August 14, 2014

Round-Up: DC Zine Fest

Behind the scenes at the DC Zine Fest.

I feel 100% comfortable saying that DC Zine Fest is one of my favorite fests, even if I've only tabled there for the last two years. The organizers are always so sweet and accommodating, the tablers and attendees are high-energy and revved up on discovering new friends and zines, and every year the amazing vegan baker Shannon Roche of Leaves and Flours tables with an impressive spread of vegan baked goods. In other words, you can't go wrong with good vibes and good pies galore.

In it's fourth year, the DC Zine Fest was organized by some truly xerox-devoted people, including Ariana Stone of Phlegm Fatale zine, Dirk A. Keaton of OCD Throws Bows zine, Kristie aka Moose Lane, and Fil of the defunct DC punk fanzine, Give Me Back. They worked really hard to create a space in which people felt welcome, safe, and free to have the best time. Here are some of my favorite tables from DC Zine Fest 2014:


The first table I went to was Clashka, because look at those plants! (Here's a not-so-secret secret: I love nature.)  Clashka exists in many different forms, including a geranium I received in exchange for some of my zines, a fold-out poster zine with space landscapes that reads, "ON THE FIRST DATE HE SHOWED YOU HIS SCIENCE FICTION COLLECTION AND YOU'RE WORRIED ABOUT LOOKING COOL?!", and a full-color travel zine about Winchester, Virginia, where Clashka is currently based. Each zine is laid out with care and a serious eye for being aesthetically pleasing. You can see more work by Clashka here.


Jenna Brager is the rad artist behind Sassyfrass Circus, the project that showcases her artwork and zines. She creates Doykeit (a compilation zine that addresses the cross-section of Jewish and queer/feminist identification), Femme a Barbe (a zine about bearded ladies and other gender bad asses), and Long Distance (a zine about long distance relationships). I picked up Jenna's zine The Sinew That Shrinks, which is packed with incredible comics and affecting stories on revenge, trauma, loss, and memory. She also drew the DC Zine Fest flier this year. You can buy Sassyfrass Circus zines here.


The Runcible Spoon is a playful food zine founded by Malaka Gharib (on the right) in 2012. I've seen it around fairly often and have been meaning to pick it up, so I was thrilled when one of the editors was interested in one of my zines and was willing to trade. The Runcible Spoon (Volume 4, Issue 13) is aptly subtitled the "bland issue" in which, without the use of the word (besides the intro) the zine explores some very flavorless foods, including a seven day rice cake challenge, a divorce somewhat induced by the enjoyment of plain hot water, and a father who refuses to add butter or salt to his plain popcorn. The collages are strange and funny and beautiful along with the words. I highly recommend this zine to folks who love food, a good story, and a laugh. You can buy The Runcible Spoon here.


On Flora is one of a few gorgeous zines by Alison Baitz, who publishes zines under the name Saint Lydia. I was at once drawn to Alison's table because it was covered in velvet, plants, and all things floral!  On Flora is 32 page full-color zine of original photographs of floral arrangements gone kitschy, complete with strange vases, googly eyes, velvet, and doughnuts. Alison has also recently released the zine Your Things in which she collaborates with illustrator Elizabeth Graeber and tells stories about the beauty of nostalgia through thrift store finds and other personal objects. You can buy On Flora here and Your Things here.


Quail Bell Magazine, founded by Christine Stoddard (left) and Kristin Rebelo (right), is a print and online literary journal. Their mission statement reads: "Quail Bell Magazine is a place for real and unreal stories. Our readers are curious, creative, and compassionate fairy punks who are citizens of the world. All members of The Quail Bell Crew respect and embrace all cultures, excluding only the sexist, racist, homophobic, and otherwise unkind and uncompromising." Aside from Quail Bell, Kristin also creates her own zines, including fem, a zine of collage poetry that uses feminist writing and imagery from fashion magazines to illustrate the mixed messages society sends regarding gender roles. You can buy Quail Bell Magazine here. See more of Kristin Rebelo's work here and more of Christine Stoddard's work here

And here's the view from behind my own table, complete with the geranium I received from Clashka Zine and a Black Forest cupcake from Leaves and Flours. I left with quite a bounty of new zines to read and new friends to look forward to seeing next year. Honestly, what more could I ask for? 

Learn more about the DC Zine Fest and other tablers here.

Written by Cynthia Schemmer