LA Zine Fest stormed its way into downtown LA’s fashion district and brought with it an incredible number of cartoonists and zine makers creating art at every intersection. One of the most inclusive, accessible, and incredible shows I’ve ever attended, I actually left with a whole bunch of amazing (and affordable) zines, which, as a queer disabled woman, is a rarity. I was so enamored that I’ve decided to write about them as they’re all so wonderful.
Without further ado, here’s my LA Zine Fest Review Roundup…
A (Very) Brief History Of Zines
Thick Thigh Collective
One of the abundant FREE educational zines offered by creators at Zine Fest was this beautiful, tiny, hand-folded, one page book. As the title explains, this is a wonderful primer on the history of zines with a focus on their roots in political resistance. It goes back as far as the political literature made by resistance leaders like Frederick Douglass, whose abolitionist newspaper, the North Star, was a hugely important moment in the fight against slavery in America. This zine is filled with gorgeous, striking illustrations and easy-to-read simple, language which makes it an accessible and enjoyable experience. Covering the political pamphlets of the Black Panthers to the DIY zines of the Riot Grrrl music scene, this is a great introduction to zines as radical resistance, ending with a call-to-action to make your own art and use your voice. One of the loveliest zines that I’ve seen in forever, I’ll treasure this radical little book.
Take Care: Self Defence by POC for POC – Anon Zine
from the Trap Girl Booth
An incredibly vital and urgent piece of DIY organization, Take Care is an expansive resource designed to help people of color protect themselves from abuse and harassment. Though this zine was not created for me, it was one that I was desperate to support and a truly necessary collection of lived experiences and shared knowledge. It’s one of the most radical, thoughtful, and well-crafted things that I’ve been lucky enough to get my hands on, and as a survivor of assault and abuse myself, full of stuff that I wish I’d known. From physical ways to protect yourself to insight into why relying on law enforcement is often not an option for QTPOC, Take Care is a one-of-a-kind collective vision of a world where people are entitled to protect themselves, and once they do, can enact positive change and radical organisation. I can’t put the full importance of this book into words. It’s truly one of a kind.
Perfectly Disabled – Anthology Zine
from the Trap Girl Booth
Being disabled is often to be misunderstood, ignored, and abused both by society and people around you. Perfectly Disabled defies that expectation in every way, from its name to its varied and vital content. This was a book that profoundly moved me just from its cover. As a disabled person you’re rarely called perfect and if it does happen, it’s in spite of your disability and not because of it. Collecting quotes, statistics, and anecdotes from disabled people online, this is a fantastic zine that expresses many of the daily frustrations we share as disabled people. Great pages on the horrors of inspiration porn, the crip punk movement, and tips for able bodied people interacting with us, were all frank and decisive. This was a truly radical read which I’ll be keeping to hand to remind myself of my worth as a disabled person and as a tool to help educate the able bodied people in my life.
#ArtLife: Musing and Advice from a Queer Art Activist of Color
Nia King is a complete joy. Her work around art activism is incredibly important and this zine is a vital collection of self care tips, ways to be accountable in your art, and anecdotal tales about creating art as activism. With a selection of King’s charming comic strips mixed with in-depth articles on how to responsibly interview people, going freelance full time, and seeing the positives in media coverage, this book is a blessing for creatives trying to navigate the deeply problematic arts landscape. The zine’s content is urgent and incredibly important, and King is a striking art activist whose work opens doors for other marginalized people. The tips on how to interview people who aren’t like you are particularly pertinent for white people who like to think of themselves as allies, and I’m deeply grateful to King for creating such an educational and enjoyable tool for growth.
The Black Man’s Guide To Getting Pulled Over
Johnny Parker II and Ayesha Uddin
This zine is a devastatingly truthful and heartbreaking work about the everyday dangers of being pulled over by the police as a black person. It was created by Johnny Parker and Ayesha Uddin in response to Parker’s personal experiences, to be used as an educational tool to combat the dangerous reality of police brutality. A sombre yet hopeful book that’s brutally honest about the fears and frustrations of being targeted because of your race. It highlights the horror of having to be scared of being pulled over when you know you’ve done nothing wrong. Beautifully illustrated, this book is one part gorgeous autobio comic and one part educational resource. It’s an unmissable zine that ends on a hopeful note, looking forward to organisation and change. Incredibly special and truly indispensable.
A One Direction Fan Fic, Not About One Direction (Actually About Teen Lesbians)
This is a positively lovely zine. A prose short story about two young teenage lesbians who fall in love whilst writing One Direction fanfic, it’s officially one of my favourite new bedtime reads. Almost too pure for this world, it’s a gorgeous tale that encompasses all of the excitement and joy that favourite bands and first crushes fill you with when you’re young. This is the kind of zine that you read with a grin plastered across your face and it doesn’t leave until hours after you finish it. The two protagonists are sweet, kind, awkward, and unsure, and the short time we spend with them is complete bliss. I love this book deeply and it’s become a firm favourite. I hope that every little girl who’s unsure about how to tell the people they love that they love women finds this book and takes strength from it.