Feminist Fanzine Fest!
Over the weekend, Viktoriya and I went to a fanzine fair at The Construction Gallery, a pop-up arts space in Tooting. We were excited by this, and not just because we didn’t have to venture far from home. I’m really cheered by the huge upswing in arty, crafty, DIY community stuff that’s happening right now, like the Crafty Pint series of making-stuff-inna-pub. It makes me feel connected to things that are going on locally, and I love the mash-up of traditional “feminine” pursuits, like sewing, in traditional “masculine” environments like the pub. It’s almost as if people of all genders could get involved. Serious.
“I used to write for a ‘zine back when there was no internet…”
But to the ‘zines. I used to write for a fanzine, back in sixth form, when I was trying to be as cool as the girl who made the fanzine in question, who wanted to be a music journalist and who didn’t like Kula Shaker so I had to pretend not to like them either (but I did, and I do). I remember getting super excited over the fact that I was holding in my hand something that I had helped to make, and seeing my art in print for the first time. It made me realise that I could actually be creative, that there were things I could physically make outside of the dismal sessions of Art Class where I woefully, grudgingly failed to reproduce any of the techniques of the grand masters. This involved scissors and glue and a photocopier. I could totally do those things! I did pictures for two issues, until teenage bitching meant that no one was talking to anyone and it all got a bit fraught.
So that was my experience. I’m glad to say that other people are still making fanzines, and that they are varied, beautiful, different and amazing. I spent a tenner on a stack of ‘zines and came home giddy with the fact I owned little bits of art, thought and lovely stuff. Counter culture. I was gobsmacked with the array of fanzines on offer and made even happier when I realised how fucking feminist all of it was. And how diverse that feminism felt. All kinds of people were making all kinds of cool, gender-diverse, body-shape positive, politically forward things. Which were funny. And nice to look at.
Here are some of my faves.
Queer and Feminist ‘Zines
I fell in love with Nancy just from the cover alone, and more so when I read the contents. A series of personal essays, rants and raves on the subject of effeminate gay men and why there is such antagonism towards them both within mainstream AND gay culture. A seriously smart read, which delivers one gay chap’s take on queer theory sliced through with pics of Lady Gaga and Brian Molko. I particularly enjoyed the list of ‘positive femme men’. Shape and Situate subtitled itself as Posters of Inspirational European Women, and it did exactly what it said on the cover. A whole bunch of artists had done different pages, in different styles, giving stories and pictures about women as varied as Jayaben Desai and Liz Ely, so I now have a whole host of new icons, plus lots of links to new artists and new feminist allies I hadn’t heard of before. Girls Who Fight – do NOT google “girls who fight”; you will get bad porn – from Monster Emporium (see the distributors list below) is a good wodge of art, essays, stories, photos and all kinds of feminist goodies. I got all three issues due to being greedy. And I regret nothing. Another of my stellar buys was Miss Moti by artist Kripa Joshi. A stunning and high quality comic, standing out from its photocopied sisters. The rich, lush artwork details the daydream life of Miss Moti:
Pronounced with a regular T this Nepali word means
A Plump Woman
But spoken with a softer T it means
I really liked the curvy, sexy heroine – depicted on the cover in a seashell like Venus, but clothed in a polka dot dress. The simple storylines unfolded into wonderful fantasies: a bit of cotton candy becomes a pink cloud landscape where she sculpts her own David; a piece of apple grows into a new Eden complete with Adam. This was a real change from the lycra-clad hardbodies and explosion-tasms of the usual suspect superheroines I’ve become so used to seeing. This comic focused on her desires, rather than using her as a vehicle for the (assumed straight male) reader.
Distributors and Indie Publishers
Vampire Sushi are ‘zine distributors, so they’ve got their fingers in lots of pies. They specialise in perzines1, art ‘zines, queer ‘zines, food ‘zines and feminist ‘zines. Which is pretty much all your ‘zine food groups. Similarly, Monster Emporium Press have ‘zines and artbooks, as well as being monster-themed, which we at BadRep Towers are generally in favour of. Other Asias bring together artists whose work challenges misrepresentations and generalisations of “The East”. One of their cute mini ‘zines comes with a teabag inside, which meant that all my ‘zines now have a delicious scent to them. Finally, Honest Publishing are an independent publisher based in SW London, celebrating authors with unique, alternative voices.
- If you make feminist or feminist-friendly (or friendly feminist) fanzines, please get in touch with us and tell us all about it!