Sunday, 31 December 2017

I'm just tired and bored with myself 2017 round up

It's the end of the year, we made it! This has been a hard year for so many of us and while it can be useful to look back and think how much you've achieved this year, sometimes it's enough just to know you survived it all. 

Soz, usually I'm much more posi for my usual end of year round up, but this year has been wonderful and sad all at the same time. I lost some people, my mental health took a battering, and I'm just tired. But it's useful for me to document what I did this year, big or small, because sometimes my bad brain can make me forget or dismiss the things I've done. So here goes:

I made a bunch of new zines including Cool Schmool #2 my diary comic about being sober, ocd and mental health, eastenders, meeting Bruce Springsteen, and friendship breakups; Taking Up Space a  comic zine about being a fat girl and taking up physical space;  Queering the Art Library a mini zine about the problems regarding cataloguing, classification, and subject headings of queer titles in libraries. Oh and I made a super limited Nikki Bella zine which was honestly the most fun thing I've made all year.  

I did zine workshops at Tate, Barbican, and Sunday zine club, and also tabled at some pretty ace zine fairs this year including Leeds Central Library, Glasgow zine fest, DIY Cultures, Sheffield Zine Fair, Bent Fest, Weirdo Zine Fest, and Leeds zine fair. 

Pic by Chiara Gambuto

I played gigs and went on tour with my band The Potentials. It's been a quiet year for us but we played Slayerfest, went on tour with Charmpit, and played at a singalong Buffy screening helping audience members cheat on the Buffy quiz. 

My chapter 'Is there anybody alive out there? Growing up queer with Bruce' was published in the book Bruce Springsteen and popular music which is out now! This is 3 years in the making and it's been so exciting to have my contribution in print, I feel super lucky. 

My zine series Me and Bruce was also added to the Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music at Monmouth University, NJ. I swear I'm getting closer to Bruce day by day. 

Barbican Art box teacher resource zine
I started working on the Barbican Art Box project as zine artist and workshop facilitator, working with some incredible artists and a brilliant creative learning team. The project is only halfway through and in the new few months I'll be compiling some zines with the selected schools for the project and can't wait!

My display of queer zines at Tate Britain June - Aug2017
I organised a series of queer show and tell events at Tate Library in response to the Queer British Art exhibition and compiled the queer collaging zine produced at Tate Modern. And I was really excited to be able to organise a display of queer zines at Tate Britain which ran throughout the summer.

I hosted the UK and Ireland zine librarians meeting and also compiled the online directory of UK and Ireland zine libraries. 

Nia Jax makes everything better
I also got into wrestling in a big way. Top tip: if your mental health is shit and you can't leave the house I highly recommend watching wrestling all day. I even went to my first wrestling training session and although I couldn't do a forward roll I did learn how to do squats while another girl was flung over my shoulders. Bring on Royal Rumble!

But most importantly, I grew out my fringe, had amazing friends, and muted every group chat I'm currently in. Thanks to everyone I saw this year at zine fairs and gigs,  thanks to my queer family for absolutely everything, and thanks to Bruce Springsteen as always.

New year = new zines and more naps.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Making zines at the Barbican

Earlier this year I started work on super exciting zine project with the Barbican's creative learning team, collaborating with artists Paula Varjack, Rhiannon Adam, and Maki Suzuki on the 2017 Barbican Art Box project.

The Barbican Art Box is an annual project where artists are partnered with young people via the Barbican and provided with a box of materials and ideas culminating in a final piece of work. This years Barbican Art Box is in response to the Barbican's recent Basquiat exhibition and sees schools taking the idea of Basquiat and his work to create art pieces and creating a final zine at the end.

We are now at the halfway point in the project and I just delivered my final workshop of the year and I'm so excited to see what zines we can all make!

