Despite the news about print's impending demise, the internet hasn't yet managed to kill off zine culture. In fact, what might be written off as a cute relic of the '80s and '90s, when self-published books printed at a midnight Kinko's were de rigueur for any punk rocker worth her salt, is alive and well, thank you.
Need proof? Head over to the fifth-annual East Bay Alternative Book and ZineFest (EBABZ) on Dec. 6 at Berkeley City College. Step inside the packed-to-the-gills downstairs room, and behold the wonder of table upon table of zinesters, comic nerds and alternative book purveyors, all sketching, writing, and cutting-and-pasting as though it was 1996 and a Tumblr was still just a glass spelled funny. This year's fest boasts the largest number of participants yet, including a choice list of "zinerati" like Nomi Kane, 1001 Black Men, Jen Oaks Illustration, Ker-bloom!, Tiny Splendor, Murder Can Be Fun, and Endless Canvas. All in all, the day-long event offers a pleasant mix of cartoon artists, old-school zinesters, young upstarts, graffiti legends and crafty folks.
EBABZ co-founder Tomas Moniz, editor of Rad Dad magazine, points to the beauty and vulnerability inherent in the experience of reading a zine. "Whether it's about bad dates or radical parenting, zines take risks," Moniz tells KQED Arts. "They lay bare the ugliness and the beauty we all see in the world around us. Collect them, or read them and give them away. That's what it's all about."
The East Bay's only zine fest provides the chance to pick up a stack of new reading materials for super cheap while supporting the independent artists and writing communities that continue to thrive in the Bay Area. "It's a supportive and friendly environment," says Moniz. "And we encourage trading!"