Microcosm Publishing is an independent publisher and distributor based out of Portland, OR and Bloomington, IN that distributes zines, books, pamphlets, stickers, 1" buttons, canvas patches, posters, t-shirts, films, and more. The focus is on publishing zines and books in the hopes that it will add credibility to zine writers and their ethics. Titles attempt to teach self-empowerment to disenfranchised people and to nurture their creative side.
Microcosm Publishing began in 1996 when self-described "hippie pretending to be post-punk" Joe Biel started the distro and then-record-label as a part-time mailorder out of his bedroom in Cleveland, Ohio. Since then, many Microcosm employees have come and gone, including Brainscan editor Alex Wrekk, who occasionally helped out for four years before being hired in 2003. She left in 2006, due to personal reasons. The operation has grown significantly over the years and, as of March of 2007, moved its mailorder operation to Bloomington, Indiana. In September 2008, they opened a Portland store at 833 SE Main #107.
There is a particular focus towards images and artwork celebrating bicycles, DIY ethics, and radical politics. Many of the items offered are not available easily elsewhere on the web or otherwise.
Microcosm is heralded in the zine community as an entity that, for better or worse, has brought zines into a larger consciousness in the new millennium, after former mainstream interest has largely subsided. They are also responsible for many of the recent zine/book hybrid aesthetics and zines that have fancier covers or design aesthetics such as multiple color screenprints, letterpress, or offset printing.
Incorporating the tactics of early punk record labels and a very DIY approach, Microcosm uses tactics that are more guerilla styled for promoting their titles than most publishers of equal size. They rarely purchase advertising, and rely more heavily on the people who appreciate their craft independently passing out their catalogs in their respective towns.
Microcosm is sometimes equated as the "Wal Mart of Zines" due to the vast selection and customer service that it offers. Due to Wal Mart's poor human rights record and complete inability to build a decent public image for themselves - Microcosm would probably be more accurately called "The Target of Zines", although a few former employees have no problem with the Wal Mart association.
Microcosm offered custom buttons as a service from 1998-2006. Custom stickers were also offered from 2001-2006. Custom patches and t-shirt printing was also offered briefly in 2002-2003.
Microcosm Publishing was formerly a record label, and released records by Flotation Walls, Bedford, Organic, Cripple Kid, The Unknown, The Roswells, Little Dipper, Rock, Star.
Currently Microcosm has picked up it's largest publishing schedule ever - managing about a dozen publishing projects at any given time - including rebirthing the 2007 Zine Yearbook.
Decisions at Microcosm are made as a group by current staffing employees. Current staff includes Adam Gnade, Matt Gauck, Jessie Duke, E Chris Lynch, Sparky Taylor, Steven Stothard, Nate Beaty, and Joe Biel.
- Chainbreaker Bike Book
- I Hate This Part of Texas / Keep Loving Keep Fighting
- Mostly True: The Story of Bozo Texino
- $100 & A T-Shirt
- Making Stuff & Doing Things
- On Subbing
- We'll Never Have Paris #4
- Stolen Sharpie Revolution
- Flow Chronicles
- The CIA Makes Science Fiction Unexciting
- Brainscan #19 and 20
- Things are Meaning Less
- Xtra Tuf #5
- Coffeeshop Crushes
- Homeland Insecurity
- Invincible Summer Anthology
- My Brain Hurts #1-5 Collection
- Distance Makes The Heart Grow Sick
- The Constant Rider Omnibus (Second Edition)
- DIY Screenprinting
- Bipedal, By Pedal
- Snakepit 2: My Life in a Jugular Vein
- Secret Files of Cap'n Sissy
- I Hate This Part of Texas
- Dreamwhip #14
- Doris Anthology 1991-2001, #23
- Cantankerous Titles & Obscure Ephemera, Vol 1 DVD
- Green Zine #14
- Best of Intentions
- You Can Work Any 100 Hours Per Week You Want (In Your Underwear!!)
- Please Don't Feed the Bears
- Sounds of Your Name
- Hot Damn & Hell Yeah/Dirty South
- The Zinester's Guide to Portland