Sunday, 29 March 2015

Queering The Boss

After a super awesome day of tabling at Sheffield Zine fest a few weeks ago, I got an email letting me know that my chapter for the new book Bruce Springsteen and Popular Music: Rhetoric, Memorial, and Contemporary Culture published by Routledge has been accepted. My book chapter which is all about queering Bruce (obvs) is gonna be in the publication out next year. I was told earlier last year that Routledge didn’t really want non-academic chapters in the book and as my contribution was produced in the style of a fanzine and was basically a massive collage of Bruce and Clarence Clemons making out that I didn’t really have a hope in hell.

 photo Brucegifsuperbowl_zps23b56b1d.gif

It was weird receiving this news at the same time I’d just had a rad day tabling at a zine fair, revelling in the awesomeness of diy publishing and zine culture. Getting news that my work will be published in a real life proper book as opposed to in the pages of a fanzine felt weird. I still haven’t got all my notes back from the editor yet and it’s likely I will have to change a fucktonne of what I’ve written. I’d spent so long editing and re-writing and then editing my final draft over Christmas and it was driving me a bit bonkers that I couldn’t just throw the whole thing out and just write it as a fanzine instead. A fanzine that I wouldn’t even have to spellcheck let alone get copyright clearance for my Bruce and Clarence kissing collage.

Just one kiss from you my brother

I’m still gonna go ahead with my own fanzine version of this as it’s been over a year since I’ve put out a zine in the Me and Bruce series and I want my Bruce and Clarence kissing collage without copyright somewhere for all to see. But its gonna be dead exciting having a bit of my diy queer fan writing in the new Bruce publication. I collect all books on Bruce. Even the really shit ones, and there are a LOT. I’ve got multiple copies of autobiographies all telling the same, often fabricated stories, as well as so many academic critiques of his work exploring masculinity, politics, and religion and all sorts. I’m addicted to them, and I rarely agree with any of them. But now my own daft voice is gonna be part of those books!

A small selection of my Bruce books. Most of these are awful.

I’m also being interviewed by the editor regarding fan writing and self publishing and will have my audio interview added to the Bruce Springsteen Special Collection held at Monmouth University, New Jersey. This is a special collections library dedicated to Bruce Springsteen FOR REAL and if I can’t be a librarian at my dream library (gizza job) then at the very least I’m gonna be included in the collections. Life dream realised!

In the meantime if you wanna check out my diy non copyright and non spellchecked shoddy as fuck Bruce zines about obsessions, being a dork, and appropriating lyrics to be about growing up working class then you can order copies here

Me and Bruce #1-3

Saturday, 28 March 2015

UK Zine Librarians

Calling all UK zine librarians, or anyone working with zine collections/libraries regardless of professional status.

Together with Leila Kassir, from LCC, we have set up a discussion group which is open to anyone in the UK working with zine libraries and zine collections. You can access the UK Zine Librarians group here. The mailing list is aimed at anybody working with zines in their library collections, from academic libraries, museum and gallery libraries, public libraries, as well as community grassroots zine collections.

I like to keep my work life and real life separate, but it has a habit of overlapping when it comes to zines. By day I'm a librarian at a library belonging to a major art institution and by night I'm a zinester. My library is developing the zine collections within our special collections and part of my role is acquiring, cataloguing, and providing access to these zines.  

Zines have a habit of cropping up in the libraries I work at. In my last role as Deputy Librarian at the Stuart Hall Library, I established a zine collection together with Sonia Hope, and set up the most amazing zine collection in the library.

There are so many challenges as a librarian working with zine collections and there isn't a great deal of support in the UK. Librarians working in academic, research, and specialist libraries will have access to decent library management systems (budget allowing), and will hopefully have staff to select, catalogue, and provide access to zines (um yeah, if you have a dream budget).Although quite often librarians who are unfamiliar with zines have difficulties knowing how to identify zines, as well as knowing how to catalogue and provide access to these materials as other library collections can take priority, and without this subject knowledge, zine collections can be deaccessioned, or remain invisible to the public. And in grassroots organisations there are incredibly passionate and knowledgeable staff/volunteers, but there is less likely to be a budget for a library management system or an online catalogue, as well as cataloguing standards, classification guides and procedures for preserving zines. 

