Zine queen: Cartoonist preps for small press festival

Zine queen: Cartoonist preps for small press festival
Photo by Caleb Caldwell

You ain’t zine nothing yet!

The borough’s longest-running zine festival is breaking out some heavy hitters for the sixth annual Pete’s Mini Zine Fest on July 8. The self-publishing showcase will add a smattering of bookstores and college clubs to its usual indie artists, which will just help everyone to shine, said a fest organizer.

“This year we’re going to have some slightly bigger organizations, which I think is great because — more zines and comics to share with people!” said Ditmas Park comics creator Marguerite Dabaie, who coordinates the show with zinester Andria Alefhi.

For the fest, about 30 exhibitors will pack into the front room and back yard of Willliamsburg bar Pete’s Candy Store. Tablers will include the volunteer-run feminist bookstore Bluestockings, Quimby’s Bookstore, and the Barnard Zine Club, alongside solo zine and comic artists like Dabaie, who will show off their latest creations and hobnob with fellow scribblers, she said.

“I think what people like most about our zine fest is that it’s very communal, it’s great for people to sit around, chill out with a beer, and just talk about each other’s work,” said Dabaie. “We try and have an equal variety of zines and comics — and that line is starting to blur lately, I think. I see them as part of the same vessel — just different formats.”

Zines tend to be more literary-centric passion projects, while comics are fueled by the art. But both forms offer creators a chance to explore personal projects, and give readers a chance to find work outside the mainstream, according to Dabaie.

“The market is fickle and sometimes things are important to talk about, even if a gigantic company doesn’t think it’s important to talk about,” she said.

For example, Dabaie’s comic “A Voyage To Panjikant,” is a work of historical fiction set in seventh century Sogdia — an ancient Iranian civilization that once included swaths of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan — and tracks the life of a headstrong 16-year-old girl named Upach. The spunky teen wishes to travel the Silk Road as a merchant, like her father, but a strict cultural code keeps her from the adventure she craves. The risks the character takes to defy patriarchal rules ring true today, said Dabaie.

“I kind of made it as a way to talk about modern day social issues under the guise of history,” she said. “I feel people tend to handle social criticism better when it’s in sci-fi or history, so I wanted to give a little buffer and have fun while doing it — I love history.”

At the festival, Dabaie will hawk her zine “Crash Course on the Sogdians,” which focuses on how the merchant culture incorporated different cultures into their own, as well as her comic “Can These Cookies Stop Islamaphobia?”

The night before the festival, Dabaie will read from her work at Quimby’s Bookstore, along with fellow Brooklyn cartoonists and Zine Fest exhibitors Jeremy Nguyen, who draws “Stranger Than Bushwick,” and Bill Roundy, bartoonist behind the “Bar Scrawl” comic strip, among others.

Pete’s Mini Zine Fest reading at Quimby’s [536 Metropolitan Ave. between Union Avenue and Lorimer Street, (718) 384–1215, www.facebook.com/quimbysnyc]. July 7 at 7 pm. Free.

Pete’s Mini Zine Fest at Pete’s Candy Store [709 Lorimer St. between Richardson and Frost streets in Williamsburg, (718) 302–3770, www.petescandystore.com]. July 8, 2–7 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.
A green traveller: Dabaie’s vibrant watercolor style paints a vivid portrait of the characters in “A Voyage To Panjikant.”
Marguerite Dabai