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Behind the Zines

Minneapolis zinesters bring it to the table at the 8th annual Zinefest
  • photo courtesy Holly Hilgenberg
September 22, 2011


What: Zinefest

When: 12-5 p.m., Saturday

Where: Powderhorn Park Building, 3400 15th Ave. S.

Cost: Free

When one thinks of zines, the image of someone marching around in a Che Guevara T-shirt and combat boots while eagerly passing out stapled and murkily designed pamphlets comes to mind.

The eighth annual Zinefest this Saturday will be the stomping ground for hordes of local zinesters who will put their handmade crafts on full display — some paying homage to the classics and others who may prefer to expand on the possibilities between the pages.

Zines can be meticulously printed and bound micro-books with screen printed covers and idiosyncratic signifiers or the product of a single night’s scrawling and a midnight trip to Kinko’s. They may serve as a document of one individual’s personal life, a didactic guidebook to stoke a political youth’s righteous indignation or may just be a series of whale drawings.

“[There is] xeroxed stuff where people do stuff on a typewriter and then cut and paste it over imagery that they find in magazines,” former Zinefest coordinator Sarah Morean said. “Then we have people who will hand bind all of their spines and screenprint all of their covers.”

Morean served as the event’s lead organizer for three years before taking her current position as the coordinator for the Minneapolis Indie Xpo, a showcase of independent comic artists and publishers.

Morean entered the world of zine-making when she self-published a literary journal in high school. Her interest in zines grew until at one point she offered a bimonthly subscription for her readers. This, with her handmade stamped covers and attraction to outdated printing technology like mimeographs, made frequent publishing an uphill crawl.

“It was really exhausting,” Morean said, “but I made some stuff that I’m still kind of proud of.”

As the media world continues its great migration to the virtual realm, Zinefest offers a refuge for nostalgics and artists alike to rejoice as patrons of paper in a digital age.

“It’s that you have something to hold and that you are giving someone something that you have touched,” Zinefest’s current coordinator Lacey Prpić Hedtke, said. “You can have it bring you back. Whereas if I were to go onto a website that I haven’t been on in a couple years, I would not have that feeling.”

The upcoming festival is not the only breeding and meeting ground for the special interest publications and their creators. Minneapolis Community and Technical College hosts its own zine library and always accepts and catalogues any donations to their collection. Outside of the community college circuit, however, zines lay down their roost in selectively independent and occasionally radical bookstores. Morean cited Boneshaker Books, the Source and Big Brain Comics as zine vendors, and Hedtke also noted the serendipitous swap as another method of zine collection.

“You usually can’t go into Barnes & Noble and get them, unless that Barnes & Noble is super hip,” Hedtke said.

“I think zinesters like … that they can have face-to-face contact and swap it with someone, or someone can say ‘Oh my god, I found your zine and I really liked it, and I’ll email you or I’ll write you a letter,’”**** Hedtke said. “I don’t really think people find someone’s blog and they’re like ‘Oh my god, your blog.’”****

Holly Hilgenberg, creator of the new Creative Ladies Are Powerful (C.L.A.P.) zine, has experienced this enthusiasm firsthand since she started printing her female-focused art world zine with friends last April.

C.L.A.P., which will make its first appearance at Zinefest this weekend, prints on the solstices and equinoxes and has content that runs the gamut from sharing recipes to a lawyer’s advice for creative entrepreneurs.

“There was a piece about the subjugation of female writers, and [the author] tied it into a story about her and her fiance going to the torture museum in Wisconsin Dells,” Hilgenberg said.

For all of her handmade stamps and mimeographs, Morean also recognizes that sometimes all it takes is sticking to the essentials.

Hedtke looks into the distant future to speculate what may lay very, very far down the road for zines.

“Who knows what happens 200 years from now, but I still like paper. With digital stuff, you have to have certain equipment and knowledge. Even just to do a blog, you have to know something about how a website should look and how to put it together,” Hedtke said. “Most people know how to use scissors and glue sticks.”

Who knows what zines will look like 200 years from now, but one can hope the person with the Guevara T-shirt and combat boots will still be around to pass out copies of “Anarchy: Now or Never.

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