Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Zine Cataloguing

I make zines and I'm a librarian, and I'm also a zine librarian! Some of you may know I'm part of the UK and Ireland Zine Librarians group and next month I'm hosting a zine cataloguing workshop at the Arlis Conference with Nicola Cook and Loesja Vigour from the Wellcome Library.


This will be the first in what we hope is a series of workshops/discussions/meet-ups around zine cataloguing in the UK and Ireland.
In our last meetup we discussed our goal of creating a zine cataloguing toolkit for anyone to use which would be free of library cataloguing jargon and accessible to all regardless of job title or professional status.
Our workshop will be a chance to share our experiences of cataloguing zines, the ethics of zine cataloguing, and discuss our hopes and dreams for a collaborative toolkit.
While there's lots of existing resources and guides on how to catalogue different kinds of library material, the idea behind a collaborative zine cataloguing toolkit would be to make this information accessible to everyone. What happens when library systems and cataloguing standards aren't equipped to deal with zines? How can we use our own subject headings? How can we catalogue without library management systems? And how can we make this work more accessible to zine librarians who aren't cataloguers?
It would be great to make this workshop and toolkit collaborative and so we want to hear from you! We’d really like to hear what your fears, concerns, issues (and successes!) are around cataloguing your zines so we can incorporate them into the workshop. And if you are coming along to the conference and would like to be more involved, let us know – the more the merrier!
You can reply via our email discussion list, our twitter, or to our email


Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Darkness on the edge of town


It's the 40th anniversary of Darkness on the Edge of Town album this month. If you like your Bruce songs painful and emo with some classic pop bangers then this is the album for you.





I write about Bruce Springsteen a lot. I make zines and art about how Bruce Springsteen songs make me feel, but I think it's fair to say that Darkness on the Edge of Town features the most in my work.





I wrote my first ever issue of my Me and Bruce zine in 2011, shortly after meeting Bruce Springsteen for a few very powerful seconds at a screening of a documentary. The documentary looks at the making of this album and talks about how hard it was to make, how Bruce was frustrated and angry during the whole process. Which was fitting as I made Me and Bruce #1 to get me through a difficult breakup where I listened to this album constantly. Meeting Bruce at the screening of this documentary felt like my life was starting again.




In Me and Bruce #2 I wrote about class, family, and small town claustrophobia in relation to Darkness on the Edge of Town. I talk about my dad and his life using lyrics from the song 'Factory' which is about Bruce Springsteen's own dad and his factory life.




I even changed the meaning of the song 'Racing in the Streetfrom the record to be about my dad and being working class. I did a reading from this zine at Sounds from the Other City fest last year organised by the wonderful Salford Zine Library but I'm also available to give TED talks on why this song breaks me.




And 2 years ago I visited New Jersey and drove down the actual real life road which inspired the song 'Racing in the Street' as well as seeing the very real but now defunct factory where Springsteen's dad worked. (these adventures will be in Looking For Bruce -  the next issue of my Me and Bruce zine series out next year)


Darkness on the Edge of Town is the kind of album I play when I'm feeling sad and want to lay down in the dark. The guttural raw howling during the intro of 'Something in the Night' is honestly the most fucking emo thing I've ever heard in my entire life. And I'm a My Chemical Romance diehard.

Thanks Bruce for giving me zines to write  and an album to obsess over my entire adult life. I feel like I'm still finding new things in this album to obsess over even now. I'm always finding new meaning, and I guess that means there are still more Bruce zines to come.



Saturday, 12 May 2018

Unskinny Bop


As part of the wonderful new show Fat Blokes created by Scottee, my fave queer fatties Unskinny Bop were asked to collaborate on a zine to accompany the show.





The zine is here and it's hot off the press! The zine features a comic from me about dancing and fatness and the time I saw Beth Ditto when I was 17 at Ladyfest Glasgow 2001.







Ladyfest Glasgow was probably the most formative experience in my life. It's amazing to be able to pinpoint the moment when everything in your life changed, and this entire weekend changed my 17 year old self for real. The Gossip played their first ever UK show that weekend. I was in the front row as Beth Ditto sweated on stage and eventually stripped down to her underwear. She yelled that there was no body positivity workshop taking place that weekend so her fat body on stage would have to do.

