Sun 15 February, 12-5pm
Melbourne Town Hall
Swanston Street, Melbourne, Victoria
This zine fair is organised by Sticky Institute, a small volunteer run non profit space that has supported, stocked and been a creation space for zines since 2001. The zine fair is now in its seventh year and is part of Sticky’s annual Festival of the Photocopier which includes a broader program of zine launches and events.
Hashtag the Stash: 24 years after the fact, all your friends have tons of photos in your news feeds of all the zines they’ve purchased from the day lovingly spread all over carpets and bedspreads with the hashtag “zine haul”.
Venue: Seriously, you cannot go past the Melbourne town hall when it comes to packing over 100 tables of keen zinemakers into one open, accessible, climate controlled space. It’s a shame bystanders have no idea of the free event going on when they are just walking along the street outside, but if you’re in the general zine loop you know where you gotta be.
Random: Intermittent PA announcements on the stage for the Golden Stapler Awards. Not the New York Times ones, these ones are for zine excellence. If you haven’t seen the ugliest tumbler on the internet, the golden stapler awards site may well be it http://goldenstapler.tumblr.com.
I never quite understand this award: it packages itself in a self deprecating way but apparently takes itself seriously enough to be worthy of an internet poll and formal trophy hand over. Because that’s all it is: an internet poll. Consequently it’s completely meaningless. At best: a strange side show of announcements to wheel out at a zine event where there’s a microphone. At worst: a misguided popularity contest.
Someone interstate called Justin or Michael won the “zinester of the year” award, which involved some unintelligible acceptance speech over speaker phone. I find the whole thing somewhat of an embarrassment to zine culture, and keep waiting for it to die.
I think the fair would have been just as enjoyable, if not more so, if someone had just gone to the stage and announced little known trivia about otters over the mic throughout the afternoon.
Other entertainment: The Moreland community brass band played some standards, but it was all a little muffled and lost in the hall. Despite promises that there would be no spoken word etc, someone managed to broadcast their interpretive singing (or whatever it was) albeit briefly – well done to them for their tenacity in managing to make it into the program.
Best trade: A zine explaining a zinemaker’s PhD in eight pages including atom diagrams. The title? “Free-Electron Laser and Synchrotron Spectroscopy of Fundamental Excitations in Ytterbium-Doped Fluroide Lattices”. When people ask her about her thesis in nuclear physics, she gives them the zine in way of explanation. Basically it’s to do with atoms.
You can ask her about it yourself, she’s very lovely: rosahughescurrie (at) gmail.com
On Trend: rainbow coloured hair
One of these things is not like the other: The ‘YOU’ zine table featured a book with very similar graphics to the zine on display as “not” YOU: Caroline Kepnes novel.
The YOU zine is beyond a zine, it’s an icon of stapled paper bags featuring a stamped inked title in capitals, and there have been issues of sprayed colour paint that look very much like the cover art of this book. The book even mimics the folded paper effect for texture and the same inky serif font.
I hope the YOU zinemaker appropriates the book jacket as a future issue. Read more about YOU from the Take Care distro site
The stuff of urban legend: The milkcrate stash of American and Australian zines from the 90s to early 2000s that was donated to sticky a week or two beforehand from a Melbourne squat. The zines were spread out across a table, not sure if they were being sold or just on display or for free, but total ooh-aaah value right there.
Made me smile: At the end of the day Luke from Sticky thanked everyone for coming, and everyone broke into applause. Then he requested everyone take their rubbish with them, and nobody clapped. See, I think that deserved a clap as well.
Thank you: Sticky Institute organised this event at no charge to partipants. This year’s event had over 100 tables and a lot of dazed punters suffering sensory overload, depleted of change and wandering back out to the heat of Swanston st with quality reading material you’d otherwise have to hunt down resourcefully.
Sat 19 June, 12pm-5pm
Old Folks Association
8 Gundry Street, Auckland
Auckland Zinefest first appeared in the mid 2000s and its latest incarnation has been an annual event since 2009.
My first: This was my first visit to the Auckland Zinefest and my first visit to New Zealand. An interesting note for people not in New Zealand but who might be considering heading over next year is that the flights were much cheaper than I expected ($250 to get there from Melbourne and $200 to get back).
The space: The space the zine fair was held in was a kind of community hall. It had a real community DIY feel to it, a grassroots celebration feel, a zinemakers zine fair! This was the first time the Old Folks Home space had been used for the fair, having been held in the smaller space of St Kevin’s Arcade in 2013.
Newer, larger: Despite moving to a newer, larger space stall-holders still had to be turned away in 2014 due to all tables being filled. Add to the fact that all tables were completely booked out (50 stalls), the room was completely pumping with zine fans literally all afternoon. There was not a centimetre of space all afternoon such was the large turn-out for the event. I should say that I sold a lot of zines too and left the fair at the end of the day feeling like a zine-world Clive Palmer.
