The zine scene expands with first Phoenix Zine Fest

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Phoenix Zine FestThis weekend, Phoenix celebrates its first full-fledged zine fest.  The time seems right, on the heels of Wasted Ink Zine Distro’s grand opening in Tempe last year . . . but what is this phenomenon known as “zines?” Where did they come from and where are they going?

I’m a self-publishing zinester myself, who has exhibited at zine shows in Orange County, San Francisco, and Maryland.  I’m thrilled that Phoenix is now home to a show dedicated to this art, and I asked Phoenix Zine Fest organize rBrodie Hubbard some questions in anticipation of the big event.

For those unfamiliar, what is a zine?

A zine is an independently written, crafted and published work, ranging from personal stories and poetry to art and photography. While there’s lots of early literary and political influences, like chapbooks and pamphlets, what we know as zines today came from sci-fi and music fanzines, people of color and the LGBTQ community putting out their own publications, and the medium really looking at itself and defining itself through the feminist movement (particularly riot grrrl) in the ’90s. A zine can be photocopied in black and white and stapled together, it can be full color photos and a handstitched spine, and some folks even have taken the aesthetic and ideals of zines and transferred it to perfect bound books, or PDF files shared on the internet. Zines are to writing and art what the punk rock seven inch record or underground rap cassette were to music.

Brodie with the curaters and patrons of Tempe's Wasted Ink Zine Distro
Brodie with the curaters and patrons of Tempe’s Wasted Ink Zine Distro
Why are zines so important to you?

Zines are important to me because they were how I found out about a lot of the music that I got into as a teenager and continued to get into as an adult, and that music scene was where I met some of my longest standing friends. And then in the last several years, as zines have regained prominence and my involvement in them has deepened, many of my closest friends are people I’ve met through making zines and participating in zine fests. They’re important because so many people deserve to have their voices heard, their stories told, their expression shared, and they wouldn’t necessarily have that opportunity without zines.

What is the origin story of the Phoenix Zine Fest?

PZF evolved from a few good people and ideas! Marna and I were both in Southern California at one time, and she was involved very early on with the inaugural LA Zine Fest before moving to Arizona. I got very involved in it through the following years, as well as other SoCal zine events and nationwide zine publishing/distro, before becoming a founding organizer of Long Beach Zine Fest. Marna had met Charissa by that point, who has often had several print and art projects going at once! There had been zine activity when I grew up in Phoenix, and all these years later, there had been smaller events going on around town. When Marna, Charissa, and I all met at some L.A. events, we all discussed how Phoenix should have its own large scale fest like other big cities do. We committed to planning it in the summer of 2015, and here we are a year later.

What makes Phoenix a good city for a zine fest?

Phoenix is a good city for the fest because there is a wonderful history of DIY and counterculture here, including zines. But it’s pretty notorious for being sectioned off into different subgenres and cliques. We’re hoping the fest is something that draws a lot of people from all around Arizona to come together and unify in celebrating all the quirks that makes this a great place for writing, art, photography, music, progressive and conscious and tolerant worldviews, diversity of culture and gender and sexuality, etc.

After the show, where can people continue to find zines?

Zines have always been hidden on the shelves of independent bookstores and record stores. I remember grabbing them from Stinkweeds, Eastside, Zia’s… now you got places like Ash Ave Comics and our own organizers’ shop Wasted Ink. I think you’ll see them popping up in even more spots as PHX Zine Fest gets everybody excited not only about supporting zine culture in the Valley, but making their own zines.

The first annual Phoenix Zine Fest will be held this Sunday, Oct. 23, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Ice House in downtown Phoenix. Visit phxzinefest.com for more information.

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About the author

Russ Kazmierczak Jr.

Russ Kazmierczak Jr.

Russ Kazmierczak, Jr. is the creator of Amazing Arizona Comics, a minicomic book satire of Arizona news, history, and culture. He also hosts Phoenix Tonight, a monthly late night talk show at Space 55. Find his work at amazingarizonacomics.com.

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