Leila and I set up the UK Zine Librarians group to share resources, knowledge, and discussions across the field in the hopes of strengthening communication across this small community and sharing our skills. We have found a lot of the resources available for zine librarians to have a strong North American bias and wanted to develop our own conversations. We haven't defined the term 'librarian' as we don't want to base this on professional status or qualifications. Anyone working with zine collections and zine libraries is welcome to join the discussion group over at our jiscmail here or follow us on twitter

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

March Zines of the Month

It's time for my zine of the month! Well, Zines plural actually. That's right, when I'm not watching 12 hours of the Food Network from my sickbed I'm banging on about the dead ace zines I picked up at Sheffield Zine Fest this month. 

Reading and re-reading my favourite zines from Saturday is helping me battle through the post-zine fest lurgy, and gives me something to do while re-runs of Kitchen Cousins plays on the telly. I have very low standards for reality tv shows on the food network and if I start watching the new season of Kitchen Cousins I just won't stop. So zine reviews it is. 

Emily Tulett

Emily writes one of my favourite zines D&D Virgin, a fun perzine documenting Emily and her mates getting into D&D. I loved reading about her adventures with gaming and it neatly coincided with me and my mates embarking on a new d&d campaign last year. I spotted Emily's stall on Saturday and had some ace chats about rpgs. We chatted about some of the problems with the 4th edition of D&D. I've since moved onto Pathfinder as the combat rolls were doing my head in and I was more interested in strategy and storytelling, and it was cool chatting with Emily and finding out her group had opted for a different system for similar reasons. I spied some other ace gaming and anime zines on her stall and Cassandra Pentaghast is NOT my girlfriend was my top choice. 
The zine is dedicated to Cassandra Pentaghast, a character in the Dragon Age series. In the game you can choose to romance a number of characters with varying sexualities, unfortunately for Emily, her character of choice Cassandra Pentaghast in the game is straight, The zine is a fanzine to Cassandra, with Emily listing all the awesome things about her as well as commenting on other LGBT characters in games. It's a cool mini fanzine if you like fandom, queer stuff, or gaming, and Emily's passion is infectious, smart, and funny. 

Edited by Seleena and Em with various contributions.

Poor Lass is my favourite zine right now. Its brilliant to read a zine that gives a platform for diverse working class voices and to document personal histories. Each issue is themed and issue 5's theme is education. This issue features a mix of stories including those who had no formal education, people who felt excluded from education, people talking about their favourite teachers who believed in them, people who struggled academically, people who met class barriers in academia, and people who get shit done. It's a brilliant compilation of stories all written in different styles and voices, and it's great to see such a thick issue with so many people wanting to contribute. The zine sold out at Sheffield Zine Fest but for anyone who didn't manage to get a copy you can now order it online here.

Scratch that itch

Oooh it's a right slick issue this one! Super pretty and beautifully illustrated and a free sticker to boot, definitely one of my favourites from this weekend. Kathleen writes about visiting Tokyo and getting to stay in a capsule hotel, her life long dream. And for those who are fans of compact spaces it is pretty dreamy, but don't worry if you can't get yrsen to Tokyo then Kathleen's tips of how to recreate the experience at home will suffice. Kathleen's comic about Buzzcut, a pair of hair clippers with feelings, depicts aspects of PTSD and mental health in an honest and articulate way It's very moving and is accompanied by a reading list/play list of mental health. There's a super ace interview with Nathan (Onsind/Martha) about diy, mental health, and music which has some brilliant discussions regarding balancing creativity with your every day life and your every day mental health. I read it on the way home from zine fest and I've since re-read it a couple more times. I love the way Kathleen writes and draws and the themes of exploring diy creativity and I hope this is available at upcoming zine fairs for more people to get a copy. 