Hot zines: The large crowd meant I did not pick up as many New Zealand zines as I had hoped as I was run off my little zinemaker feet all afternoon trying to keep up with sales on my stall. Lots of art/design zines, lots of zines that were new to my eyes. “Quality” is the work that I am left with to describe the zines on offer.
The vibe: A celebration. The fair was something to really be proud of. One of my favourite things in the world is helping to carry the trestle tables into a room before a zine fair. As we drove to the local church to pick up tables, pack the tables onto a trailer and into zinemaker hatchbacks, it felt like doing things for ourselves is the most important thing in the world.
Pack up: When 5pm rolled around nobody wanted to leave.
New Zealand hospitality: The zinefest organisers made me fall in love with New Zealand hospitality. Zinefest folk picked me up at the airport, gave me a couch to sleep on, took me out on the town and took me to a family barbeque where several pig hunters discussed their pig hunting adventures (a highlight of my trip!). I am now most keen to sample other New Zealand zine fairs (Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin are next on my wish list). High five to the zinefest organisers.
Sun 22 June, 12- 4pm
Queens Hall, State Library of Victoria
328 Swanston St, Melbourne
Tonerpalooza was organised by Sticky in collaboration with the State Library as part of a two day zine weekend program that included workshops and launches both within Sticky’s space and the library’s. It’s the second major zine fair to be organised in Melbourne in the one year.
We have to talk about: The event name. Keep brainstorming.
Emotional reaction: I’ll be honest, I was shocked and saddened walking into the Queens Hall. It was a once proud and dignified central hall of the library with all its elaborate gilt criss-crossed ceiling and ornate victoriana detailing from 1856. In the 90s when I was a frequent visitor doing Year 11 and 12, it was the creaky quaint arts section heaving with shelves jutting out of corners. Now: a completely unfurnised, decomissioned wing. There are even small partitioned spaces long locked up, with torn flooring and abandoned office junk. Peering through the internal glass, it’s something out of the soviet era. And Melbourne didn’t have a soviet era.
The Queens Hall has been cordoned off from the rest of daily library life for over a decade now, completely unknown to people outside its windows facing on to Swanston Street or those across the way in the domed reading room. (domed as opposed to doomed). Ever wonder what was up the grand marble staircases in the main foyer, cordoned off? Now you know. The hall gets occasional use for functions, but the marble stairs stay out of bounds forever. Cue: zine fair.
Practical evaluation: This is a long and narrow hall by modern standards, where multiple extension chords stretch across the extremely worn and pilled orange-brown carpet. ( There are not enough electrical sockets). The layout of tables in both wings and the landing was awkward. Everything was workable enough, if not slightly dim. I was in a constant state of dismay and emotional bewilderment and couldn’t shake it for the entire day.
That’s a lot of trestle tables: 100. I thought filling BOTH wings was a little on the ambitious side, but every table was snapped up. I was sceptical Melbourne could handle two major zine fairs in any given twelve month period. Again, I was wrong. Ziemakers had come from far and wide to be there. However,…
The turnout: Not great. I kind of expected this just because the venue has lots of complications. I think those who travelled interstate to have tables for this were probably disappointed. Some library go-ers stumbled on to the event by accident, which was amazing, because Toneropalooza may have been ‘open to the public’ but with no obvious signage or sandwich boards, it was like library users and passers-by were actively discouraged from finding us.
The punters: Intelligentsia and Indie 20-somethings. An old man in a beanie.
Is it really necessary: The live music slash performance art going on during zine fairs. I am a fan of music at zine fairs, I think it helps create a festive atmosphere, but there are limitations that include the volume level. I also draw the line at David Lynch inspired violin experimentation with synth machines on a Sunday morning when I’ve just popped some pandadol cold and flu anti-congestants. How unfortunate the sharp string noises articulated so perfectly the jabbing musical notation of a headache, the very one I was trying to suppress. At a zine fair I’d like the music to be…friendly. Not music that has been sound designed for someone suddenly grabbing your shoulder and gasping ‘Oh My God you have ants crawling out of your ear’.
I’m absolutely with DK when it comes to performers and zinefairs. (See the Cons of the Scranton Zine Fair, 2014).
‘Love, Truth and Honesty: A zine about Bananarama…and me’. I thought this zine was out of print forever and died with joy when I found this back in circulation at Take Care’s table. One of my all time favourite zines that I didn’t have a personal copy of. My life is now complete.
‘A guide to procrastination’. I discovered the zinemaker actually wrote this from two years ago and only recently printed it out. Perfect. [likim2 (at) yahoo dot com dot au].
