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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Events Wed May 06 2015

Chicago Zine Fest Showcases Self-publishing Efforts This Weekend

CZF 2015 Logo.jpg
Chicago Zine Fest holds its sixth annual celebration of self-publishing this weekend, May 8 and 9. The weekend's programing is a mix of exhibition, live performances, workshops, and discussions all organized by a dedicated all-volunteer staff. Things kick off Friday at 5pm at Access Living, 115 W. Chicago Ave., with a night full of events.

A panel discussion, Zines: A Future Craft, will focus on the history and future of zine creation in our culture. Moderated by Barnard College Librarian Jenna Freedman and sponsored by The University of Chicago Library, the panel will include invited guests and zine creators Jonas, Julia Eff, and Ocean Capewell. Following the panel will be a reading Zines: The Next Generation featuring students from Chicago Public Schools, Convergence Academy, and 826CHI among others. Closing out the night will be readings and performances from festival exhibitors.

On Saturday, May 9 the festival proper starts at 11am at Plumbers' Union Hall, 1340 W. Washington Blvd. Tables set up exhibition style will be full of zines, comics, chapbooks, and magazines from over 250 self-publishers from Chicago and around the country. Workshops on radical poetry, resisting assimilation, youth performance, hands-on drawing, and more will be presented by the Busy Beaver Button Company, the International School of Comics, and representatives from the Poetry Center, and the Museum of Contemporary Art.

The festival has become an institution in Chicago's independent literary and art community. To keep things fresh, this year organizers shifted annual scheduling date from March to May and moved programming to new venues. I spoke with Julie Koslowsky, CZF coordinator of youth readings and day-of programming, to explore some of changes and how they were embraced by the community.

CZF 15 Art.jpgZine Fest seems to be growing with no signs of stopping. I saw the festival exhibition sold out in a little over an hour. How does this reflect the importance of self-publishing work in our culture?

We were all surprised that the fest sold out so quickly this year! We definitely try our best each year to bring a fresh look to the fest and I think attendees and exhibitors recognize that we bring something special to the zine community. The speed at which we sold out also reflects the need for affordable, accessible events for zinesters and artists to showcase their work. We're lucky to be just one among a community of zine fests, many of which have sprouted up in the last few years. While the self-publishing community continues to grow this may soon be the norm for other fests around the country. Folks will continue to sell their work online, but self-publishers often want a closer relationship to their audience. There's a different experience that we offer at an event like the Chicago Zine Fest where consumers can chat with the zinesters and artists who created the work.

You mention that the self-publishing community is growing, too. That could be reflective of the growth the festival has seen. So what role does the festival have in supporting its community and patrons?

CZF strives to offer diverse programming every year in order to continue to engage our communities in conversations. Like all communities, our collective identity is always shifting slightly. As new folks enter our communities, we change and grow which necessitates a change in our programming. CZF also wants to be inclusive of self-publishers across all genres. By offering varied programming we are furthering our engagement with parts of our communities that are not always in the forefront and creating a place for discussion.


The Chicago Zine Fest 2015 is sponsored by 826CHI, Chicago Publishers Resource Center, CHIRP radio, InoPrints, The International School of Comics, Perfectly Acceptable Press, The University of Chicago Library, and Quimby's Bookstore. All event spaces are wheelchair accessible. All events are free and open to the public.

The festival's artwork was created by Chicago artist and illustrator Corinne Mucha.

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Big Booger / May 6, 2015 10:01 AM

John Wawrzaszek, You're my hero!

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Book Club is the literary section of Gapers Block, covering Chicago's authors, poets and literary events. More...

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