Download the 2012 SFZF Program!

This year's Zine Fest is only a few days away and anticipation is through the roof. We want to make sure our attendees are fully prepared for all the exhibitors, panels, and workshops going down this weekend, so we're making this year's Fest program available digitally as well as in print. You can pick up a print copy at the Fest, but if you're looking for a sneak peak click the link below to start the download!

Click HERE to download the 2012 SFZF Program>>

Photo courtesy of Cindy Maram, Dig In Magazine

SF Zine Fest After Party @ Mission Comics

Celebrate the fun and excitement of the SF Zine Fest at our annual Mission Comics after party, happening Saturday September 1st, at 7pm!

Mix and mingle with some of the Bay Area's most talented creators and meet the team that makes the Zine Fest happen. There will be food, drinks, and even a few DIY-themed party games where you can win some seriously cool prizes.

Don't forget to join the event on Facebook, and as always, admission is FREE!

Cartoon Carousel: A Cartoonist Slideshow Reading

The SF Zine Fest and The Cartoon Art Museum are proud to present Cartoon Carousel: A Cartoonist Slideshow Reading, at the Cartoon Art Museum on August 30th, from 7pm to 9pm.

A diverse lineup of small-press cartoonists will read from their respective works, accompanied by a special Keynote presentation. The lineup, consisting of artists exhibiting at this year’s SF Zine Fest, consists of Eli Bishop, Amy Martin, Gabrielle Gamboa, Ric Carrasquillo and this year's SFZF special guest, Sarah Oleksyk. The suggested donation for this event is $5, although no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Zinester Spotlight: Gabrielle Gamboa

The greatest thing about conventions is that they bring artists together. And these artists are not only talented craftsmen, they are also amazing individuals. Gabrielle Gamboa is no exception. I had the privilege of meeting her at the Latino Comic Expo, when she and I were on a Zine panel, alongside Jaime Crespo. Honestly, I don't know why I was asked to be on that panel, because my knowledge and experience with comics and zines paled by comparison, and I had little to add to that conversation, so I ended up asking them more questions than the audience did. How could I not? I wanted to know everything about these artists.

Gabrielle talked about her love for music, and how she stumbled into Punk fanzines in the late 80s. She "fell in love with the immediacy of zine publishing, and the intimacy of being a zine reader," so she created her own. Gabrielle became a part of the Puppy Toss Comics publishing collective in the early 90s. She hasn't stopped creating comic zines since then. I am always deeply moved and entertains when I read her zines. Her work has a strong narrative aspect to it. The visual work only makes her story-telling stronger. She takes people, and all of the things she loves - music, film, literature - and packs it into a tight little 24 page package. Each page is so rich, that words and images will stay with you throughout the day.

What roles do music and literature play in your creative projects?

Older generations had mythology. Since the advent of mass media, we have pop culture. I have absorbed and synthesized the media I grew up with into my own personal narratives. In some ways, all of that is just as real to me as events that happened in my life. I was also a library nerd who would spend all summer gorging on novels. When the dvd happened, I became that way with movies instead. I don’t think it’s laziness, I just think that to a visual person like me, cinema is very seductive.

Your characters vary from teenage rock stars to writers. How do you choose the people and stories you want to illustrate?

When I find myself thinking constantly about an idea, I know I need to make it happen. Other times, I just work with whatever obsessions I am geeking out on at the time. I think I choose to focus on creative people for characters because I can relate to them. I also find that the older I get, the more I enjoy narratives about the creative process, so my work deals with that topic more and more.

One of your zines, Miss Lonely Hearts, is based on Nathanael West's novel. Why did you choose this novel?

I adore this novel because it asks the big existential questions, offers no real answers, and yet is darkly funny. I find it comforting. To adapt it into a comic, I have to remove or reinterpret West’s stunning prose. That is just the nature of the medium.

What is your current project?

I am continuing to adapt and publish Miss Lonelyhearts chapter by chapter. I am also working on an original graphic novel, the most ambitious project I’ve ever taken on, which is both exhilarating and terrifying.

What do you like most about SF Zine Fest?

I love the sense of community and collaboration that Zine Fest creates. This is something we could have only dreamed of back in the Factsheet Five days. Factsheet Five was a zine from the 1980's and 90's that reviewed zines and gave contact information on where to get them. It was one of the few ways to find out about new zines in the pre-internet days. Getting your zine listed in it was key in those days. The bad part is that there is so much great quality stuff at Zine Fest that I can’t buy it all. But I’ll probably still try.

