5 Zines You Don't Want to Miss at Long Beach Zine Fest This Sunday

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Photo by Asia Morris. All other images courtesy of the artists. 

With the 2nd Annual Long Beach Zine Fest just around the corner, and a turnout of over 2,500 people expected to descend upon the Museum of Latin American Art, we understand that the thought of choosing which zines you're going to spend your valuable time flipping through might be a bit overwhelming. Out of the myriad creatives ready to share their wares with attendees, we selected a few of the talented locals whose tables you won't want to pass up (and asked them a bunch of questions). 


 

Freeways Collide 

Lowell Ong and Sara Todd are not only the creatives responsible for Freeways Collide, which existed as a blog until 2013, when the two relocated to Long Beach and began working on their first zine, Bruised, but also make up two of the 12-person team responsible for making LBZF such a success.

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What first attracted you to the art/practice of zine-making? What about the process and/or format vibes with you?

We get stoked on putting our photos together and creating a printed medium that they can exist on. Zines also provide a way to communicate a certain message that doesn’t exist online—the tangible quality of it. We love the whole process from editing down a set of photos, to trying to create a sense or mood or emotion or message, to piecing together each page and finding a sequence that works. There’s interesting work in editing.

What zine(s) are you working on right now? What zine(s) do you plan on displaying at LBZF this year?

A lot of photo zines from us... Shiro Kuro, We Didn’t Start the Fire, 10 Portraits, Quiet, Some Kind of Love Some Kind of Hate, and we might do a few mini-zines… we also have some rare photo zines from some of our friends from around the world including the Philippines, Greece, Belgium and Thailand. As well as some photo prints and posters.

You tabled at the inaugural LBZF... what are you looking forward to regarding this year's event and how do you think it will be different from last year's?

We’re kinda curious to see how this year’s event will compare to last year’s, since there’s really only been one LBZF before. For this year’s event though, we do know there’s a few more photography zines included, so that’s great to hear. Usually photography zines are kind of a minority in the zine world. So it’s cool seeing us coming up a little bit.

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Why do you attend/organize LBZF? Is it about making connections with other artists? Showing your work to a different/wider audience?

We kinda fell into organizing LBZF to be honest! We’d already thrown a few small zine events in Hollywood at Space15Twenty back in 2013, then we did a bunch of zine fests around California (LA, SF, OC, IE, SD) and so after a couple years of doing that, we kinda ended up talking to a handful of people we knew about doing one in LB. Then one day we got invited to a meeting by Emily Kiwa Tanaka and there we began organizing LBZF 2015. It was cool.

As for our work... yeah definitely, part of it is about showing our work to people we think will be interested. For the most part, no one ever sees our stuff except for a small handful of friends or wherever. So it’s nice to share it in a really creative environment like the ones you find at zine fests. I think our work has a certain audience to it and we like it that way.

Dog Knit Sweater 

A collaboration between Danny Miller and Daisy Rosas, the two Long Beach-based artists take pride in their city and find a great deal of passion through working together. Miller and Rosas are artistic to the bone, dabbling in both abstract-style works as well as drawing comics.

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What first attracted you to the art/practice of zine-making? What about the process and/or format vibes with you?

Zines are easy to make. With really simple, inexpensive tools you can share your thoughts and stories with other people. So we love that. The distance from idea to finished zine can be a very short one.

Our first zine together was just a collection of little comics we had drawn. On their own they wouldn't have had much of a life but by binding them together in a paper pamphlet they became something bigger.

What zine(s) are you working on right now?

We just finished a zine called "The Ballad of Young Michael." It's a funny poem written by Danny for his younger brother that we illustrated using cut paper, paint, and collage material from an old cheap book about Greek sculpture.

It's funny you should ask because just before this interview we were walking our dog and dreaming about what our next project might be. We don't know just yet.

What zine(s) do you plan on displaying at LBZF this year?

Our current favorite is Birds Not Words, a risographed collection of abstract prints we made. We'll also have most of our earlier zines like Death to Dragons, Dog Day Afternoon What a Sad Life, The Life of a Snail and the Ballad of Young Michael. It's also important to note that we'll be tabling next to our friend Miles this year. Miles writes funny, clever, strange and sometimes beautiful comics that we highly recommend.

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You tabled at the inaugural LBZF… what are you looking forward to regarding this year's event and how do you think it will be different from last year's?

