With CreateSpace in our backyard, Charleston is on the frontlines of the explosive self-publishing industry. It’s no secret that we are reading and writing in revolutionary times, Kindling our Nooks in new publishing crannies. But long before digital publishing and On Demand printing and companies like CreateSpace, Amazon, LuLu, and many others dug under the fence to bypass the nearly impenetrable gates of traditional presses and New York publishing dynasties, there were… zines.
Zines you say? Yep, zines. Radical rags, underground pubs, kitchen table presses putting out wildly creative and out-of-the box writing and graphic design. Think modern day evolution of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense. Zines are typically photocopied, small-run (under 1,000) hand-made magazines (get it?) that can be on any topic, but often tend toward the fringe (feminist zines and political zines being prime examples).
But don’t take my word for it. Zine experts and fans will hold court tomorrow (Saturday) at the Southeast Zine Fest right here at Redux in downtown Charleston. Why should you go? Skirt! Magazine’s Margaret Pilarski, a fabulous editor and local zinester who’s behind the Fest, spells it out.
Word on the Street: Why should literary Charlestonians care about zines?
Margaret: The independent record store 52.5 used to carry zines, but now there’s no local place to find them. When Susan and I started planning this, zinemakers were getting in touch saying they didn't know anyone else here who made zines and they were so excited that we were going to bring folks together. Zines are such a really amazing old school media, it's a shame more people in Charleston don't know what zines are and make them—that’s the broader reason. There are tons of people whose zines I would love to read! Beyond words, zines can have drawings or collages, so they're a fantastic means of expression when you want multiple ways to express yourself. Zines can also be anonymous, so you can be the ultimate you or an alternate you. Things you wouldn't say in person or even blog about—you can put in a zine and hand out around town or send off in the mail! And a zine can be very personal, like a journal, or it could be a collection of stories, interviews, comics, poems, photos, etc.
Back to literary reasons, I think the best books introduce you to characters whom you wouldn’t be friends with in real life and you begin to empathize with them. Zines do that too—I want people to read zines about topics and they are unfamiliar with by people they don’t know, I want people’s minds to be blown by literary activism!
WotS: What do you hope the Fest accomplishes?
MP: I hope more people get to know what zines are! That's our primary goal: to get people to start looking for zines and appreciating them, and many more people making zines. I'd love to build and support our zine community just like we do our creative community at large. I’m surprised Charleston doesn’t have a space where they are sold or even a zine library. The greatest city in the world (thanks Conde Nast!) deserves zines.
WotS: Does the zine trend have staying power?
MP: Absolutely! Zines are ancient, they're pre-internet and pre-Xerox. I've pointed a couple of people in the direction of the Wikipedia entry on zines, which has a pretty good background of history: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zine. Cool feminist mags Bust and Bitch (now both successfully in wide print circulation) began as zines and in a lot of ways, radical pamphlets throughout history could be compared to modern zines.
WotS: What makes you so hip, Ms. Pilarski, and how can other chicks be so cool too?
MP: False! Other chicks should make zines! Actually Alison (Piepmeier) wrote a book called Girl Zines: Making Media and Doing Feminism, so she’s the expert on cool chicks. She’s talking at 1 p.m. on Saturday and she’ll go into the history of zines, which are “not just for hipsters,” as she puts it. She’ll also have zines on hand by real-life young gals in Charleston. At 3 p.m. we’ll have a workshop at the fest, led by adorable Crosby Jack—but all day long we’ll have markers and glue sticks and paper and magazine clippings available for you to get started on your zine. We’ll also be putting together an official Southeast Zine Fest zine with contributions from everyone, so come out and get your zine on!
Southeast Zine Fest schedule -- Saturday, Oct 20 at Redux
12 p.m. Doors open and AutoBahn will be there, so come hungry!
1 p.m. Alison Piepmeier, author of Girl Zines: Making Media & Doing Feminism will lead a discussion about the history of zines and why they rock. (Hint: they’re not just for hipsters!) And she’ll also have some cool zines by young local gals to show off.
2 p.m. Live music by Stereofly! Hang out, make some zine doodles.
3 p.m. Zine-making demo by Crosby Jack.
4 p.m. and on! More live music! You’re free to hang, visit with zine-makers, finish creating your submission to the Southeast Zine Fest Zine or make your own entire zine.