The following year I attended the first ever Unskinny Bop at Ladyfest London 2002. Dancing and sweating in a club night which celebrated rad fatties with a podge pop countdown was a dream come true and despite my very recent initiation into the stay at home club (thanks sobriety and bad brain), Unskinny Bop has continued to be a space for me and my fat queer friends to dance and it's so exciting to hold another unskinny bop zine in my hands after all these years! 

The zine features fat posi pieces on resisting psychic death, fat heroes, rad fatshion blogging communities, fat babes in bands, bears and queer spaces, fat trans bodies, dancing and of course agony aunt Dr Ruth. 

The zine accompanies the upcoming Fat Blokes show but I'm also really excited at the idea that these zines will  be distributed across queer venues, weightloss groups, infiltrating and taking up space with a celebration fat bodies and voices.

sneak peak of my comic contribution to Fat Blokes zine


The Fat Blokes zine will be available digitally very soon. But for now you can find the very first issue of the Unskinny Bop zine from 2003 here




I can't wait for Fat Blokes to come to London in November, but in the meantime you can see previews in Manchester this month. 

Monday, 30 April 2018

Northwest zine fest 2018

My online zine shop is taking a little hiatus until I'm back from Northwest Zine Fest next week.



I'll have all my zines with me in Manchester at Partisan for zine fest next Sunday including my latest zine Queers on the edge of town. This zine which is a queer look at Bruce Springsteen has been out of stock since it sold out since Glasgow zine fest but it'll be back in time for Manchester.

 photo 3 Me and Bruce_zpsqxumnjba.gif

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Artists Books (and zines) now

Last night I took part in the first of the Artists' Books Now programme at the British Library

Programme in the form of a concertina artists' book produced for the event.
Assembled by Egidija Čiricaitė and George Cullen

Photo by Jerry Jenkins
I felt like I was infiltrating as I don't make artists' books. By day I'm art librarian and work with special collections and artists' books. But I was there as a zinester and was there to show a different side of self-publishing and the arts I guess. Honestly when I was asked to take part I thought maybe there had been a mistake because I can't stress this enough - I don't make artists' books.



Photo by Jerry Jenkins


But it was a great event and it was really lovely to take part. I was in conversation with the wonderful Eleanore Vonne Brown from X Marks the Bökship as part of a table display with artist Lydia Julien.


Photo by Melanie Grant




I talked about my Me and Bruce zine series because I figured if I got nervous then I could at least talk about why Bruce Springsteen is the hot butch lesbian of my dreams for 20 minutes. I talked about my reasons for making zines and noted that in 20 years of zine making my reason for making zines has always been the same - to find my community. To find my people. To feel connected.






I talked about differences between fanzines and perzines and how they aren't actually that different really, I talked about my inability to write anything personal which is why I frame my perzines through the lens of Springsteen or use diy comics instead. And I talked about the power of self-publishing zines, working very quickly and cheaply to create something meaningful.






It was a great event and I got to hear some wonderful talks by artists I really like even though I did feel like an imposter in the room. A very welomed imposter though as everyone was very lovely and conversations around self-publishing all felt very relevant.



I didn't feel able to answer any of the questions in the q+a at the end as this was very much artists' books focused. But I did find the question from Clive Phillpot funny, who asked if artists' books should really just be called visual books. Because debating the terminology and visual nature of artists' books feels hilarious to me and also unhelpful as the only zinester. I was just very relieved that I didn't have to spend my talk discussing and defining zines in relation to artists' books which I often find myself having to do in a professional capacity. It was refreshing to be able to talk about my work without having to justify it or define my chosen terminology while never once pretending that I made artists' books. 




And if you really want to know my thoughts on defining zines in relation to artists' books and other self published works then you can read my short essay The Economy of Zines.

Queers on the edge of town

I made this trailer in Feb to show how I made my latest zine Me and Bruce: Queers on the Edge of Town. To show how easy it is and how you can make somethings super meaningful with no artistic or technical skills.

Except youtube had a bug back then and my video never appeared. So here it is 2 months later, promoting a zine that's now already out (and sold out!)


Thursday, 19 April 2018

Zines in the British Library

In a ridiculous turn of events I'm giving a talk at the British Library next week as part of Artists' Books Here and Now programme.





I'll be talking about my work with Eleanor von Browne and Lydia Julien, and chatting about self-publishing, the economy of zines, and fandoms. 



I hope the good people of the British Library are ready for a 20 minute chat about why Just 17 was the most radical media to inspire my practice followed by powerpoint presentation on imagining Bruce Springsteen as the butch lesbian of my dreams.