The Zine Scene

By Anthony Costello, October 2016 Issue.

Although Phoenix is best-known for it’s rocky, desert landscapes peppered by saguaros and desert foliage, it will finally get a much needed dash of color in the form of LGBTQ literary art when the first-ever PHX Zine Fest debuts Oct. 23 at the Ice House in Phoenix.

A zine is a small magazine on any topic, typically created and published by one person, that has a limited circulation. Zines come in all shapes and sizes and there are no rules when it comes to creating one.

The concept for the event – that’s purpose is to celebrate LGBTQ artistry, literary topics and DIY culture – first came about as Charissa Lucille, self-described zinester, and her friend, Marna Kay, were exploring other zine scenes around the country.

Charissa Lucille.

“[We] have gone to many different cities with big zine cultures … and attended zine fests, like Berkley Zine Fest and the Portland Zine Symposium, over the past few years. After so many zine fests we realized Phoenix was lacking a big event like this,” Lucille said. “We’ve had a few smaller ones like this in Phoenix throughout the year but we wanted to have our own, make it huge and bring in people from different cities just like the events in these other cities had.”

An AmaZine Opportunity

Lucille and Kay, who are the co-owners of Wasted Ink Zine Distro in Tempe, teamed up with Long Beach, Calif., zinester Brodie Hubbard to bring PHX Zine Fest to fruition.

“We have diverse skillsets and we share them among each other so we’re always learning different ways to improve and what we can create together,” Lucille said.

Their teamwork has paid off, as the trio has already exceeded their own personal expectations for the event.

“Over a year ago we decided we wanted to make this happen and now we have 75 vendors, which is a huge success to initially start with,” Lucille said.

Many of the vendors appearing at the fest are coming from Mexico, New Mexico, Nevada and California.

“We wanted to have a 50/50 representation with local creators and other creators from different cities and countries, which we have achieved,” Lucille said. “A lot of what we’ll see are artists coming from California where the zine scene is very aggressive about challenging ideology. People here are creating art about really tough topics and we’ve seen growth in the content of what people are willing to tackle.”

Putting LGBTQ in Print

Additionally, the fest will celebrate LGBTQ culture and ideas with thought provoking, ideology-challenging pieces in the form of poetry books, photobooks, screen printed pieces, patch booking and more.

“PHX Zine Fest is a place where underrepresented or marginalized voices finally take center stage,” Lucille said. “A lot of times we don’t have voices in mainstream media and if we do it’s not always presented correctly. Here, artists are in control and it allows us to represent ourselves in our own voices on topics that we value.”

The event will also include a free zine library where patrons can view collections of zines provided by Wasted Ink Zine Distro and other participating vendors.

Lucille’s own zine, Fem Static, takes a look at a variety of topics through a feminist lens – including kink and cosplay, transgender and non-binary topics, global feminism and body positivity – will be among those provided.

The free nature of zines is what Lucille said she loves most about them.

“Zines are great because there’s really no rules to them. Some can be the size of a post-it note or the size of a traditional magazine,” she explained. “They’re typically full of illustrations, articles and artwork; they’re a true expression of art from the creator because they have sole control of their magazine.”

Joseph (Joe) Dick.

Queer Visibility & Conversations

According to Joseph (Joe) Dick, Phoenix native, yogi, writer and artist, the fest is an opportunity to celebrate the many different aspects of the LGBTQ community that regularly go unseen.

It was his time as a yoga instructor combined with his own experiences with polyamory that inspired Dick to create his first zine, Queer Fear, which breaks down and examines the traditional notions of modern relationships and reframes them in an LGBTQ framework.

“My own personal journey inspired it, having coming out a year ago,” Dick said. “Transitioning, turning a friendship into a marriage was a huge learning experience for me. The zine is a platform to highlight and examine relationships, connections and the internal struggle to become a more perfect version of yourself.”

Because there are so many issues surrounding the way members of the LGBTQ community look at themselves, Dick said, and Queer Fear is his contribution to that conversation.

“There’s a lot of hypersexualization and body shaming within the LGBT[Q] community,” Dick said. “This was a way to get people to look at themselves more objectively and the zine gives me a more visual opportunity to illustrate those ideas.”

Dick hopes his zine broadens the horizons of fellow, local LGBTQ Phoenicians when he debuts the first issue at PHX Zine Fest.

“What I’m really looking to do with the zine is to make the everyday invisible, visible,” Dick said.  “ … The internal is not always so visible and one of the crimes of it is [that] we don’t get to talk about it or really have a conversation about it. Those conversations don’t happen in traditionally heterosexual spaces, so Queer Fear is all about visualizing those fears, talking about them and facing them out in the open.”

A sneak peek of the ”PaperDolls” series from Queer Fear by Joe Dick.

For zinesters like Lucille and artists like Dick, PHX Zine Fest is about shining a spotlight on other aspects of the LGBTQ Phoenix community that otherwise get lost between the pages of the predominantly heterosexual culture we live in.

“It’s important we bring the flavor of our experience into every venue we can. Representation and seeing queer themes is so important,” Dick said. “I would hope someone walking through the event could see a trans model or queer woman of color to not only see how diverse our community is but to also realize there’s someone just as diverse as they are and realize that we’re really not alone.”

The festival, which is free and open to all ages, will include performances by local bands, discussions, guest speakers and workshops.

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