Zines, Creative Community, and Star Wars: An Interview with Kara DJ (Into A Larger World)

Stardust team member Nessa had a chat with Kara DJ on zines and community.

Fan zines have been a pivotal part of fandom for decades, especially in science fiction fandoms like Star Trekand Star Wars. While zines have been around since the 1930s, they truly boomed as a fandom production during the 60s as fans of Star Trek began publishing Spockanalia. Zines have since been part of the fabric of fandom creativity, offering a great outlet for creative design and fandom discussion. Zines have commonly been run by female fans, giving them a cultivated outlet for their thoughts, ideas, and creative ventures. The rise of the internet has further enabled the production and distribution of zines, allowing fans to get access to these fan-made publications that celebrate their interests. The Star Wars fandom is no exception, with zines having been produced for Star Wars since 1977, soon after the release of what is now known as Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.  

Each zine has its own community and following, and a truly lovely community has grown around one particular Star Wars zine: Into A Larger World. As a subscriber of Into A Larger World, I’ve been amazed at how each issue is truly a work of art, produced by the incredibly talented Kara (she/her). The production of Into A Larger World, as well as Kara’s amazing collage artwork, can be viewed on her Instagram @sacredsomethingbykara. Given how crucial zines are to the proliferation of fan-curated content, I reached out to Kara to ask her about her love for Star Wars, about Into A Larger World, and about her perspective on zines and the Star Warsfandom. 

NB: Tell us a little bit about you and what Star Wars means to you.

KARA: I can’t remember a time when Star Wars wasn’t in my life in some way…my older brother and I are about fifteen years apart so he was at the perfect age to be an original trilogy fan, so I learned a lot about Star Wars from him. My dad has also always been really into film and special effects, so we watched Star Wars pretty regularly. By the time the prequels were coming out, I was old enough to see them in theaters. Fandom came and went for me until I found it again a few years back…I had gotten obsessed with theories about the sequels and especially videos by Star Wars Explained on YouTube. That led to me reading the novelizations of the prequels, and I was really shocked by how much I loved them…and the whole thing has kind of spiraled from there over the past few years.

NB: How did your love for Star Wars shift from appreciation to creation? What made you choose collage work?

KARA: Collage is something I’ve done pretty much forever, in a lot of different forms like scrapbook, art journaling, etc. I’ve always torn up magazines and kept clippings and images in drawers and boxes. It’s kind of the only art that I’m good at?! I have no capacity for painting or drawing. So it’s just the natural way that I express myself creatively, and I was really intrigued by what it might be like to celebrate my Star Wars love through that medium.

NB: Into A Larger World has grown substantially from being a zine that you handed out at Celebration to having more than 200 subscribers from all over the world. When were you first introduced to zines and what made you decide to make your own?

KARA: I first learned about zines in high school through an art club that I participated in, and I did make one. It was a process that I really enjoyed and it definitely stuck with me! I also worked at a cool bookstore in NYC that had small press books and zines that I found to be really cool and intriguing. I didn’t know how to do it myself, but I did enjoy them. I made my first mini-zine, as you said, to take with me to Celebration Chicago as something to trade with people. It was the simplest zine form I could find, and I did small collages on each page. I loved doing it so much that I decided to try a full-size issue and now I’m preparing to release issue #17!

NB: Zines have been essential in fandom for decades and women have had a strong role in the development and distribution of fan-made zines. How does it feel to uphold this tradition as a zine-maker in Star Wars?

KARA: It’s…intense, honestly. I was aware of fanzines and their history but didn’t know the full story until I did some collage work for the amazing Looking For Leia documentary series. Hearing that full story…how zines were so integral in fan communication and fandom building during those early days, and the fact that it was so heavily influenced by women really moved me and motivated me more than ever. I feel honored to be continuing a tradition that is so rooted in that history, and I hope I’m doing them proud.

NB: These days, fan content can often be easily accessible through social media, like Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook. What made you decide to produce “Into A Larger World” as a physical zine and why do you think it’s important to do so?

