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In 2008, writer Janine Fleri slipped on her brass knuckles for the first edition Deathmatch duking it out for her story “Gynecomastia.” Thering was still untested back then so Broken Pencil lured unknowing writers into mayhem with promises of rewards and glory. Although Fleri’s didn’t take home the ultimate prize, this skilled contender has put the trauma  of the tournament behind her and is ready to open up about what it takes to compete.

What do you think is the key to winning this competition?

I want to say “write a bitchin’ story” but my definition of that might vary wildly from yours. Try slipping Hal Niedzviecki a few loonies or a new tuque or something. Bribery is nothing to be ashamed of.

Is there anything you wish you’d done differently?

I should have been meaner. But if I were meaner then I’d be saying “I should have been nicer” now. I’m a green-grasser like that.

Were there any brilliant behind the scenes schemes that team Fleri did to market “Gynecomastia” for votes?

I made this little web video campaign set to Ween’s “Put your boobs on” since my entry was a story about a boy with boobs.

Are there any comments that stuck with you?

There was this one poet who chimed in that was an Ignatius C. Reilly type. Very self-aggrandizing and pompous, trying to tear down both stories while promoting himself. My competitor and I kind of bonded over mocking him, but he did backhandedly say he preferred my story so I guess he wasn’t so bad.

If you ever have children, would you let them read the Deathmatch comment board?

I’ve assumed a decade of frequent laptop use has left me sterile so this is probably a moot question.

What do you get out of being a Deathmatch contestant?

I got my stuff read, and I got to build a relationsip with the folks at BP, which has been great. I had a music review published in one of the print issues and Richard Rosenbaum included my story from the Deathmatch in the Can’tLit anthology so in the end I got my wish of being able to say “I’m a published author” which strokes a significant length of my ego.

What have you been up to since the Deathmatch?

I’ve got a day job at a science journal and I’m closing in on my Master’s Degree in Media Studies. I’ve been screwing around more with web and video projects and recently contributed a video to the Anonymous Heartache Project, and told some lies for a Two Truths and a Lie event. Actually, that’s pretty relevant, since I re-purposed the plot of Gynecomastia as though it had happened to me- that was my lie. I’ve got my fingers in a few other pies, including a multi-media project based on my dream diary, which is far more insane than anything I could come up with while awake. Hopefully it will make the leap from something I mentioned in an interview to something I’ve successfully executed.

Any advice for future Deathmatch participants?

Baking soda is a great way to remove pit stains from your shirt.

Check back here for more interviews with Deathmatch writers from our intrepid correspondent Colin Brush!

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