• By: Eric Murphy

On the Horizon of Ottawa’s First Zine Fair

Poster by Morgan Sea.

After enjoying years of underground popularity, zines are about to step out onto a whole new stage in Ottawa. The first Ottawa Zine Fair is taking over the Bronson Centre Saturday, June 4 in what will be the local zine community’s biggest mainstream outing to date.

“As far as I know this is the first zine fair in Ottawa and yes, definitely the biggest,” says Faelan, one of the zine fair’s two co-organizers.

Although the city has seen plenty of zine buying and sharing events, most are crammed into smaller venues like Pressed, or until recently, Raw Sugar Café. The Bronson Centre is a massive space with enough room to house zinesters (zine creators) from outside the city, and even outside the country.

“We have around 30 tables, and some folks are sharing,” Faelan says.

This means a huge amount of space for all the creative and off-the-wall ideas zine readers expect. A zine – pronounced ‘zeen’– is a self-published magazine often handcrafted and then photocopied to share with the world.

“It can be about pretty much anything,” Faelan says. “I’m not totally sure what to expect…we’ll have tonnes of zines from all over.”

Zine Fair 2
Poster by Morgan Sea (morgansea.wordpress.com).

Zine subjects can range from wacky art collections to practical leaflets to treatises on gender studies, race, or sexuality. During the Ottawa Zine Fair you’ll be able to find works by Babely Shades, a local collective of artists and activists of colour, Broke Bellies, who help readers find cheap or even free meals in the capital region and Heidi Cho, a writer and illustrator who makes zines about navigating through life as “a second generation queer South Korean person.”

Related: The 411 on Ottawa’s Zine Scene.

Faelan and his co-organizer, Lee, were able to fund the zine fair through a grant from Awesome Ottawa which they applied for on a whim. Once they knew they had the money, they started contacting zinesters from around the city to build up their vendors. They wanted the event to be huge, but still feel as local as possible.

“The response was overwhelming,” Faelan says. He predicts the event’s turnout is going to be comparable to other fairs in Toronto and Montreal, and it will definitely hold the most zinesters and readers Ottawa’s ever seen under one roof. If everything goes well, Faelan and Lee hope to start planning a second zine fair for next year.

The Ottawa Zine Fair will be held in Mac Hall at the Bronson Centre from 11 a.m. June 4 to 5 p.m. Cover is by donation and pay-what-you-can with all proceeds going to the Prisoner Correspondence Project. You can find out more about the fair, including a full list of vendors, on their website.