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Gangsters of Ink & Zine Fest

Graphic Artists of the Riverwest  Currents   Riverwest Public House  815 E Locust St Opening Reception   Friday, Dec. 9   6-8 pm

Copy, Fold, Staple: Milwaukee Zine Fest by Tea Krulos

Christopher Wilde, one of the organizers of the Milwaukee Zine Fest, says he created his first zine twenty years ago. 

“I lived in a punk house and one of the guys there was really obnoxious, I guess is a polite way to put it,” Wilde recalled. “I was like – if that guy can do it, so can I. I was the only queer person in the house and that was a time when queer zines were on the rise, so it was natural for me to jump into that.”

A zine is a homemade publication, usually photocopied, often hand-collated and stapled, and then sold (or traded) for a few small dollars. Zine subjects range from autobiographical tales, comics, sex, fiction, music, art, etc. and any combination of the above. Zine fests, which occur around the world, give zine creators a forum to meet each other, buy and trade, and share ideas via workshops.

Wilde and his partner, Milo Miller, are the founders of the Queer Zine Archive Project and longtime zine creators and advocates. They were joined by a group of local zine makers to help organize the fest which will take place at Falcon Bowl, Cream City Collectives, Quarters Rock N Roll Palace, and Riverwest Public House.

Miller maintains that zines are still the way a lot of people want to go for self-expression, despite the ready availability of blogs and online media.

“The thing with zines is, the people that make them are completely in control of production and distribution,” Miller explained. “So if you do a print run of 100, you know only 100 people will get those zines. Also, you are not beholden to the person that owns the server that your blog software is running on. Blogs are very much serialized – so if you start one, you are expected to maintain it with some frequency. With a zine you can do a one off, or two or three issues in a time span, then not do an issue for a year, then have issue four come out without the same audience expectation.”

This year the Riverwest Currents is participating in the fest with a display of comic art from the Currents Comics Page at the Riverwest Public House. The show is titled “Gangsters of Ink” and an opening reception will be held Friday, December 9, from 6-8PM. The cartoonists will be on hand and participating in some live drawing challenges. Comic strips featured will include Dreadful Days, The Twisted Adventures of Stinko, The Canopy, Hella Gator, Hey!, and Frostovision. A show with Blue Sky Hour and other bands follows at the Public House after the reception. “Gangsters of Ink” will then be on display for the rest of the weekend.

Other fest events include a zine reading on Friday; zine tabling, workshops, a rock n roll after party on Saturday, and a brunch on Sunday. You can find more details on all of the events at milwaukeezinefest.org.