Scranton Zine Fest
From the Weekender:
"Real Social Networking" by Stephanie DeBalko Weekender Staff Writer
Scranton has a bit of a reputation.
For being a hotbed of progressive artistic talent, that is.
First Fridays, with its buzz of hopeful creativity and community involvement, breathed new life into the downtown area, and on Saturday, June 11, countless independent thinkers will be bringing their ideas to the Scranton Zine Fest, a celebration of self-published writers.
The festival will be something of a two-part affair, where, from noon-3 p.m., Center Street will be lined up and down with 21 “zinesters” trading and selling some original labors of love. A poetry reading featuring a number of local artists will then take place from 4-6 p.m. at Outrageous Cafe & Boutique.
INDEPENDENT THINKERS In case you aren’t privy to the inner-workings of hipster culture, a zine is an original publication, generally printed and assembled by hand, usually with a small circulation, which varies in subject matter and is commonly not very profitable. In other words, it’s a creative outlet that is much more than the bohemian boom for which some people mistake it.
Keeping with the independent theme of the medium, the Scranton Zine Fest, which is funded by a grant from Lackawanna County, boasts community partnerships with the vegan bath and body boutique, Fanciful Fox, Archbald-based ReadCycle Used Books and New Visions Studio & Gallery.
“The Zine Fest itself is so important for everyone to just be able to express themselves in a way that they’re comfortable,” said Amanda Fox, co-owner of Fanciful Fox, who will be selling her products at the festival. “I think zines are kind of a great outlet for (people), especially youths, to participate in.”
Zines are a great way for writers to disseminate their work without compromise, and the Zine Festival will serve a number of different purposes — the most obvious of which is the opportunity for people to do something different.
“I think stuff like First Friday and Zine Fest and any type of art festival or music festival or anything, it seems to be a good outlet for anyone in the community, and it brings a lot of people together that probably normally wouldn’t get together,” said Dale Wilsey Jr., one of the writers who will be taking part in the poetry reading. “I’m hoping people that normally wouldn’t show up to a poetry reading sort of show up to this, because I think a lot of people have the stigma in mind that poetry reading is bongos and snapping fingers, and that’s gone away. Every reading I’ve been at, we’ve had fun, and it’s fun to see the mix of people, so I hope that’s what this brings, too.”
It also creates an air of awareness as far as the talent that we already have in the area.
“I think it’s important because, like with music, people get caught up with big-name things, and the locally-run artist efforts are essential, because that’s an undiscovered world of creativity,” said Rachael Goetzke, another writer who will contribute.
A lot of zinesters from out of the area, including Philadelphia zine library Soap Box Independent Publishing Center and Philadelphia-based Parcell Press, will be engaging in various aspects of the event as well, meaning that writers who are involved can not only mingle and network with others in the area, but also with like-minded people from all over the East Coast.
“It’s great because when I went to the Philadelphia zine festival, there was automatically a sense that, ‘Oh my God, there’s somebody that does what I do,’” said Jessica Meoni, one of the Scranton festival’s co-coordinators. “And you could just trade (zines) and stay in contact with those people, and it does build a network between people. You’re able to exchange ideas that way for a really long time, as long as you want. I think it’s going to be a great idea that way, too, because there’s all different kinds of zines.”
Meoni was inspired to put on Scranton Zine Festival partly because of this, but she is no stranger to entrepreneurial event planning. In 2009, the Marywood University graphic design major organized LadyFest in Nay Aug Park, an art and music festival that benefited the Women’s Resource Center.
THE MISSING LINK While the nature of zines could be compared to blogging, Meoni would argue that, while blogging, just like computer-driven art programs, has its place in the writing world and in green living, the idea of actually holding a book, or a zine, is one that a lot of true literary lovers just can’t give up.
“I’m not very fond of modern technology and things like that, and I think a lot of things are becoming lost,” Meoni said. “The idea of saving paper, putting it on the Internet or just on your computer, and things like that, that’s a whole idea of sustainability, but I see it more as like we’re losing tangibility. And I have vinyl records, and I like books, I like holding books.
“Everything is just so much more disposable today. You can make a blog entry, hit submit, and that’s it. Or you can just put music on your iPod, only to delete it later. So I don’t like the whole idea of disposability in the modern age. I think that we’re losing a lot of good quality things.”
For Meoni, who founded the “Ruthless” zine in 2008, that’s part of the appeal of the medium. It is a link to other people that doesn’t require a 24/7 tether to a Smartphone or computer. And the process of making it goes along the same lines. Hand-drawn art just has a different feel than its computer-generated counterpart.
It’s true that Meoni has an unprecedented love for things that are considered antiquated by today’s standards — she is currently working on a new zine using not a computer, but a vintage Remington typewriter — but the 21-year-old trailblazer seems to have a point when it comes to the social standards that are becoming commonplace.
“I guess, selfishly, I don’t want people to continue to stare at their phones, and stare at Facebook, and I just want them to get away really,” Meoni confessed. “I think that everyone is just kind of taught now to kind of silence themselves (and say), ‘I know this is going to be easier to be said in a text, I don’t need any communication skills.’
“The world isn’t like that, and that’s what zines are all about. They’re about communicating different ideas. It’s a different outlet.”