Monday, 31 December 2018

My year in zines 2018

Evaluating your worth through your productivity isn't healthy, neither is comparing your achievements with other people, especially at this time of year. And really, just surviving the year is enough. 

It's been a tough year and looking back on things I've made and done can feel weird, but it can also feel comforting to know that during some bad times I've found  space to make things, some of these things are never seen by anyone else and are just for me, and I'm forever grateful to queer diy zine communities for providing some much needed escapism outside of real life stuff at times. I wrote about the zines from 2018 which inspired me and kept me going here

At the beginning of the year my band The Potentials broke up and I was so scared that my year was going to be devoid of any creativity and wondered what I would do with myself now.
Photo by James Birtwhistle

And it turned out that the answer to that was just to make a bunch of zines, talk about zines, and host a bunch of zine events.

I made Queers on the Edge of Town zine which was part of my ongoing Me and Bruce zine series. This zine  looked at queer lonliness, appropriating lyrics, and imagining Bruce Springsteen as the hot butch girl of my dreams.

I also created a postcard set and print to go along with the zine

As part of International Zine Month this year I made my new zine Things I didn't learn at Library school, which was a collection of peronal reflections on working in libraries.

I was super proud of working on creating and editing the Art Box zine anthology which was made in collaboration with 6 schools and artists Paula Varjack, Åbäke, and Rhiannon Adam. It was a massive project which saw young peple responding to the work of Basquiat in a zine format and I'm so happy that the legacy of these workshops lives on in this zine.

I contributed to a zine accompanying Fat Blokes, the new dance show by Scottee. The zine celebrated fat bodies and queer diy culture and was compiled by the wonderful Unskinny Bop. I contributed this comic about re-learning to love dancing as a fat girl after seeing Beth Ditto perform at Ladyfest Glasgow 2001.

I wrote about the UK and Ireland Zine Libraries group for a special issue of the Art Libraries journal which was published this year. The special issue featured so many other rad zine librarians such as Leila Kassir, Siobhan Britton, Debbie Cox, Ruth Collingwood, Stephanie Moran, Nicola Cook, Loesja Vigour, Steve Carlton, Ingrid Francis and I'm proud to be associated with you.

I also hosted a zine cataloguing workshop with Nicola and Loesja with other art librarians at the Arlis conference this summer.

I hosted zine making workshops with University of Arts London, Barbican, Camden Arts Centre, Haringey Libraries, Ravensbourne, Poplar Union, Tate as well as with schools in East London.


Turns out I really love to chat and I gave talks about zines at Goldsmiths, The British Library, and also ended up giving a last minute keynote on my Me and Bruce zine series at Graphic Brighton. If anyone wants me to give a talk on Springsteen and comics and zines then please help me make my dream of talking about Springsteen for a living a reality.

I curated a display of queer zines and co-hosted an intro to queer zines and zine making workshop with Ruth Collingwood as part of the queer and now fest at Tate Britain.

Photo by Ruth Collingwood, LCC

Every year I make the resolution to say NO to more things  and to manage my time better, well I can honestly say I kind of did that this year. I said no to so many things. I said no to projects I really wanted to do and worried that I'd missed my window of opportunity, I cancelled on things at the last minute for the sake of my mental health, and I said no to things that I just couldn't fit into my schedule as I work full time and didnt want any additional pressures. Saying no is hard but I said it a bunch. And it felt great.

I know it looks like I've done a lot of things this year but honestly the groundwork for so many of these things was laid last year and I've learned to share workloads and collaborate with people more so that I don't feel responsible for too much. I'm so happy to have collaborated and worked with so many rad zinesters and librarians this year.

And if you're wondering what happened to the UK and Ireland zine libraries zine, or why I've been quiet on zine workshops and why a lot of my zine output seemed to stop around 6 months ago it's because I have a full time job as a librarian and this summer I fought against a restructure and lost but then became a union rep. It has been a tough time and it felt like everything else in my life was shadowed by this. I got signed off work with stress and cleared my schedule for a whole 6 months because I am just very good at saying no to things now. 

And my take away from this is join a union.

Hopes and dreams for 2019: Say no to fake diy.

In 2019 I want to be more selective with the zine workshops I do, thinking about the intentions of large organisations and art institutions working with zines and thinking about if the output will be authentic and diy or a quick cheap way to tick a diversity box or target a youth demographic. 

