ZINE FEST 2009 - San Francisco, August 22, 2009


According to Wikipedia:

A zine (an abbreviation of the word fanzine, or magazine; pronounced /'zi?n/ "zeen") is most commonly a small circulation publication of original or appropriated texts and images. More broadly, the term encompasses any self-published work of minority interest usually reproduced via photocopier on a variety of colored paper stock.

A popular definition includes that circulation must be 5,000 or less, although in practice the significant majority are produced in editions of less than 100, and profit is not the primary intent of publication.

Zines are written in a variety of formats, from computer-printed text to comics to handwritten text (an example being Cometbus). Print remains the most popular zine format, usually photo-copied with a small circulation. Topics covered are broad, including fanfiction, politics, art and design, ephemera, personal journals, social theory, single topic obsession, or sexual content far enough outside of the mainstream to be prohibitive of inclusion in more traditional media. The time and materials necessary to create a zine are seldom matched by revenue from sale of zines. Small circulation zines are often not explicitly copyrighted and there is a strong belief among many zine creators that the material within should be freely distributed. In recent years a number of photocopied zines have risen to prominence or professional status and have found wide bookstore and online distribution. Highly notable among these are Giant Robot, Dazed & Confused, Bust, Bitch (magazine) and Maximum RocknRoll.

According to the Zine Fest 2009 handout:

The term "zine" is an abbreviation of "magazine" (and pronounced the same way!). A zine is any small-print labor of love, be it handwritten and photocopied, typewritten, laid out with Photoshop, etc. There are no limitations to subject matter, but popular themes include autobiography, politics, and comics.


According to its web site:

It's a FREE annual two-day conference for independent and underground publishing. Exhibitors come from all over the West Coast, and while the focus is on zines, all walks of DIY life are represented — comics, arts and crafts, literary presses, and more. SF Zine Fest was founded in 2002 by Jenn of Starfiend Distro.

SF Zine Fest 2009 is brought to you by the hard-working folks at Family Style, Miromi, New Lights Press, Monkey & Seal, and many other wonderful volunteers.


I arrived just as the show was opening.

Inside, I was pretty much the only non-exhibitor, and there were still a lot of open spaces.

I roamed a bit, orientng myself.

Half an hour later, this sign had gone up outside.

The range in subject matter was broad. At one end of the spectrum were tables like this - hardcore ghetto warfare.

At the other, R. Crumb-style paper dolls.

Lizard Press specializes in letterpress printing on specialty papers.


Some publishers simply report. John Marr's MURDER CAN BE FUN contains straightforward accounts of notorious killings.


These two ladies decided if life handed them lemons, they would make lemonade - a humorous guide to survival in hard times.

The range in commercial sophistication was broad too. Some publishers took only cash, while others had gone all the way to credit cards. That's Rick Kitagawa of Monkey and Seal -


Bad Date Zine is on sale at etsy.com, a popular web outlet for handmade goods, including zines.


PAPERCUTTER sounded like it might have a connection to paper, per se, but simply paid tribute to the office environment, its founder's obsession at the time. That's (name unknown), from Tugboat Press of Portland, Oregon.


That's Amy Martin, creator of Florride and Bachelor Girl comics.


Liz Brent (in the kimono) spent a year teaching English in Japan, as part of the JET Programme. Her friend Meg (seated) converted the reports into a zine. They have gone on to related topics. They call themselves "Daleko: Kyori"

Liz's LinkedIn page


Aaron Cohick, owner and manager of Newlights Press in Oakland, "an independent publisher of experimental literature and artists' books."


Tom Biby, of Two Fine Chaps, who "make graphic novels and all sorts of other finely-made illustrated books."


Their work ranges from a large, full-color illustrated book of the poem Beowulf to a very small, hand-made, three-dimensional pop-up fable titled The Clockmaker's Joy.

Some vendors were too engrossed in creative frenzy to attend the throngs


Others just goofed off.

EGU (Everybody Get Up) specializes in street art, and having fun. At an environmental show where they displayed their wares, they were challenged to recycle - they painted on vinyl and (my favorite) spray paint cans.


That's Joe Biel, of Microcosm Publishing - he conducted a very informative workshop titled "Distro It Yourself." I think that means Distribute it yourself - like every subculture, ziners have created their own vocabulary. His account of the decline of the publishing industry was truly horrifying. But he concluded that part of his remarks on a positive note - "The system isn't broken, it just changed." And he pointed out that the system was never friendly to renegades like ziners, anyway. DIY is the name of the game.


I had lunch at Kiki Sushi, on 9th Avenue. Their Alice-In Wonderland facade drew me in. The food was attractively priced, attractively presented, and tasty.


At the reception table, the attendant showed off the poster.

If it's Toxic Funnies, that must be George Webber, creator, artist, publisher. No time to waste, inspiration calls.



Yes, that's Sean Logic, Editor of Ashcan Magazine, whose website tells us it "was created as a collaborative platform for creative artists to exist outside the conventional means of the art world."


1984 Publishing has two Heidelberg presses for the printing, and a letterpress machine that they use for scoring.


John Isaacson conducted the Screenprinting workshop. He started by showing us the tools of the trade - woven mesh fabrics, frames, inks, squeegees.

Then he demonstrated, after which the attendees were turned loose to try it themselves.

John, who lives and works in Portland, is the author of Do It Yourself Screenprinting, published by Microcosm Press, as well as many other zines and comix.


From his web page:

John Isaacson is a cartoonist living in Portland, Oregon. He was born in Santa Barbara, California where he went to Midland high school and started making zines and t-shirts. He studied English Literature in College and played guitar in bands like Rain Makes Applesauce, Cottleston, Three Letter Engagement, and Galaxy Drive. He has lived in Ireland, Peru, Chile, and China. His first graphic novel, Do-It-Yourself Screenprinting was published by Microcosm in 2007. He is available to design and illustrate your books, t-shirts, newspapers, magazines, and other printed matter, as well as digital media, such as this website (oops).

By 3:45, when that workshop ended, the hall had filled up.

Carolee Gilligan Wheeler shows off her book "Good Mail Day - A Primer for Making Eye-Popping Postal Art" (co-authored with Jennie Hinchcliff). The release party will be at SFCB on October 9. Carolee promises to send a piece of her MailArt to Alyson, whose Felt & Wire blog she enjoys.

From the book's intro -

What is a Good Mail Day? A Good Mail Day is a day when, instead of just bills, catalogs, and advertisements, your postal carrier delivers artful, beautiful, personal mail from friends and acquaintances all over the world. Mail art is a collaborative art form with a long and fascinating history populated by famous artists as well as everyday practitioners. The term ?mail art? refers to pieces of art sent through the mail rather than displayed or sold in traditional venues. Mail artists often use inexpensive and recycled materials including postcards, collage, rubber stamps, and photocopied images. Mail art is a truly international activity and a fun way to connect with people in every corner of the globe. Readers will learn to create decorated and illustrated envelopes, faux postage and artistamps, find penpals, make a mail art kit, and much more!


Joseph A. Cotsirilos displays his wares. He is a high school senior in Berkeley, and plans to make a career of his art - music, zines, painting. He has been zine-ing for six years.





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Created -- 08/23/2009
Revised -- 08/25/2009