Thursday, March 29, 2012

Travel Story - Chicago Zine Fest 2012 - Part 2

Click HERE to view the accompanying photos for the story.

I woke myself up the next morning at about 9:15, over an hour later than I wanted to get up originally.  M stayed up a bit later than I and she forgot to set her alarm for me.  My big deal really, I still had about an hour and a half to get to the fest.  I took my time to get ready, ate an apple and thanked/said goodbye to M for being nice enough to let me crash at her place.  Off I went back downtown to find Columbia College and a parking spot.  After driving around for a bit, I did eventually find a parking spot and walked to the fest with all my gear in hands.  The particular campus building where zine fest was is the Ludington Building, one of the first steel-framed buildings ever built.  It's designer. the legendary architect William LeBron Jenny, the father of the modern skyscraper. Being an amateur architecture nut, I thought this was kinda cool.  These days, Columbia College uses the building for its visual media studies.  By the time I got up to my floor, and my table set up, it was already after 10:30, not leaving me enough time to visit the tables on the first floor.  I did make it around to about  ten or so tables, and did get a few snaps of the first floor but shortly had to tend my own being already 10 minutes after 11pm.  I felt based on what I brought and how I set up my display, I had a good mid-level presentation.  There were many professional writers who had published works for sale that really went all out to sell their shit, or at least make it appear as appealing as possible.  These are the people who travel to every major zine fests throughout the city, and often are selling their books in the $8-$20 range.  On the other side of the zinester spectrum of presentation, there was the people who only brought one or two items, without any other presentation outside of the zines sitting on the table themselves.  It was plain to see that these are the people who are new to zines, or are just very casual/hobby types.  The best thing about these kind of displays however, is that they usually have a very good price point and for the value, have the best zines in the fest.  I myself, I brought five different projects;  The new Stranger Randy comic by a local Omaha artist, John Crowley.  Plus, I reprinted all the back catalogue items I've done in the past, but at super cheap prices just to get them out there into peoples hands.  I also gave away some free mini-comics that my friend C from Lincoln gave me a few months prior.  Months prior to the fest I won a Nebraska state flag on ebay for 99 cents and that was my tablecloth giving me my earlier mentioned mid-level presentation.  Anyway, by about 11:30am there really wasn't that many people up to my floor yet, so I took the time to visit with my immediate neighbors and checkout/trade/buy what they had to offer.  Every zinester at the fest had such a positive glow about them, that it was really easy to converse with them and it was really interesting to see how creative people are.    By noon things were really picking up speed with more and more people coming in each minute.  Basically from noon till 6pm I was talking to fest goers at my table, leaving very little time in between to get a bite to eat or even a cup of coffee.  Throughout the day I met quite a few punks and hardcore kids who shared the same love for underground art as me.  I got to meet in person the first out-of-state zine purchasers that showed interested in my zines.  We have maintained email correspondence for a couple years now, and it was really fun and exciting to finally meet her in person.  She is just as a wonderful and friendly person as she portrayed in her emails.  I also met an interesting guy from Slovakia who was wandering about the country during the time and was volunteering to help out the zine fest.  One of my favorite industrial bands ever, Liabach are from Slovakia, and he was very surprised that I even knew of them yet alone a fan.  It was a great conversation.  I also got to meet some people who told me that they "follow" this very blog.  So to those of you who subscribe and met in person... "HI!" and thank you for the pleasant conversation.  Girl with the Hello Kitty glasses, I emailed you, hit me back up!  I even got to meet MRR editor Mariam B in person and that was a pleasant treat as well.  She bought quite a bit of stuff from me and I feel pretty honored about that... thank you!  By mid afternoon, everything was a blur with all the people really piling into the building.  The city of Chicago really did a good job covering this event and it really had the feeling of a big deal, drawing many types of people from throughout the Midwest, yet alone the city.  At one point I was too busy to even run away for a minute to get a cup of coffee.  Luckily, a random nice guy got me one!  ha!  Cheers!  I never forget how much fun it was to meet all the people I did and to showcase my art in such a way that felt so exciting and meaningful.  The time went by extremely quickly and I was pretty bummed out by the time 6pm rolled around.  I nearly sold out of three of the five items I brought with me, and more than half of the other two.  Through trading and buying I had quite a nice zine haul accumulated.  By the time I got everything packed up, and helped put away the tables it was close to 7, and was ready to meet up with my friend N, the person I will be staying the night with.  Sadly. my in-town friends weren't able to attend the event, but hopefully next year they can.  I know N as a friend and co-worker from my co-op days in St. Paul, MN, and we have remained e-friends even since he moved to Chicago over five years ago.  I found it funny that N lives on the same block that my friend M used to live in two years ago, just around the corner.  N has a very spacious studio apartment in Logan Square with plenty of space to sleep well over four people. If only I knew that last time I was in town, I would have walked over to visit.  Seeing N was a good visit.  He moved away when I was still living in St. Paul and haven't seen him in nearly 5 years.  By this time he was very Chicago-centric in his mannerisms, yet still the same N I used to clown around with at the co-op.  We caught up chatting throughout the rest of the night over some punjab eggplant talking about how people we knew from back in St. Paul were doing, and how we've all kinda went very separate ways since then, yet remained on the same level of friendliness and  familiarity.  N also showed me all his circuit-bent instruments and gadgets and how to manipulate them.  His skill as a musician is quite impressive, but only knew in the past they he played the bass quite well.  Eventually it was well after 2am when we could barely keep our eyes open and were forced to crash.

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