April 30, 2014

Round-Up: Brooklyn Zine Fest

Behind the scenes at Brooklyn Zine Fest.

On Sunday, I stepped off the G train with spring allergies flaring and zines swinging into a golden and breezy air to table at the Brooklyn Zine Fest. I lugged my wares to the Brooklyn Historical Society, a welcome change of location from Public Assembly in Williamsburg where the zine fest has been held for the previous two years. A galvanism of anticipation charged through me, as it always seems to do at zine fests, and I walked the tulip-lined sidewalks thinking about who I would meet and what new zines I would find.

When I walked into the space at 10:30 a.m., the Great Hall was already filled with tablers, bustling and bursting with the urgency to begin the day, so I was sequestered to the lower level with the other late-comers. I set up my table next to my good friend Ramsey Beyer, who I had come to the zine fest with. Ramsey writes the comic zine Everyday Pants, has self-published her first comic book Year One, released a young adult book called Little Fish and has created and contributed to countless other zine-related projects. It's always a pleasure to table next to her.

The lower level was like being trapped in an oven! I kept referring to it as a hot hell and Katie Haegele, a newer friend but zinester whose work I've read for years, was sitting across from me and said she knew it was too hot down there when she realized she could smell her own feet. Katie has been writing zines for a long time under the moniker The La La Theory. She has released a fabulous book that began as a zine series called White Elephants which is about yard sales and relationships. Her most recent work includes The La La Theory #9 and also Girls on the Street, an essay that is part of a series she writes about fashion for the Utne Reader. Despite the heat, we had a blast down there. The Student and Teacher Section was also on the lower level, and anyone who overlooked those exhibitors really blew it! Some of my favorites included the Barnard Zine Club, Black Lesbians @ Lesbian History Archive and Blame Dagger (any X-Files out there need to check out Caroline Tompkins zine We Are Not Who We Are).

I took walks around the upstairs of exhibitors every once in a while to cool off and meet all the rad ladies in the Great Hall, and there were a lot of them! I have definitely left out some really amazing zinesters in this round up, mainly due to my allergies making me feel wacky and the exhaustion of tabling all day, but the zines of the ladies below are highly recommended:

ELEANOR WHITNEY

I've seen Eleanor's book GROW around a lot lately on blogs and in brick and mortar shops, so of course I stopped to meet her. GROW is a field guide on how to take your DIY project and turn it into a sustainable job. So, basically, a how-to on making all your dreams come true! We talked about mutual friends and mutual writing topics, including grief and New York, which can be read about in the latest issue of her zine Indulgence.

HAYLEY BLATTE

Hayley is one of those rare gems you stumble upon and wonder what took you so long to find her. Hirsute Heroines is her zine of pencil drawings that takes the classic and perfected pinup girl and tranforms her into awesomely weird divas (because aren't we all?) while also raising questions about female beauty and identity. You can buy Hayley's zine and other artwork here. 

SUZY X

I didn't have a chance to speak very much with Suzy, as it was about that time I started to lose my voice due to a literal spring fever, but I absolutely want to include her because her zines are too good. Suzy writes and draws Malcriada, a zine about assimilation and Latin identity. She also writes Chronicles of an 8th Grade Mallgoth, a zine of her 8th grade diaries, which is a hilarious and uncomfortably relatable zine. You can check out Suzy's comics here and buy her zines here.

CAROLINE PAQUITA

I first met Caroline through punk shows, and it's always the best to see her at zine fests. She's a badass lady who runs Pegacorn Press, a queer and feminist publishing house in which she releases artbooks, comics and zines. Her own zine, Womanimalist, is one of my favorite art zines out there. It's freaky and hilarious and challenges notions of what it means to identify as a woman and a human. She recently released Garden of the Womanimal, a zine released in conjunction with her solo art show of the same name, now open at Booklyn Artist Alliance until June 8th, 2014. You can find out more about her art show here and buy her zines here.

KERRI RADLEY

Kerri is by far one of my favorite zinesters out of Philadelphia. Deafula is about her experiences with being a deaf person. She write about the many issues related to and surrounding her life in an audible world with poise and grace. She was awarded the Leeway Foundation Art and Change Grant and released the newest issue, Deafula #7, as part of the project. You can buy Kerri's zines here.

As a tabler, the day was long but really worthwhile. Everyone seemed in good spirits, and I can only imagine that Saturday had a similar vibe. There's something so invigorating about DIY artists and writers getting together a few times a year in different cities, or perhaps only in their own city, to promote the work of themselves and others. I left feeling gratefully exhausted, inspired and filled to the brim with new zines to read!

Learn more about the other exhibitors on Brooklyn Zine Fest's website.

Written by Cynthia Schemmer