By Sean Armstrong | Staff Writer
This past weekend, more than 35 zinesters from across the country converged on The Union Project in Pittsburgh for the sixth annual Zine Fair, with one purpose: Sell their zines.
Zines, short for magazine, are serialized volumes of work conveyed in many different forms, such as comic, poetry and photography.
Mike Burridge and Kevin Eckert, the duo otherwise known as Comix Party, brought their zine “Truth Diaries” to the fair.
Burridge explained their zine as tales inspired from their younger years. Younger years which were enveloped in strange social situations and alcoholism
Comix Party will also be hosting a zine and comics event in Detroit on June 17, at the Leland City Club.
Philadelphia-based zinester and comic book artist Goda Trakumaite was also at the fair. She is the author of multiple zines, covering a wide variety of topics like birth control and letters inmates write while involved in the Books Through Bars program in Philadelphia.
The Books Through Bars initiative is an idea that according to their website, booksthroughbars.org, aims to help inmates become more informed and better educated for when they are released.
While the Book Through Bars inspired “Hear Me Out” zine is sold exclusively on booksthroughbars.bigcartel.com, “Out of Control Birth Control,” a story, that tells Trakumaite’s struggle with getting a cervical cap put in by an unhelpful doctor is available on goda12.tumblr.com.
Local zinester and comics journalist Nils Balls was another attendee to the fair this weekend. Balls conducts comics journalism in his zine about Pittsburgh city council meetings, published weekly on the blog theglassbox.com.
Balls also publishes monthly comics in The Northside Chronicle for a series he calls “Yinz!” about many different topics. In a September 2013 comic, he satirized the healthcare industry with a drawing of a letter that says:
“Dear Mr. Balls,
Thank you for choosing UPHC for your emergency. Unfortunately we do not accept your health insurance coverage.”
Local comic book artist and zinester Jonas Goonface brought his collection of work to the fair. His body of work consists of “Snow Brigade,” a story about a kid who goes missing in Ottawa, Canada; “Underdogs,” an experimental comic exploring the negative side of himself, his friends and his existence; “The Adventures of Jonas,” an autobiographical depiction of his first two hitchhiking trips in the state of Colorado and many more comics that are available on his webpage, jonasgoonface.tumblr.com.
Maggie Negrete, comic book artist, Pittsburgh Arts Council teacher and zinester showcased many of her creative works; however, she highlighted one in particular. “Puntos de Referencia,” which according to her website, is “a constellation of persons who helped me to define my Mexicanidad.”
Mexicanidad is defined by University of Cambridge professor, Susanna E. Rostas as “The Resurgence of the Indian in Popular Mexican Nationalism.” Negrete hopes to show how she has established her Mexican identity through visuals and language in her zine. “Puntos de Referencia” and Negrete’s many other creative works, are on her website mgglntcreates.com.
Duquesne Alumni, former Duquesne Duke Editor-in-chief, Fred Blauth brought his work, “Unidentified.” The piece is based on various works of art he dug out of the archives from the Carnegie Museum of Art that were marked as unidentified. He hopes to find out why each item was marked as such. His work will be displayed at The Carnegie Library main in December.
The Pittsburgh Comics Salon, a digital comics making group, had a table where people could view various zines and comics made by their members. Some authors presented were Samuel Ombiri for “Bad Dreamers” and Ann Lewis for “First Performance.” The group meets the first Wednesday of every month at the Lili Cafe in Polish Hill.
Copacetic Comics, a local comic book store based in Polish Hill, displayed various zines and books they sell. Many of the zines detailed above are sold here, as well as many other zines from around the Pittsburgh area.
While this year’s zine fair may have been diverse in art forms and in subject matter, like the saying birds of a feather flock together, the zinesters from all around the country stuck together to create an event that was truly theres.