I was also pumped to pick up Plunder 3.5 / Confessions of an SHS worker, a split zine on community and public housing [strikecuriousposes (at) gmail dot com].
And a super sweet zine on matchboxes and shyness, which you may need to write for (PO Box 60 Abbotsford Victoria Australia 3067).
Most dubious purchase: I was excited to see the latest issue (#59) of ‘Web:’ in twelve geographical paper structures. Instead of walking around with 12 cool looking things that would most likely get squashed, I walked away with the print outs and instructions on how to assemble. Hang on a minute. I just paid $5 for a few sheets of paper. I need to rethink this one.
Trade fail: A guy came up to me holding his zine and asking if I did trades. “Yes” I said and held out one of my own. No, he replied, he wanted to get THAT one – one of the zines from my distro. I apologised and said I didn’t trade other people’s works, only my own. He recoiled from my offer, asked how much the zine was that he wanted, ($2) and moved on.
Bless you: Apparently there was going to be a guided tour of the zine fair, but such a thing met with zero interest, so organiser Thomas walked around the tables by himself with a microphone coming out of a fannybag amp contraption, broadcasting his own running commentary.
Stars in my eyes: While talking about the Canberra straight-edge zine Better Things To Do, the guy standing at my table reveals he is one of the interviewees in the zine. He shows me his straight edge tattoos from under his tshirt sleeves. I gush.
Fashion Sighting: Guy with the most coiffured, spectacular upwardly swirled mohawk I ever saw in my life. Like a momentary vision, one minute he was there, the next, gone. There was also a mysterious young woman wearing a black cardigan with a white eye design knit on the pocket. When I remarked on it looking rather conspiratorial, she held up her hand and revealed the exact same eye tattoo on the side of one of her fingers. I freak.
Special mention: Braddock who turned up with a moon boot and crutches. He’d broken his leg escaping police while street-arting. You cannot top that kind of effort to attend. Or mere street cred.
Sticky, for being entirely volunteer run and once again organising a zine fair with no entry fee and no tabling fee, making the world a better place.
Thomas, for getting miked up for the tour.
The State Library, who made the space possible.
Sat 7 June 2014, 1pm-7pm
Tripp Park Community Center
This is the fourth year of the Scranton Zinefest, originally inspired by Ruthless Zine, a local arts and activism zine from late 2008. The zinefest this year included a music schedule as well as spoken word readings to further promote local artists in the festival program.
High Hopes: Spending the first half of my twenties in Willimantic, CT and Lubbock, TX, I have a lot of affection for small town punk.
When you live in a big city where there are so many things going on, it’s easy to dismiss punk as fashion or another clique even if you participate in it. In little cities and towns, often the punk showspace is the only all ages place (or the only place) where you can see a show if not the only cultural institution in that town.
I think of amazing shows I’ve been to and played in Manassas, VA or Leverett, MA as proof that DIY punk can transform an otherwise nondescript community. This being my mindset as I traveled to Scranton Zinefest.
Dashed: Aforementioned high hopes
The venue reminded me of: A church banquet hall
The pros: Scranton hospitality. It’s not famous but it should be. I asked a question about food allergies in my registration (which I filled out on a Saturday night) and got an answer within 10 minutes. A week before, we got a voicemail confirming our reigstration.
The day of we were greeted at the door with goodie bags including some candy and pretzels, tabler information (schedule, table assignment, etc), an ID badge of the “business conference variety”), and a crossword puzzle. This was the best idea ever.
The first hour before a zinefest always seems to be spent rushing to give zinesters programs and buttons and direct them to the table. Wrapping all the things you have to hand out in an attractive package seemed to make the process flow so much more smoothly. A+
The cons: The noise. Okay–so part of the charm of zine fests is getting a chance to hang out with nationwide friends who you pretty-much only get to see at these things. Furthermore, while zinefests are about commerce, they’re about commerce of a particularly congenial, loving sort.
I sell zines to meet people and to talk with them about OCD and other mental illnesses. All of these activities involve a certain baseline of quiet. Entering into the venue, a TV played (admittedly, some pretty great) music videos through the speakers (Bonus points for Jerusalem by Susie Sioux and Teenage Dream by The Undertones).
The zinefest opened with a poetry reading that lasted for about an hour. At one point, the poet onstage shushed the zinesters talking in hushed tones. This was followed by a variety of performances by “bands” (shifting associations of high school and college-aged kids often containing some of the same members and performing mostly covers). Basically, this was about 3 hours of performance that went on while folks were trying to sell zines.
I get the “why”–they had moved the fest from downtown Scranton to the edge of the city cutting into possible “foot traffic”–poets and bands and the like would bring their friends. The problem was that it put poets, bands, and zinesters in an odd situation where we all had to worry about being rude to each other leaving none of our work fully appreciated.