Yes, we were lucky enough to table at last year's LBZF. MOLAA is such a fantastic venue for a zine fest and we're so glad to be back this year. LBZF has a similar vibe to the LA Zine Fest in terms of the work you see, but there's a more intimate quality to LBZF. This year we're very excited for the musical performances and panel discussions, which we didn't fully take in last time.

Why do you attend LBZF? Is it about making connections with other artists? Showing your work to a different/wider audience?

Yes, both of those things are important to us. We also both live and work in Long Beach so we feel a sense of local pride towards LBZF. Long Beach such a unique, vibrant city. It's the kind of place that can really support an event like this. It feels good to be a part of it.

Ellen Marie Bae

Local illustrator and zine-maker Ellen Marie Bae uses zines to share her work informally and to experiment with new concepts and ideas. She sometimes goes by the moniker Baecon Bits and is a breakfast burrito enthusiast.

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What first attracted you to the art/practice of zine-making?

There's a sort of immediateness of holding a zine in your hands. And it makes you realize and respect that somebody took the time to self-publish it. I think that is what grabbed my attention to them. The first zine I had ever seen was my friend's zine of her writing and poetry, and there was a certain level of awe that was instilled in me.

For my own zines, I definitely love the informal way I can share my drawings and illustrations. I also use zines as my place to explore and experiment when it comes to content/concept, drawings, production/printing methods and simple book binding.

What zine(s) are you working on right now?

I have some works in progress! Recently I've been making really cruddy, rudimentary drawings in a somewhat-comic strip form. They're scattered throughout my sketchbooks, so I'm compiling them in a zine. These comics come from an emotional place. They utilize a lot of repetition and have very little text.

I've also been taking photos of strange street signs. Usually when you see signs posted, it's meant to communicate instructions with clarity. The ones that catch my eye are the ones that have excessive & bizarre instructions, utilizes strange design and overall confuses the viewer. I like these miscommunicating signs and plan to collect them into a zine.

What zine(s) do you plan on displaying at LBZF this year?

I recently had a chance to share zines and kick off a zine project with the Women's Resource Center at Cal State Dominguez Hills. They've created a wonderful zine titled Our Stories, Ourselves in which they share deeply personal and empowering stories. I am beyond excited to share this with the zine community and feel lucky to have a small hand in it. Goes without saying, but all sales of this zine will go directly back to the WRC.

I'll also be displaying a couple of my more recent zines. There's Korean Spa, a perzine about body image and self acceptance. I'll also have The Telephone Zine which is a collaborative project based on the game of Drawing Telephone. It involved several different artists and writers in sequence, each page a direct prompt for the page following it.

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You tabled at the inaugural LBZF... what are you looking forward to regarding this year's event and how do you think it will be different/similar to last year's?

LBZF last year was incredible! I know that it will be just as great this year. The organizers really do an amazing job emphasizing the community aspect of it, which I love and appreciate. The event taking place at MoLAA, local bands, local food and vendors. Not to mention all the pre-zine fest events and workshops. There's just so much thought and care put into it being very Long Beach.
Overall, the energy of the event is very accepting, positive and fun. I feel like the interest in zines has grown significantly since last year, so I'm sure there will be a lot of new tablers and people interested in attending LBZF.

Why do you attend LBZF? Is it about making connections with other artists? Showing your work to a different/wider audience?

I mostly do zine fests for the experience of sharing what I make with people. I've made a lot of friends and just neat connections with other creatives and wonderful people. LBZF is especially great in the aspect that I feel like I'm truly connecting with my community and my home. I've been living here for about five years now. I'm very much in love with Long Beach and it feels good to be a part of it.

Valerie J. Bower 

Bower describes herself as a Los Angeles-based street and documentary photographer. A Wilmington native and a Long Beach resident, she shows "a softer side and a feminine point-of-view to typically masculine themes and subjects," such as the lowrider, street and skate cultures.

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What first attracted you to the art/practice of zine-making? What about the process and/or format vibes with you?

I started making zines as a way of self-publishing my work. It’s great for photographers to put their work out this way. I’m pretty picky with my design and layout and by making zines I have complete control of how it looks, size, paper color, weight, everything.

I put out so many zines in the past year and a half. I always tell myself to hold back and wait, but I keep making them because I’m always working on photo projects. Laying out the images and presenting it as an entire concept is fun for me. But, to balance the amount of zines I put out, I now make them in small batches. I limit each new zine to either 30 or 50 copies, then it’s sold out forever and it’s time for a new one. I might just be one of those people with a big catalog of zines.

