SF Zine Fest 2003

Last weekend my friend and I went to the San Francisco Zine Fest hosted at CELLspace in the Mission. About half the room was filled with people presenting what I normally picture when I think of “zine” (did you understand that sentence? I sure hope so) .

A “Zine” being a white paper pamphlet, usually around 20 pages, with text by the publisher accompanied by black and white images cribbed from random sources, all “bound” with a couple of staples from the copy store. Super ghetto, but hey, what do you expect for $1 or $2? This is the kind of thing I expect to see from teenagers or maybe some of the more punk-rock zinesters…

Some had taken self-publishing to a more advanced level: there were a couple with very nice color covers (one woman was using a “Firey”), and one that even came with a CD with a sort of “sound collage” in every issue.

There would be a table full of these things, and a person sitting behind it (the author/publisher), and maybe one of their friends. They would wait for you to walk up and leaf through their zine, and then you’d kind of self-consciously shuffle on… So, I bought one because it looked interesting. I bought another one. Nothing real new, mainly good for morning toilet reading…. Lots of really ranty material and lame autobiographical / stream of consciousness articles (like say this one)

Then we got to the other half of the room- the self-published comics. Woo hoo!

The “Coolest Paraphenalia” award definitely goes to Debbie Huey and her comic Bumperboy. Books! Buttons! Stickers! Marble bags! All with Bumperboy on them. He’s just so damn cute!

One of the funniest things I saw there was “Gobler Toys: The Fun We Don’t Remember” by Steve Casino and Steve Fink. It’s one of those nostalgia books about all the cool toys they had in the 1960s… except in this case most of them are terrible dangerous ideas and none of them are real. For example the salami-scented remote control sandwich, or the giant “weeble” you can bolt your kid in and kick down the staris… Obviously I bought a copy of this. Plus I scored a free calendar, filled with Attaboy’s fucked-up imagery. You can see more of his work at Yum Factory and buy the little squeeze dolls he has there.

I was bummed to hear I missed Jason Shiga, who was there on Saturday. He has some of the craziest comics I’ve ever read- either because of innovative stories like “Fleep” (which is like a one-character “Phonebooth”) or his crazy choose-your-own-adventure comic, “Meanwhile…,” which not only has huge numbers of multiple endings, but also secret pages which you can only get to by reading the comic out of sequence. “Meanwhile…” has some zany plot elements embodied as sci-fi gadgets (a machine which lets you go back in time 10 minutes, a cap that lets its wearer read the minds of the dead, and The Killotron, which kills everyone in the world in a fraction of a second), but the story is not really sci-fi, it’s more “magic realism.”

Another online comic represented at SF Zine was Small Stories which is super cool. It’s written and illustrated by Derek Kirk Kim, who probably thinks I’m a complete maniac because I totally grilled him at his table about what he was doing for the “asian comics scene,” which I have to admit I knew was nonexistent even before I started interrogating him. I had been reading his comics online for months, and now that they are in print form I of course had to have a copy. I am lobbying my local comics stores to start stocking them.