SF Zine Fest brings out artists to celebrate inclusion

MJ Johnson

[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”5″ display=”basic_imagebrowser”]Rows and rows of colorful zines, comics and leaflets adorned the tables as excited attendees poured into the space for a bit of Labor Day Weekend fun. The exhibitors at this year’s Zine Fest represented just as much color as their creations portrayed.

The 18th Annual San Francisco Zine Fest took place at the County Fair Ground Building in Golden Gate Park on Sunday, Sept. 1. Artists, writers and creators displayed their zines, self-published booklets, among other do-it-yourself crafters and exhibitors. Since 2001, the festival has sought to celebrate artists who would otherwise not receive recognition from the mainstream industry.

“It’s a way for voices of the unheard to be heard,” said Anand Vedawala, executive director of SF Zine Fest. “We try to provide a platform for independent publishers and creators to share their work.”

Zines, short for magazine or fanzine, are original works of art, text or images, that are small-circulation and independently produced. Because of this, many creators are not in it for financial gain or recognition. Zines were priced between $1 to $10.

“You get to see different art and creativity, it’s almost too much to look at,” said Regina Chern, a festival attendee. “The messages are great too and you get to see their focuses and passions.”

Festival organizers placed an emphasis on inclusivity and decided to highlight the diversity within the zine making community. Writer and artist, Lawrence Lin- dell, was the guest of honor at this year’s festival. Lindell, who lives with bipolar disorder and PTSD post-traumatic stress disorder, uses his zines and comics as a way to talk about mental health, queerness and blackness, he said.

“Zines are the freest thing in the world to create,” Lindell said. “It’s hard to talk about mental health, so I want to open up the conversation with my work.”

Accessibility and inclusion of all identities was a common theme for many creators participating in the festival. ASL interpretation and a free wheelchair-accessible shuttle to and from 16th St. and Mission Bart Station to the festival venue was provided for the duration of the festival.

“This event is important and special for zine makers because a lot of them are from marginalized communities like queer people, people of color, LGBTQ+ and people with disabilities,” said

NeilBallard, a volunteer organizer for Zine Fest. The festival and accompanying panels and workshops are meant to celebrate independent creators and further DIY principles throughout the Bay Area. The Comic Arts Club from SF State displayed their yearly zine, a collaborative effort of student artists throughout the school year.

“Seeing everyone’s work printed is really exciting,” said Carmen Liu, president and founding member of the Comic Arts Club. Her own zine, “Dim Sum,” was based on her cultural heritage and love of food, she said. The “Kid-Friendly Zone” of the festival showcased zines and comics geared toward children and some even created by children. Aptos Middle School’s sixth and seventh graders created their own zines titled “Tiger Zines” based on themes like identity or how-to. All donations from the event will go to a children’s charity that the students decide on. “They were excited to be a part of this,” said Katie Rinkenberger, a student teacher who helped the middle schoolers put together their zines. “It opened the door so they can creatively tell their story or express themselves.”