Inside San Jose's Zine and DIY Scene

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Anyone wondering if DIY publishing was still alive and well would look no further than February's inaugural San Jose ZineCon, where visitors perused copies of locally made zines with names like Forget it Fatty: Confessions with Pictures, Crocodile Girl, Crush N Stuff and Men are Disposable, in all their self-published glory.

Zines are having something of a revival; at a time when writing on the internet can feel like a digital void, there's nothing like a photocopied, stapled statement of purpose passed around among friends. Though the form has roots in early punk, zines today are radical, personal, political -- and often, all of the above.

At one table in San Jose, Dear Hometown -- a zine in a manila envelope produced by the people behind the online publication Cheers from the Wasteland -- took on the San Jose housing and rental market, the encroachment of Silicon Valley and the pressure to exist as DIY artists within an aggressively commercial society.

Inside, said editor Leslie Patron, were “21 unique love letters from different writers and artists in San Jose in response to people saying San Jose is a creative wasteland.”

Zinester Maryela Perez tabled the event with a zine in the form of an illustrated playlist, evoking the rush of crushing on someone, as well as the disappointment when it doesn't work out. “It’s super inspirational to be around people who are, by any means necessary, creating things,” she said.


ZineCon co-organizer Ivy Atoms, who has toured the West Coast attending and tabling similar events, wanted to bring that energy back to San Jose, in a supportive, inclusive way. “Illustrators, writers, poets,” she lists, “we just wanted to give people a place to share their voices.” -- Text by Sarah Hotchkiss; Video by Kelly Whalen