Milwaukee Zine Fest celebrates DIY publishing
The Milwaukee Zine Fest returns for a second year, but this time, it's in a new location. The Polish Falcon's Nest, 801 E. Clarke St., hosts the alternative media event on Saturday, Nov. 14 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The free event will feature zines for sale and trade, workshops and a post-party at Jackpot Gallery, 825 E. Center St. During the event, the Polish Falcon's bar will be open for business.
The workshops will take place across the street from the Polish Falcon's Nest at the Cream City Collectives, 732 E. Clarke St.
What the hell is a zine, you ask? A "zine" refers to a self-published, handmade periodical that is usually reproduced and distributed for free or a nominal fee. Zines usually have a small circulation, appeal to a niche group and are just as likely to be handwritten as created via computer.
Often a zine includes hand-drawn art, cartoons and anything else the author wants to contribute. In Milwaukee, Fischberger's, 2445 N. Holton St., stocks a fair share of zines.
Alternative, DIY pamphlets have been around for ages, but the modern zine scene emerged from the '70s punk rock movement. Despite the '90s technology boom and the popularity of blogs -- which are online journals -- the zine continues to thrive.
"The zine is undergoing a renaissance right now," says Milo Miller, who co-organized the event with Nico Bennet. Miller is the co-founder of QZAP, an online archive of queer zines that has been in existence since 2003.
"Zines are very personal," says Miller, who has created zines on topics that range from vegan cooking to radical queer Jews to mayonnaise. "Zines are completely in your control. They are without advertisements, so you are the last authority."
Cultural critic Anne Elizabeth Moore will attend the Milwaukee Zine Fest and teach a workshop from 2 to 4 p.m. entitled "The Advantage and Disadvantage of Zine: Cambodia's First Generation of Women Leaders Explore Democracy."
Moore is an instructor at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the author of nine books including "Unmarketable: Brandalism, Copyfighting, Mocketing and the Erosion of Integrity." Also, she is a gallery artist and an avid zinemaker.
Currently, Moore is working with young women in Cambodia to voice their opinions through zines about a variety of topics, including rice production, agriculture in contemporary society, women's issues, spirituality, health care in the countryside and Cambodia's genocidal history.
"This work is then used, as media should be, to inform other regions facing similar concerns or challenges about what solutions the young women in Cambodia are devising, and to help diverse communities build international systems of support," says Moore.
Recently, OnMilwaukee.com tracked down Moore and asked her a few Q's about zines.
OnMilwaukee.com: When did you start to make zines? What were your early zines about?
Anne Elizabeth Moore: Just the other day, I stumbled across my very first zine. I thought I hadn't started making zines until I was 15, but this one -- a comic about a flea with a catchphrase who is filled with pathos -- I made when I was 11. My longest running zine was called "AnneZine," and it served the international community of people that shared my same first name.
OMC: How many zines have you made over the years?
AEM: I was asked once if I made zines reflexively, and that's exactly how it works. I've probably made hundreds, only about half of them have I even kept copies of.
OMC: What are they about?
AEM: They are about whatever happens in this society -- or whatever society I'm in at the time -- that desperately requires a response that is more drastic than senseless screaming. That happens a lot.
OMC: What materials do you use?
AEM: They're made with materials relevant to the issue or audience that I'm addressing. For example, a zine about an international coffee shop chain will be a deep green and be distributed in the bathrooms of that chain. A zine about the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) will be folded as if a map and left on buses. The project on the doll store that became a big deal used the little free folders you can get there and was distributed inside the store. This is all legal, mind you.
OMC: Does a zine need to have a theme?
AEM: A zine can be anything published in an edition larger than one. It doesn't need to have anything.
OMC: What is important to teach to kids about the zine-making process?
AEM: That it's their own, and that they can do whatever they want with it.
OMC: What is the difference between zine making and book making?
AEM: It depends. Books are usually just identified by how they look and feel. If your zine is of a certain heft, weight and conceptual gravity, it's probably considered a book. People apply the term "book" to things though as if it meant they were better than "magazines," "zines," "booklettes," or "pamphlets," but really the same methods apply, even in the professional realm.
OMC: What is the purpose of a zine?
AEM: To establish a communication between the creator and the reader. It's an important relationship, so both parties should treat it with respect and use it wisely.
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congrats to Miss Nico for organizing and bringing this all together for Milwaukee.
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