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Expozine: Now with 50% more pulp

Posted by Sisi / November 27, 2008

20081127_poster.jpgPosters from Expozine 2006. Photo: "5th anniversary party" by Flickr user sfflaw.

At the mention of the word “zine,” most people think of quaint little booklets plastered in riot grrrl scrawls and anarchy symbols. Wildly popular in the early 1990’s, they faded from public awareness and were chalked up as a fad. Right?

Wrong. Zine culture is alive and kicking. There’s no better place to be than Montreal, a fertile playing ground for a dizzying array of genres. There are smut zines, bike zines, feminist zines, queer zines, fashion zines, all manner of zines.

They all come together at this year’s edition of the “small press, comic, and zine fair,” Expozine. Co-founded in 2002 by writer, publisher, and Distroboto creator Louis Rastelli and other independent publishers, Expozine brings together over 200 exhibitors from all over the world. The seventh edition will bring together younger zinesters, more variety in printed materials, more international exhibitors, and more distributors to help fans track down that elusive comic or zine.

I corresponded through e-mail with Rastelli last week to discuss Distroboto, the future of zines, and changes to this year’s edition of the fair.

20081127_hubbub.jpgA scene from last year's edition. Photo: "Expozine 2007" by Flickr user meantux.

What is the focus of this year’s Expozine?

The great thing about Expozine is that even the organizers don't really know what to expect until the tables are all reserved. Aside from trying to make sure that only people selling printed matter (rather than just crafts or music), we're as curious as anyone else to find out who will be at Expozine.

One noticeable change this year is that there are publishers coming from more different cities than ever -- from BC to Halifax, plus Indiana, Philadelphia, Vermont, New York, New Jersey, Kingston, Ottawa, and then there are more francophones from outside Montreal as well, coming in from Gatineau, Quebec City, Sherbrooke as well as at least two exhibitors from France and Belgium. More than three quarters of the people there are still from Montreal, though, and we wouldn't want the event to become so international that there wouldn't be room for the locals. (At least, not unless we can also get more funding and find a bigger space to hold it in!)

20081127_distroboto.jpgA Distroboto machine doing its thang. Photo: "Distroboto" by Flickr user julie_b.

What’s new with Distroboto? Where will the project go in the future?

At the end of September, four machines were added to the network, placed in the lobbies of City of Montreal libraries/ cultural centers.We'd eventually like to install machines in movie theatre lobbies as well, perhaps stocked two-thirds with the various short films we already sell.

Beyond that, the possibilities seem almost endless -- there is a waiting list of at least 40 locations who want Distrobotos, from other bars and cafés in Montreal and across the country to various museums, institutions and cultural centres. The City of Montreal also wants more new machines next year, but all this (as well as any Expozine expansion) will depend on whether our non-profit corporation succeeds in getting more funding. The current economic crisis doesn't help in that governments are likely to continue cutting arts funding, just as private funding is beginning to disappear. (Expozine lost a number of long-time sponsors already.)

Hopefully, some levels of government will realize that arts funding can be a very effective form of investment to help individuals and local economies during hard times; the Conference Board of Canada recently released a widely-reported study that found that every dollar invested in the arts generates $11 of returns, so it really is more of a great investment rather than a deficit-inducing handout.

20081127_church.jpgThe church where it all goes down. Photo: "Expozine church" by Flickr user elasticcamel.

What place do zines have in an age of increased digitization?

The digital and physical worlds complement more than compete with each other. Some of the people at Expozine, for example, are heavy bloggers and use some of their favourite posts for their zine. In general, people spend more time editing and cleaning up their writing if they're printing it rather than blogging it. There's also the fact that many websites or blogs eventually disappear, so printing the best selections from them is still a great way to preserve them for posterity. We all know how temporary digital storage can be -- most of my favourite early blogs from the Web are saved on floppy disks, for example, and very hard for me to access, but the ones I actually printed out are still right there on a shelf next to me.

Another trend from the past decade that has impacted zines is technological. When I started making zines in the early 90s, almost nobody had a printer at home and very few people even had computers (and if you did have a printer, it was probably a very slow dot-matrix model with horrible quality.) Now, tons of people can design and print very professional-looking material, and photocopy centres are more plentiful, cheaper and ever faster and higher-quality. Digital presses have opened up the doors to cheaper and easier small print runs, whereas even just a few years ago, you couldn't print something affordably unless you printed 500 or 1000 copies or more.

20081127_forsythe.jpgOjingogo creator Mark Forsythe scorns his Frankenstein monster. Photo: "I liked the first one better" by Flickr user spectraversa.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Expozine isn't just a must-see event for fans of the alternative press or local poster-makers etc., it's also a great place for writers and artists to do some networking. There have been numerous writers who met publishers or submitted work at Expozine and got published as a result. For big fans of the Distroboto machines, it's also an opportunity to meet a number of the people who sell stuff through it and pick up some of their larger publications as well.

Expozine takes place Saturday, Nov. 29 and Sunday, Nov. 30 from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Église Saint-Enfant Jésus (5035 St-Dominique). Admission is free.

Louis Rastelli will be at Expozine selling copies of his novel A Fine Ending (Insomniac Press) and back issues of Fish Piss Magazine.



Reetu / November 28, 2008 at 04:22 am
Finally a post that isn't about music or bands.. Don't get me wrong, music is my life, but I was missing all the other content that used to be on here.. Balance is key..

Great article Sisi :)
alice / November 28, 2008 at 11:37 am
yeah, once upon a time someone vowed to do a weekly literary update here. It was soon abandoned.

But I think that might have something to do with payment of writers for Midnight Poutine --- isn't it run on a "your payment is tickets to gigs & a byline for your portfolio" type basis? Instead of, you know, cash incentive.
LeChuck / November 30, 2008 at 02:58 pm
Right, because nothing lasts on the web, but paper is forever. I'm sorry but I've got to call bullshit on that point. Your digital content lasts for as long as you take the proper steps to ensure its survival, the same with any medium.

Shell out a few bucks a year to host your content yourself! Internet archivers will eventually mine your site and make backups. For godsakes man, you can burn all your content on a DVD... make multiple DVDs! Let's not forget replication and searching.

Save some trees and money in printing and distribution. Spend some more time editing that web content and you're golden. Oh and guess what? If your readers really love paper so much, they can print it out themselves.

Re: lit updates: Naturally, you'd want music lovers to do music reviews, so you use musical incentives like free tickets! How about free copies of new books for the literary reviewers?

golu dolls / February 5, 2019 at 10:02 pm
nice post
kanchipuramsarees / February 5, 2019 at 10:03 pm
nice post
kanchipuramsarees / February 5, 2019 at 10:03 pm
nice post

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