This past weekend I attended the first Chicago Zine Fest, which also happened to be the first zine fest I’ve been to in almost five years. Attendance seemed quite high for the events that I went to, which was great to see.
Friday night’s zine reading at Quimby’s bookstore was standing-room-only from the stage at the back of the store up to the very front. I couldn’t really hear the readings until I was able to move to the middle of the store just in time to hear self-publishing cartoonist John Porcellino read some painfully honest pieces from his long-running King Cat zine. The always fun Anne Elizabeth Moore closed out the reading by first accepting the Quimby’s Long Arm Stapler Award on behalf of the Queer Zine Archive Project, and then reading a few short mystery stories she wrote as a grade schooler. (You can learn more about Anne and her awesome indie media projects on the May 7, 2009 mediageek radioshow + extra.)
I was glad to meet up with an old zinester friend, Greg Means, the man behind Tugboat Press and the mini-comic Clutch, who came in from Portland, OR for the fest. As the former librarian for Portland’s Independent Publishing Resource Center, Greg led a workshop on zines and libraries that I wasn’t able to attend.I couldn’t make it to the fest’s show floor until almost 3 PM on Saturday but the place was still hopping. My wife and I bought and traded for many zines, using back issues of the mediageek zine as barter. I still haven’t had the chance to really look through them yet, so that will have to be fodder for another post.
While I’ve been reading zines for some twenty years, I’ve never been hardcore zinester. I’m lucky to know great, dedicated zinesters like Greg, Aj Michel and Shawn Granton who help keep me connected with the zine world during those times when I’m focused on other media. I really appreciate the work of the Chicago Zine Fest organizers who gave this aging zine reader an opportunity to reconnect with the zine world and become freshly inspired by the vital creativity of radically independent publishers. It’s reassuring to know that teenagers and young adults are still cutting and pasting, photocopying, letter pressing, silk screening and getting their words and art out and into the hands of other people.
For a little more inspiration check out this recently produced short documentary about the Independent Publishing Resource Center.