After missing it for the past couple of years, I went on Sunday to the San Francisco Zine Fest. I like zines – I came across some a few years ago in a comic shop in Berkeley and was hooked, but I don’t find them very often. It was at the SF County Hall building, by Golden Gate Park. I arrived early (taking the longtrain journey down from Davis) and did some sketching around the Inner Sunset area, which I’d never explored before. I’ll post those sketches later. In the ZineFest, I took to some people sketching.
This mohican/mohawked zinester just needed sketching. I don’t see mnay of those haircuts these days. There used to be loads in London years ago, now they are just restricted to postcards of Piccadilly Circus. It must take ages to do each morning. What if part of it flops down to one side at some point during the day, do you need to keep checking it in the mirror? These things would be on my mind, that’s why I could never have one (that and the curly hair). I didn’t ask, but thought it would make a great zine. Well, maybe not that great.
As I sketched, another woman starting sketching (she wasn’t sketching the mohican though), so I sketched her. Sketching is contagious.
I spent a lot of time flicking through zines, talking to the zinesters who created them, and eventually avoiding this after I realised I just kept buying zines and my bag was getting heavy. I liked a lot of the stuff which was personal and drawing-based, and funny. Not all of the zine world my cup of tea, of course. Overly wordy zines put me off a little, and some of the anarchist stuff wasn’t really my thing. Some which I thought might be good turned out to be not quite so good, while many others were real gems and revealed some everyday creativity, which inspires me so much.
I have a phrase which I wrote out on a post-it note once and kept on my desk, “Every story is worth telling. But not every story is worth listening to.” and I thought of this often while flicking through the racks of zines. Actually, I prefer to transpose that sentence by saying, “Not every story is worth listening to, but every story is worth telling.” To me that makes more sense, and I like the attitude that even if there are those who aren’t all that interested in your story or picture or what you do, it is your story and if it matters to you then it’s worth it. Make what you like. Maybe someone else will relate to it. That’s why I appreciate zines, as little tangible hold-in-your-hand (and importantly, independent) pieces of someone’s personal story, mode of expression. (Yes, even the anarchist ones where they are describing kicking some BNP guy in the head at the train station.) One of the zines I bought that day was called ’31’ and described 31 things the author (Marissa Falco) liked (in drawing and photocollage), to celebrate her 31st birthday. I think I bought it simply because I related to the idea (and also because one of the ‘likes’ was a uniball vision pen).
I went to a couple of the workshops, one very interesting one on zine-style bookbinding (I am getting more interested in the idea of binding zines, and sketchbooks, as many of my fellow sketchers already do so nicely). Another of the workshops was a presentation by some fellow Brits, a group of zinesters who are touring the US zine events with their work under the title ‘Zines on Toast’. They are involved in the organizing of the London Zine Symposium, which looks great, and were recently in Portland (snap!) which as I discovered is like a mecca of zinery (Reading Frenzy being a highlight).
One zinester I was particularly hoping to come across was Joey Sayers, whose zine/comic “I’m Gonna Rip Yer Face Off” is what got me interested in zines in the first place, picked up at Comic Relief in Berkeley several years ago. Unfortunately I gave it away to my nephew and then forgot who wrote it. I was pleased to come across Joey selling her latest work, and I could only buy one (her latest collection of ‘Thingpart’ called “I wish you were dead”) as I’d spent most of my money on other zines. Her comics are ridiculously funny, after skimming one page I was cracking up where I stood. Without a doubt the best thing I got that day and I’ll be getting more; you should check out her site.
Will I finally come out with zines of my own? Yes it’s in the pipeline, I’ve long been thinking about converting my already-made little drawn serials into zines, and also writing others, zine-format specific. I’ve had a few ideas. Post-Portland I’m more serious about getting this done and out there. If I do, next year I might bring them with me.