The best moment at the zine fair was: The ride up. My travelmates, JC (of Collide) and Moose (of Moose Lane) and I made up a romantic comedy starring George Clooney, J-Lo, and Aziz Anisari that we are working on storyboarding and making into zine form. I blame Rutters-brand “Extremely Cafinated” coffee.
Best spent money on the day: Postcards! Joe (of Displaced Snail) sold me a book of dinosaur postcards (he found public domain pictures of dinosaurs and took a perforator to them–I didn’t know that such devices existed) and Tom Dewing (of Zombie Soy Bot) sold me some awesome poscards as well.
The most unusual aspect of the day: The great deal of older patrons. (50+eligible-for-discount-coffee-at-Dunkin-Doughnuts-type ‘elder’) patrons. I strongly suspect these were parents of some of the organizers.
Unlike many of the Scranton Punx, they seemed really excited to hear about what I was doing. Some had friends, family members, and children who had mental health issues that they were going through, and one lady in particular shared the story of her husband’s brain injury. Having a mother with MS, we had a good, long heart-to-heart.
Most awkward moment: Being shusshed by poets.
Sunday 25 March 2014, 11am-4pm
Museum of Contemporary Art
140 George Street
The Rocks, Sydney
The MCA zine fair is, alongside the Sticky zine fair, one of the biggest zinefairs held in Australia. Hosted by the Museum of Contemporary Art as a part of the Sydney Writers’ Festival, it began in 2008 and has been widely popular ever since. However, some zine creators have found it too institutional to serve zine culture, and many boycotted it this year due to the MCA’s corporate relationship with Transfield Holdings, in turn associated with Transfield Services.
See also: Other Worlds Zine Fair
Much to the dismay of all my zine artist friends: I decided to attend the MCA zine fair this year, as I have every year since its inception. I decided not to participate in the boycott represented by the Other Worlds Zine Fair which was held on the same day for a number of reasons:
Despite the complaints I’ve heard about it every year, I’ve found the MCA zine fair very valuable and a great opportunity to engage directly with a wider audience.
I make a lot more money at the MCA zine fair than I ever have at other zine fairs.
I already feel that the zine community can be somewhat self-contained whereas I am personally more interested in having my work seen by people outside the subculture.
I felt that the harm caused by the boycott would mainly be incurred by the zine community – i.e. by the loss of income for artists and of what I see as a valuable relationship with the MCA.
Somewhat Tenuous: The link between the MCA and Transfield as the subject for a boycott. It’s almost impossible to avoid becoming complicit in all sorts of unpleasant and immoral activities on a daily basis – every time I buy a bottle of water or a t-shirt, I’m faced with a moral conundrum, one in which, unfortunately, convenience usually takes precedent over principles. Most of the daily choices I make are far worse than the one I faced in deciding which zine fair to attend.
Valid and Laudable: The protest and voices of the Other Worlds zine fair. I don’t wish to deride them, plus I like all the zinemakers personally. I would have loved to attend Other Worlds if it was on a different day and I have respect for the work of all involved. The fact is, I chose not to participate in the boycott, and all I can do is hope that people don’t judge me too harshly because of it.
With that out of the way, the question is:
Was the quality of the MCA zine fair diminished because of the boycott?
In some ways, yes.
The social aspect of the zine fair. For me, a big part of the value of these events is seeing my friends and networking with people. This has led to some fruitful collaborations which extended past the zine world and allowed me to work on other, exciting projects. I did get to meet some lovely people this year, such as the folks behind Cupco and Gang Atelier, but a lot of my friends were at the other zine fair.
A happy development: It seemed like there were a lot less tables at the MCA than in previous years. Anyone who has attended before would acknowledge the cramped conditions of previous fairs. Did this mean that zine creators were missing out on tables? Maybe, or maybe the MCA just had less bookings due to the boycott.
Why the MCA zine fair is valuable: Part of what I enjoy about the MCA fair every year is that it’s patronised not just by hardcore zinesters, but by the art lovers who frequent the MCA, the lovers of reading who are there because of the Sydney Writers’ Festival, and all the tourists and others who flow through there. So I get to sell a lot of books and art, and also have rewarding discussions with people. I spoke to a potential distributor for my next comics anthology, a lady from Penrith Regional Gallery (where I had a zine show some years back), a group of tourists who wanted me to draw a picture of them, and a host of other people who were just interested in what I was doing and how I put my little publications together. It’s a very validating experience for someone who can be tempted to think their work is without value to have a direct dialogue with a supportive public.
