Over the hills, through the rainbows, and inside a castle-like community center called The Union Project was the third annual Pittsburgh Zine Fair. This was a free, small-press event that featured over fifty vibrant artists and writers; many from the burgh and some from beyond.
The timing of the fair was perfect. It started at 2pm and went on to 8pm so people could do brunch beforehand. There was also a zine reading called HOMUNCULUS the night before at the nearby creative space – the Literary Arts Boom. The readings were an excellent way to introduce people to the fest’s exhibitors. The line-up of readers was Frank & Sarah Cunniff, Brian DiSanto, Ashly Nagrant, Maggie Negrete, Erin Oldynski, Wild Age Press, and Dre Grigoropol (that’s me.)
Event Coordinator Maggie Negrete outside the Union Project
The typography and illustration of the festival’s signage was very whimsical and done by the fair’s Adverting Director Andy Scott. One of the Event Coordinators, Maggie Negrete, was exhibiting her zines, which included Adventuring Princesses, and the hilarious zine Boys Tell Me Things That Make Me Feel Uncomfortable; the descriptions of these creepy boys would make any reader squeamish. When asked about organizing the zine fair, Negrete had this to say:
The Zine Fest is the baby of Andy Scott, Erin Oh, and Thom DeLair. The event would not exist without their hard work. I swooped in during the summer to help them as the event grew near and took the lead in organizing the Zine Fair reading at Assemble with the “The Literary Arts Boom (LAB)”. The four of us would meet about every two weeks at the Big Idea Bookstore and hash out the details — everyone taking the lead where possible and trying to be each other’s oversight. Everyone is really passionate about zines and makes zines themselves so organizing the event was definitely a labor of love — not without its expected hiccups.
At the table next to Maggie Negrete, artist Steph Neary was exhibiting her work in different mediums, including her book This Is the Next Morning, a perfect-bound collection of black and white drawings she drew in Pittsburgh over a two-year span. She enjoyed the positive responses from the Pittsburgh community and is inspired by the works of art, zines, and commix she collected together at the zine fair.
Another notable exhibitor was Bill Boichel, owner of The Copacetic Comics Company. This table had many new favorites such as Ellen Lindner’s The Black Feather Falls and prominent Pittsburgh artist Frank Santoro’s Pompeii. Boichel mentioned that this was the liveliest PGHZF of the past three years.
There were so many incredible people and organizations exhibiting there it was hard to check out all the exhibitors. Also included in the events agenda were zine-making workshops held in a downstairs room of The Union Project.
Mont Montmont of Thricegreat Apparel
Pittsburgh has a lot of upcoming events in its bustling small-press scene, along with the PGHZF in 2014. There is a lot to look forward to regarding next year. The organizers of the PGHZF are already plotting to return to the same venue. They also had such good feedback about the zine reading event the night before, that they plan on expanding on that with more readers and performances in the future.