No two people have the same definition for a zine and no two zines are alike. Underscoring that concept was this Sunday’s Eastside Zine Market in Boyle Heights, where artists, writers, small press publishers and everything in between were present at the bazaar of personal journals, illustrations, cook books and more.
Frayed edges and folded booklets were passed around like tomes of important text at the Eastside Zine Marketplace, which was held at the Hazard Park Armory. Every artist is a fan and they marvel at what others say in their work. There were the full time designers like Emilio Santoyo who’s illustrations popped with color and vibrancy, the elongated characters of his world drawn in exaggerated poses. Several CalArt students bunched around a table and bolstered a bevy of comics, but still had some doubts about how they were presenting their work.
“People are showing their zines that are very unique and personal,” said animation major Cat Bui as she handed me a zine filled with Disney-grade drawings. “I don’t think I did it right this time.”
The Eastside Zine Market is the first major zine event in the area of Boyle Heights and East L.A., according to Adam Bernales and Denice Diaz of Seite Bookstore, who with East LA Rep co-hosted the marketplace.
The zine scene has been sweltering throughout Los Angeles in the past five years, this DIY aesthetic that seems to resonate most with a generation that lives inside their smartphones.LA Zine Fest organizer Bianca Barragan thinks that when people have a chance to meet artists in person, a real community forms, not just a name on some website. But she comes to the conclusion that some zines are blog posts or webcomics put to paper. She concludes, “You don’t have to choose anymore.”
Santa Ana College librarian Stacy Russo proudly stood behind her “Poems a Librarian Wrote on Her Lunchbreak,” and at another table Taylor Oh with Brittany Scheffler showed off their monthly zine “Cardio Arts,” which feature friends and other artists from the Valley. A few tables down Lee Keeler shows off Devastator, a monthly glossy magazine that runs on a subscription model, and price points for those interested in buying future issues in advance.
Leo “Puppypants” Lopez grew up in the Eastside of Los Angeles and flew down from Oakland to be part of the festival, his love for zines comes from the pure nature of underground stories told on paper. “There’s no real money to be made and so the real drive is to make something good, something for others to enjoy,” Lopez says.
Nathan Solis is a Highland Park resident who writes about and photographs the L.A. music scene. You can find more of Solis stories, reviews and photos at Smashed Chair.