Wednesday, 12 September 2018

There is power in a union

Hey everyone! August was a write-off because I sprained my ankle and was surprised with a hefty restructure in the library where I work and then experienced a scary mental health spiral.

I'm slowly replying to emails, I'm slowly sending zine orders back, and my zine workshops and events start up again at the end of this month. Thanks for being patient, please accept this crappy blog post in lieu of a 'apologies for the late reply' email which I probably owe you but cannot be bothered to send.

And most importantly, join a union. Restructures are absolutely no fun.

Things I didn't learn at library school zine

Monday, 23 July 2018

Things I didn't learn at library school

My new zine Things I didn't learn in library school is out now

As part of International Zine Month this year I made a 24 hour mini zine about the realities of being a library worker based on things I learned after library school.

Things like how academics never give you reading lists on time, the importance of joining a union, and how understaffing and underfunding libraries  directly impacts on your mental health every single day. 

I sold out of the print run this weekend at Process Zine Fest but I'm getting new copies back in stock this week so you can order now

Friday, 6 July 2018

Queer zines

It's July so it's International zine month and today is zine pride day: a day to read, share, buy zines by LGBTQIA people.

Quite a  lot of queer zines from my personal collection are on loan this month for various workshops and displays, but I raided my remaining zine collection to pull out some of my favourite queer zines through the years.

Some of my queer zines

I've been doing some zine talks and workshops recently with UAL and in each of those talks I've discussed why I started making zines. 
I started reading and making zines 19 years ago when I was a lonely queer and didn't have any friends and didn't yet have the internet. I read zines to find my people and I made zines to build communities. I'm not being dramatic when I say zines saved me. I was so desperate to find examples of queerness and zines were a physical dispatch from outside of my small town letting me know about queer writers, artists, punx, and activists. 

And even now 19 years later I'm still making zines for the same reason. I'm still always looking for my people, still looking to learn about new voices, still hoping to educate and challenge myself, still wanting to make connections. 

I wrote about queer lonliness in my most recent zine Queers on the Edge of Town

And so I'm forever in debt to the queer zines of my teenage years as they did what Bruce Springsteen sadly couldn't do, they gave me friends and connections and Team Dresch and Tribe 8 mix tapes. I came out to people through my own zines, and I found my own voice, my own friends, and my own communities.

Queer zines forever!

Queer Zines by Rachael House
(I love this so much!)

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Me and Bruce at Graphic Brighton

Later this month I'll be talking at Graphic Brighton , a conference organised by University of Brighton. This years theme is comics and music. 

Hunt Emerson

I'll be talking about my comic zine series Me and Bruce which I created in desperation to justify my lifelong obsession with Bruce Springsteen where I explore my queerness, my family, class, relationships. I use comics, collage, and text to construct a mythical version of Springsteen which belongs just to me, creating space for myself as a queer woman in the Springsteen fandom.

Me and Bruce #4

Come hear me chat about all this and more at Graphic Brighton conference on Friday 20th July. It's free to attend but you'll need to book a ticket here.

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.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Barbican Art Box launch

Last week we celebrated the launch of the Barbican Art Box zine anthology and look how good they look!

The zine anthology is the culmination of a nearly year long project with the Barbican's creative learning team. I worked with artists Paula Varjack, Åbäke, and Rhiannon Adam across 6 East London schools in response to the Barbican's Basquiat exhibition.

Participants learned about Basquiat, zines, and diy culture before making new work with artists relating to graffiti, text, and polaroid photography. The work was then pulled together into a series of zines, each zine representing the work of each school.

It's been such a wonderful experience and the launch last week was incredible. Some of the young participants gave presentations, talking about the influence of Basquiat and diy culture in their work and the things they had learned. The idea of public speaking as a teenager would have been horrifying to me, but these students are more brave and energetic than my teenage self ever was and it blew me away.

The personalities of each school really shine through in these zines and they feel so personal and explore some really interesting work. The final zine anthology is really just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what the students created throughout the project. It felt like we could have easily made an individual anthology for each student at least! 

Finding out that some of the students have continued to make zines after the project had finished, swapping and sharing their work with their friends and classmates is amazing to me and I'm always so excited when people realise just how ridiculously easy it can be to self publish and share work and ideas. I can't wait to see what they do next.

Images from the zine anthology are now on display at the Barbican in the cinema cafe
Photo by Paula Varjack

Photo by Paula Varjack

Tuesday, 3 April 2018


This Saturday I'll be tabling at my first zine fair of the year at Bermondzines at Diy Space for London

Poster by Tobia Maschio

The zine fair runs from 12 - 7pm and is followed the launch of Twinken Park's new tape Flowers in the evening.

