By our New Zineland correspondent Bryce Galloway
Early afternoon, I handed in the institutional forty-page promotion application that had had me sleep-deprived all week, then jumped straight in the car to drive the 650 kilometres to Auckland Zinefest. Before you crucify me for acts of ecological terror, I must inform you that a single-passenger car uses less fossil fuel than an aircraft full of people. Shocking!
I stretched my legs in Otaki and found a $2 CD of Trans Am’s Who Do You Think You Are? at a local op shop. A soundtrack for the Desert Road. I got as far as my octogenarian olds’ in Hamilton. Auckland Zinefest didn’t start until the following morning. I’d drive refreshed.
Auckland Zinefest had relocated to the Auckland Old Folk’s Association. Was I in the right part of town? Did I just drive past Sticky’s own Luke You? Surely not. Then I recognised the telltale goth rock attire of artist/zinester/musician/legend Andrew McLeod, and knew I must be in the right neighbourhood.
Every time I referred to the Auckland Old Folk’s Association, locals corrected me… EMPHATICALLY. “It’s the Auckland Old Folk’s Ass!” And so it is. Such is the want of zinesters and their abject ilk. A fanzine is like a pair of wrinkly old ass cheeks. Well, maybe the better zines.
The venue appeared smaller than Auckland Zinefest’s previous home at St Kevin’s Arcade. It may well house more stalls, but as we’re hemmed in, the impression is of their being less stall space. But if there’s something in a namesake then perhaps the Old Folk’s Ass is preferable to St Kevin, the Irish wanker sainted for drowning the woman who attempted to seduce him.
It doesn’t take long for Auckland Zinefest to be abuzz with stallholders and punters. It’s the familiar mosh we so love. There are new faces. The women either side of my stall are from a Devonport community arts initiative and a letterpress club, respectively. Both are new to Auckland Zinefest and surprised by the large and enthusiastic audience assembled for the occasion. “Is it always like this?” one of them asks, slightly overwhelmed. “Pretty much”.
There’s always but always too much to do and see. How to talk to patrons/punters/public AND get around the stalls AND buy stuff AND swap stuff AND attend talks and workshops. Still, I manage to squeeze in a little of all those activities. This might be the first ever zinefest where I’ve left my stall to attend a talk.
Indeed It WAS Luke You from Sticky I saw earlier. There he was on the tiny stage, armed with data projector images and the intriguing story of the evolution of Melbourne’s Sticky Institute. It’s a great story. It shows how an impetuous idea can ride out the many and varied changes brought about by shifting friendships, funding and institutional allegiances. 13 years later and the Sticky Institute is still going strong. Applause.
As the zine market winds down I get chatting to Meliors Simms – another letterpress enthusiast – whom I met earlier in the year at Hamilton Zinefest. Meliors is enthusiastic about the wonderfully inclusive energy of Auckland and Hamilton Zinefests. She tells me that this is her return to the New Zealand zine scene after an extended hiatus. She favourably compares the inclusiveness of the contemporary scene to a time when angry male energies made the scene less hospitable for women.
I find this fascinating. It supports conjecture on the elusive history of the NZ zine scene; what it might have been like before the Riot Grrrl years.
It was also great to hear because it made up for a small personal gripe that had grown over the course of the day in response to a perceptible rise in a genre I refer to as “frankie-hell”. I use the term to describe zines made up of twee and overtly crafty illustrations of girly-girls, bunnies and tea parties. Perhaps I should accept the blossoming of the “frankie-hell” genre if it’s symptomatic of the scene’s greater conviviality. Perhaps I shouldn’t.
Anyways, Meliors has been encouraged enough to now be threatening a
Tuaranga Zinefest!!! Bring it on!
[Editor's note: Sticky loves you twee zinesters, you are rad and cute as hell - Thomas]
Auckland’s own zinefest had burdened a shrinking committee in 2014. A big round of applause needs to greet the ears of Lucy Meyle, Makyla Curtis and Linda Lew for taking on the extra weight. Lucy Meyle also brought her signature-style hand-hewn elegance to the awesome event poster. And Ziggy Lever created a Best-Of-Fest trophy that challenges the ceramic prowess of Wellington Zinefest’s own.
The Best-Of-Fest trophy winner was announced at an intimate after party at the Carwash. Plastic Knife performed his ridiculously gloomy acoustic guitar mantras in the build up. Plastic Knife finished with audience participation AC/DC in the form of It’s A Long Way To the Top. Every able body (that hadn’t already run screaming) joined in.
Luke You then presented the awards. The Sweet Zine section went to Lauren Stewart’s Imperfection (A Guide To Help You Through The Dark Days). Best FANzine went to Anna Duckworth for The Tiny Zine Of Peen. Solace by Cole Meyers took out the Perzine section. David Merritt won best Literary Zine for Taumaranui Railway Station #1. Best Art Zine to Tessa Stubbing and Damian Golfinopoulos for Health, Wealth & Happiness #4. Runner Up to the Best-Of-Fest went to Miriam Collins for an untitled entry, and (drum roll)… Ash Spittal took out the top award with Fags/Freaks/Rebels/Geeks. I won diddly-shit but posed with the trophy to fool people back in Wellington.