Nicole Harris, 29, works at a credit union by day and runs Click Clack Distro, a zine distributor carrying about 60 different titles, whenever she can. One of a small handful of organizers for this weekend's Richmond Zine Fest, Harris has produced six issues of her own small-press publication, Introvert, since 1997. “That's the wonderful thing about zines,” Harris says. “There's no set schedule. It's much more about quality than quantity.”
The homegrown, organic, sustainable food of the literary world, zines are self-publishing ventures, wherein authors also copy and staple their own works. Zine festivals — from the local to the international — are a great way for fans and authors to meet, trade, collaborate, bounce ideas off each other and find distributors for their zines. “We get a lot of just totally different people,” Harris says. “It's a good place to see a huge array of different types of zines all together. Comic zines, personal zines, political zines.”
At the onset of the Richmond festival's third year, organizers anticipate more than their usual crowd because of the new location at Gallery5, soon to be swarmed with 45 individual zinesters from the mid-Atlantic to Portland, Ore. One big name expected to attend is Alex Wrekk, creator of the zine-maker's bible, Stolen Sharpie Revolution.
After readings on Friday night during the opening exhibition of “Word Play: Exploring the Human Fascination of Language on the Printed Page” a variety of workshops will be offered on Saturday, including “Introduction to Book Art and Distribution of Zines” and “The Prisoner Industrial System and Prisoner Support.” Since prisoners can easily get their hands on zines, the latter workshop instructs zinesters on how to communicate with the incarcerated while staying safe.
Dwelling in the underground, most zine publishers have to keep their day jobs. “Zines do not pay the bills because they are so inexpensive,” Harris says. “But they're a good way to get a lot of reading material for really cheap.” S
The Richmond Zine Fest will be held Nov. 6 from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. during the First Fridays Art Walk and on Nov. 7 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Gallery5 at 200 W. Marshall St. Free. Visit www.richmondzinefest.org for information.