From the 29th of September to the 3rd of October the National Young Writers Festival will be taking place in Newcastle. Each year there is always a handful of events relating to zines, and each year it is the most boring shit you could possibly imagine. Around this time last year I reviewed the zine related activities that were featured in the NYWF program, and wrote a bit about how boring it all was, and threw some ideas into the mix for things that would be heaps more fun.
As it's almost that time of year again, I thought I would republish the original post to the Duderocket:
The National Young Writers Festival is happening soon in Newcastle and I was having a poke around at the events listed under the category of "zines" and thought about how the zine community is one of the most boring things ever. I have attended zine panels in previous years, so I know it's all fairly boring, but I'm somehow always a little surprised when I read about how truly boring and shit the events taking place are...
Let's have a look:
Zine Libraries of the World
Like zine practice generally, zine libraries disrupt the notion that there is a set way of doing something that all other things then diverge from. Rather, we argue, there are multiple, parallel ways of collecting and archiving zines.
So there will be people talking about archiving zines... What? Are you fucking kidding me? There is actually going to be a zine panel where people will talk about the filing of zines? What is your deal panelists? Have all other avenues really been THAT exhausted? Have we really reached a point where people feel the need to have discussions about archiving, filing and alphabetizing shit?
"OH DUDE, WELL YOU CAN GO ALPHABETICAL BY THE AUTHORS SURNAME, BUT THEN IT CAN GET KINDA CONFUSING IF THERE IS NO AUTHOR LISTED, SO IT'S MAYBE BETTER TO GO ALPHABETICAL BY TITLE, BUT THEN, HEH, IT'S WEIRD IF IT'S A SPLIT ZINE, MAN THIS SURE IS AN INTERESTING TOPIC AND TOTALLY WORTHY OF A PANEL DISCUSSION WITH AN AUDIENCE IN ATTENDANCE GO TEAM ZINESTER!"
Zines exist as a brilliant vehicle for an individuals creative output, and THIS is the shit people feel the need to focus on and celebrate? Really, are you fucking kidding me? Isn't it strange how on one hand zines can be the most brilliant, amazing, wonderful things ever, but on the other hand be used as a scapegoat by cunts for the existence of this holocaustic shitstorm of fuck.
Methods of sorting and storing zines do not need to be discussed publicly. For real, dawg.
Staple Manor hosted by: **insert name of zine creator(s) here**
Pull up a cushion and write, draw or chat alongside the **insert name of zine creator(s) here** as they work on their next projects.
I guess this is supposed to be like "live, interactive zine making" or something, which is the dumbest idea ever. There are a few of these taking place with different zine makers at each one. I feel the same way about the various zine making fun days and workshops you often hear about too. The way I see it, great zines are made by people working on shit by themselves, writing shit because they have shit to say, the same shit that they're self-motivated to write. And I simply cannot envision a decent zine ever being created in the environment of a public workshop. They're about getting zines out there no matter the content or quality, and that's just stupid. Even just practically speaking it sounds annoying. If you're working on a zine, be it writing or drawing or laying out, isn't it just a massive distraction having other people talking to you or just nearby?
I fully understand it's just meant to be a bit of fun, but really, cut to the chase and just go meet up for coffee or head down the pub instead. Don't make it a "zine community" thing.
The Op Shop Tour of Newie
Let Op Shop evangelist Vanessa Berry guide you through the best the city has to offer, then adjourn with her to Staple Manor to pen the secret histories of your purchases.
Okay, so there is nothing wrong with visiting op shops, but haven't we already got like a thousand fucking zines about people chronicling their op shop purchases? Does Mary Jo really need more inspiration to make that zine about how totally in love she is with her funny looking teapot? I know vintage clothing is really "far out, man" and I'm happy that you found those super cute shoes you only paid a couple of bucks for, but additional encouragement to turn said purchases into zine content is not necessary. Zines about op shops are like grains of sand at the beach. There is way more than you'll ever need, we're never going to run out and it's just baffling that it's felt somewhere that more are needed. A heaps better idea would be if everyone in attendance ate a bunch of Psilocybin mushrooms and went to the local Westfield shopping centre and then wrote about what happened. At least then there's a small chance the zine may end up being worth reading.
