Holdin’ On in the Plastic World
ABQ Zine Fest creator Marya Errin Jones on self-publication, little Ray Bradbury and unlikely alliances
If you hear a crescendoing machine hum echoing through the arroyos this week, don’t worry: It’s just Albuquerque’s zinesters revving their photocopiers into overdrive. Even now, reams of double-sided copies are being churned out and lovingly stapled in preparation for the third annual ABQ Zine Fest. A zine (pronounced “zeen”) is a small-scale self-publication on any topic the creator devises, and a zine fest is where zine-loving authors, artists, visionaries and oddballs converge to share their work with each other and the public.
The no-cost ABQ Zine Fest transpires this year at the Tannex (1417 Fourth Street SW) and surrounding venues over the course of two days. Zine auteurs offer their creations for sale or trade on Saturday, Oct. 5, punctuated by the madcap antics of Billy’s Zine Olympics, with an afterparty featuring zine readings, live music and DJ Mello on deck. Sunday, Oct. 6, features workshops, readings and talks, topped off with a showing of A Band Called Death at the Guild (3405 Central NE) at 6:30pm. Alibi caught up with the organizational mastermind behind it all, Marya Errin Jones, to get the lowdown on the what and the why.
Tell us what's new at this year's ABQ Zine Fest.
ABQ Zine Fest, now in its third year, offers a weekend of zine-related events, celebrating independent publishing and DIY culture in Albuquerque. What's new is ABQZF's gradual growth. Each year more exhibitors register. Last year ABQZF happened at the Kosmos. We love that space, but we've already outgrown it! This year, with new and returning local zinesters, and several exhibitors from the Pacific Northwest and Southern California, we've switched locales to the Tannex, the Tan and Small Engine Gallery—so visitors will have to go door-to-door! Also Soo Bak Food Truck will be serving up delicious Korean Seoul food all afternoon.
Who should come to the fest? Who should stay away?
Open-minded, curious people of all ages with a hankering for lo-fi fun and DIY writing, and lovers of kimchi and Korean BBQ, are welcome to hang out. Fascists of all stripes and persuasions should go elsewhere.
Do people write and photocopy their own zines because they can't get published otherwise? What's the appeal for readers?
There are plenty of published authors and creators of comics that also produce their own zines. And zinesters get published all the time by the many delightful alternative presses all over the world. I don't think anyone's waiting for a knight with a shining book deal tucked under her arm. We are obliged to do what e.e. cummings did when he published a collection of 70 poems and called it No Thanks, listing more than a baker's dozen of publishing companies that would not touch his manuscript. Good on you, e.e. There's something to be said about a great editor making your work better, no question about that. But mainly, I think people write and publish zines to maintain complete control over their work—edits, corrections and typos be damned! There is joy in the effort from idea to that final staple. There's also the terror of facing the blank page, the rigors of collating and the misery of not having enough time or money to crank out one more zine for a festival or a reading, but it's all worth it in the end, to have completed something. It's not a log cabin, but a feisty bit of writing that you penned, edited, copied, bound and delivered to your table at a zine fest is like building something—I mean, you did make it with your own hands. You're building a body of work that is uniquely you. Writing a zine is like constructing a nest for your thoughts to live in. I don't know that zinesters care about appeal—that's mass-market thinking. It's a way to go, but not all that zinester-like. I think readers find the zinesters they love to read. I firmly believe it is the holy obligation of the scribe to keep writing.
A lot of people associate zines with the '90s—what makes them relevant in a blogging, tweeting, instagramming age?
Ugh. Blogging and tweeting are not real. The ’90s aren't real anymore, either. Zines are the manifestation of thoughts that come into the plastic world. You can hold a zine. You can collect them. You can share them, start libraries so other people can enjoy them. When was the last time anyone was like, “Hey, I saved this tweet for you, man it's awesome. I have been holding on to this entire set of tweets for years—they're in my basement in a box, and it's time that someone read them again! You're going to get so much out of this tweet. Why don't you write your own tweets, as they spring forth from the font deep within you!” Nope, never going to happen. Happens all the time with zines. When the power goes out, no one's going to have saved those damned blogs or tweets, unless they were turned into books. Over the summer I had the pleasure of seeing a collection of science fiction zines that were mailed to Ray Bradbury when he was a kid. To little Ray's house. There's relevancy all over that. It wasn't a tweet he was reading under the covers with a flashlight. Yes, I time-traveled to make that analogy work.
In what ways have zines changed your own life and outlook?
I always considered myself a performing artist. For years that's all I did. And as much as I still like performance, writing zines introduced me to a part of my imagination and my memory that could only be written down. I've recovered from emotional trauma through zines. I've expressed my frustration and anger about society and its conditions through zines. I've satisfied my inner historian by forging alliances between unlikely timelines and mostly bewildered historical lives that intersect because my research says so, and zines gave me the freedom to explore and pen alternative histories of inclusion. Most importantly, I've made some great friends through attending zine events and trading my zines with other writers. It's pretty incredible what you learn about someone that you probably wouldn't speak aloud about.
Why did you decide three years ago that Albuquerque needed a zine fest?
Albuquerque didn't need a zine fest, but I thought it would be cool to have one, like other cities our size. I thought there should be a zine fest here. So I made one.
ABQ Zine Fest
Saturday, Oct. 5, 11am to midnight
Sunday, Oct. 6, noon to 4pm
1417 Fourth Street SW