The creative learning team's teacher resource zine 

We started out by meeting the teachers from each school, introducing them to the exhibition and the three artists involved, and looking at ways to interpret some of the items inside the box. I then gave an intro to zines and zine making, exploring different types of zines from art zines, perzines, political zines, fanzines, and getting stuck in and making zines with teachers and artists. Other Barbican box projects have culminated in much more 'proper' publications like slick photobooks and I wanted to get everyone used to the idea that zines are shoddy looking, full of collage, cut and paste, using diy tools and ideas. It was a fun afternoon of zine making!

Some of the zines made during the teacher CPD day

Then we started introducing groups from each school to the project. Each school came to visit the Barbican and had an amazing tour of the exhibition. I then gave an intro to zines, drawing comparisons between fanzines and tumblrs, perzines and instagram, and getting everyone to think about diy self-publishing in relation to Basquiat. 
I brought in zines from home and asked everyone to pick a zine and summarise: What is the zine about? Why did someone make this? And how did they make this?

Some of the zines we looked at in the workshops

We then did some zine making, with each group making their own mini zines. These could be fanzines about their favourite things, or perzines about their lives, or art zines featuring original collages and art work, all inspired by Basquiat in some way.

We split each group in two so that while one group looked round the exhibition the other group were learning about and making zines with me, then we'd switch. It was interesting to see the differences between both groups. The first group who hadn't yet seen the exhibition nearly always wanted to try and replicate the zines we'd looked at as examples of zine aesthetics, and the second group who had come directly from viewing the exhibition seemed to be more in tune with Basquiat's style, dropping in symbols, graffiti, drawings of crowns, and text as part of their zines.

In the last 3 months I've run the same Basquiat inspired zine making workshop at total of 15 times and each time has been completely different. Everyone has their own take on zines: some are very personal and raw, some are just about cats, and some have been directly inspired by Basquiat and his art. In the 15 workshops there have been 8 football zines, 4 slime zines, 4 makeup zines, an Ed Sheeran zine, and at least 2 zine have made me cry.

Collage workshops with The Garden School

Rhiannon, Maki, and Paul have started visiting the schools to get started on some amazing making, and I can't wait to see what each school comes up with. I'll be back to do more visits with them at the end of January and through February to pull together their art works into a collaborative zine, as well as creating some smaller mini zines. The final zines will then be launched in March and everyone will get to see what each school has been up to.

And that's why I haven't made a zine of my own in a while.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Bruce Springsteen Special Collections

My zines Me and Bruce #1-3 are part of an ongoing zine series about my love of Bruce. Because in case you didn't already know, I really love Bruce Springsteen.

You can find my zines in a lot of libraries round the world but I'm super excited to announce that my Me and Bruce zine series are now available in the Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music at Monmouth University, NJ.

Monmouth University is home to the Bruce Springsteen Special Collection which collects books, fanzines, ephemera, journals, newspapers,and recordings on Bruce Springsteen. There are over 95 individual zine titles relating to Bruce in the special collections which are now part of the Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music, and my zines are joining them! 

When I'm not making zines and comix I'm a Liaison Librarian for a gallery library by day, so if someone wants to get me a new job in the Springsteen Special Collections combining my love of working with special collections and Bruce, then that would be rad. 

Me and Bruce #4 is coming very soon

Monday, 9 October 2017


Apparently it's ocd awareness week. So hi everyone, I have OCD.

Here's a shoddy comic I made about ocd from Cool Schmool #1

My ocd isn't really linked to cleanliness or tidiness like a lot of people think, although this is common for lots of other people. My ocd is about a bunch of different weird rituals and patterns I feel compelled to do, that make me feel anxious and upset if I don't do them. I count things and objects and people, I have to touch things a certain number of times, I check certain things over and over, and I have to do daft things like tap my arms or my chest or my head a certain number of time or a certain way. I also have nervous tics where I move and stretch my body a certain way over and over again without being able to stop. That's also really bloody exhausting. And then I have unwanted intrusive thoughts which run on a loop and can be a bit scary and don't make a lot of sense. 

