If you had told the creators of St. Sucia back in 2014 that their work would end up in university libraries across the country, they would have never believed you. Thirteen issues later, the entire collection of the self-proclaimed zine exposing what it is to be a mujer in contemporary society can be found in some of the nation’s most prestigious schools, in archives dedicated to preserving profound literature and in the homes of thousands of readers who finally found the representation they were looking for. Now, after four years of DIY publishing, the zine is preparing its final issue.
Carving a space for Latinx women to express their stories of identity, religion, gender and sexuality, St. Sucia quickly earned a band of loyal readers after the release of its first issue: La Primera. Since then, art director Isabel Ann Castro and editor Natasha Hernandez have cultivated a global following that turned to their work to find comunidad and a sense of belonging.
Recently, Castro and Hernandez announced that their 14th issue will be their last — a decision they reached after long consideration to pursue other creative projects, such as independent zines, comics and a web series they plan to launch with the help of other San Antonio artists, including musician Alyson Alonzo. Reflecting on the experience of publishing St. Sucia, Castro says she’s ready to do more.
“The zine is established. And we did this,” she says. “And I feel like we could do more. We have a community of creative friends. We can figure it out.”
For Hernandez, the goodbye seems a little harder to swallow: “I’m really sad. It’s been a part of my identity for a while.”
The duo promises to continue leading workshops, organizing events like the San Anto Zine Fest and guest lecturing at universities across the U.S. So far, they’ve visited schools around Texas and California to talk with Chicana/o studies classes, where St. Sucia has been placed on course syllabi and earned a spot in several graduate and PhD theses. They admit that entering academia has been no easy feat, and each time they’re invited to give a talk exposes them to new hurdles they aren’t prepared for.
“It’s been difficult,” Hernandez says. “When we’re trying to learn how to navigate academic spaces — do we ask for money? Are people taking us seriously? There’s nothing to tell us what to do next and we have to figure out what sounds like the right thing to do.”
And sometimes figuring out the right thing to do means turning down opportunities, like interviews with big outlets such as Vice, which could have brought more publicity to their work but goes against their mission. As women of color, Castro and Hernandez have been challenged in many ways, they argue, that white males and other zine creators would never have to consider. But the biggest challenge of all goes back prior to the release of their inaugural issue: finding a shop that would print their work.
“People didn’t even want to give us quotes,” Hernandez explains. “They would ask ‘What are you guys even doing?’”
Even so, the pair will tell you it’s all been part of the adventure — a journey that’s led them across the country and allowed them to meet women after the same goals from all over the world.
“People you meet at zine fests are super cool,” Castro says. “We’ve seen them hustling just like we have been, and traveling and making new friends has been the dopest part.”
For its final issue, St. Sucia is accepting poetry, art, prose and photography submissions through December 7. Though past issues followed a theme, this one is open to all ideas and subject matters. In recent months, they’ve received invitations to be a part of the archives at UTSA, the University of Houston, and the Benson Latin American Collection at the University of Texas.
“We want people to submit their best work,” Hernandez says.
For St. Sucia’s followers, it’s hard to say goodbye to a zine we’ve found so much solace and solidarity in, but readers can rest assured Castro and Hernandez will continue to explore new ways to express the voices of Latinx women — and for that, they see no end in sight.
The St. Sucia Issue XIV release party is set for January 5. Follow @stsucia for event announcements. Submissions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org and should include a name and address. The submission deadline is December 7. You can find the St. Sucia zine collection at stsucia.bigcartel.com, or at the following libraries and universities: Duke University, Northwestern University, Rice University, Rhode Island School of Design, University of California at Santa Barbara, University of California at San Francisco, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Texas A&M University, Texas State University and the San Antonio Public Library.
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