Zines are radical and diy and political and important, but a workshop with a big name arts organisation this year left me cold when the zines made by participants in a 3 hour zine workshop were thrown into a bin by a curator at the end of the day. It made me realise that so many of these instituions view this shoddy diy culture as disposable and unimportant and not real although I can't deny that they pay well. But really in 2019 I would like to not spend my time chasing unpaid invoices from insitutions that can damn well afford to pay and spend more time making zines and comics with people who give a shit.

It is wild but 2019 is my 20th aniversary of making zines so my most important  zine resolutions for next year are to read more zines, make more zines, go to more zine fairs, visit more zine libraries,  and do more work with the UK and Ireland zine libraries group. 

Thursday, 13 December 2018

2018 zines

This year has been a blur, and I'm sure once I've had a minute to catch my breath I'll do some kind of run down looking back through all my various zine activities this year. But honestly it's just much more fun to look back and hype up all the amazing zines I've been able to read in 2018. Thanks to zine makers, zine fests, and zine libraries everywhere for getting these fun and inspiring zines into my life.

Sapphic Angst Fest by Georgina Turner

This was the Broken Pencil zine awards 2018 winner all about Berena on Holby City because queer representation on telly is pretty much my favourite subgenre of zines.

Fat Blokes edited by Unskinny Bop

I'm a bit biased because I have a comic featured in this zine, but the whole zine compilation is a collection of fat positive stories and art, resisting psychic death and glorifying obesity published to coincide with Fat Blokes, the latest show from Scottee.

My fluffy son: comics about Bennie the cat by Siobhán Britton

A wonderful homage to the best cat Bennie featuring a collection of comics and drawings of Bennie's origin story, his fave things, and his nemesis.

Poor Lass no. 8: Identity edited by Seleena Daye and Em Ledger

The final print copy my fave zine Poor Lass ends on such a wonderful note. Featuring a collection of stories from working class contributers. The zine may have ended but lives on in the new Poor Lass podcast.

Reserve and Renew: the LIS mental health zine

This zine was a very timely and perfect companion to my own spiralling mental health as a result of working in libraries. I find it equally rage inducing and validating to read about other library workers and their experiences which are similar to mine. Strongly recommend this to anyone working in libraries.

Residency by Olivia Sparrow

A really raw and honest zine made during an art residency with Manchester School of Art. The zine discusses class and mental health and uses writing, images, and real emails sent between Oliva and the university.

We let our battles choose us by Ed Blair 

A really wonderful piece of writing in the form of a mini zine dedicated to wrestler Masashi Takeda. It's such a joyous zine about loving wrestling as well as some of the fucked up ways it can be problematic and difficult to engage with. For fellow wrestling and zine pals I also urge you to check out Ed's zine distro Holy Demon Army

Fuck what you love vol. 3 edited by Claire Biddles

A zine series all about popstars and crushes with contributions from women and LGBTQIA people. Popstar crushes is my other favourite genre of zines and this series is just so wonderful, personal, and earnest. (I can't find a link to the buy the latest issue but you can click through to buy issue 2 of this amazing zine)

 Glorious wresting apocalypse by Josh Hicks

  This is the third issue in the wrestling alliance series and while I was going to make a seperate post about my favourite comics from 2018 I really just wanted to squeeze this onto the zine list for now as it features my all time most relateable panel in a comic which I'm sure all zinesters can relate to.

Kinky zine

Everyone's favourite queer punx band broke up this year and instead of leaving us with a national helpline like Take That did, they've left us with this beautiful zine with lyrics, photos, and art work from their time together.

Queer Grief zine

A really powerful and hard to read zine about queer grief with contributions from queer conributors. This features some very powerful contributions and is a beautiful zine to read and share.

Lonely zine by Soofiya

A really lovely mini riso zine about times of lonliness capturing moments of isolation felt by someone who is visibly gender non-conforming and ace. I love that Soofiya's zines are small enough to carry in pockets and share with other people. 

Keep Going by Heena

I was so sad to have missed Over Here Zine Fest ths year but absolutely made up to get this long awaited zine from Heena in the post instead. Anxiety, depression, and bikes in Heena's new perzine and I'm hoping there is more to come.

Queer Crush by Melissa

Seriously pop star crushes is the best fucking zine genre of all time. I don't make the rules. This mini zine was made on the occasion of Melissa coming out and compiling a zine of old celebrity crushes. I love zines that deal with feelings of imposter syndrome and not being queer enough, and combine that with pop crushes then this is just perfect.

Sew irregular zine

Sew Irregular is a zine all about clothes and fashion including the Salvaged project, Janelle Monae as a fashion icon, embroidery and mental health, and drag.