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Grid Zine Fest: A Showcase Of Do-It-Yourself Eclectic Alternative Printed Press

Grid-Zine Fest

Today, news and entertainment media outlets continue to focus their content around the digital medium especially as more and more people are consuming their news and entertainment through social media. But there is a movement to keep print alive through the free-form publications called zines.

I spoke with three zine enthusiasts and founders of Salt Lake City’s Grid Zine Fest. 

“Hi, I’m Bonnie Cooper.”

“I’m Juli Huddleston.”

“And I’m, Molly Barewitz.”

I asked Juli, “What is a zine?"

“Zines are self-published, self-produced, self-distributed booklets that can be about any topic,” she said. “They are often topics that are not covered in mainstream society and so they tend to be either personal or silly, they can be super serious or just about your favorite water park."

Print, production and design escape conformity and contribute to the creativity of zines. Bonnie attributes zines as a major component of the DIY or do-it-yourself culture. 

So how did zines get started? Zines have been created since technology allowed. They served as a means of circumventing what mainstream media did not print, highlighting unorthodox views and a means of publication by depreciated people. 

“Zines are empowering,” Julie said. 

The earliest zine is attributed to Thomas Paine’s Common Sense dating back to 1775. Some of the other earliest zine authors include Benjamin Franklin, Margaret Fuller and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Modern zine culture took shape with pulp science fiction in the 1930s. The first science fiction magazine called Amazing Stories was published in 1926 along with the first serious science fiction comics. Many stories were heavily scrutinized by readers and eventually the readers decided to write their own science-fiction stories. Soon came the first science fiction zine called Comet. From this came an explosion of science fiction zines that would go on to create some of the first comic book cultural icons.

Superman was originally a bald super villain from a fan-made zine in 1933 called Science Fiction. His story was called “The Reign of the Superman.”

Zine content broadened in the 1960s because of a shared passion by zine writers love of science fiction and rock music. Ten years later a new form of rock music would emerge that shaped zines to what we know them as today. That genre is punk.

Punk music was the musical embodiment of what zines had always been: a voice for the counterculture and the marginalized. From the 70s to now, zines expanded out to cover a wide array of topics without limitations on creativity or content. 

Today zines are an art in and of themselves and are featured in zinefests around the world. Juli, Bonnie and Molly are 3 of four organizers bringing the zine culture to Utah through the Grid Zine Fest and are starting zine clubs in Salt Lake City.

“There’s just a wide variety of zines at the zine fest this year," said Molly. "I think we are going to see a lot of different subjects and different mediums. One of our fellow organizers, Sarah Morton, she is doing one that is very specific to local Salt Lake culture which is a tribute to Big Ed’s Restaurant which is a sort of unique hole-in-the-wall near the University of Utah’s campus and now of course Big Ed’s is gone so it’s very sentimental." 

"Range from growing up as a queer kid in Utah county or an un documented immigrant or even growing a garden, or how to make your favorite recipe. There are also zines that are made by children," Juli said.

Finally, I asked the group what type of person should come to the Grid Zine Fest if they have never been to a zine fest before.

Molly replied, ”Anyone who is interested in learning about local artists, learning about how to make art themselves, and just experiencing something that is not your everyday media consumption; get off of Facebook and come to Grid Zine Fest.”

The Grid-Zine Fest is April 13.