Noticeable: My haul of zines from this year’s festival was smaller than in previous years. This was partially because I’ve been culling my collection in recent times and am hesitant to pick up new stuff unless I’m sure I’ll want to keep it down the track, and partially because there weren’t as many people around I knew and could ask to mind my table. In past years I’ve been able to roam around a bit and do some trades, but I was pretty much stuck where I was for most of the day this time. I didn’t even interact much with those on either side of me due to the continuous stream of customers. To my left was the Sweets Workshop, a gallery/design/print shop based in Summer Hill, and to my right was Phillip Dearest, who was from Queensland and had a group zine entitled Sewer Side Cult.
Didn’t happen: After the zine fair, the plan was that I would try and catch the tail end of Other Worlds and acquire whatever was left of ‘the good stuff’, but that unfortunately didn’t transpire. I had customers grabbing my last few zines right up until the end, and when I left the fair I had to battle through the crowds making their way to Circular Quay for the Vivid festival. By the time I’d escaped from there, I was too tired to go join all my friends who were drinking beers in Victoria Park. So I went home and went to bed, enriched by the day’s labour but possibly impoverished ethically.
Thanks to: Kym Lenoble, the organiser of this year’s fair. He did a good job of bringing it all together, including getting the word out to media outlets and keeping all the artists abreast of developments as they occurred. The MCA staff were as usual very competent, friendly and helpful, and some of them even bought my zines.
Sun 25 March 2014, 11am-4pm
Central shopping centre
Broadway, Chippendale NSW
Other worlds on facebook
This event was designed and organised by local zinemakers as a political alternative to the annual Museum of Contemporary Art zinefair, part of the Sydney Writers Festival. The MCA have a corporate partnership with Transfield Holdings, which has become politically sensitive in the last six months. Transfield Holdings are a major shareholder of Transfield Services, an entity that run the government’s outsourced detention centres for refugees.
This event was held the same time and day as MCA’s on the other side of the city. See also: MCA Zine Fair 2014
Weirdest and most unlikely choice: The venue. I have never attended a zine fair on the third level of a shopping centre and I don’t expect to, ever again. The complex, just on the recently gentrified outskirts of the CBD, is a newly redeveloped site and so everything there is unscuffed, immaculate, tumbleweed-ish, and void of naturally occurring human traffic. While the lower levels of the shopping centre were trading, the third level was almost like some kind of developer epic fail: commercially untenanted. It was a floor (half sealed up) dedicated to art spaces.
Suspicious: What kind of weird contract clause did the local council negotiate for this freak of commerce and community, for the third level of a shopping centre to be allocated to art groups? Everything about the configuration of the floor felt transient, like it will only take 18 months or so before commercial leases will take over, and the natural order of retail will triumph. The open-plan space that the zine fair was held in has a destiny of sub divisions and change rooms, of racks and jeans and jackets and handbags.
Win-win: Meanwhile, this was a space that had been offered at no charge to the organisers. So, weirdest zinefair venue coup ever. And the day was a success: there was a crowd. Sure people didn’t happen across the fair by chance like the mums with prams or the teens who were at Central to drink asian bubble cups and try on sunglasses, but just one escalator higher on the third floor a scruffier section of society were weaving their way amongst their peers in the pursuit of zines.
The best part about being in a shopping centre: Awesome lift access for those with suitcases or in wheelchairs. Awesome lighting. Awesome controlled climate. Decent coffee and food court choices one escalator down. And hey you can buy some other stuff while you’re there.
Cat attack: At one point gathering at one of the tables there was a girl with leopard print leggings standing nearby a girl with a leopard print back-pack. Who in turn was standing nearby to another girl in another leopard-print back-pack, slightly smaller. If they had all stood in the right kind of configuration, they could have created a perfect leopard-print cat formation.
Benign: What the wrath of zinemakers looks like. This was a kind of boycott protest action against MCA, remember. What was the impact? Probably, only the organisers were the ones who noticed a distinct a lack of around 50 or so bookings from their traditional base, and they simply adapted accordingly with new applicants and table arrangements on the day.
Maybe the absences didn’t even register at all – the organisers are not zinemakers and probably change in staffing from year to year so they may not have known any differently. I think the Other Worlds zine fair was more a celebration of the spirit of independence. Albeit in a shopping centre. Which was probably built in part by Transfield Services.
Highlight: Heaps of people were inspired to make new zines for this event, so there was a lot of exchanging going on. I was presented with a random zine about interviewing with the headline “Calling from a Brisbane Payphone”. I scored Plunder #3 about working in the community housing sector, a beautiful new issue of Lumpen 12, a thick new issue of I Am A Camera 17 and an australian zine ‘Slam Tilt‘ dedicated entirely to pinball playing (inspired by Drop Target). I haven’t read any of these yet, and there’s more still in the suitcase. The best thing about the fair was that it was zines, zines zines. No second-hand art books, no pom-poms, no craft. Pure zineage.
