This past Saturday, Oct. 1 marked the 11th annual ABQ Zine Fest, hosted at the Sanitary Tortilla Factory in downtown Albuquerque. Founded by Mayra Errin Jones, a Master of Fine Arts candidate in dramatic writing at the University of New Mexico, and co-produced by Liza Bley, the event served as a chance for local artists to showcase their handmade crafts amongst a crowd of artistic community members and newcomers alike.
The word “zine” comes from a shortening of “magazine,” and can constitute a multitude of different interdisciplinary conceptions. Typically, zines are small booklets of original work created and copied by an artist for distribution.
“Zines are self-published works,” Errin Jones said. “So, zines can be anything from a per-zine — a personal zine — could be a travel log, could be anything. And then a zine fest is a gathering of people who write zines and they can be traded, sold, shared.”
Errin Jones was inspired to start ABQ Zine Fest after attending a number of different zine fests across the country. Given her experience producing her own work as a theater artist, Errin Jones already had a sense of what she wanted to do for ABQ Zine Fest, with Albquerque providing a perfect location.
“Albuquerque has a strong past in self-published works and anarchist culture and things like that. So ABQ Zine Fest aims to continue that DIY spirit in a literary sense … Albuquerque is a great place to experiment and try new things. And Albuquerque did not have a zine fest before and had zinesters who were writing all over town and things like that. But there wasn't a central place to experience zine culture, the kind of things that happen at zine fest,” Errin Jones said.
Amaris Ketcham, an associate professor at the UNM Honors College, came to Zine Fest to show off her students’ work from the graphic memoir class that she co-teaches alongside associate professor Megan Jacobs. Ketcham said that, while none of the students in the class previously knew about ABQ Zine Fest due to it being canceled in 2020 and moved to an alternative format in 2021, their attendance this year has proved beneficial.
“Zine Fest last year was a really different manifestation where people sent in zines and then there was a little book shop, pop-up of them. And then obviously the year before it didn't happen at all. So, I think (the students have) been introduced to a community of like-minded people that they could be a part of outside university,” Ketcham said.
Andrew Jogi, a student in the graphic memoir class, appreciated being able to present their artistic creations to people in a forum where they could really interact with them.
“It's really cool. I didn't really think that I — my drawings — (could) kind of be presented like that. For me, just seeing people be interested in them, it's been super cool,” Jogi said.
Errin Jones emphasized the point of the fest is focused more on community as opposed to monetary gain for her or anyone else involved with the fest.
“The opportunity to get to know people a little bit better is our goal, I suppose. But I don't wanna say that it's any goal. There's no capitalist goal … This isn't a vertical growth kind of thing like a lot of things are. A lot of events are expected to get bigger every year, and I don't know if that's the point. I think the point is longevity and to be able to produce it, to continue to produce it,” Errin Jones said.
Events like ABQ Zine Fest help to create a more positive environment in a town who’s news cycle can often feel very negative, according to Ketcham. Ultimately, she said the event is just fun, with zines offering a unique way to experience art and community.
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“So here we are. We're coming to downtown; it's fun, it's lively. Everyone is energized about making handmade products to sell and to swap and to share. There's like a trade ethos that's involved in it, and so I think that's really cool,” Ketcham said.
Of course, Errin Jones pointed out that any sort of event can’t be done alone: Sanitary Tortilla Factory, the nonprofit Three Sisters Kitchen and Zendo Coffee were just a few groups that Errin Jones said were important to bringing ABQ Zine Fest to life. She also noted the important role that zines can play in people’s lives and the importance of artistic creation.
“There are people who used to write zines when they were in their teens and then quit, but zines go on. And it's a great way to connect with your own thoughts, your own story … and to feel confident about your experience in life, Errin Jones said. “So I think zines serve that purpose. And there are people who've been writing zines continuously since they were young, and there are people who are just getting into zines now, and it doesn't matter. It's just great to have people writing and creating.”
John Scott is the editor-in-chief at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JScott050901