Edd, one of the founders of the London Zine Symposium and Last Hours zine, travelled down to the debut Brighton Zine Fest this year to help run a workshop on the Saturday and to have a stall on the Sunday; though most of all he went to have fun! What follows is a personal account of the event.
Well, Natalie and I made it to Brighton eventually. Though not helped by London’s wonderful transport system, or the ridiculous weight of zines on my back. Still, we’re safely ensconced in the Cowley club before the workshop I’m helping to run gets started.
The Cowley club is a hive of activity, with the normal crowd being complemented by a raft of zinesters working on the zine making table, taking part in other workshops or just chatting to each other. I volunteered to run a bookbinding workshop. I’m nervous, I’ve only ever shown people how to bookbind on a one-on-one basis before and they weren’t altogether successful.
Despite early hiccups – only having one knife between ten, and needles that are too thin to thread – it seems to go okay. Everyone ends up with a notebook similar to the one I hoped they’d make so I must have done something right. I vowed to spend the rest of the weekend sketching in mine; which I promptly failed to do by falling asleep by the Cowley postbox.
Between sleeping and the annual pilgrimage to Vegetarian shoes I missed all the other workshops, though I heard good things about all of them, and certainly all the vegan cookies from the cooking workshop got eaten, which I think says everything that needs to be told.
After sleeping some more and food, which between Isy from Morgenmuffel zine and Hannah from a Zine for the Ladies zine is fairly high up on the list of, ‘greatest meals I’ve ever eaten’ we all made our way to the Cowley club; just in time to catch the tail end of Serf Combat. A shame because I was hoping to catch their whole set. Still from the single riff I heard they sounded pretty good!
The Cowley was completely rammed. A good thing because it meant no one noticed the bag of Vegetarian shoes that a dozy idiot had left after the workshops three hours earlier. Shuffling to the front we got ready for Top Chess; what followed was two parts hilarity, one part bemusement and an equal measure of surprise. I think for the full effect it’s best just to listen to their Myspace music (http://www.myspace.com/topchess) but with lyrics as perfect as, ‘You booze you lose’, or ‘Micro machines, micro machines… they’re really, really small’ you can’t go far wrong.
Finally The Cut Ups were as on form as ever, playing their brand of off-edge melodic hardcore. Since I wrote a review of their album today (link here) I’m not sure I need to describe their music again; all I’ll say is I very much enjoyed dancing along to them.
What on earth any of the gig had to do with zines I don’t know, but I had a lot of fun.
Then. Bed. Sleep.
Awake I’m phoned by Tom Fiction who’s lost in the Brighton one way systems. Eventually he and his friend make it to the door of where I’m staying. Natterjack press, Last Hours and Hey Monkey Riot stuff is then piled into the poor (tiny) car.
For the next half hour we were all covered in boxes and zines whilst we looked for Westhill Community Hall, which to be difficult was not on Westhill.
Eventually we make it to a lovely little hall. The emphasis perhaps being on little. It reminds me a bit of the London Zine Symposium 2007 were we crammed everything into the Horse Hospital. Except the Brighton Zine Fest has double the number of tables!
My spirits dampen a little further when I see how little space Hey Monkey Riot, Last Hours, London Zine Symposium and the new issue of Notes of Resistance from Occupied London have to share: a single three foot table! After colonising the table next to us we’re all a little more comfortable and warming to the experience.
Rich Phoenix, late of Captain Everything (now of more bands than is polite to mention!), is doing a wonderful job of DJ-ing, along with requisite singing along and dance moves. Elsewhere Mark Pavey (of Art is Proof Press) was busy setting up a screenprinting space where people could print posters and t-shirts to commemorate the day. And in the distance the zine making project had migrated from the Cowley Club to the Westhill community hall.
The day passed much as any zine fest ever does. The music on the stage didn’t really work too well , so even though it meant I missed seeing them play I think Apologies, I have none and PJ & Gaby made the right decision playing outside in the little hall’s yard.
I was glad to sell out of my new Gaza comic and all the Ikea and Buffy comics that I’ve had since Comica. I haven’t decided whether to reprint them, though I have decided to make sure next time I actually bring enough copies of Last Hours so I don’t sell out of them again!
Everyone was lovely, even though, by the end of the day, the inside of the hall could easily have been considered a sauna rather a zine fair with lots of sweaty zinesters wandering round (though perhaps that was just me?).
All in all the weekend was incredibly stress free. I hope everyone who organised it had as much fun as I did, and I hope they have another one next year!