Three years ago, Elvis B. and Kate Angell started a zine fest that was “more focused on all the cool feminist topics out there,” per Elvis B. “In the first year, we were just like, ‘Oh, I hope people come to our little zine fest!’ But we got a huge response. We had it at the Brooklyn Commons and it was completely packed and crazy.” This year’s festival has five nonhierarchical, all-volunteer co-organizers, and is focused on making “an atmosphere where everyone is accepted and can have a good time,” said one of the co-organizers, Emma Caterine.
This all-inclusive atmosphere comes from the organizers’ broad definition of feminism and feminist issues. “People have a lot of ideas when they hear the word ‘feminist,'” said Elvis B. “This isn’t a zine fest only run by women. There are people who are genderqueer involved, there are people who are trans, and everyone is welcome at the table.” As an example of the broad representations of feminism at tomorrow’s event, both Caterine and Elvis B. mentioned Emma Karin, the author of Radical Domesticity, a zine about all things domestic, which is “not something you think of oftentimes when you’re thinking of feminism,” as Caterine put it.
This year there’s a particular emphasis on involving and welcoming the transgender community. Although Barnard College’s mission is to “address issues of gender in all of their complexity and urgency,” they are still grappling with the idea of admitting transgender students. Barnard is a natural location for the event because of its long history of feminist activism and its impressive zine library (one of the co-organizers, Jenna Freedman, is the Barnard Zine Librarian). But the organizers want to make sure that the transgender community feels comfortable there, despite Barnard’s exclusionary policies.Zines — handmade, DIY magazines usually with an underground distribution — grew out of the punk scene (remember Kathleen Hanna’s anti-Dando zine?) and, as such, have always been a space for communities not represented in mainstream publishing. Caterine has long been an activist and writer, but only got into making her own zine this year, at the encouragement of her friend Annie Mok. She loves the freedom zines give her. “As long as it can be put on paper,” she said, “You should be making a zine.”
Although zines come from and cater to an activist tradition, they are often also quirky and fun, which is what tomorrow is all about. When asked what she was most looking forward to about the event, Caterine replied, “I’m just excited to meet new zinesters and see old zinesters who I already know in their own element.”
Join the 200-300 zinesters anticipated tomorrow at Barnard College (3009 Broadway, 4th Floor, James Room, New York, NY) between 12-6 p.m. The full event schedule can be found here.