To check out more of Gabrielle's work, make to visit her online at:

SFZF is also happy to announce that Gabrielle will be at the Cartoon Art Museum this Thursday, August 23rd for the Latino Comics Expo's "Noche de Latinas." We hope to see you there!

The SFZF Countdown Begins!

We're less than two weeks away from the 2012 SF Zine Fest and things are gearing up to make this our best year yet. If you haven't already, make sure to check out our Exhibitors and Panels & Workshops to see all the fun that's in store.

For now, we leave you with a little special something...our flyer for this year's show, designed by our very own Ric Carrasquillo!

Zinester Spotlight: Caroline Saddul

Caroline Saddul takes adults challenges but eliminates their seriousness. Her designs explore the themes of gender roles and relationships, with a child-like curiosity and sense of humor. Caroline will juxtapose the image of a girl, shouting, with that of a dinosaur’s roar. Her cards vary from cute dogs to bloody monsters, who declare their love for you. This variety of images and styles covers all range of emotions. Over all, Caroline Saddul’s work manifests courage, and it invites you to laugh at adulthood and all its expectations. Here is what Caroline has to say about her art.

How would you describe what you do and the work you produce?

I'm a graphic designer who loves creating artwork that combines my love of whimsical monsters, animals and pattern.

Why did you name your line "Dolls and Monsters?"

I named my card line Dolls and Monsters because to me they are recognizable childhood symbols that evoke both fear and pleasure. “Dolls,” for me, refer to three different things: scary female effigies, the female sex symbol/standard of beauty imposed on all women, and the particular gendered pleasure of beauty and femininity.

As I get older I’ve become more aware of ideas of beauty and the power of female sex symbols. This part of “dollness” is my acknowledgment of the commodification of female bodies as objects for visual pleasure. The figure of the female form as a spectacle for an erotic gaze carries with it both power and danger.

As an adult woman I have learned to accept the joy I derive from wearing makeup, adorning myself with feminine accouterments, and other traditionally feminine things (sensitivity towards others, compassion and love towards the unloved) as something not diametrically opposed to my deep sense of feminism and humanist activism.

What are you trying to communicate through your zines, art, website and other designs?

Through my card line I wanted to introduce a space where the joyful aspects of adulthood can marry with the happy silly parts of childhood. I want to combine my particular conception of childhood glee with adult understanding. This means beloved characters—like animals, for example—but in silly, adult environments that reflect the culture around me.

How did you get into independent publishing, art and the like?

I was inspired by the Comics Factory in Pasadena, Southern California. Comic artists would go in and out and mingle and chat with comics fans, and it sparked within me a joy for not just the art work, but also the people. I grew up loving Tintin, The Spirit, and the comics section of the LA Times, and Betty and Veronica. As I got older I discovered and became a fan of graphic novels by Terry Moore (Strangers in Paradise), the Hernandez Brothers (Love and Rockets), and the incredible Julie Doucet. My dear friend Leo introduced me to the Zine scene in SF and the East Bay. His zines, his introductions to friendly people in the scene, as well as his encouragement gave me the courage to get involved.

What is your current project?

I am currently working on my zine "Naks Naman! #1" which is a Tagalog expression that means, "How impressive." It's meant to be cheeky. It refers to my particular kind of goofiness, and is also a nod at my cultural background. Filipino sense of humor can have a really wonderful corniness that I really appreciate and love.

What is your favorite thing about the SF Zine Fest?

I enjoy the opportunity to meet wonderful artists, discover their artwork, and the opportunity for all of us to get-together and celebrate the diversity of talent and backgrounds in the Bay Area.

Where can people find you?

My Dolls and Monsters blog is

Calling All Volunteers!

SF Zine Fest is quickly approaching and your SFZF crew is working round the clock and behind the scenes to make sure that everything comes together! Since this year’s fest will be bigger and better than ever, we’re looking for a handful of additional helpers who can donate a couple hours of time on either day of the Fest (September 1st + 2nd). What exactly are we looking for you to do?  Honestly it's a bit of everything, from helping out at the Zine Fest info booth, to coordinating logistics with our exhibitors, to even giving us hand with our annual fest raffle.

As in years past, SFZF will also be hosting a kick-off party/author event at the Cartoon Art Museum (Thursday, August 30th) as well as a “mix-n-mingle” after party at Mission Comics (Saturday, September 1st). Both are a great way to see zine friends from near and far, and these two events are always well attended and lots of fun. We're looking for volunteer support on these nights too, so the more the merrier!

