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!