11 October 2008

Hardly Rich in Richmond: Richmond Zine Fest 2008 Review

Welcome to the Richmond Zine Fest.

I didn't know exactly what to expect from this event. I only briefly looked over their homepage and gleaned basic information on time and location. It was hard to pass up this event, even a week after SPX 2008, one of the more well-known, regional expositions for the small press exhibitors. Just over an hour away and free?! Fuck yeah! And for your sake, again, what the fuck is a zine?

The only other zine fest I've been to was the Houston Zine Fest 2006, which was held in conjunction with another concurrent arts event: The Westheimer Block Party, where Cej, John, and I represented the ArmzRace comics and cartoons collective. My review of the Houston Comics & Zine Fest 2006 / Westheimer Block Party can be found here on my very own hardtravelinghero blog.

Jonica didn't know what to expect either. Not that she was thrilled by the event, but that look of contempt is fake. You can see the smile under her false face. Then again, she might have been imagining what it's like on Suds and Studs night, complete with rainbow colored disco ball.

Here are some things from the FREE table:

My spending wasn't "too" bad at this show. Somewhere in the vicinity of $40-$70. I did a lot of swapping with Booty Call. Folks where very swap friendly at this venue, even though I forgot my "T" friendly button. "T" is in trade. I don't think many would confuse me for a transvestite or transgendered. Then again...

What follows are the comics and zines I bought, swapped, or snagged for free, because I'm that cool. Or they were free.


The thing about zines is: There are so many! There are such a variety, and if there is a table full of mixed theme zines, it can be difficult when there is so much choice and there is only really the cover to go by, and you know what the popular saying about that is. This problem of choice (wow--did I just say that?) is fine if all these zines were free, as some are made to be. Some zinesters charge for their final product. This is fine as well, as many zines take several, to dozens of hours to make. Maybe even more. Some zines are filled with pages upon pages of small print text, complete with citations and footnotes. As someone with an MA in Literature, I know how long that all takes.

My advice to newbie zinesters: Have a good, or great "sales" pitch, even if your zine is free of charge. My other piece of advice is: Go for a zine with some kind of point or purpose. Personally (and this may not be true of most people), I usually cannot stand "nonsense" zines, that is, zines of little consequence. I can't relate to them or you, because I don't know what the hell is going on or why it is going on.

Perzines are fine (personal zines). But totally random scribblings...eh.

What we have here is:

  • there an artist (ecco un artista) / Learnout - Danielle - (This one seems like more of a comic than a "zine." Whoops.)
  • Rank #2
  • Virginia Urban Pagan Review - Samhain/Yule 2008

  • Monster Gripes
  • Tax Report
  • I'm Not Angry Anymore / One Girl Revolution / Mrs. Noggle - Jolie Noggle
  • Breakfast at Twilight / The Road of Sand - Erica Satifka
  • Make This Day - Ashleigh Addict
  • The Lesbian Lexicon Project - Stevie Anntonym
  • D*I*Y Comix (Revised 3rd Edition) - Shawn Granton
  • Smile
  • Nontoxic housecleaning - Raleigh Briggs
  • Dear America, I'm Lost # 4


Of course what I was really interested in were comics. Call them mini comics if you must, but whatever. Comics. I came out with a decent haul, some of it from swaps, some if it from my thick wad...of singles, with some decent discounts. Some of the exhibitors are pretty awesome and strike deals without being asked (not that I don't ask sometimes, several times, it depends). I'll be like, "I'd like to buy these." So they start adding up numbers and I'm all like, "Oh, and would you like to have a copy of my zine thingy?" And they're responding, "Why yes," and some other things like that. Sometimes that's how it rolls.

Distro All Humans!

Microcosm Publishing was there, representing countless comicsters and zinesters. I gave a few copies of Booty Call to...shit--can't remember his name even though we talked for ten minutes straight. I'll have to email Nate Powell and ask, since they know each other. I grabbed an extra copy of the distro, that is, distribution catalog, for a friend in Sacto.

What is a distro? you may ask. To put it basically, it is a catalog and sometimes seller, publisher, go-between, consignment "shop," distributor, and probably other countless services that make it easier for creators of comics and zines to get their works in the hands of interested readers.

Sketchbooks, Tom Tom, and Barbecues, Oh My!

Like a dolt, I forgot my sketchbook, and instead of taking 15 or so minutes so retrieve it before we passed our interstate exit after a free McDonald's breakfast, I figured I'd see who was at the show before deciding if I needed to potentially waste that valuable show time. If there were no comics or interesting visual arts people, I didn't think I'd need one. But then once we arrived, half hour later than planned, I realized there were a bunch of comics folk there. So off to Target...which had no sketchbooks! Luckily there was a Barnes and Noble right there, though I wanted to try to find the art supply store Robert Ullman had mentioned, with Jonica's GPS, but it was a no go on the memory--ours, not the GPS's. So $12 and half hour wasted later I've got a new sketchbook.

On the way back to the Gay Community Center we decide to try some BBQ. Since neither Jonica or I could remember the name of the place Rob Ullman mentioned as the non-vinigery Southern Style BBQ (which is prevelent here), we ended up at Bill's Barbecue. As I'd been awake most of the predawn hours with the runs, I decided on the generic plain grilled chicken sandwhich platter with hush puppies. The hush puppies were good, and even tolerable by Jonica's standards, as often hush puppies are very oniony. She got BBQ pork and it was all vinegary. I don't think we'll be returning to any of Bill's locations around Richmond, though I would give the menu another try, even though I didn't much care for the coleslaw. It was too minced.

DIY Workshop

Returning to the zine fest, I shopped and swapped some more. At 2:30, Jonica and I attended a 40-minute DIY workshop run by Rob Ullman, Dylan Williams, and Spencer Hanson. We got to look at many examples of comics with silk screened covers, sometimes one color, sometimes multiple colors. The occasional gimmick cover (small press has these too?!). The hosts also informed us on how we can get free paper samples at MrFrench. Distribution of comics was another topic discussed and it was recommended that comics and zine makers try wholesale for cash or store credit, or consignment at local comic shops, music stores, etc. Additionally recommended ia exhibit at shows such as SPX or the Richmond Zine Fest (where a table is something like $20 for the day at the latter event).

Finally: The Sketches

I managed to obtain the following sketches from some awesome comics making folk:

Rob Ullman:

Oura X:

Was it worth it?

Of course. I only wish I had been there from start to finish, without leaving for more than half an hour. Three sketches are hardly enough. And I didn't spend enough money. Well, I did, but you know, in support of the arts.


Nate said...

If you want you can link "Missed Connections" to www.natewaggoner.com

HardtravelingHero said...

I don't even know what year you posted this, but if you have an updated URL or link you'd like to share, let me know and I will do so. In fact, email it to me. There's an email button on my Blogger profile.