And there are a few more events listed that aren't worth mentioning.
But again and again, these types of fairs and panels etc. always lead me to believe that when zines leak out into the world at large and "zinesters" get together, it turns into a Voltron of shit. Whether I'm in attendance or just reading about them, I cannot help but think about how boring it all gets when people come together to talk about issues or topics concerning the "zine community". I love zines, I honestly do... But do we really need to hear about how a distro is run again? Running a distro is wicked easy! You acquire stock and you sell it. It's the most basic thing in the world. We don't need to hear some girl talk to a group of people about the difference between taking stock on consignment or paying for it upfront, or just waxing lyrical about submission guidelines. It's the most wicked simple thing ever and it doesn't need to be discussed again and again. It's like a miserable, boring carousel.
Rather than just talking about how shit and boring things are, I thought I should quickly come up with some ideas for "zine events" that I think would be AWESOME:
THE MIDNIGHT BONFIRE
This will be an annual event held on or near a beach. Attendees will meet at midnight and bring along a copy of the worst zine they acquired that year and circle around a gigantic bonfire that is burning. Everyone will then, one at a time, talk about why the particular zine is so bad, and then proceed to place it into the fire. Once all the zines have been done burning, the ashes will be collected, carried down to the ocean and then scattered... where they will once again be one with the earth.
THE ZINE CAKE
This is a contributor based zine MADE OUT OF CAKE. HOLY SHITBALLS! Each year, five or so contributors are selected, dimensions are given out, and each person must make a layer of cake and then write their contribution ON THE CAKE. Then they get stacked up, one on top of the other, with the cover being the top layer. Then it will be cut up for everyone to eat. The contributions are never actually read, only eaten! They’d probably have to be vegan to keep it all inclusive. Someone will probably screw this up, but it’s okay, you can just blame Joe Biel.
ZINE WORKSHOP WITH CELEBRITY GUEST BERNARD FANNING
I know I said that zine workshops suck, but it would be cool if you got a celebrity guest to come along. Someone like Bernard Fanning or that Andrew G guy from Australian Idol. Or Lou from Neighbours.
SLIP-N-SLIDING FOR ZINES
There will be a slip-n-slide set up on a small grass hill somewhere. At the top there will be a podium and microphone setup. Each person in attendance brings along a zine they think is AWESOME, hold it up, talk into the microphone about why they think it’s awesome, and then when they’re done proceed to pull off some mad slip-n-slide action in its honour.
BURN A JOE BIEL STRAWMAN IN EFFIGY
The whole zine community already has an opinion on something that occurred in his personal life that that they have no real way of knowing the full story on, so just take it to the logical conclusion I say… This could become an annual ritual, where each year Joe Biel will burn for all of our sins.
ZINES READ ALOUD BY HUMOROUS VOICE IMPERSONATORS
How great would be be to hear passages of Frogs n’ Flies read aloud by Don Vito Corleone? Or bits from Cane Toad Warrior read aloud by Kermit The Frog. This would be great!
ZINE WORKSHOP WITH FREE SAUSAGE SIZZLE
Again, zine workshops suck, but everyone loves a free sausage sizzle.
ZINES READ ALOUD BY PEOPLE WITH AWESOME VOICES
Get people who have awesome voices to read out aloud from zines. Some of my choices would be Morgan Freeman, Gilbert Gottfried, Kamahl, Jeff Goldblum, Barack Obama, and David Duchovny. I’m not saying all these people will turn up and read zines, but you should be able to get at least one.
Seriously, coming up with amazing and fresh ideas for this kind of thing is wicked easy. This is just off the top of my head too and I could keep going if I wanted. There is no reason or excuse for shitty ideas like panels about sorting zines. I mean, fuck. Talking about… alphabetizing things. Fuck!