Zines first burst aboveground in the 1990s, alongside a bunch of other formerly counterculture phenoms. Suddenly flannel, basement bands, and Kinko's-copied manifestos were getting mentioned on network TV and in the pages of The New York Times Magazine. Of course, they'd been around for much longer, since 1930s fanzines such as The Comet allowed science-fiction fans to interact with one another on paper. And the revolution rolls on, even as the line between zine and magazine grows blurrier. If you still don't know the difference, maybe you should check out ... your local library.
"I was really surprised when I first started working for the Oakland Public Library," says Piedmont branch employee Tara Goe, "because there's actually quite a bit of subversive material available. You can check out alternative comics, cool magazines like Bitch, and Missy Elliott CDs." To bolster and broadcast the hep factor of her beloved library system, Goe -- a founding member of the Rock Paper Scissors art collective -- and Emily Cohen are hosting a Zine Appreciation Day at Mama Buzz Cafe and Gallery this Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. The event begins with readings by, among others, Sobstory's Andrew Scott (owner of SF's Needles and Pens), Ker-bloom!'s Karen Switzer, and Kitchen Sink's Jeff Johnson. After the reading, there will be a showing of A Hundred Dollars and a T-Shirt, a documentary on the zine scene in the Pacific Northwest, put together by Portland's Microcosm Publishing. "The best thing about the documentary," Goe says, "is that it fills you with an irresistible urge to make a zine." Appropriately, as the film unspools, paper, typewriters, Sharpies, art supplies, scraps, and a button maker will be available for your micropublishing pleasure.
Admission is cheap -- bring a zine to donate to the OPL's collection, or a dollar for the purchase of same. "I really think the very idea of zines," Goe says, "the idea that anyone can create media with little to no money in their pocket, fits perfectly with libraries, since anyone can also check out a book ... even if they're broke like me." 2318 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. 510-465-4073.
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