Everything goes in cycles, or so it seems in the world of self-publishing. Armed with typewriters, Wite-Out and Xerox machines, zine editors in the 1990s flourished. The Bay Area in particular was a hotspot of zine activity at the time, producing issues of the nationally known Absolutely Zippo, Tales of Blarg, and the king of them all, Cometbus.
When LiveJournal sucked music fans, feminists and social outlaws into the online sphere, zines as a medium seemed poised for the guillotine. And yet similar to the cultural trajectory of vinyl LPs after CDs and Napster, the zine format has gone from near-anachronism to retro cool to full-fledged vitality in just over a decade. Modern zines aren't just a twee remembrance of dumpster diving, Gilman Street gossip and postage scams—they're part of a vibrant subculture, one that's celebrated annually at the San Francisco Zine Fest.
In addition to editors of zines of all stripes on hand—comics, horror, photography, fiction, ramblings, etc.—the fest features panels on the future of zines, workshops on screenprinting, and a discussion of feminism in zines including San Francisco's own Abigail Young (whose zine Camel Toe is “always looking for thoughtful contributions and pictures of proud lady crotches”). Another special guest, Tomas Moniz, is reflective of how the zine community has literally grown up; his zine Rad Dad is all about radical parenting.
Exhibitor signups sold out in record time this year, so even though the two-day soiree is free, be sure to bring cash, and return home with stapled-together reading material from the Bay Area's best zinemakers.