Most awkward moment: The girl who came up to me asking to trade. I agreed and then she mumbled something and she started rummaging through a brown paper bag and it all got a bit weird. It turned out she had a bunch of old zines from her apartment she was trying to get rid of and was swapping for. Not her own zines. A bunch of zines she just didn’t want anymore. I had to stop her and qualify I was only interested in doing swaps with zines that the person had made themselves. I mean, I could have done a trade and scored a cool old zine, but believe me when I say I have boxes of cool old zines in my own apartment.
Positive: As a political statement, the Other Worlds Zine fair was very low key. Which in some ways was kind of a relief. It could have been a super militant political statement full of shrillness and hysteria and moral judgement. It could have served to further fragment an already scattered zine community in an extreme and bitter fashion. Fortunately that was not the case, although, those who did table at MCA may already feel on the outer.
Negative: The problem with any boycott – militant or benign – is that you immediately create an either/or atmosphere. In this instance, it did create a group of the alleged ‘Cool Kids’ and then those that chose to remain loyal to the MCA.
Political Impact: It’s probably safe to say the Other Worlds Zine Fair event had a minimal impact on the MCA zine fair, but the whole course of events has absolutely undermined MCA’s ‘zine’ credibility (which, to be fair, was always tenuous).
It’s absolutely safe to say the event had no impact on Transfield Services, or federal politics, or off shore detainees, or even local refugees. There was a joint statement published by the organisers on the day in a booklet, but no effort to get people to sign a letter to a minister or even collect donations to assist a local charity actively helping refugees. Zinemakers were charged $10 to have a table. I’m sure they would have been happy paying $11 knowing the extra was going to have some kind of positive, tangible legacy from the day.
Sure, it was a day for zinemakers to realise they could bust a gut and organise their own event, and that’s something. It was good that Sydney zinemakers finally organised a fair for their own – the first time in at least a decade. I hope it inspires more people to become resourceful and independent. Just don’t kid yourself that attending this fair did make you one of the Cool Kids, or that you are some kind of freedom fighter. The whole thing was …posing. Which is a valid political act – it’s SOMETHING. I’m sure it made people feel good about themselves on the day. But that’s pretty much all it did.
Now that I’ve written all this: I’ve made a donation to the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre in my own state. If the organisers had collected one dollar from each tabler, they would have been able to donate at least $50 to a local organisation. Forgive me, but I thought that was what the boycott was all about: protesting our national treatment of refugees. ASRC does genuinely great work and is holding its winter appeal. I donated from the site online.
Thanks to: The organisers for making the day happen. It made people think. I wish you did more.
Sun 16 March 2014, 11am – 4pm
Gorman House Arts Centre
55 Ainslie Avenue
Braddon, ACT 2612
Canberra Zine Emporium collective
This was the second annual Canberra Zine Emporium organised as one of three events by the collective as part of the You Are Here arts festival (13-23 March) and the fair looks to become an annual and much valued event.
Peculiar: We were tabling zines in an old 1920s dinner hall as part of a larger complex that turned out to be an ex hostel built for public servants that included garden pavillions. The location composed of alphabetisised blocks of single story buildings as you made your way to the hall. It felt like a weird mash up of country homestead crossed with some kind of military barracks/government quarantine complex. Which also describes Canberra, really.
I did feel sorry for: The zine people who were allocated tables out in the furthest, most obscured part of the open courtyard. They were isolated from all the action. It’s better to offer less tables on the day, than offer more than you have the space for, and shaft some zinesters into dark shadows. Then again, some zinesters like dark shadows. So you could say the organisers accommodated everyone.
The crowd: Families who spoke to each other. Mums and dads, teen friends walking in little groups, toddlers being gently navigated around tables. A sausage dog in the doorway. The whole fair had a really strong community feel, like it was a Scouts Day or some kind of church fete.
But this was mixed up with the fact there were circus stuff and plays and performance art going on too, and every now and then someone in costume would walk through with a bushrangers hat, skull and bones neck scarf, and khaki gear. Or a complete vintage brown suit with bright orange shirt. You kind of looked twice because you weren’t sure if it was some young guy in costume or a potential eccentric hipster. There was at least one guy wandering around with a formal bow tie on, and I gave up trying to work it out and just enjoyed.
You know when the vibe is relaxed when: One of the zinemakers has stretched out behind his table and removed their shoes and socks for the afternoon. Looking at you, Luke!
Fashion Anarchy: So many weird clothing combos going on. A Nelson Mandela ‘I believe’ t-shirt with hawaiian shorts. Pastel tan paisley print jeans with a lacey top. An Addidas jacket with keffiyeh neck scarf. Cardigans and thongs. Vests and pork pie hats. Chubby young women walking around in ill-fitting vintage dresses with leather belts wrapped too high around their waists. Some really bad pattern floral print leggings. Just a lot of floral print in general.
