Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Zine Fest 2011 @ The Women's Library - Review

An absolutely gorgeous day in London saw a lot of amazing zinesters gather in the Women's Library for Zine Fest at the weekend (June 25th). This is the fourth Zine Fest held in the Women’s Library in London, and is an event celebrating all sorts of different aspects of zine culture, from the political to the artistic. As well as having stalls selling all sorts of different zines, there were also workshops and discussion groups going on throughout the day.

Unfortunately, due to many of the Tube lines being fully or partly closed, by the time we reached the Women’s Library, we’d missed most of the workshops. Gotta love public transport. If you attended any of the workshops on such varied subjects as stencilling and feminist media, do leave us a comment with your experiences and/or pictures!

The Women’s Library itself has an extensive zine collection, and tours were given of the library throughout the afternoon. As well as holding events like this, the Women’s Library offer access to materials on women’s history throughout the ages, and provide a reliable resource for anyone wanting to explore the work of our feminist predecessors. 

The stalls were in a small room on the top floor of the library, and a varied collection of zinesters were present, including such regulars as Marching Stars Distro and Vampire Sushi Distro, and newer publications like Girls Get Busy. Feminist collective, Storm in a Teacup, were also there, offering handprinted copies of their own zine. As well as zines being on offer, stalls ran by such groups as Pamflet and Girls Who Draw sold tote bags and pieces of art. I ended up buying a LOT of zines (all worth it!) and am hoping to review some of the highlights either on my personal blog, or on here.

The exhibition room was set in the library’s cafĂ©, and provided some absolutely inspiring food for thought. A big theme with the exhibits was inspirational women, with the Feminist Disco Project, asking people to draw their female icons on paper plates, and the More Crackers Please exhibit, showing the best in feminist activism over the last 10 years. Also on show was the Shape and Situate zine’s exhibition of posters of figures from feminist history, the posters ranging from the funny to the inspiring. The zine itself is available to buy here.

Overall, Zine Fest was an immensely successful event in the atmosphere it offered. It was a zine event that was fantastically chilled out, and offered a friendly space for a more openly feminist sensibility. After all, any zine event that has a table selling copies of Reclaiming the F Word is totally okay with me. Any naysayers of feminism only have to come to an event like this to see just how much active feminist self-published media there is at the moment.

Did you go to Zine Fest? Agree or disagree with anything I’ve said? Let us know! Also, if you have any pictures or accounts of the event, do send us links!

Above - photos from the various exhibitions at Zine Fest.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

News Round-Up!

Pip pip!  It’s been a great fortnight in the UK zine scene, so I’m delighted to offer you all plenty of zine news for once! Yay!

Yesterday was the Zine Fest at the Women’s Library, which was bloody awesome.  I went with Spill the Zines’ newest contributor, Caitlin Gwynn, who will be writing a review of the zine fest sometime this week, so keep your eyes open for that.  I also picked up a huge pile of zines and a gorgeous Girls Get Busy totebag, all of which made me a very happy lady:

Expect some reviews of said zines on this blog in the next couple of weeks!  Don't forget to keep sending us your British zine news, we love having lots to write about in our news round-up posts! Get in touch via email, twitter, or leave a comment somewhere on this blog! 

Cath x


1. Zine Releases
2. Upcoming Events
3. Submission Calls
4. Zine Reviews
5. Distro News
6. AOB (Any Other Business)


1. Zine Releases
 - “My Phone Hates Me” by Sky Nash, a zine all about how her iPhone is constantly making her look stupid!  More info here.
 - Not You Again #1, published out of Birmingham by BeauCapone, in which she recounts stories from her final year of university. Pick up your copy at her etsy shop.

 - Your Pretty Face is Going Straight to Hell #15 was released in time for yesterday’s Zine Fest @ The Women’s Library! Get in touch with Tukru for info on how to get hold of a copy.
 - Sarah-Beth has released her first zine, Ellipsis! More info on the zine and how to order here: http://safetobreathe.livejournal.com/114454.html
 - If Destroyed Still True #6: Iraqi Kurdistan edition is out now.  More info on the zine and how to get hold of a copy can be found at Nine’s blog.
 - Girls Get Busy #6 is out now!  Buy your copy at http://girlsgetbusyzine.bigcartel.com/.

