This past weekend, I participated in a great and growing festival in Berkeley called The East Bay Alternative Book and Zine Festival which was held at Berkeley City College. The Bay Area is home to many zine creators and independent book artists, and SF hosts one of the best independent publishing conventions ( probably in the world ), The Alternative Press Expo, or "APE" for short. With this huge emphasis on self publishing and folding or stapling your creations into something to be sold for a few bucks, traded, or left as a serendipidtous little discovery in coffee shop, library, record or book store, its not surprising to find that EBABZ has grown a lot in the past three years, becoming a respectable, exciting and vibrant event. I participated in the very first Festival and took a year off last year vowing to return one day with my own book. I was working madly on it right up until the last few hours, and was proud to have my book "Oddfellows No. 1" for sale along with my gig and street printed posters.
I was sharing a table this year, and was pleased to find my table mate was an amiable UC Berkeley Grad student named Brad, who had just completed his first three mini comics as part of a meet up and draw event he organizes at Fantastic Comics in Berkeley. Brad had intricately placed a smorgasbord of candy all over his table and I enjoyed challenging people who asked if they "must buy a comic" to get a candy. It was pretty fun trying to make Brad bust up laughing too, I barely missed a photo of this swarthy fest goer as she noshed happily on a very incongruous piece of toast covered in what looked like marmalade. A picture of one of Brad's comics is below jam lady. His other two are not exactly fit for prime time blogosphere, and his arms got a workout covering those covers as our table for some reason attracted a minivan's load of young kids with their folks. Again blame the candy, probably.
As I kind of indicated earlier, I was in a uniquely upbeat mood on this particular day, influenced for the positive by my lack of sleep and previous night's spent printing on Telegraph Avenue for the December Art Murmur. I had the good sense to wear my Andrew WK shirt, and many people found this to be a step in the right direction. My knowledge of Andrew WK lecturing at this years Comic Con on the subject of ( what else? ) My Little Pony, met with bedazzlement. Brad clued me into the phenomenon of "Bronys" which are apparently otherwise large and imposing dudes who have a soft spot for MLP comics. In any case, none of this hilarity was enough to make me smile when I first arrived and decided to walk through a door of the parking garage labelled inexplicably "Exit". The "Exit" led to this, and with the door closed and locked behind me I was trapped like a lemming in this viaduct for a few minutes while I considered my options. I ended up taking each box and folder off the handtruck and grumpily squeezing through the thin bit of sunlight. Rock on!
I met many other fantastic people at the event, including my left most neighbor, Enola who lives in her van and publishes several zines of her own ( one is called Hawaii 510, and is about her time living similarly on the road in Hawaii ) and distributes several more by other artists and authors. There was also Avy, taking up our flank... Avy draws and makes her own cards and postcards, she completed several intricate crosshatched designs at the fest itself. And so many others! The guy in the dress, a new friend of mine from Seattle, Jay Bryant who is the designer for many of Jesse Sykes and the Sweethereafter's album packages, a very nice woman with a friend who got one of my last Bert Jansch posters... V. Vale, the esteemed creator of RE Search Publications and 70s punk rock impresario, and then George Zimmer, president of the Men's Wearhouse and Berkeley resident. My plan with Brad to tell George he would enjoy several of our zines ( "We Guarantee It" haha ), did not pan out, and I assume possibly Mr. Zimmer was there helping out one of his kids.
Thanks to the organizers of EBABZ and the Rock Paper Scissors Collective in Oakland for joining forces this year on a great day... I think everyone left looking forward to next year...