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Arts + Culture

9 Ways to Go Underground at Canzine Calgary

It’s possible you’ve never heard of zines before. Zines, an abbreviation of “magazine,” are a form of self-publication often produced via photocopier or made out of cut-and-paste materials. They vary in topics from politics, activism, music, art and so on. They’re filled with poetry, prose, comics, and art.

Broken Pencil, a Toronto-based magazine about zine culture, will be highlighting Calgary’s zine scene November 4 at the Memorial Park Library with the first Canzine Calgary. Whether you know the ins-and-outs of a photocopier or haven’t touched a printer in years, Vern’s got the inside scoop to help you navigate this free zine fair.

1. If you’ve never opened a zine…

“I would say the first thing you should do when you get there is go to a table and open one,” says Broken Pencil editor-in-chief Jonathan Valelly. “Don’t be shy about picking stuff up off people’s tables.” He says it’s normal to browse the tables and chat with the creators. There’s also no pressure to pick up a piece of work if it doesn’t appeal to you.

2. Broaden your horizons

Because the medium is normally low-cost and accessible, Valelly encourages attendees to come in with an open mind. “Don’t be shy about buying stuff that you don’t find familiar or that might seem out of your wheelhouse. What’s nice about zines is that they are a low-stakes kind of way to learn about other people’s experiences, perspectives or interests.” There’s no real end to the subject material zines, chapbooks and micro-press materials can cover.

3. Bring something to trade

Some creators will have set price points for their materials but a lot of zinesters are also open to a sliding scale of pay-what-you-can or even swaps. If you have an idea in your head, Valelley encourages anyone to make their own zine and see what happens.

4. Bring the kids

Rich Theroux and Jess Szabo, co-founders of the live art space Rumble House, will be hosting all-ages, interactive drop-in workshops around poetry, art and zines at the fair. They’re providing typewriters, art materials and inspiration so anyone can come in and create their own work. “What we’re doing really evolves depending on the space,” says Szabo. “Come whenever you can and we’ll make room and make sure we have something for everybody.”

5. Check out some Canada-wide content courtesy of filling Station

filling Station Publications Society, a Calgary-based non-profit publishing organization, will be sharing material from small press and independent publishers across the country that wouldn’t necessarily make it here. “They really stepped up to curate a selection that will bring an even greater bounty of print items, books and chapbooks for folks in Calgary to check out,” says Valelly.

6. Keep the postal system alive

Zines are a highly collaborative medium and lend themselves to cooperative work across distances, says Valelly. “I think zinesters are some of the last people keeping the postal system alive because we’re sending stuff to each other all the time.” For creators, he suggests dropping copies of their work to other tables. “I have seen people who live in different cities meet at zine fairs and end up collaborating across the mail or digitally on a project that they then launch the next year at Canzine.”

7. Bind your own book

Poets and creators of all skill levels won’t want to miss the hour-long workshop by Calgary-based poet derek beaulieu. The former Poet Laureate of Calgary will be leading attendees through the creation and binding of chapbooks, a form of self-publishing typically for poetry and prose.

8. Get back to the root of zines

While there’s likely to be a lot of light-hearted content on hand at Canzine, it’s important to note that zines have a long history in political organizing, community building and information sharing. Valelly will be moderating a panel of zinesters, writers and illustrators as they discuss the potentialities and pitfalls of zines as political tools in a digital age.

9. Track down Jonathan

Valelly will be taking in the energy of the fair and encourages anyone who still isn’t sure how to approach it to track him down. If he’s not moderating the fair’s panel, he’ll be happy to come say “Hey.”

Canzine Calgary
Nov. 4, 2018, 12 pm to 7 pm
Memorial Park Library
Free to attend

Is the oncoming bad weather making it hard to choose between staying in and going out? We’ve broken down your choices in our Going Out Versus Staying Home Entertainment Guide for Cold Weather.

By Fraser Tripp