Even though new-media pundits have declared zines dead and irrelevant for at least a decade, and many of the largest print publications have gone under in recent years, the scrawled-pamphlet form has demonstrated the tenacity of the cockroach. There are still plenty of people who prefer to commit their thoughts to photocopied or screen-printed paper rather than some ephemeral Tumblr. The annual San Francisco Zine Fest bills itself as one of the largest zine events in the country, with more than 100 exhibitors representing a variety of publishers. Exhibitors include well-known presses such as Microcosm and AK Press as well as classic solo zinesters who have put in many late nights at the nearest FedEx Office. The fest also features readings, workshops, and, true to the form's DIY ethos, hands-on tutorials on bookbinding and screenprinting. In an age in which the Tumblr This Is Why You're Fat gets a book deal and Twitter account @shitmydadsays is a sitcom, events like this won't bring a new wave of media attention to zines. But now that the (very modest) profit motive behind late-1990s zines has dissolved, the form has returned to its roots. Zines remain a vital underground phenomenon, with homemade books and magazines that will be cherished on bookshelves instead of disappearing into the depths of Google's Matrix-like server farms which, in a way, has always been the point.
Sept. 4-5, 11 a.m., 2010