Berlin 'The Place To Be' For DIY Zine, Comic Makers

Nov 11, 2013

Berlin Zinefest, the annual gathering of independent and low-run, often handmade zines, graphic novels, comics, and other works recently took place in Kreuzberg.

The DIY affair used the fourth floor graffitied art space of the former squatter house and alternative-scene stalwart Mehringhof as its headquarters for expat artists, vegan muffin purveyors, and subculture enthusiasts.

First and foremost, the event is an opportunity for local and regional independent zine makers to showcase their work to a receptive audience. The limited prints, posters, hand-pressed t-shirts, stickers, and paraphernalia pronounced diverse topical interests and progressive thematic orientations.

Berlin-based comic artist Lilli Loge commented that Zinefest organizers curated the event deliberately.

"They want a good balance here of [queer] zines, punk zines, political zines, and art zines," Loge says. It was no surprise then that Learning Good Consent sat near LSD ins Spuelwasser. The showcased works at Zinefest were made available in various languages, sizes, and relatively frequently next to the sign, "Pay What You Want."

Berlin is increasingly becoming "the place to be," as Loge noted when comparing the Berlin community to the comic scene in Dresden, her home for eight years.

"There were maybe five people making comics," she says. The sentiment held even greater weight since Loge showcased her work next to Richard Cowdry, the recently relocated British editor of the Comix Reader.

The creative minds behind many of the mini-imprints led free, intimate workshops throughout the weekend on topics like "Let’s Talk About Girl Zines," or self-publishing as a resistance movement in the Soviet Bloc. Zinefest attendees could also take in technical, skill-building options, like a folding clinic for example. Workshops were held in English and German.

During a workshop titled "Positivism as the New Stance," local Uebergang editors Will Furtado and Kevin Junk opened up a discussion on storytelling in a post-irony world. Furtado and Junk read their manifesto and focused on the idea of stimulus instead of escapism;  seeking answers to difficult questions instead of tuning out the questions. To demonstrate their position, they shared an essay on the topic of polyamorous lifestyles in modern society.

In truly Berlin participatory fashion, Saturday Zinefest attendees had the opportunity to contribute to drawings, designs, or art pieces to what would become a Zinefest 2013 zine. Volunteer labor copied the prints and assembled them into an apropos 32-page photo-copied bundle on the last day.