What zine(s) are you working on right now?

I just finished up my two new zines I’ll be selling at LBZF. The first one is called "Street Pop #1", a short but sweet event recap of the Formula Drift event that just happened here in Long Beach. That was my first time ever going to a drift event, it was really interesting to me. I’m coming from photographing the lowrider scene, so to see a different car culture and see their excitement during the drifting and observe what they’re into was fun and new. It’s all based off Japanese car culture, so there were a few cars with anime girls on the hood as artwork. I loved that! I’ll probably have more with that series soon.

The second one is called "Watts," is a lowrider zine with photos taken at the Watts Life Car Club annual picnic that takes place in Watts. I’m a straight forward person, so all my zines have pretty simple straight to the point titles like that. Other than that, I’m working on a few more and I’m already brainstorming some newer ideas. I’ll probably have a couple more done by the end of this summer.

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What zine(s) do you plan on displaying at LBZF this year?

I’m excited to be bringing "Street Pop #1" and "Watts" to LBZF. They’re very different scenes, so hopefully there’s something for everyone. I’m also bringing the remaining "Sunday Shots" foldout poster zines I made last year. I guess my table will be all cars.

You tabled at the inaugural LBZF… what are you looking forward to regarding this year's event and how do you think it will be different/similar to last year's?

I had a table last year at LBZF. I’m excited to see all the other zines, although last year I was tied to my table and wasn't able to really walk around! I’m hoping people from last year will come by again and now in its second year I’m hoping the word will spread and it’s a packed house.

I love Bombon, who’s going to be playing outside and I want to hear all the other bands too. I’m sure I’ll be stuck at my table again, but I’m excited for this weekend.

Why do you attend LBZF? Is it about making connections with other artists? Showing your work to a different/wider audience?

At last year’s LBZF, I only had a few zines and was just starting to really push my photos. That day actually inspired me to keep going making zines and photographing. I grew up in Wilmington, and having my work in Long Beach was great because a lot of local people from the Harbor Area came out. I had people relate and identify with the places in my images like Wilmington and San Pedro, which was cool because I feel like these are underrepresented areas in L.A. So when you and some stranger can relate over the same image, it’s like a sense of community.

I’m excited to be tabling again this year and hopefully I’ll be able to inspire other local artists into photography or just to create in general. I’m also curious who will come out to this! It was at last year’s zine fest that I was able to connect with some people, who later that year put me in two different art shows. I’m grateful for those connections and the inspiration from that day.

Dave Van Patten 

Patten needs no introduction as a Long Beach artist and illustrator consistently providing witty criticisms and viewpoints with his easily recognizable signature style. 

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What first attracted you to the art/practice of zine-making? What about the process and/or format vibes with you?

The main thing that attracted me to zine-making was the interest in merging the forms of writing and drawing. I studied Creative Writing in school but wanted to experiment with a different media. Comics became my primary avenue of expressing my writing and my favorite way of expressing my art. Story is at the foundation of all my art, and art without concept is boring to me. Zines provided an avenue of expression and a realistic way to get the work out there. If a zine is done well, it will camp out at people's coffee tables for a while, giving your work good exposure.

Zine vibe with me because they are publications accessible to the people. Anyone can make one, which is empowering to the creative community.

What zine(s) are you working on right now?

I am working on a collection of humor comics with themes ranging from social/political issues, to philosophy and spirituality, to completely fucked up absurdity.

What zine(s) do you plan on displaying at LBZF this year?

I have a handful of zines to display this year, but the newest one is called "Psychedelic Elevator Music." It's a collection of new comics and drawings.

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You tabled at the inaugural LBZF… what are you looking forward to regarding this year's event and how do you think it will be different/similar to last year's?

Last year was ridiculously successful and encouraging. Everyone showed me a lot of love. This year I'm looking forward to the same thing- just having fun conversations with total strangers about art and humor.

Why do you attend LBZF? Is it about making connections with other artists? Showing your work to a different/wider audience?

Zine fest is obviously great for exposure, but the real fun is connecting with people. One year at a zinefest in Los Angeles a girl read my zine and laughed so hard she started crying. That was the truest goal of my artistic career.

For more information about Long Beach Zine Fest, click here.



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