Monday, 25 May 2009

London Zine Symposium: May 09

This event has managed to elude me for reasons of music, travelling and, erm, Owls matches for quite a few years now so it was a pleasure, last week, to trundle along to The Rag Factory off Brick Lane for the biggest zine gathering (read, slightly nerdy but fun) in the UK of the year.

From the moment you enter the tight, sweaty venue you can’t help but be inspired. The sheer volume of the zines, imported (and there are issues from all over Europe and beyond) or otherwise, is quite astonishing with some exhibitors carrying as many as 100 titles it seems.
Some personal highlights were the thick little blue bueaty which is Shebang zine, a new un to the zine from the South West, covering loadsa of ShadowPlay-faves in an intricate, personal style. Beat Motel was there in force also, with the excellent latest issue spearheading a stall featuring plenty of US and Australian zines, some of the You letters and some prison writings. Dead Trees and Dye ( distro carry some great stuff, largely of the arty variety and now some ShadowPlay issues so snap em up. Ricochet Richochet also offer up some excitement of the punky variety with the Anarchists Teapot supplying some tasty cakes too.

With all these things there’s an element of nervous embarrassment, wanting to buy zines from everyone just because I know how crap it can feel for people to look at your zine, and then seemingly reject it by returning it to its spot. But it’s totally worth it to chat to the great people you meet, reads some offbeat thoughts and ultimately open your mind to things that are different, but not necessarily worse (or better) than mainstream coverage. What is prevalent that I’m writing about this on a blog, but I would stress that it’s a matter of ease rather than preference and the paper issue of ShadowPlay will always be my main focus because it is the passion in printing and crafting, shared by everyone in that room, that remains the driving force. It does bring me to one small gripe which is prices. To me, no zine is worth more than a couple of quid. It’s always about covering printing costs of course but this rarely supersedes that price and, like independent record labels, if you’re in it to make cash, don’t bother. I’m not saying people were being greedy capitalists but to me a pile of unsold zines at five quid looks more pathetic than the one scruffy 50p one left in a pile of snapped up issues. Overall a fantastic event, some incredible people and unashamed inspiration for zinesters everywhere.

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