Shout Out to LAZF for a Great Show

While sitting in the corner of Melrose and Heliotrope, across the street from L.A. City College, a stranger walks up to me. He tells me he was walking through Hollywood without a plan, and stumbled into a line of people. He then said he was a screenwriter, a filmmaker, a designer. I smiled politely, but in my head I thought, “Of course you are.” And as I listened to this man’s outlandish stories about making it in the film industry, I laughed to myself at how familiar the scene felt – how I missed it - and I relished every lie. I looked at the line of people waiting to enter the Ukranian Cultural Center, with a new understanding: people waited an hour to walk into a sanctuary for honesty and L.A. Zine Fest was it.


As a Los Angeles native living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I often find myself defending my hometown. The stereotypes of a fake, glitzy L.A. do not hold up to L.A.’s complexities, its irony, sense of humor and personality.  L.A., a geographically and thematically divided city, is more than a mecca for the entertainment industry. While you have a combination of tacky and pretentious Hollywood, you also have a hard-working and real South/East L.A. On one hand, you have a world where everyone is trying to be somebody. On the other, you have a world where people are simply trying to exist. The question is: How do you survive? In my personal experience, the answer to that question has always been art. And had there been an L.A. Zine Fest while I was growing up, the question of survival would have never came up.


The Festival started with a reading on Saturday at Footsies in Highland Park. It featured 12 artists and three bands. Some of the readers included Esther Pearl Watson, Yumi Sakugawa, Gabrielle Gamboa, Tomas Moniz, Nicole Georges, Zack Soto, and Cassie Sneider, all traveling from areas in Southern California, Northern California, Portland and New York.

The following day was the main event at the Ukranian Cultural Center, where nearly 100 exhibitors showcased their work.  The artists presented such a lovely survey of DIY culture they attracted people from all over L.A. County.  Even well-known animators, cartoonists, and musicians circled the area. And if the art legends weren’t seen walking through those aisles, they were seen at the Moth Theater as guest panelists.


One of the highlights of the weekend was listening to a panel with Allison Wolfe, Drew Denny, and my personal hero: Alice Bag. This panel represented all of the things that were unique to L.A. Even though L.A. is famous for being home to many celebrities, it’s also home to many artists who thrive for more than a celebrity status. Here were three women who volunteered their time and energy to be a part of a Zine Fest panel, simply because they wanted to support the fest and the community they believe in.


Every panel had rich content and was well thought-out. The L.A. Zine Fest organizers took every resource L.A. had to offer to make the most out of this event, and to make sure everyone knows a strong community of independent artists exists in Southern California. L.A. Zine Fest showed L.A.’s true character. It was able to combine the glitzy, the gritty in the artist. It was everything I love and miss about L.A., and even more...