I don't have anything  insightful to say about ocd that hasn't already been said by super smart and articulate people who have written articles/papers/comics demystifying and debunking aspects of ocd so I won't even try. But getting diagnosed with ocd really helped me put all these things together and things started to make a bit more sense. 

You can get more information on ocd here. I'd like to write/draw more about my experiences with ocd but for now if you know of any other zines and comics on the subject then get in touch!

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Sparks fly on E Street

Apparently a year ago today I was in New Jersey on a Bruce Springsteen pilgrimage.

I went to the house where Bruce wrote Born to Run, I saw the factory which Bruce wrote Factory about, I saw Madam Marie's, we drove down Kingsley, and went on a super emotional tour of Springsteen's past. And then weirdly we ended up meeting Bruce himself at a book signing the very next day.

I'm still working on documenting the full trip for an upcoming issue of Me and Bruce zine although I draw ridiculously slow so it's taking a while. But I also recorded part of it in the last issue of Cool Schmool zine

You can see my Bruce pilgrimage in Cool Schmool #2 as well as my thoughts on being sober, Eastenders as a communist utopia, playing in a band, friendship breakups, the problem with lads at gigs, and feeling sad. 

Friday, 22 September 2017

Make a Scene

I'm really excited to be hosting a zine making workshop for young people in October at the Barbican as part of Too Young For What? - a day of activities celebrating Basquiat.

Roland Hagenberg, Jean-Michel Basquiat painting, 1983

I'll be co-hosting the free zine making workshop for young people called Making A Scene with the amazing zinester and artist Megan Pickering and we'll be making collages and zine pages inspired by Basquiat and diy cultures. There's so much happening in the same space that day with collage, poetry, photography, panel discussions and performances and it's all free!

And then I'll be doing some more zine related work with Barbican in the next few months for another Basquiat related project which I'm so excited for.

Zine workshops rule and I'm on a proper high from some of the zine related learning events I've been hosting this week. The young zinesters I've been working with are so sincere and smart and brave and earnest and talented and I've just been crying all over the photocopier. 

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

UK and Ireland Zine Librarians meet up

In 2015 I helped set up the UK and Ireland Zine Librarians group with Leila Kassir, as a space for zine librarians to share advice, support, and resources.

Since then we've made a zine together, had our first meeting, and promoted our zine collections. I'm now getting ready to host our second meet up next month! 

We will be meeting Thursday 5th October at Manton Studio, Tate Britain in London 1pm - 5pm. It's free to attend and you can book a place here:

UIZL meetup is open to everyone who works with zines regardless of job title/ professional status/ qualifications/type of zine collection. It's especially open to anyone who is thinking of starting a zine library and wants to chat with other people working with zine collections to get some advice.

We'd all love to meet more regularly or even organise some kind of conference/event if we can, but we are a small group at the moment and we are still finding our feet. But I'm very excited about having lots of zine chats and thinking of ways to to promote our zine collections and make what we do a bit more accessible. 

Friday, 8 September 2017

Photocopiers are magic

Cool Schmool #2 is now FINALLY back in stock after a 4th printing and all my August shop orders are being sent out this week.


Cool Schmool is my comic perzine and issue 2 looks at friendships, mental health, Eastenders, playing in a band, being sober, and the problem with lads at gigs. You can get it from me at Leeds zine fair this weekend or from my zine shop:

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Leeds Zine Fair 2017

August was my month of no zines! I closed down my zine shop for the month, I didn't make a single new zine or hold a zine workshop or event or display or anything! Instead I went to Scotland, saw amazing art, ate vegan junk food, healed my soul with nature, went on tour with my band, got tonsillitis, went on some clifftop walks, and watched Summerslam. 

But I'm back in the zine zone and before I start work on some upcoming zine projects I'll be heading to Leeds Zine Fair on Sunday 10th. I hope to see you there!

I'll have all my old zines back in stock, including my new mini comic zine Taking Up Space

Thursday, 17 August 2017

On tour

Me and my band The Potentials are going on tour with Charmpit tomorrow!

