Monday, March 11, 2013

... chicago zine fest's big day in

i was up fairly early on saturday morning. it was pretty clear, a tad drizzly, but otherwise quite a pleasant morning as far as my standards go. of course i like things cold and grim, which is fine. (sunday and monday were just miserable and wet, which is different enough to the more exotic snowy and miserable (also known to the uninitiated as snowy and magical) to be disappointing.) i breakfasted and hoofed it down quickly to columbia college, keeping my peeled for any open paper- or art-supply-stores that i could duck into to buy covers for my zines. i found nothing, even after traipsing around for an extra dozen blocks or so.

i turned this blog entry into a zine. i managed to format it so that one us letter-size sheet of paper, copied both sides, could be cut into three, matched with a cover and one staple, and that would be the zine. i called it "squid".

(wow - it only took half an hour to find this link...) so i ended up stopping into artist & craftsman supply, who were kind enough to let me use their counter to cut the paper i used for my zine covers. the paper actually looked much like a big, thick sheet of that seaweed you use for making sushi rolls. After much calculation and close attention and figure-cooking, i still screwed up how i was cutting the paper and ended up making two covers less than i expected to be able to get out of the sheet of paper. the staff were nothing but friendly and helpful and i would heartily recommend the store for any specialty paper requirements you might need on a small scale or need urgently.

covers in hand, i headed down to the next stop, indigo digital printing, on the corner of s. wabash and e. 9th street. again, nothing but helpful, and the fellow behind the counter even used to enormous computer-controlled cutting machine to cut my paper for me. i was a little disappointed that i had estimate for him one-third of 11 inches, in addition to the fact he didn't know the measurements in millimetres. i think if you work in printing for any length of time, you should know or be trained in knowing a certain number of measurements by heart (or have on a handy ready-reckoner at all times). i know that an a4 sheet of paper is 297x210mm; that 100 sheets of 80gsm bond a4 copy paper is about 1cm thick; that you can cut an a4 sheet into three equal-sized sheets 99x210mm and that one such sheet will fit flat and unfolded into a dl-sized envelope. using us letter-sized paper is a bit fraught - it's 8.5x11 inches, which doesn't evenly third, and even though it's 279mm high, it's actually not (it's 279.4mm). i suppose i'm being finicky but printing is an exact profession and if you're manning the store solo on a saturday - on any day - i'd expect you to know this stuff.

nevertheless, the service was great, and my zine was prepared by about 11.25am - five minutes before i had to be on deck at the zine fest info desk. i made it with maybe a minute to spare.

the zine fest tabling area was amazing. there were 99 tables in all (i looked at all of them after my shift finished) and the variety in quality, quantity, and subject matter was kaleidoscopic! it was spread over two levels, with 45 tables on the 8th floor (where i was stationed) and 44 on the 1st floor (that's the 7th and ground floors for us aussies!). some titles were sold out long before i got to the tables, especially those titles that had been read by exhibitors at 826-chi the night before, but i still managed to grab quite the selection of stuff. i traded as often as i could and left the tables with maybe four copies of my zine remaining.

trading is always a tricky proposition. how do you put a value on your zine? do you only price it according to the material you used, or the time taken to assemble it, or a qualitative estimation of the value of the contents, or (more frequently) some ad hoc blend of the three? i generally consider the cost of assembly (materials and a rough measure of time), since i very rarely write new material especially for a zine. i don't recall what the cost of the cover paper was, but even if the sheet had cost $10 (which it most certainly didn't) and i'd actually got the 20 covers out of it i'd planned for (i only got 18) that would have made the covers 50c apiece and copying sides were 6c each and i got the cutting thrown in for free. (total 50+6+6=62c per zine cost - an overestimation!) i valued mine at one dollar. in terms of trade, i was open to offering mine for a zine up to $2 cover price but felt iffy about trading it for anything more expensive, so i ended up buying quite a few zines as well. some i did a bit of both trading and paying.

i haven't finished reading all the zines i have, so i won't review any here (i plan to, though). i was pretty wrecked by the end of the day's trading and i headed back to the hostel for a bit of a nanna nap. there was an after-party but i just couldn't make it. i stopped into dq chill and grill, which is next-door to hi-chicago, ate dinner and read some zines, then went back to the hostel and hit the sack. i was zonked and wanted to be sure i could be up in good time to go to church in the morning.

it was great to see so many familiar faces from portland. dave roche and alex wrekk were both tabling and alex remembered me from portland. i do still get a bit star-struck talking to her but she's inspiring and approachable in equal measure and has always been incredibly friendly. i was disappointed at missing the panel discussion on friday afternoon but a transcript was posted on the czf website here, so at some point i'll get into that too.

i'm running out of battery here but that's pretty much it. more to follow.

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