So...interested in our undying love and affection (via your awesome volunteer skills)? Looking to make friends with some of the Bay Area's finest creative minds (via equally awesome zine fest folks)? Send an email to with “volunteering” in the subject header and we can get you onboard.

Photo courtesy of Cindy Maram, Dig In Magazine

Zinester Spotlight: Joe Biel of Microcosm Publishing

What was once a small record label for local bands turned into the best-known zine publishers in the United States. Microcosm Publishing has been empowering authors since 1996. Within its original inventory of music, film, and political activism, Joe Biel found an epic collection of zines, all of which provided a “hidden” story to that current time and place. The soul of this independent, DIY culture existed inside these pages. And Joe knew that no matter what interests he would lose or gain, publishing these stories would never get old. They were “documents of action,” worthy of being recognized and distributed. Today, Joe Biel continues to publish zines, create his own documentaries, and strengthen a network of passionate people across the globe.

How did you get into independent publishing?

I was really fortunate to grow up around a really rich subcultural tapestry in the Cleveland punk scene of the 90s. It obviously grew from somewhere and I've traced the history as much as I can, but in my own life, it felt like it always was there, standing patiently behind me, saying "You can do it! Believe in yourself!"

In 1991 some people took the initiative to move into a messed up building on W 44th and Lorain, which is now a reasonable place to hang out, but was a very seedy neighborhood at the time. The place was called Speak in Tongues until the landlord pulled the lease ten years later. In the meantime it was our clubhouse when bands came on tour.

And walking around, it was inevitable that some cute kid would show you their zine and try to get a buck outta you. I would go for it every time. Within a few years I had setup some milk crates behind the counter where I sold zines and records.

Microcosm started off as a record label. How did you incorporate the tactics of early punk record labels to publishing?

Like you said, I came to the whole matter from the back door. I had been running this record label and putting out local stuff when I started to sort of age out of that and thought publishing would be way cooler and could perhaps evolve with my tastes a bit more. So naturally, I didn't know anything about trade distribution or segmented marketing. I knew how to do mailorder, setup a table at punk shows, travel to festivals, walk into a store and show them my stuff, and get people to help hang up flyers and pass out catalogs around their towns. But the important thing is to run the whole thing in parallel to the industry, not within it or opposed to it, but sort of alongside it. Intentional or not, that's what I took from Dischord.

What do you think zines offer that other books or publications don't? What do we gain from these 'hidden stories'?

I was explaining to a young man at the store the other day that in a good zine, it's ultimately the difference between a first person perspective written by a person and a detached or medical explanation written by a "professional." Instead of using academic language or jargon, in a zine you can be as appropriately crass as is necessary. Your motivation will never, could never be much beyond the simple mechanics of telling the story, of sharing your experience. The economics and infrastructure sort of make anything else impossible. And drawing from that pool, we get to shed a lot of the ego and dirtiness from our collection of brilliant authors.

Zines create a sense of community. As a publisher, how did you see that community evolve?

In my experience, zines create communities. And in recent years that's created sort of a subcultural imperative that wasn't always there. In the words of Giovanni Caputo, it's like saying "I like popsicles, you like popsicles. We should be friends," when there are a lot more important factors than that. The hardest lesson for me was that I can't let it be the everything of my universe or else it's possible to live in a bubble that isn't in touch with the real world, which is now very possible to do in a number of zine communities. On top of that, there's a sort of an assumption that other zine makers will also ride bikes, dumpster cake, and steal photocopies, which I think is both socially isolating and also alienating to newcomers who are simply excited about the medium.

I think it's important to be accessible but also to have a clear line in the sand, saying "this is what I believe in. Maybe you are interested too?" without being so presumptive about those who come wandering up.

How did you manage to distribute zines to other parts of the country and the world?

It's sort of an "if you build it, they will come" system. By having a good database and website that calculates shipping to all parts of the world automatically and has good search engine optimization, if people were interested in zines, they would likely find our website. Once they were there, they could make orders at all hours and ship anywhere without needing to talk to anyone. By offering wholesale prices to anyone who qualified with a big enough order, we could in turn setup satellite zine distribution all over the globe. That was all very intentiona to our mission. And it worked.

What are your current projects and upcoming events?

I'm finishing up two four year personal projects this summer. The first is Beyond the Music, which is a book I wrote about people who take the values and ethics of punk and apply them to things outside of music. So it's about "punk culture," but it's also about just how big the world is, how many effective ways there are to impact it, and how interesting the person are who do.

