Interview: Joe Carlough, DIY Publisher

Joe Carlough is a DIY publisher based in Philadelphia. He runs Displaced Snail Publications, and has collaborated with organizations such as Microcosm Publishing, Joyful Noise Recordings, and Portland State University; musicians such as Kishi Bashi, Hrishikesh Hirway, Sound of Ceres, Serengeti and Tall Tall Trees; and a slew of authors from unpublished to published by Random House. Keep your eye out for his zines as props in the upcoming movie production Adam from Ariel Schrag and Rhys Ernst.

Joe and Katie Haegele will be leading a Zine making workshop this Sunday, March 18 at the Tulpehocken Exchange in Germantown.

Name: Joe Carlough
Age: 31
Hometown: Edison, NJ
Current town: East Falls, Philadelphia PA
Job description: DIY Publisher, part time Linguistic Annotator

Upcoming projects: I’m currently working on a prologue comic with Chicago rapper Serengeti to promote the creation of his full-length graphic novel, which I’ll also be publishing. As for my own work, I’m working on a new series of tiny books about pets, and a collection of recipes for an alcoholic non-beer alternative.

Select links:


What themes and concepts does your work generally revolve around?

Lately, my work depends more and more on size than anything else. I’ve been getting a real kick out of developing books centered around how small I can make them while retaining legibility, and so I’ve been writing a lot of VERY short stories. To try and sum up my work in one sentence: Small, handmade books and zines, mostly nonfiction but sometimes poetry, about animals, celestial bodies, and my life.

What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have?

I tend to flesh out design before anything else: if I have a good idea, I want to know what the zine will look like before I get to creating the content. I tend to measure my ideas by size – that story is only worth 6 pages of a quarter sized zine, or this one needs to be at least 20 pages, maybe half size. Mind, though, smaller doesn’t mean worse. There are a LOT of zines that I make that are tiny and I love that about them

Describe your current state of mind.

Harried and tired. I’m launching this comics project and it’s exciting and fun and excellent and…exhausting!


Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven’t yet?

Music. I’m currently in a band and managing a band, but managing a band is more social organization, and the band I’m in makes experimental noise music, which doesn’t offer much structure in a way. I’d like to get out more on my own, but I’ve been a bit shy about pursuing it!

What is your dream project?

House zine maker for a reputable record label. I also sometimes have to tour with the bands.

Are you involved with any organizations?

Not at the moment, but in the past I’ve belonged to The Soapbox, and a number of Meetup groups. I’ve been really toning that down lately to focus on my own work. Though, my partner Katie and I do run a zine library // show space, East Falls Zine Reading Room. That might count.


Do you collaborate with other people?

Often. Katie and I make a lot of zines together, and I publish work for a few people. I also take on clients for book design and printing, and work in a more collaborative role with the record label Joyful Noise Recordings – I guess maybe I’ve almost accomplished my dream project, ha.

What are a few of your favorite spots in your area?

Well, I miss the Falls Taproom dearly, which just closed, but have been spending a good amount of time at Billy Murphy’s Irish Saloon. I’m always up for some fried chicken from Foghorn, and I’ve heard the new Le Bus is very good, so who knows, maybe that’ll become a haunt for a drink or two. I also love to walk around the city, and do a lot of that just for the walk. I also like the hermit’s cave in Wissahickon, which is a short walk from our house.

What are you reading?

I’m currently reading through David Sedaris’ Chipmunk Seeks Squirrel, and am about to start Bram Stoker’s Dracula’s Guest and Other Horror Stories. I’m also in a constant state of reading regional ghost stories in anthologies or online.



What are you listening to these days?

Woof, let’s see. I just bought the Diners album Three. Cults’ Offering, Mount Eerie’s Now Only, of Montreal’s Innocence Reaches and Skeletal Lamping. Open Mike Eagles’ Brick Body Kids Still Daydream. Serengeti’s Family and Friends. Oh, and Sleep Party People’s Lingering is very good!


What was the last show you attended?

We try to go to a few shows a month. We recently saw Rabbits to Riches at The Pharmacy in South Philly, and will definitely see George Clanton when he’s in town in April.


Your websites:,, displacedsnail on IG


Joe and Katie Haegele will be leading a Zine making workshop this Sunday, March 18 at the Tulpehocken Exchange in Germantown. Tickets available:


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