Best spent money was: For me, a copy of ‘Bye‘ by fourhundredpencils.com that had been made on the zinemaker’s own riso, where the old red ink drum had mixed a bit with the blue in the copying process. Sexy.
My friend kept laughing at: her copy of True Ghost Stories.
Best trade: A zine from a librarian about learning martial arts. She had replaced Buffy’s face with her own on the cover and called it Delusions of Buffy. She wears glasses. You gotta love that.
it was great to have Robert Messenger there with a table representing his canberra typewriter museum with an assortment of antique sexy black shiny coronas and remingtons and other model friends that you could go over and tap around with. I didn’t realise it, but they were actually on sale! arg. I may have purchased one on the spot if I’d known. They. Are. So. Seductive.
The most hyped technology for 2014 in the Australian Capital Territory, the travelling CZE vending machine of all-local zines.
It was even the star of this news story where a demonstration of how to use the machine is included. Just in case you needed help with that.
Highlight of the day: Out in the courtyard area was a gözleme tent and a table selling vegan cupcakes, brownies, and cinnamon donuts. I may never go to another zine fair unless fresh hot gözleme are being made on-site. People were also able to bring in their own food which was nice.
Suggestion to caterers: Include strategically placed mirrors around gözleme tent so customers can check for spinach between their teeth before rocking up to total strangers and striking up conversations about cat zines.
Sweet Personal Touch:
Every tabler received a special CZE pack from the organisers including an introductory split zine from the CZE collective about how they came to be residents of Canberra. What a cool idea idea and the best personal touch ever, which I guess organising a small scale event (35 or so tablers on the day) can make possible. So lovely.
Androniki for telling me I had spinach between my teeth.
Nat, Chiara and the organisers working behind the scenes for a great relaxed day. The CZE don’t charge zinemakers for tables which is super rare and highly cool and are always up to exciting hijinks like making a zine library happen at the old parlimentary house. You guys rock.
Sun 9 February 2014, 12-4pm
Melbourne Town Hall
cnr. Swanston & Collins Streets,
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Sticky Institute is a small volunteer run non profit artist run initiative that has supported, stocked and been a creation space for zines since 2001. The zine fair is now in its sixth year and is part of an annual celebration of all things zines, this year part of the Sticky biannual Festival of the Photocopier.
An excellent choice: The venue. The Melbourne town hall auditorium is a big, airy space with lots of room for tables and mingling. The space also comes with its own formally dressed gentleman standing out the front.
Extra points for: a location that’s wheelchair accessible, central to get to (unless you had a car) and, for those tabling, has a lift for that suitcase full of zines.
Refreshing: The attitude. And room temperature. The fair lacked any sense of self-indulgence wankery. People just seemed genuinely pleased to be out for the day, with their zines, around other people who liked zines too. Plus it was hot outside and inside was delightfully temperate.
Leaning towards unnecessary: The choice of live music. The acoustics in the town hall are a force of nature and the amplifier was turned up way too loud. If you’re having to do the ‘What? Huh? I can’t hear you’ yelling nightclub conversation to the person sitting next to you, it means that the acoustic trio is either standing too close to their microphones or someone got a bit handsy with the volume knob. The invisible DJ playing the background music was a good choice but I could do without the solo and trio performers. However…
Highlight: Brass band ‘Deep Vein Trombosis’. Amazing. On a Sunday afternoon in the middle of a Melbourne heatwave there is literally nothing that I would want to hear more than a thumping medley of Ginuwine’s ‘Pony’ and Britney Spears’ ‘Toxic’ (as unlikely as this combination may seem). Book these guys to play the whole thing next year.
Most initiative demonstrated on the day: The person who stood up in the middle of the fair to yell ‘Someone’s lost a phone!’ It later occurred to them to hand the phone in and let the professionals make an annoucement over the PA. It was a Samsung.
Most awkward moment: Staring at the person sitting at the table opposite yours all day, on the same eyeline level, but them being a bit too far away to have a conversation, but just close enough for you to know that it’s awkward. For the whole time.
Most fashionable shopper: The young lady rocking a hooded, lime green leopard print shorts onesie. I wasn’t aware that such an item of clothing existed but it does and hats off to her for pulling it off. Also worth a mention, the Gatsby themed ensemble sported by the Love Secretary who takes valentines dictation at the typewriter.
Best deal: While I would normally cringe at the thought of paying five dollars for a zine that’s only a few pages long and copied in black and white, I was more than happy to pay $5 for Flynn Seward’s zine offerings. This pre-teen zine entrepreneur had his stall set up with a framed mission statement available for viewing and there even was a burgeoning side business starting up by his younger brother. Go Flynn.
