Erin Petersen
Celebrating DIY Press

The 2009 Milwaukee Zine Fest

By - Nov 13th, 2009 10:44 am
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n150848461290_5013The second (and hopefully annual) Milwaukee Zine Fest (MZF) kicks off this Saturday for a jam-packed celebration of the independent press. The fest launched last year at UW-Milwaukee’s Golda Meir Library and hosted hundreds of zines and distros from all over the country. In year two, the fest has relocated to Falcon Bowl, Riverwest’s most charming bar/banquet hall/bowling alley, with a veritable smorgasbord of alternative art and publications.

Never heard of zines, much less a zine fest before? Never fear! Think of it as a sort of Art vs. Craft but for independent press, featuring loads of handmade and digital comics, periodicals, prints and radical literature.

More than 30 different zine publishers — the likes of Microcosm and Just Seeds among  many others from Milwaukee and Chicago — will have their wares on display covering a wide variety of topics. At the MZF, you’ll find zines about everything you can imagine and everything you can’t, ranging from informational texts to environmental philosophy and everything in between. Beyond the scores of fresh-off-the-presses work, this year’s MZF also boasts some one-of-a-kind workshops so budding zinesters can appreciate this special niche in DIY culture.

Chris Wilde, co-founder of Milwaukee’s own Queer Zine Archive Project (QZAP) will present an hourlong workshop about Canadian queer culture and zines that he’s collected along his travels. OMC writer Molly Edler has tailored a zine-making workshop for kids, ages 6-14, to help them to understand the significance of DIY publications and to teach them basic zine-making skills. Billy the Bunny from Loop Distribution in Chicago offers “Selling Zines 101” all day long, plus you’ll learn how to make your own one-page zine.

Another highlight of the fest is a visit from author and zine maker Anne Elizabeth Moore. From 2 to 4 p.m., she’ll  present her nationally acclaimed lecture, The Advantage and Disadvantage of the Zine: Cambodia’s First Generation of Women Leaders Explore Democracy — an ongoing project based on Moore’s work in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Moore spent a winter teaching a group of 32 young women about DIY publishing at Cambodia’s first, all-girls dormitory. Throughout the course of the project, the young women participants created dozens of zines on a variety of topics  from contemporary culture, regional  agriculture, women’s issues and even the history of genocide in Cambodia. They also collaborated to create New Girl Law, a revision of Chbap Srei, or Girl Law, a rather unnerving Cambodian publication that circumscribes proper roles for women. New Girl Law eschews prescribed female roles in favor of basic human rights, gender equality and cultural progress. This particular zine has found itself at the center of a growing, international dialogue about the position of women in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and it has been featured in fine art exhibits around the country.

Once the fest is over, the festivities continue around the corner at the newly opened Jackpot Gallery (825 E. Center St.) for a free film screening and punk-rock basement show! Beginning at 8 p.m., the folks at Microcosm will be screening If it Ain’t Cheap, it Ain’t Punk : D.un. I.t.Y, a documentary about DIY punk culture and Plan It X records, and Chicago-based bands Kidults, Kota Jacob and Dave’s Project will be rocking out ’til the party’s over.

The 2009 Milwaukee Zine Fest takes place on Saturday, Nov. 14 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Falcon Bowl, 801 E. Clarke St. in Riverwest. It’s free, open to the public and is an event that no Milwaukeean should miss!

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