My zine shop is closed now until September as I'll be away but I'll be posting things out as soon as I'm back!

Monday, 31 July 2017

Taking up space

I made a 24 hour mini comic zine for International Zine Month last week.

It's a mini comic about taking up space as a fat girl

Taking up space in public spaces

And taking up space by being 'too much.'

I don't make 24 hour zines very often because I don't like the pressure and because I always forget to do it, and to be honest my favourite method of making zines is carrying around an idea for a new zine inside my head for at least a year and not doing anything about it but then forcing myself to make the zine in an unreasonably short amount of time for an impending arbitrary deadline (aka a zine fest) 

You can get copies of Taking Up Space here:

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Me and Bruce: is there anybody alive out there?

It’s here!

Bruce Springsteen and Popular Music edited by William I Wolff featuring a chapter by me is out today!

A while ago I was contacted by Bill who asked me to apply to submit a proposal for a book chapter in the form of a zine. With a lot of hand holding from Bill, the chapter was accepted and appears in the new publication out today from Routledge.

Writing for an actual book took me completely out of my comfort zone having only ever really written zines before. I’ve published a few academic articles on libraries before, but that’s about it. Give me a glue stick and a photocopier and I know what to do, but writing for an actual publication where things like spelling and grammar and copyright need to be considered and I have no idea what to do.

My first few million drafts were awful as I panicked that it had to be PROPER but Bill was a brilliant editor who helped me write a zine piece in my own voice and was happy to answer my stupid questions. I have to admit I find academia completely terrifying and intimidating, and it’s been a long time since I’ve had to speak the language. Thankfully, my book chapter didn’t have to try and pretend to speak academically and I could talk in my own voice as much as I wanted.

My zine chapter is an extension of my Me and Bruce zine series and I use it to talk about being a queer Bruce Springsteen fan. I talk about queering Springsteen’s lyrics, and appropriating themes of loneliness and isolation in Bruce’s lyrics as the small town queer experience. Complete with my shoddy drawings and cut and paste, it’s basically the unofficial issue 4 of Me and Bruce.

The book is finally out today and if you happen to work for an academic library or have a lot of money you can order it here

Thanks to Bill for being great and encouraging me to be a part of the book and answering my stupid questions. And thanks to Bruce for being a constant source of queer inspiration.

I feel like I’ve only just scratched the surface with what I want to say about Bruce as my queer hero in this book chapter and I’ll be exploring this is in more detail in the next issue of Me and Bruce which is coming soon!

Friday, 21 July 2017

International Zine Library Day 2017

I'm a zinester and I'm also a librarian, and I'm also a zine librarian. It's pretty ace.

Liz Prince rules my heart

I was about to say I've been lucky enough to work with zines in most of my library roles in the last 10 years, but it's not been luck so much as it's been hard work,  lots of sneaking around, lots of educating colleagues on the merits of zines, and lots of challenging conversations.  While zine libraries are nothing new it can be really tough to get zines into an existing library collection, or to convince colleagues that  photocopied scrappy booklets are just as important as other materials in the library. 

In 2009 I set up the zine library at Stuart Hall Library with my colleague and super star librarian Sonia Hope.  We slowly began to sneak zines into the library and then we sneakily re-wrote the collection development policy to include zines. After a lot of sneaking around we launched the start of our new zine collection to lots of excited interest but also some resistance. We had some pretty challenging conversations along the way in order to get the zine collection taken seriously and today thanks to Sonia, Nick, and Stephanie the zine collection is growing strong. 

I moved over to Tate Library in 2011 where there wasn't an existing zine collection, but there was a pretty impressive collection of artists' books and artists' serials. The definitions of zines and artists' books, particularly in the context of an art library is pretty blurry and so in 2014 I was able to introduce zines into the collection on the understanding that it developed the idea of self publishing in the arts and complimented the existing artist's books collection. It's still very early days and I'm trying to promote the zine collection as much as possible. I think the benefit of having zines in the collection is that it opens up definitions of self publishing in art. It's great being able to use zines in our group visits, displays, and workshops in the library, to encourage young people to make their own works, and also to encourage people to broaden their definitions of self publishing beyond glossy photobooks and slick artists' books as things which are accessible, cheap, and easy to make themselves. 

