It was at Cellar Door that a dormant love torch was rekindled in me. And where the idea for a zine fest in Albuquerque was born.
I write zines. I promote other people’s zines. I give them away, stuff them in people’s pockets when they aren’t looking and show strangers how to fold mini zines on the street. ABQ Zine Fest is a dribbling, babbling, snotty paper baby that turns two in 2012.
I’ve had lots of conversations about zines lately as I peddle for the cause. The first form of dialogue typically begins like this: “What are z(eye)ns?” You don’t say magazeyen, do you? Zines doesn’t rhyme with Auld Lang Syne. How did the zine scene in Albuquerque go so far underground that people forgot how to say ZINE?
You don’t say magazeyen, do you? Zines doesn’t rhyme with Auld Lang Syne.
Despite such auspicious beginnings, zines have fallen out of favor, so much that some folk have to reach way back for the memory. I often hear something along these lines: “Oh yeah, I used to make zines—in like 1990, when I was skateboarding.” Then the conversation fades into nothing. The former zinester either floats away on a dirty cloud of regret, or freezes, eyes fixed on a distant memory of a younger self: childless, mohawked, dripping Joy Division from the pores of a ripped black T-shirt. Probably shops at a box store for diapers now. Still writing, but mostly to engage in text battles via Facebook comments. Still wearing that Joy Division T-shirt. To bed.
I want to yell: Why aren’t you still writing zines? Who told you your story was not worth penning? Not enough hours in the day? Ha! You used to puke and keep going, keep playing, keep skating! Put that child to bed and create a zine you’ll be proud to read as a bedtime story someday, even if it is scary, strange, embarrassing or sad.
Whatever you make will be uniquely yours—a bit of yourself you can share with the world.
Whatever you make will be uniquely yours—a bit of yourself you can share with the world. Therein lies the value.
We don’t have to move to a larger city to have a zine scene; we just have to support what we’ve got. Some prefer eZines and blogs, but even as steady as the Internet seems, it’s still a chancy medium compared with the solid metal that zines are made with. The staple in the middle proves the bond between words, ideas, drawings and collages, the distro, the writer and you. It’s all connected. Maybe not as immediate as the Internet, but certainly in a real time of its own.
Let me put it this way: When Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec snake god, conjures solar flares and knocks out all electronic communication on Earth, we’ll be looking for that zinester with the printing press in her living room. Instead of raiding the cold case for the last gourmet ice cream I’ll ever taste, I’ll be seen throwing a metal trash can through the plate glass window of an office supply store to carry away as many reams of paper and packs of pens as I can drag away. That’s how much independent publishing means to me.
The third form of conversation I tend fall into is when someone, after thinking about it for ages, has finally written their first zine. They hand me a copy, and I accept, almost as breathless as they are. I don’t even care what’s in it. I’m just a lucky girl to be able to hold it in my hands. It’s exciting, and that flash of grade-school joy that finishing a zine can invoke is what it’s all about. No one owns this scene. Holding back because it’s grown new faces or is trying to resurrect itself in a new world only diminishes the individual, not the scene. So jump in! Share! Teach what you know! First-timers and veteran zinesters face their blank pages just the same.