Will Tapply and Alex Minshall

I didn't get a chance to look round the other stalls on Saturday until quite late in the day but a number of people came to my stall and told me that I couldn't go home without Will Tapply's Gilmore Girls zine. I recently finished a big re-watch of Gilmore Girls and I'm feeling pretty bereft to be honest. GG  is super comforting and cosy to watch and super addictive. Where you lead I will follow is a fanzine dedicated to GG and addresses some of the reasons why some people may be hesitant to watch it e.g "They talk too fast. the short answer to this criticism is, 'you're listening too slow." His love for the show and the characters matches my own obsession with the show and its validating to see all this GG love in one tangible zine. The zine does address some of the more critical points like how everyone is white and how everyone is rich in the show, and how kinda gross that can be, but acknowledges that while our favourite aspects of popular culture are flawed, we can still love pop culture in our own ways. Will Tapply's awesome art work features throughout with portraits of most of the main cast and a whopper of a centre spread. You can get your own copy plus a GG patch here

Monday, 16 March 2015

Sheffield Zine Fest

I'm full up with lurgy and drinking all the lemon and ginger in the world, but nowt can bring me down after the aceness that was Sheffield Zine Fair this weekend.

Me and my hardcore vertigo did no go on the helter skelter though

On saturday I headed back up to Yorkshire for a day at the Electric Works for Sheffield Zine Fest. The last couple of zine fairs I've tabled at have been quite arty affairs with a lot of artists' books and expensive art zines and it was such a welcoming relief to be back amongst a more diy heavy crowd. It's instantly a more friendly and relaxed atmosphere as some of the arty zine fairs I've tabled at feel quite competitive and my shoddy little photocopied zines look totally out of place. Also the best bonus of all was seeing all my favourite people.

I tabled opposite these rad lasses

Ace face Melanie was tabling opposite with copies of Shape and Situate and COTL, and Seleena and Kandy were next to her selling Sugar Paper zines as well as their own zines. They were joined later on by Em Ledger with Poor Lass #5 making its debut this weekend.

The 2 bags of Percy Pigs powered me through the day and I met some bloody lovely people. I had ace chats about dancing and burnout, and of course Bruce, and I met some people that had been to Bad Rep, the now defunct queer club night I used to run.

I felt totally gutted that my new zine BRUXCORE wasn't ready in time for zine fest as promise. Due to some printing problems, the zine won't be ready until Wednesday this week and I felt bad as I'd promised so many people it would be making it's debut at Sheffield. A couple of people brought me irn bru to trade for the zine and I met a rad lad who was making an irn bru comic, but sadly my own irn bru contribution wasn't on my table. I'll be sending out late copies of the newly printed Irn Bru zine from Wednesday this week to anyone who asked about it and I will have it with me at DIY Cultures as well as Manchester Zine Fair. SORRY!!

There were too many good zines this weekend and my top picks are below. I read them all on the train home and felt dead chuffed and inspired that I know so many brilliant people that can write or draw so brilliantly and honestly.

At the end of the day I joined Seleena and Em in the room dedicated to live zine readings to do a reading of our contributions to the latest issue of Poor Lass zine. We each read extracts from our full pieces and I'm dead proud of Em and Seleena for creating Poor Lass. I'm so glad that zine exists.

After a quick burrito we headed home and I jumped on a packed train back to London feeling dead inspired and happy, reading all my new zines on the train. Knowing that I get to see all these rad lasses again in just a weeks time for Sleater Kinney in Manchester is the best thing ever!

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Sheffield Zine Fest 2015

Me and my long arm stapler are spending some quality time this week as I get ready for Sheffield Zine Fest 2015 this Saturday. 

I will be tabling with my zines this weekend and my new zine will be making it's debut. Well I hope so, I've already broken the photocopier twice so fingers crossed I can make copies in time.

Dead excited to see all my favourite people in one room, and extra excited for the new issue of Poor Lass which is making its debut at the zine fest. It's gonna be ace, see you there!