In a dark gallery on the city’s Eastside, a group of people, mostly women, of all ages gather to pay tribute to the late Mexican icon Juan Gabriel on a Thursday night. There are music videos projected onto a wall, folding chairs spread across the room and a bar with homemade sandía punch, where guests get to choose not only if they want gin or vodka, but also how much. Though technical difficulties push back the night’s events by half an hour, the evening carries on with a drag king performance, videos and loud music, all to raise support for the San Anto Zine Fest
— an undertaking that aims to stake out the Alamo City’s territory within the realm of DIY, small-circulation publications aimed at niche audiences.
The San Anto Zine Fest was organized by the creative minds behind CHIFLADAzine
, La Liga Zine
, St. Sucia
and Yes Ma’am
. It's a first in San Antonio — but this isn’t the organizers’ first zine-centered event. The fest’s organizers have all taken turns traveling across the U.S., participating in some of country’s largest zine gatherings, like LA Zine Fest, Chicago Zine Fest and Zine Fest Houston. This time they’re bringing the celebration home, creating a space for local, regional and national artists to showcase their works.
When the initial call for SAZF vendor applications went out, the organizers received far more responses than they anticipated. Through their cross-country network of zine makers and DIY artists, word quickly spread of a San Antonio event and applications from states surrounding Texas started pouring in. When I first met with Isabel Ann Castro and Natasha Hernandez of St. Sucia and Ana Ortiz and Isabel Ramos of La Liga Zine (Suzy Gonzalez of Yes Ma’am and Claudia D. Cardona of CHIFLADAzine weren’t present but are also main organizers of the fest), they were working on selecting artists deserving table space at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center
’s Galería Guadalupe, the host venue and official partner for the festival. The system they created embodied the DIY spirit — lists of names were written on windows with an erasable marker, each with a number between one and three written to signal priority selection. Papers and maps were scattered about the room, and the women were going over notes from a previous meeting.
It was clear that these women didn’t want to turn anyone down, but with a high volume of applicants, cuts had to be made.
“About 70 percent of the applicants are women of color,” Castro says, which makes sense considering that the fest’s organizers focus on zines exploring the Latina experience — created by Latina artists and writers with fellow Latinas in mind.
With priority being given to women and artists of color, as well as local zine makers, one can expect the inaugural SAZF to be a night full of diversity, bringing several minority zines to the forefront. Castro, Cardona, Gonzalez, Hernandez, Ortiz and Ramos also wanted to ensure that Houston zinesters had a spot on the list, and have waived all fees for folks making the trip from areas affected by Hurricane Harvey. However, affording these fees, as well as paying for the event space, posters and materials, hasn’t been easy.
Throughout the summer, the team took on fundraising as if it were their second job. They held a poetry night and the aforementioned Juan Gabriel tribute, where they sold homemade drinks and collected donations. They asked for help from volunteers and even pushed a paleta cart down the St. Mary’s Strip one weekend, selling frozen treats to tipsy bar crawlers through the wee hours of the night. They’ve also put their own funds into the event and have spent hours calculating every detail in hopes of setting the festival up for success. For these women, the festival isn’t just about displaying the creative output of local zinesters — it’s about showing off San Antonio, its art community and DIY culture.
The festival lineup is jam-packed. Attendees can be sure to find a wide collection of works from independent publishers, creative designers, first-time and veteran writers and experimental photographers as well as panelists and speakers covering topics like zines for teenagers and parents, Latinas in the zine scene, and even a how-to class for those looking to create their own publication.
Plans for a second annual event are already in the works, so keep an eye out for upcoming fundraisers and related events on the horizon. In the meantime, get familiar with your local zinesters and the eclectic bunch of independent publications coming out of San Antonio — from longtime collectors to first-time zine readers, there’s something out there for everyone.
Meet Your Makers
Get to know the local zines bringing you the first-ever San Anto Zine Fest
Now three volumes deep, CHIFLADAzine regularly comprises poetry, prose and creative works by Latinx writers and artists. Created in 2014 by editor-in-chief and San Anto Zine Fest co-organizer Claudia Cardona, the zine dedicates itself to highlighting diversity and inclusion and giving a platform to Latinxs seeking broad and fair representation in the media. The zine also operates online at chifladazine.com, accepting reader submissions and offering regular contributors a digital platform.
La Liga Zine
La Liga Zine’s global network of authors and editors has enabled the independent publication to gain recognition with Latinx communities in San Antonio, Austin, Baltimore, Los Angeles, New York City and Toronto. Operating both online and in print, the zine showcases works by Latinxs, Chicanxs and Latin Americans via photography, essays and interviews, often shining a spotlight on filmmakers, musicians and makers. Published works in La Liga also often explore Latinx identity as it relates to food, culture and family.
When St. Sucia was first starting out, San Antonio natives Isabel Ann Castro and Natasha Hernandez had trouble finding a publishing company that would print their work. Now, their 10-volume collection is found in libraries across the nation and has been used in college coursework focused on Latina literature. With a new theme binding each issue, St. Sucia has explored topics that often go unmentioned in mainstream media, such as body issues, family, abortion, abuse and gentrification. Providing a medium for emerging writers, photographers and illustrators, St. Sucia has become a widely recognized publication in which Latinx identity is explored and new voices are never ignored.
With 11 issues under Yes Ma’am’s belt, Elle Minter and Suzy Gonzalez are veterans of San Antonio’s zine scene. Revolving their publication around free speech, DIY art and “promoting local badasses,” this feminist zine is all about supporting women and their creative works. In recent issues, Yes Ma’am has taken on the challenge of dealing with body image, dedicating its latest edition to issues surrounding breastfeeding, weight and what it means to love yourself.
Free, noon-6pm Sat, Oct. 7., Galería Guadalupe, 723 S. Brazos St., (210) 271-3151, facebook.com/sanantozinefest.