphic memoir I’ll keep reading until I die

I just finished reading Spit and Passion, a graphic memoir by Cristy C. Road. I can’t stop crying and I feel slightly sick, and when I get that way after reading a book, (it doesn’t happen very often) it means that I equally love and feel triggered by the content of its pages.

My reaction to Road’s new work is a complex feeling that “what an amazing book!” won’t do justice, because through it all I was reminded that the combined forces of sexuality, religion, class and family dynamics that made navigating adolescence so treacherous and isolating are still things I constantly negotiate, and that has left me feeling both devastated and inspired. So, now what?

What do you do when the most thrilling parts of your imagination are fueled by heartbreak? What does it mean when having the courage to be your true self often involves losing connections with people who are deeply embedded in the fabric of your world?

I’ll call Spit and Passion amazing the same way that I define childhood resilience and secret dreams as amazing – as conduits to freedom. Sometimes words just don’t do incredible manifestations of life’s experiences justice. But yes, Spit and Passion is amazing, and you should find a way to read it as soon as possible.

SPIT AND PASSION by Cristy C. Road (coming this fall)

I began reading Spit and Passion on a Saturday morning. Before noon I had finished it because I couldn’t put it down, because the sunlight streaming through my window made me feel safe, spilling over the pages that I frantically flipped through, identifying examples of life’s moments that confused the hell out of me growing up. “No more boxes” I mumbled, and my inner twelve year old breathed a long sigh of relief.

You don’t have to identify as LGBTQ, or be Latina, to appreciate Spit and Passion. Everyone has their version of a “tumultuous childhood” story, and all of humanity knows what it’s like to seek community and validation even as you are still figuring out who you are. Even so, the world still isn’t very kind to gay and gender non-conforming kids, and hetero folks still need more education about how to ffind common ground in the interest of equality. For these reasons and more, I think that Spit and Passion should be required reading for all sixth graders.

I wish that 11 year old me could have kept this book under her pillow at night, but the 31 year old version of myself is grateful that it’s in the world now. As someone who has taken many years to feel comfortable with both the labels Chicana and Queer, just holding this book in my hand, and its passages connecting the dots between music, identity, politics and self-affirmation – all through the lens of a young Cuban girl discovering her gayness – makes me feel just a little more visible in this world.

No story is too small to be told, and I’m grateful to Cristy for having the courage to share her experience, because in reading her hindsight about life’s twists and turns, I was able to break down some of the complex thoughts about my own early attempts to make sense of things that I had shelved away. There’s a tangentially shared Queer vocabulary among all LGBTQ Latinos, I like to imagine. Because that thought makes me feel less alone in the world, and more connected to others whose commitment to family and culture first made acceptance within certain queer communities a struggle or outright impossible.

Road’s book reminds me of the times in childhood when I would forget about a playground injury and then, later in my room, rediscover a partially-connected and filthy band-aid somewhere on my body. In my bed, surrounded by the warm protection of blankets and my favorite stuffed animals, I would slowly peel off the sticky remnants and in the darkness graze my fingertips over the newly-formed scar.

The forgotten wound; it was all mine, and I delicately nursed it with gentle caresses, the memory of what caused the tear in my flesh in the first place long forgotten as I appreciated the tiny indentations and ridges growing out of my newly forming skin.

Spit and Passion made my cry, but I welcomed my page-staining catharsis because within the safety of Cristy’s graphically-enhanced chapters, I felt validated recalling how scary and confusing being an adolescent can be, especially for young gay Latinas who have no language or support system to rely on as all of life’s systems of conformity shove dogma down our throats. When being yourself – in defiance of religious and family values and in contradiction of what gets celebrated in popular culture – doesn’t feel like an option you would ever want to choose … not if you want to stay loved and feel safe.

And that moment when you decide that you must risk being alienated by your family at some point in the future in order to be the person you want to be – Road captures it all in one messy and beautiful outpouring, broken down into digestible chronology fragments that made it easy to stay with her, in her story, while mining the recesses of my own similar memories.

Some of us stay in closets forever; closets that hide our sexuality, gender identity, political beliefs, dreams we’re afraid to see into fruition – but it doesn’t mean that beauty or joy can’t be found in there among our hidden truths, as we fumble our way to self-actualization. This graphic memoir about a Green Day-loving Cuban pre-teen girl from Miami finding inspiration and navigating identity while in the closet, illustrated with CCR’s beautiful and gut-wrenchingly accurate imagery, made me feel better about my own timeline.

Everyone has something to learn and to lose. We’re all out here making these choices, and sometimes the simplest ones – like learning to love a band with unabashed optimism and hope – are the most transformative.

Green Day made a young Road feel alive. Reading about the intense love and path to liberation she found through their music reminded me of my own personal power – the power I’ve always had – to transform my life in any way that I choose.

Spit and Passion is available now through Feminist Press.

Cristy C. Road is a Brooklyn-based Cuban-American illustrator and writer who’s been contributing to queer arts, punk, writing, & activism since 1996. Road published a zine,Greenzine for ten years, and has released three books – Indestructible, Distance Makes the Heart Grow Sick, and Bad Habits. Her most recent work is the graphic memoir entitled Spit and Passion. She’s currently working on a Tarot Card deck with Author, Michelle Tea; and her punk rock band The Homewreckers.

Cristy joined Daniela Capistrano and other fierce feminists of color on the POC Zine Project Race Riot! Tour from Sept 24 – Oct 7, 2012. Daniela is still processing how amazing it was to share the road and the stage with such an incredible Latina artist, musician and activist.

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Women’s History Month 2012: ’31 ladies who rock’ countdown!: Jamilah King

With dangerous bills out there and oppressive sentiment from right wing radicals saturating the media, I am happy to take the next 30 days to spotlight women in my life who are living their dreams and helping others in the process. Check out amazing lady #4:

Jamilah King

Who Is She?
Jamilah King: news editor and media reform reporter at

Born and raised in San Francisco — now residing in Brooklyn, New York

Known for
– Being a former McNair scholar and Kopkind Fellow
– Previous role as Associate Editor at WireTap Magazine
– Her writing on, New America Media,, San Francisco Bay Guardian, Alternet, and Racialicious
– Frequently appearing on community radio and at media conferences around the country
– Talking about race in a meaningful, engaging way
– Being an avid basketball fan and a recovering music junkie

I met Jamilah for the first time in February — we both participated in Paper Tiger Television’s 30th anniversary panel on radical media. I was moderating and Jamilah was one of the awesome panelists. I didn’t know about her prior to the event but I was impressed by her body of work while doing a little research before the panel.

Why Jamilah rocks
I just really appreciate it when successful women of color are open and proud about being raised by a single mother and overcoming financial hardships together. I love this quote from Jamilah about her relationship with her mother:

“We are, for all intents and purposes, each other’s anchors.”

I can relate to Jamilah’s coming out story and (now that I know about her work) I eagerly anticipate her articles on They are always in-depth, thoughtful think pieces that are accessible — they really draw you into the issues and help you to understand all the factors. She’s an excellent info parser and translater and uses her position to amplify voices — many that often go unheard by mainstream media. She rocks, OK???

For all profiles this month, visit my Women’s History Month page.