2. Upcoming Events
 - Bradford Zine Fayre: 2nd July.  A free event on from 12 – 4pm at Impressions Gallery, Centenary Square. More info at www.northern-indymedia.org.
 - Birmingham Zine Festival: 9th July. 12 til 6pm.  12 til 6pm at ‘We Are Birmingham’.  Lots of workshops and tables (including my own table), followed by a BBQ and aftershow party! Come down and say hello!  RSVP here.
 - Camden Zine Fest: 8th October.  1pm til 6pm  at The Pirate Castle, Oval Road. For more info on workshops, tables, and how to help organising the event, get in touch with the organiser Will at camdenzinefestATgmailDOTcom.  RSVP on We Make Zines or Facebook.

3. Submission Calls
 - The Swansea Feminist Network is in the process of making its first zine, and is looking for submissions on the topic of “feminist heroes”.  The deadline is 17th July. More info can be found at the SFN blog here: http://swanseafeministnetwork.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/call-for-submissions-sfns-first-zine/
 - Going to any festivals this summer?  Send a one-page review to the next issue of Opinionated Geordie Monsters! The deadline is 1st September. More info here.
 - Princesa Pirata distro has an interesting collective zine project going on called “Ten Things” – basically, you order a free booklet and make a list of 10 things under that title on a page in the booklet (each has a different title, such as 10 Things I Dream Of, or 10 Things I Don’t Want To Forget). After you’ve made your list, you give the booklet to a friend, they give it to a friend and so on. The full booklets will be put together into little zines by A-K Pirata.  Pick up the booklet and get started here!

4. Zine Reviews
 - Hannah has posted some lovely zine reviews on her blog last week – take a look!
 - Sophie at Oh My Clumsy Heart has posted some zine reviews, complete with plenty of photos, at her blog.

5. Distro News
 - There’s a new distro in town! pushpin is a new UK zine distro focusing on travel, Japan, crafts, illustration, kawaii and perzines. Buy some cool stuff at www.pushpinzines.co.uk.
 - Marching Stars is temporarily on hiatus! Boo hiss. Thankfully it’s only until 28th June.

6. A.O.B.
 - For those of you with the time or inclination, there’s a zine survey floating around looking for responses on the topic of writing and reading zines.  Only takes about ten minutes. 

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Zine Reviews: June '11

Fat Quarter #3
England – www.fat-quarter.co.uk
I bloody loved this one!  I’d never read an issue of Fat Quarter until this month, but had heard plenty of good things about it.  My first issue did not disappoint! Subtitled “a countercultural ladies’ mag”, Fat Quarter aims to celebrate what women do, and discuss the issues that we really care about, with an emphasis on female creativity.  Fat Quarter is styled in a very similar way to mainstream magazines - it’s printed in full colour on glossy paper, and contains regular features including interviews, reviews, upcoming events, and advertisements (but all female-friendly, of course). The articles in this issue cover topics including virginity, female drag, alternative places in the UK to visit, and Japanese bento.  At 23 A4 pages, I would’ve liked it to be much longer, as I was enjoying reading it so much.  Apart from that, I loved it. Get hold of your copy at Marching Stars or from Fat Quarter’s website.

Tragic Boffin #1
Donna, Edinburgh – tragicboffinATgmailDOTcom
Some zinesters say that one’s first zine is always a bit shit (and I must say that this rings true for my perzine).  Others say that the first is the glorious issue crammed full of ideas that subsequent issues struggle to live up to.  While in my experience the former is almost always true, Tragic Boffin #1 was a rare case of an excellent first zine!  I loved to hear Donna proudly write about how much she likes the way her life is – spending the evening writing and sewing instead of out drinking, playing her XBOX, enjoying a bubble bath with a book, and her love for her pet rats!  There’s also a cracking comic by Billy Burg in the middle on the definition of “success”.  Other topics briefly discussed include her relationship with money, body image, how mindfulness is essential to wellbeing, and feminist book recommendations.  Mostly typical perzine fodder, but well-written and entertaining nonetheless. I must guiltily admit that I enjoyed this zine far more than I thought I would. Highly recommended!

Adventures in Menstruating #6
Edited by Chella Quint, Sheffield – www.chartyourcycle.co.uk
This is why I love the zine scene – articles about celebrating one’s period is something that I’d never find in the mainstream press, a place that’s saturated with images of women who are ashamed of menstruation, looking for ways to “outsmart” mother nature.  Adventures in Menstruating is a zine that focuses on menses with a feminist slant and a great sense of humour.  It’s reminiscent of a magazine, with its full-colour cover and neat interior layouts.  Inside, there are articles, poetry, mini-comics, product reviews, a short story, flow charts (pun not intended), and deconstructions of the advertising used for menstrual products.  It’s a zine about periods, what’s not to like, seriously? Every woman needs to read at least one issue of this zine in her life, so get your copy now!