KARA: Honestly, the first reason I wanted to make it physically is because I just don’t have any technological skills. I’m not kidding! I’m sure there’s some fancy way to do my layouts digitally but I just have no idea how to go about that. So, I knew I had to create it physically because I had no option. And then it just felt like it would be the coolest thing to be able to send things to people in the mail. I’ve had a pen pal for over 15 years and have always loved sending and receiving mail. I thought it would make the zine a little unique and also give people something fun to look forward to! I think the physical zine is important for me because it’s like…a tangible symbol of my fandom, of the work I do to make it happen, and then it’s just this little envelope of joy I get to send out to 200+ people every month. At this point, I can’t imagine my life without that feeling! It’s the best.

NB: Can you talk a bit about your process for making a zine?

KARA: I’m basically always thinking about the next issue, but true production takes probably about two weeks. I layout the number of pages in the issue and then gather ideas and contributions for what matches my theme that month or what I think subscribers would find interesting and fun, then I collect images and text, physically assemble everything with scrap paper and glue, take the zine to the print shop, and the copies are made! After that it’s addressing and decorating envelopes, folding, stapling, and shipping, which can take up to three days.

NB: Do you have any essential resources you rely upon when finding or curating content for Into A Larger World?

KARA: Instagram has been the best bet for sure, communicating with people, finding cool and interesting fans to follow and also seeing who my friends are interested in. People have come to me with such cool ideas and I’m always like, “Yes, that, let’s do that.” And subscribers! My subscribers have amazing ideas that I love to run with.

NB: What advice would you give someone if they came to you and said they wanted to start making zines themselves?

KARA: My first advice would be to check out existing zines to determine what you like and what you don’t. Then I would say to make sure you find an idea that you’re super passionate about! And other than that…go for it.

NB: What would you like to see happen in the future when it comes to zine creation and the role of zines in the Star Wars fandom?

KARA: That’s a harder question than I thought. I’m realistic enough to know that the future of fandom community is most likely online. But I would love to see any and all fan creators continue to celebrate their Star Wars love through creativity. From shirts to pins to stickers to zines, I hope that the amount of fan-made goods continues to grow, because you can find such amazing things that are really made from the heart. As far as zines, I think it would be great for fanfic to start being printed again…that was really the roots of those early zines and while I don’t personally know much about that world, it might be fun to see fanfic spread in that way again!

NB: One bonus question: tell me your favorite headcanon that you’ve come across for any Star Wars character.

KARA: I did an episode of the podcast ForceTime with my friend Travis where we talked all about headcanons, and one that I listed is that my headcanon for Boba Fett is that he was defeated so easily in ROTJ because he was hungover. Someone reached out to Travis later and said they think R2 must’ve known the plan and that Boba Fett was dangerous and served him too many drinks on purpose and…yeah, that’s just fact in my book, I love that idea so much!

NB: Okay, bonus-bonus question: tell me your favorite headcanon that you have for any Star Wars character.

KARA: I literally have so many that it’s insane. But my ultimate favorite is that Shmi Skywalker is in touch with the force. I think she was really special and doesn’t get talked about nearly enough. I also have a small headcanon that maybe she had a crush on Qui-Gon, and that he was maybe a little interested, too.

NB: Any closing thoughts?

KARA: Thank you so much for talking with me and letting me ramble about my Star Wars stuff! I hope that anyone that wants to see the zine in person will check it out…my goal is always for it to be a safe space to be a fan. I want the zine to be something you can pick up more than once and that you can put down feeling happy and excited about Star Wars and your own personal love for it. If I can do that, then I’m the happiest gal in the galaxy.

The October issue of Into A Larger World will focus entirely on season two of The Mandalorian, mirroring an amazing issue from 2019 that focused on season one of the show. Kara has dedicated several recent sales of her art and collages to fundraising in support of amazing organizations such as Agano.org and the Autistic People of Color Fund. 

To subscribe to the Into A Larger World fanzine, you can fill out this form here

To buy some of Kara’s limited edition prints, you can make your selections and fill out this form here!

You can also support Kara in her creative endeavors, including Into A Larger World, by becoming a patron on her Patreon, available here.  

All images sourced from the @sacredsomethingbykara IG or provided by Kara herself. Images provided by Kara were taken by her and posted to her Instagram: @sacredsomethingbykara.