Generally, the zines this year seemed to all be very reasonably priced which is nice to see (nothing irks a person more than an overpriced zine).
My Biggest regret: At the start of the day it was brought to my attention that there is a girl who made a zine every day for the whole of January and was selling the month’s worth in this ingenious bound-together-by-rubber-bands-but-not-in-a-tacky-way method. I wandered over to buy one but there weren’t any assembled yet and so I planned to go back but sadly, never did. I go on in hope that I will one day find out who this girl was and purchase her month of zines.
[Secrets: It was Georgie, but there aren’t any contact details in her micro daily zines, which you could buy separately as well]
Advice to next years visitors: Bring your own carry bag. Zinesters didn’t seem to be offering any bags to their customers.
Hot tip for next years tablers: A pack of paper bags does not cost much and saves your fans from having to cradle their zines in their arms as they walk around.
Totally out there/ ‘say what?': The waffle shop diagonally opposite from the Town Hall was out of waffles by the middle of the afternoon and were criticised by an irate person in the queue for failing their own business plan.
Best omission of the day: Mobile phones. In the town hall, for this one day, people were genuinely interacting. And if that meant that one person lost their samsung on the day, then maybe it was worth it.
Worst visual: Walking out of the Town Hall to see so many young zinesters smoking out the front steps. I get the whole ‘it’s my own body’ thing, but it’s not 1994 anymore. Put the cigarettes down and find a vice that won’t lead you to an early death. You could give yourself a few more zine making years if you stop now.
It gave me faith in humanity that: Everyone was welcome. Zines and art circles can be a bit cliquey sometimes just because you know the people who know the people and those people know you and so on. But it genuinely felt like everyone was welcome to come on in, have a look around and talk to the person behind the stall.
Best strategic decision by the planners: I initially wondered about why the fair only went for 4 hours. But then, but the end of the day I realized how much sense it made. Rather than having the entire day drag out with everyone exhausted and at zine saturation point by the end of a 7 hour day, 4 hours is time enough to do all you need to do. Starting at 12pm is sane enough for the difficulties presented by a Sunday morning and a 4pm finish allows everyone time to get a post-zine fair ice cream, go home, do laundry and prepare for the INXS telemovie they’ve been looking forward to all week.
Special Mention: Unlike other zine fairs, Sticky never charge zinesters for their tables. This is a BIG thing. It is very cool that Sticky stands proudly behind zinesters by not making them fork out upwards of twenty bucks for a table.
Maybe next year: The Love Secretary will launch her own zine of style tips and tricks for the uptown gal on a budget?
Thanks to: Sticky Institute and their volunteers for their fantastic zine fair, great Festival of the Photocopier and ongoing support of zines. And the city of Melbourne for making the venue an affordable option for the zine community.
11am-6pm October 5 2013
Gay Community Center of Richmond,
1407 Sherwood Avenue
Richmond, VA 23220 USA
Richmond Zinefest 2013
The best moment at the zine fair: I got to meet several people with OCD who were really open and interested in talking about their experiences. As somebody [with OCD] whose only met about a dozen OCD people in my life, I felt really blessed to have that sort of conversation.
The most hilarious moment: the zine dance which Ariana (of phlegm fatale zine) and I made and kept doing throughout. Moves included the scissors and paper cuter. At the after party we convinced all of the richmond organizers present to do it with us. Also, on the ride back, we filled out an anarchist mad lib zine that somebody left on the free pile. Good times.
Most awkward moment: the hippie herbalist type who suggested that I take herbs for my ocd.I politely explained to her that there were only 3 effective therapies for ocd and that I had failed ssris – which do the same thing as st johns wort. She ignored this and continued to insist that I use herbs. Unable to leave politely, I had to listen to this for about 5 minutes.
The venue reminded me of: an idealized old folks home. It’s at the richmond gay community center, and I’m guessing the gay community in Richmond is really into bingo, wheel of fortune, and karaoke because they had all of those very present. It sorta made me wonder if Richmond’s Queer scene is basically a church carnival. In retrospect, that doesn’t sound like the worst thing.
The most unusual factor: Again, the venue.
The best spent money was: an artist who created imaginary canadian basketball teams as a child (he falsely believed that canada didn’t have basketball, so he created teams for them) decided to make sweatshirts to commemorate his childhood hobby. You best believe I bought a purple “fantastiques du montreal” sweatshirt.
I also either bought/traded (can’t recall) a great zine called “My Job is Fucking Dangerous” with organizers, Brian. It’s pictures of safety signs from his job at a convention center. The best is a sign of the “faceless safety guy” whose standing on some sort of electric platform among some power lines. The electricity zaps him, zaps another faceless safety guy below him, then goes to ground.