The Indie Book & Zine Fair on Saturday was very enjoyable. An interesting and enthusiastic bunch of stallholders were there, and it was really nice seeing their work and chatting in person. This was a new event I only recently decided to organise, and so those signing up didn’t really know how it would go – but there’s a certain boldness to that, which I like! I also like how quite a few used the fair as a deadline to produce brand new work.
And the publications – oh my! Short story collections, poetry chapbooks, risograph magazines and posters, colourful illlustrated zines, comic collections. It was exciting to see so many imaginative creations on display, and to be able to chat to the person/people behind these creations.
If you didn’t know already (!) I love print publications. It’s partly my age. I grew up with tangible items; Smash Hits magazine; singles on vinyl and later albums on cassette, or homemade mix-tapes from boyfriends; letters from penpals; posters on my bedroom wall; well-thumbed copies of favourite books; postcards from friends on their first-ever travels; newspapers that were my source of information in pre-social media days, and which I then wrote stories for when I worked as a print journalist.
But it’s interesting that people of all ages are producing print publications, so it can’t all be down to misty-eyed nostalgia. There’s also just something really pleasing about tangible print; holding a work of art in your hands, leafing through it, having it to keep and go back to whenever. Care has gone into these publications and the haul I got has since brightened up my flat, and when I’ve dipped into them my mood too, making me think, laugh, broadening my horizons.
Below are just a few of the many brilliant publications I brought home. I’ll put social media info in too, if you want to discover more about anyone mentioned 🙂
Always an admirer of comic art and the sheer talent involved, I confess I usually go for written stories or poems. But I loved Nick Daniels’ wee collection of The Comix Reader. Beautiful comic strips in themselves, two other things appealed. 1) Contributors pay for printing and get a page to use as they like – so there’s a collective, community-focused element, but free rein means there’s a variety of work in each issue. 2) On another nostalgic note, they are the same format as the newspapers I worked for (when many more people read newspapers). There was something satisfying about being part of a product which begins with totally blank pages and hours later is filled, printed, and being delivered to newsagents. Nick can be found at www.thetrianglesky.com
This is – I believe – Martin Johnsson’s first poetry collection in English (Martin is Swedish and currently living in Edinburgh). An amazing feat in itself really; but ice cream and pints contains 14 evocative poems and I love the minimal design, allowing you to escape into the words within. Twitter: @mrtnj
My sister Caroline (under her creative/craft name Mardale Studios) made these brilliant zines in the weeks before the fair. Covering everyday subjects with a wryness and warmth, they each have a satisfying collage-d message on the other side when you fold them out; making the most of zine fun! Twitter: @thoughtsofamoog
I liked taking a trip into Korakonero’s dark, detailed comic world with Stress, his first printed collection of comics (though he has lots of work online), and given its ‘premiere’ at the fair. Instagram: @korakonero
And a trip into another other-world, this time courtesy of Fiachra Hackett. I love all the colour he uses. Instagram: @fiachrahackett
Events like the fair are useful for introducing you to things you didn’t know about, and are glad you’ve now discovered. This was my first introduction to Counterpoint magazine, and it won’t be the last copy I buy! Illustrator Bethany Thompson and writer Sam Bradley use a particular theme for each issue, and they and contributors fill the pages with beautiful writing and illustration. It’s risograph-printed on sugar paper, and lovely to leaf through. Twitter: @_counterpoint
That’s just a handful of my bounty of publications, which I’ll enjoy for some time to come.
Thanks to everyone who took part and came along on the day and – who knows? – maybe there’ll be another fair next year 🙂