Zines are also great for including radical voices and critique in libraries. I love that the art zines in our collection can be accessed and used for research by our readers in the same way that Catalogue Raisonnes and exhibition catalogues are. Zines can be used to educate, share knowledge on lesser known subjects, and provide radical alternatives to established art history publications in our library. 

And so to celebrate International Zine Month and to to mark the end of a bunch of queer library events I've hosted recently, I've been able to set up a display of queer zines outside the library reading rooms. The zines in the display case have been used as part of the Late at Tate session, the Queer and Now event at Tate Britain, and were also featured in our Queering the Library and Archive event a couple of weeks ago and are now having a bit of a rest before heading back to our library shelves. I hope that by having this display people will want to come and read zines or include their zines in our collections. The queer zines are on display at Tate Britain just outside our reading rooms until the end of August. 

And as part of International Zine Month it's also International Zine Library Day today! Tomorrow I'm  hosting a free zine making workshop at Tate with artist and zinester and all round good egg Seleena Daye and the zines made on the day will be added to the library zine collection with permission of the creators. I really hope it's the first of many zine making workshops we get to do in the library. 

I set up the UK and Ireland Zine Librarians group a couple of years ago with the wonderful Leila Kassir. At the moment it's an online space for people working with library collections to ask for help and share advice. We are a very small group  of UK and Irish librarians but if you work with zines in a collection regardless of job description or job title then please do join us! We need you! At the moment I'm working on setting up a directory for UK and Ireland zine libraries similar to the annual list I used to publish and hopefully this can be an up to date resource for anyone wanting to access zines for free or to donate their zines to libraries. 

If you're a zine librarian based in UK and Ireland then help us with our online directory 

If you make zines then please consider donating a copy if you are able to, or contact the library to offer your zine for purchase. Many diy community libraries rely solely on donations, some libraries have a smaller budget to buy a few titles, and other libraries have a much bigger budget. All zine collections are different, but the benefit of all zine libraries is that they can provide free access to your zines to a huge range of people, sometimes beyond the scope of your intended readership, and can be looked after and stored for a very long time. 

I was moaning just yesterday that I've been pretty inactive this International Zine Month when really what I meant was that I haven't put out a zine this month like I usually do. But my work with zines in the library has pretty much taken over my life recently and I'm close to burnout levels, so once the workshop tomorrow is done I'll be taking a nice break before getting my next zine out in September. And I'll also be watching wrestling because I've somehow gone 33 years without it and now I've discovered it I don't ever wanna go back to watching critically acclaimed telly again.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Bruce Springtzines

I wrote a piece on my all time favourite subgenre of zines - Bruce Springsteen zines! You can find the blog post over at Zine Nation

In the guest blog post I write a little bit about the history of Bruce Springsteen fanzines and focus on current queer Springsteen zines, including zines like Butt Springsteen by the wonderful CJ Reay from Black Lodge Press. 

For International Zine Month I'm bringing back my Bruce zine bundle where you can get Issues 1-3 of my Me and Bruce zine series for £3 from my zine shop

And since it's International Zine Month, now seems like a good time to announce that the next issue of my Bruce zine series - Me and Bruce #4 : Queerness on the Edge of Town is out SOON!

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Bent Fest

It feels like a hot minute since my last zine fest but this weekend is queer xmas aka Bent Fest! There will be a special Bent Fest Zine Fair on the saturday giving space to queer zinesters and distros. 

I'll be tabling on Saturday and I'll have copies of my new comic zine Cool Schmool and my usual zines with me. 

I'm also playing Bent Fest on sunday with my queer diy Buffy the Vampire Slayer themed band The Potentials. The whole weekend is gonna be amazing and I'm so excited. I hope to see you all there!