ABQ Zine Fest

Tahnee Udero sells her zines at ABQ Zine Fest. Photo by Lauren Eubanks.

Tahnee Udero sells her zines at ABQ Zine Fest. Photo by Lauren Eubanks.

The ABQ Zine Fest drew numerous writers and artists from all over the country to The Tannex Oct. 10 for the fifth annual event. Tables stocked with zines, buttons, compilation books and even t-shirts filled the two rooms that made up the fest. Excitement buzzed in the room as “zinesters” explored the many publications available and chatted with each other about their own works. All in all, ABQ Zine Fest was a major success.

Zines (short for fanzines or magazines) are DIY style publications that run in small circulation. These zines are often cheaply produced and utilize places like Kinkos and other copy and print shops. There are as many different types of zines as there are writers. From fandom to feminism to art, if there’s a topic out there, there’s probably a zine for it. Popularized in the 1960’s with science fiction fanzines, zines have always been a way of connecting with other people. What ABQ Zine Fest organizer Marya Errin Jones wanted to do with ABQ Zine Fest was to allow a space for that connectivity to happen.

“I founded ABQ Zine Fest in 2011 because I felt like Albuquerque needed and deserved a zine fest. Other cities had them—why not us? I was just getting into writing zines, but I was aware that Albuquerque once had a vibrant zine culture that went underground. Some people just stopped writing zines. Others left town. Lots of writers are still publishing independently, but I wanted a fest that focused on zines and to some degree comics, as well,” says Jones, who recently visited SFUAD’s Creative Writing Professor James Reich’s Advanced Fiction class for a craft talk on zines.

Billy McCall stands behind his zine table. Photo by Lauren Eubanks.

Billy McCall stands behind his zine table. Photo by Lauren Eubanks.

ABQ Zine fest had a lot of diversity at it when it came the types of zines authors were selling. Billy McCall had his table stocked with mostly creative nonfiction zines. His personal zine “Proof I Exist,” has more than 20 issues in print and details different parts of his own life. “It’s important for me to know where I’ve been,” he says about the zine. “If I’m not around, this still will be.” McCall got started writing zines as a teenager in high school when he wanted to share his writing with his friends. Fifteen years later, he’s still distributing his writing at stores like The Octopus and the Fox and through his etsy site “iknowbilly.” For him, zines are all about tangibility. “I don’t like blogs. I have to have something in my hands,” he says and believes that when making a zine some part of the writer or artist is passed off into the paper copy of the book.

Jones shares this love for the tangibility. “For me, a zine is a document that gets PRINTED. eZines do not exist to me. Those aren’t zines—they are blogs. Different animal,” she says.

One of her most popular zines is her “Mocha Chocolata Momma” series, which details the lives of black women both in history and fiction.

“I started it three years ago because I found the depictions of black women in the media quite tedious, and I wanted to create something to push against that. I also wanted to present another perspective on black history—the intersectionality between our daily lives as black women, and events in history that we’re notorious left out of,” she says. Jones has received what she describes as incredible feedback over the series. “Most recently someone I met at the Portland Zine Symposium arrived towards the end of the fest, after I’d sold out of my latest zine about Salaria Kea—the only black woman/nurse to go to Spain during the Spanish Civil War. The woman I met told me she gets my zines to deliver to a friend of hers who loves the zine. Her friend lives in a nursing home, and just turned 99. This is the best praise I can think imagine,” she says. This zine in particular has been included in several collections and libraries such as The Tate Gallery in London and The London College of Communication.

Also featured at the fest was event co-organizer Liza Bley, who writes and edits “Not Your Mother’s Meatloaf,” a sex positive comic zine that strives to educate people about sexual health, consent and relationships in ways that general sex education typically fails. Bley got into the zine scene in high school through punk music, two communities that tend to intersect. She wanted to create a space where sex could be talked about and out of an undergraduate senior project, “Not Your Mother’s Meatloaf” was born. A compilation of the zine is available in book form on Amazon.

Liza Bley poses with her trusty, extra large stapler. Photo by Lauren Eubanks

Liza Bley poses with her trusty, extra large stapler. Photo by Lauren Eubanks

“I love working with Marya,” Bley says and enjoys that ABQ Zine Fest is a space where people can share their own stories. “It’s important to have spaces to share stories without redaction, rewriting or the mainstream media,” she says. As zines usually have limited runs and don’t go through a the typical publishing process, there’s a freedom for writers to say what they want without fear of it either not getting published or being redacted by an editor.

“I didn’t start a zine fest as a selfless act– I’m a writer, too!…I wanted a place to present my zines—I wanted to create a little more space for myself and other people of color to be part of the zine world, which is predominately white. There’s room for everyone—but sometimes you have to create that space,” Jones says of her event. This is a popular idea when it comes to zines: If something doesn’t exist, create it! If there isn’t a space for someone, make that space!

Jones’ advice to anyone who wants to get started making zines is to “Make something and put a staple in it.” It doesn’t matter who you are or what your skill is. Creator of “Albuquerque for Zinesters,” Samantha Andrews got started just recently because of ABQ Zine Fest. She was inspired by the event last year and wanted to have something to sell this year.

“I made it a goal last year to have something,” she says and in inspiration of other travel guides she’d seen, decided to take her home town and conceptualize it into her own guide. The zine offers suggestions for many different things to do in Albuquerque from where to eat to which venue has the best shows. It’s a great reference for anyone who is either visit Albuquerque for the first time or is a native looking for something new.

Those interested in ABQ Zine Fest can visit abqzinefest.blogspot.com or the event’s Facebook page “ABQ Zine Fest” for interviews with zine creators, information on upcoming events, and how to register for a space at next year’s fest. Jones’ zines can be found on her Etsy shop “Mocha Mix Zines.”