I might be a bit biased by Flowers is already the greatest queer rage record of 2018. The title track is about David Wojnarowicz and the lyrics punch me in the gut everytime. They are on tour at the moment, but come for the zine fest on Saturday and stay for queer trans punk rage.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Women in Focus festival

I'm hosting a free zine making workshop at Poplar Union as part of the Women in Focus festival this Saturday 10th March.

We'll be making zines dedicated to our favourite women heroes, artists, activists, and fictional characters. It's free to attend and all materials are provided. There's also a bunch of really fun workshops and performances throughout the weekend for you to attend too.

I also learned that if I ever do pursue a career as a wwe wrestler that I will never be able to cut a decent promo if my excruciating discomfort filming this is anything to go by:

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Queers on the edge of town

It's finally here, Me and Bruce #4 : Queers on the Edge of Town is out now!
Me and Bruce 4 photo 4 Me and bruce_zpsq1qljw4f.gif

Queers on the Edge of Town is the latest installment of my Me and Bruce zine series, chronicling my long life obsession with Bruce Springsteen.

Queers on the edge of town is a queer look at Springsteen, describing how weird it can be breaking out of the queer bubble to attend a Springsteen show as well as exploring gay teenage loneliness through Springsteen lyrics. The zine also imagines Bruce as the hot butch girl of my dreams, but most importantly documents the history of Bruce and Clarence Clemons making out.

Originally this zine started life as draft version of my chapter in the book Bruce Springsteen and Popular Music which came out last year. The zine is way longer than the original chapter and goes into more detail, as well as including a 6 page comic set to the lyrics of Backstreets, and lots of other copyrighted lyrics and images which wouldn't have fit in my book chapter. 

You can also get a special edition of the zine which comes with a 4 postcard set and pull-out poster of Bruce and Clarence making out. 

You can find the rest of my Me and Bruce zine series in my zine shop, or come find me at Glasgow Zine Fest in April. 

Monday, 19 February 2018

Coming soon

Me and Bruce is a zine series  which chronicles my obsession over Bruce Springsteen. 

Me and Bruce #4 : Queers on the Edge of Town is coming soon! out now

Here's a little preview

Friday, 16 February 2018

We were The Potentials

Hiya we are The Potentials and we are were a Buffy the Vampire Slayer themed band.

We saved the world a lot

After 3 ace years of playing together my Buffy punk band The Potentials broke up last month and it was heartbreaking. We made 2 records, went on 3 summer tours, made some music videos, recorded songs for compilations, put on all-dayers, played at Buffy themed nights, organised our annual Slayerfest halloween parties, and we played with a lot of wonderful bands and mates. And also Kate Nash once played Extra Flamey on her radio show with Amber Benson aka Tara as her special guest and they said we were cute. So that's as close to getting on Top of the Pops as we're ever gonna get.

Thanks to everyone who ever came to see us play, anyone who put us on and let us sleep on their floors and made us food. Thanks to everyone who drove us on tour, did artwork for us, interviewed us, played our songs, and supported the things we made. It's been the best.

I haven't really talked about it since it happened, but leaving the band was honestly one of the hardest decisions I've ever made and it felt like a breakup. And I was so worried I'd lose my identity once the band ended. I've been playing music since I was 17, who am I if I'm not in a daft novelty themed diy band? 

But in the last month I've seen my mates in real life on the reg, I've been able to plan day trips and make future social plans without worrying that it's gonna cut into tour/recording/practice schedules. And I don't have a constant stomach ache of worrying that there's something wrong with me for not being able to cope with being in a band.

My daft little Buffy themed band weren't even that active compared to other bands. We all worked full time hardcore jobs which left us exhausted and time poor, we were limited to touring in school holidays or when weren't working, and we all did a billion other creative projects outside of the band. I'd often look at my mates who juggled being in 2 or 3 different bands and wondered how they did it. 

I always struggle with burnout, I even made a zine about it. But I feel like I'm getting better at reclaiming my time and not worrying about having to do a million different things in order to keep my identity in tact. It turns out that when I'm not burning out I'm a pretty fun person to be around and that making pancakes, watching wrestling, and having weekends off is pretty great.

I'm sure I'll play music again and I'm sure I'll see burnout again, but for now I've got plenty of zine activities to organise and keep me occupied outside of my day job, and I now have free time to be a better friend to the people I love. 

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Zine Making Workshop

I'll be hosting a free zine making workshop at Poplar Union for Women in Focus Festival Sat 10th March

The workshop is free and open to anyone and all materials are provided.

Come and make a fanzine and celebrate women artists, activists, family members, musicians, writers, and unsung heroes