Fish piss and lunchmeat dreams

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By Jennifer O’Connor and Lindsay Gibb

Stacey Case says publishing a zine saved his life.

The concept for the zine, Rivet, developed after a friend died of a heroin overdose.  The death angered Case, and working on the zine was a way for him to filter his anger through humour.

Case’s involvement in the zine community has led to many opportunities, including an invitation to show his work at ar ecent Pearl Jam concert in Molson Park.  He plans to tour Edgefest next summer.

But perhaps the most essential event for Case, as with most zine makers, is Canzine, Canada’s largest zine fair and festival of alternative culture.  Case’s Rivet will be one of about 150 other zines at Canzine ’98, being held Oct. 4 at Club Shanghai.  The even will also include such prominent zines as Infiltration and Fish Piss.

Hal Niedzviecki is an editor at Broken Pencil, a zine trade journal which has been organizing Canzine since 1995.  He says the reason many people create zines is their discontent with the “corporate monopoly over the media.

“People are frustrated.  They want to do something, but they don’t want to conform to a homogenized media.  They sort of say ‘Fuck this’ and do their own thing.

Independent publishing is what zines are all about.  Zinesters take an idea, any idea, and put it in print.  And there is nobody to say “no.”

That freedom results in diversity among the publications which participate at Canzine — from Chicks United for Non-noxious Transportation (CUNT), focusing on cyclist feminists, to Free Fixins’, devoted to dumpster diving.

There is even a diversity of media represented at Canzine, including comics and movies.

Matthew Daley will be at the show with his comics, Lunchmeat Dreams.  A graduate of Sheridan’s illustration program, Daley aspires to be a commercial artist.

“Not the staving art,” he says.  “I want to make some money.  I want to come to zine shows and be branded a sellout.”

Daley started creating his own comics for a variety of reasons: to have an outlet for his creativity and because a lot of the illustrators and cartoonists he admired started out the “Do-It-Yourself” way.  But after attending three years of zine shows, he is getting frustrated with the general attitude towards comics.  He feels people are looking for more text-oriented, illustrative works and are not giving other concepts a chance.  He says some other zine illustrators feel the same.

Still, Daley says he enjoys the fair because it gives him a chance to look at zines from across Canada and the United States that he would never usually see.

This year, for the first time, Daley will also have the chance to check out films and videos at Canzine.  Jim Shedden, an educator in contemporary art at the Art Gallery of Ontario, organized an open screening of short films under 15 minutes.  The films weren’t screened before being accepted, in keeping with Canzine’s spirit of raw, uncensored expression.  People just sent Shedden a description of their film. The show will include things like short documentaries, animation and even some work that is “mildly pornographic,” says Shedden.

Canzine’s panel discussion, entitled “Are Zines the New Literatures?” consists of author, editors and journalists — but no one who writes zines, points out Case.  This neglect to include members of the zine community bothers Case quite a bit.  He thinks that could be attributed to the fact that organizer Niedviecki doesn’t create a zine and therefore can’t understand them in the same way as a zine writer.

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