The other is Aftermass, which is my fourth feature documentary film. It tells the story of how Portland got its bikeway network. I talked to the people who were directly involved and looked at how things developed since 1971 to see what happened. I tracked down all direct sources. The story is a lot richer than I expected and it feels a little more History Channel than most of what I've done but I like that it's offered a way for me to age gracefully and still be involved in culture.

Where can people find you?

In Portland at 636 SE 11th Ave or

What is your favorite thing about the SF Zine Fest?

There's a lot of enthusiasm that I find infectious. At this point, after seventeen years of involvement I've basically got to be around people that are excited to be doing what they're doing. It propels me for another three months at a time. Those conversations and experiences—even just talking to people about what they're excited about—they remind me of why I continue to do this.

Find Microcosm Publishing on Facebook and Twitter:

XYZine: Books to Help You Bind Your Own...

I love making zines. Sure: getting words down on paper is cool, but rolling up my sleeves and making decisions about paper, format, and structure? These are the parts of zine making that I love. Wandering the aisles of an art supply store lulls me into a trance, as I spend time planning “the next big project”.

Don’t fool yourself: the structure of your zine is as important as the thoughts and emotions that you pour into the content. Some of my long-time favorites (All This is Mine, Cursive is not Cryptic, Arte Postale) incorporate amazing writing and clever book structures. Take the time to consider how you want your zine to appear to the average reader; decisions such as paper choice and size should be considered before embarking on any new zine project.

In previous posts, Liz Mayorga and I discussed the ins-and-outs of basic zine making, so there’s no need to go over that again. But where do you start if you need some fresh new bookbinding tips? You’re in luck! I’m going to share some of my “can’t live without ‘em” reference books about making books and zines. These are the volumes I’m constantly riffling through for visual inspiration or figuring out a new technique; the well-thumbed pages are a testament to their usefulness in my studio. Each one is an invaluable resource.

Print Workshop: Hand-Printing Techniques and Truly Original Projects -- This book inspires from the very first page to the final resource guide. Written by Christine Schmidt (of Yellow Owl Workshop), this well written, easy-to-understand book showcases a variety of basic printmaking methods. Kitchen table techniques such as relief printing and image transfers are covered, as well as specialized skills like cyanotype printmaking. Inspired to try something new, I dug up a few things for relief printing…

How to Make Books: Fold, Cut, & Stitch Your Way to a One-Of-A-Kind Book by Esther K. Smith came to live on my bookshelf when it first hit the streets in 2007; the eye-catching cover won me over right away. Cool looking sample projects, jazzy typography, and a general love for bookbinding are standout characteristics of this popular volume. As an introductory “book about making books”, this is a good place to start, although at times the instructions are vague. On the flip side, the sample books shown throughout have a way of encouraging you to take the leap and experiment with your own ideas, which can lead to some happy accidents (see below).

Making Handmade Books: 100+ Bindings, Structures, and Forms: One of the most exciting things about both zines and artists books is the fact that they are uniquely personal in look and design; no two are ever alike. Book artist (and bay area local) Alisa Golden has been creating artists’ books for over twenty five years; Making Handmade Books is a collection of four of her previously published books relating to paper techniques and bookmaking. Equal parts inspiration (lots of great photos!) and demos (want to learn more about map folds?), there are plenty of ideas that can be applied to zines and small book projects. Starting simple with basic folded books, Alisa takes readers through the different styles of bookbinding and paper engineering, ending with boxmaking.

Indie Publishing: How to Design and Publish Your Own Book: whether you’ve just wrapped up your very first twenty four hour zine project or you’re an old hand at making zines, Indie Publishing is a handy reference book to have around. In addition to chapters about zines/handmade books, different aspects and considerations of independent publishing are discussed. Ever wondered how offset printing happens? Perhaps you need a fast answer to the question “How do I even start my new zine project?” (easy to follow flowchart on page 116!). Maybe you’d like a reminder about page layout or terminology – this is the book you’re looking for! If you make zines which utilize both new school technology (Photoshop/Illustrator/InDesign) with old school technology (cut/copy/paste) this book will be a great resource guide.

Limiting myself to these four books was a hard task; while there are plenty of books about zines and zinemaking (What’cha Mean, What’s A Zine, Stolen Sharpie Revolution, Zine Scene: the DIY Guide to Making Zines) and bookbinding (Cover to Cover, Bookbinding: A Step by Step Guide, Creating Artists’ Books) I feel that each of the books I’ve mentioned above are solidly consistent; I find myself referring back to them again and again. These are books that I often loan out and never see again – a true testimonial to their usefulness.

Bonus: these four books (and other books about making books) can be checked out at your local public library; see what they have and reserve your copies at