Athemaura #2: The Library Issue
This is a zine written in March by a librarian campaigning against the government cuts (but annoyingly, the author didn’t include a name or location, just the email address above).  Inside, the author discusses how libraries have featured in their life, from insomnia-fuelled reading binges in childhood, to the present day, where they spent four years to secure their first library job.  We read about how they feel spending time at the library has had a positive effect on their development as a person, and how important the author feels libraries are for all members of the community.  There are also a few statistics on library closures, and some recommended reading on the topic.  Very messy, both in terms of its visuals, and the way it’s been put together.  Some may like that kind of look, but I didn’t, if I’m honest.  There are also random numbers alongside some paragraphs, and the meaning of them wasn’t clear.  However, despite some quibbles I have with the author’s approach to putting the zine together, it still features some well-written pieces that do clearly highlight the importance of libraries, so overall I have to give this zine a thumbs-up.  You can keep up to date with the author’s campaign updates here: http://savelibraryjobs.blogspot.com/.

Not Lonely #5.5 / Sometimes I’m Dreaming #4.5
Hannah, Scotland – not_lonely_zineATyahooDOTco.uk / Lisa, London – sometimesimdreamingAThotmail.co.uk
Two of my favourite British zinesters in one lovely little zine – wonderful!  Both have deemed this a “half” issue, as it was written over the course of one weekend together, with lots of tea and Spotify playlists to fuel their writing.  Although short and quickly made, it’s still a gorgeous split-zine, with both sides equally entertaining and pretty.  The content was chosen by writing random topics on slips of paper, and picking them at random out of a large hat.  Hannah’s topics include life-changing experiences, videogames, and common misconceptions about her, while Lisa writes about childhood dreams, travel, her style, trash TV, and shyness.  Lisa’s side is more text-heavy and features more of her beautiful handwriting, while Hannah’s side has more large typewritten text and cut-and-paste imagery.  A fun little read.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Zine News Round-Up!


Hello everyone!  I must apologise for the short length of this news post, as it’s apparently been a rather slow fortnight in the British zine scene. Last week saw Glasgow’s first zine fest, which I hear was a big success, and yesterday Ladyfest Essex was a success, managing to raise a tidy sum of money for the charity Refuge (if you didn’t get a chance to go, you can still donate to Refuge at Ladyfest’s JustGiving page).  We’ve got lots more zine fests coming up this summer, as listed below, so hopefully next fortnight we’ll have a little more news to share!  Don’t forget to email us anything and everything related to British zine culture at spillthezinesukATgmailDOTcom.

Cath x


1. Zine Releases
2. Upcoming Events
3. Submission Calls
4. Distro News
5. AOB (Any Other Business)


1. Zine Releases
 - Issue 106 of Bi Community News aka BCN is now out with its usual mix of writing about bi life, bisexuality in wider culture and the UK bi scene itself. Order a copy or a subscription at www.bicommunitynews.co.uk.
 - I released issue 8 of my feminist perzine, Here. In My Head., this week.  More info on how to buy a copy or ask for a trade at my blog.

2. Upcoming Events
- Zine Fest! 2011: 25th June.  Held in the Women’s Library in London, which has its own extensive zine collection. Be there or be some sort of square!
 - Bradford Zine Fayre: 2nd July.  Still in the planning stages.  For more info on how to get involved, visit the We Make Zines page.
 - Birmingham Zine Festival: 9th July. 12 til 6pm.  Lots of workshops and tables (including my own table)! Come down and say hello!  RSVP here.
 - Camden Zine Fest: 8th October.  Very far in advance, but this event is still in the planning stages, so if you want to lend a hand, get in touch with the organiser Will at camdenzinefestATgmailDOTcom.  

3. Submission Calls
 - Rotherham zine library is looking for donations! For more info, visit http://rotherhamzinelibrary.snaek.org/.

4. Distro news
- Marching Stars has been updated, with lots of new zines in stock, some of which I will be reviewing next week.
 -Vampire Sushi has gone on a brief hiatus; you can keep up to date with their activity on their tumblr.  

5. A.O.B.
 - This video has been floating around the internets recently; 3Trousers has made a film out of part of his early UK punk zine collection, featuring loads of cool covers from the early days of UK punk zining. 
Worth a gander: