I keep moving around a lot (four times in six months), so I recently sent back my entire queer library back home to Cincinnati, much to the chagrin of my friends who regularly utilize my collection. But everyone can rejoice because I have begun to replenish my library with some new zines I picked up at Chicago Zine Fest. Look at that haul:
An exhibitor reading kicked off the festivities on Chicago Zine Fest eve at 826CHI. I do not normally have a long attention span for events like readings, but I was absolutely blown away by every single person’s work. Georgi Johnson read a selection from her Anonymous Letter Library about a person who lives in a cave. I took home a copy of this letter and a zine of ghosts singing love songs. She also thought it was really cool that I used to work at a genealogy magazine. No one ever thinks it’s cool I used to work at a genealogy magazine. She’s officially my new favorite person. If you have an anonymous letter to contribute to the project write to:
Anonymous Letter Library
P.O. Box 410731
Chicago, IL 60641
Two people read from the third issue of Chicago IRL, a queer Chicago collaborative zine of culture and class(lessness). Rebecca Kling read “I Am So Very Sorry,” apathetically and sarcastically apologizing for aspects of her transgender identity and experience. Wes Perry read an excerpt from “Don’t Act Like A Girl,” covering everything from hippies to ADD. (Click here for video of Kling and Perry reading their work.) My femme poem is featured in this edition of Chicago IRL, so I got to take home a contributor copy.
Marian Runk, who creates comics about everything from birds to relationships, read a selection from her forthcoming publication on prominent men in her life who died of AIDS. She was often told they died of a long illness or some other euphemism, even using her dance teacher’s actual obituary in the zine to illustrate this. Here’s a panel form this comic:
Christopher Wilde of the Queer Zine Archive Project read a selection on why we as a culture keep and write zines to transmit our queer history and ideas without fear of censorship. This is so indicative of both the queer and zine communities (which have a lot of overlap). At Zine Fest there were so many queers sharing their queer knowledge through zines. QZAP is always collecting more queer zines (I have a few zines to send off myself), so visit QZAP’s website to submit.
Avid zinester, poetry palaver and fierce femme Rosy Phinick intertwined factual flames from her childhood with fiery romance from adulthood in her reading. Phinick also moonlights as Johnny Animal in Bacterial Turned Viral. I snapped up issue No. 4 because it has a drawing of what appears to be the original Mortia Addams on the cover. I immediately turned to the last page and read it. I do this from time to time, so I can get a good feel for what I’m about to read. That page made me cry, it was that good. And she’s planing a flagging guide for femmes and other people who don’t wear pants. Basically, she’s awesome.
Another femme I loved was Nicole J. Georges. She is a comic artist chronicling her adventures in Invincible Summer. I picked up a pink anthology of these zines, and I can’t wait for Georges’s forthcoming graphic memoir Calling Dr. Laura, from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Femme comics FTW!
A writing resident at Cyberpunk Apocalypse Writers’ Collective in Pittsburgh, P.A., artnoose shared a story from her zine Ker-bloom!, sharing the search for an anarchist baby daddy to co-parent a child with her. When police put her potential partner in jail after a dramatic court hearing, she knew wanted to make a baby with him, even though his incarceration delayed the spermination. A person after my own heart.
Zinesters filled the Columbia College Chicago Conaway Center the next day. With two floors of exhibitors, Zine Fest brought rad spirit, queer culture and creativity like I’d never seen before. Zines are an amazingly important part of transmitting our queer culture. They’re accessible to almost anyone because there are no rules to creating them and they are fairly cheap to make. (Visually impaired people excluded, although there are [somewhat costly] services to translate any written work to braille or audio, and people with learning disabilities and/or reading comprehension difficulties.)
I picked up zines on a myriad of themes, including (dis)ability, personal stories, femmes, unicorns, consent, prison abolition, general counter culture, comics and so much more. I can’t wait to dive in and read them all, including:
- Butch Nor Femme: Reviews of 51 Disney Animated Features
- Girls on Girls: Girls Singing Songs About Girls
- Hoax: Feminisms and Communication Issue 6
- Not “Queer” as in “Radical,” but “Lesbian” as in Fuck You!
- Reimagining Queer Community: A Perzine
- Unicorn Whores
- Damaged Mentality Issue 5
- What Do Vegans Eat? Issue 2
For more photos and commentary from Chicago Zine Fest, check out the album on Stuff Queer People Need To Know’s Facebook page.Follow @QueerKnowledge