Lu Williams, founder of the Grrrl Zine Library and Fair, introduces us to some of the best emerging zines
All truly revolutionary ideas ferment from the underground, they are not imposed from above. Which is why zines remain some of the most potent and potentially radical cultural artefacts and modes of publishing. They retain a spirit of total independence and, while their readership can sometimes be small, their influence can be profound.
Since 2015, artist Lu Williams has been running Grrrl Zine Fair – a live event platforming women, trans, and non-binary artists and zine-makers while offering an explosive programme of workshops, live music, talks, and other attractions. Williams also curates the Grrrl Zine Library – a collection of over 600 queer feminist zines she describes as an “anti-colonial, anti-exclusionary archive”.
On March 12 the Grrrl Zine Fair returns, co-curated by FEM Zine, Feminists of_, and Hate Zine. “We’re taking over the radical Newington Green Meeting House, where our feminist ancestors like Mary Wollstonecraft used to hang out,” Williams tells Dazed. “The Grrrl Zine Library will also be on display until April 29, and you’ll be able to see back issues of your favourite zines alongside original 90s riot grrrl issues.”
Alongside the library and on-site zine-makers selling latest editions and back issues of their publications, the all-dayer promises an incredible line up of women, trans, non-binary and LGBTQIA* music, including Jessica Winter and Delilah Holliday, interactive art, DIY, poetry, and fashion workshops, tarot readings from Marissa Malik, and haircuts by Bebop.
“Zine-making culture isn’t just about the zines,” Williams explains. “Zines are the print manifestation of our communities and our events. Alongside publications, we’ll also have bands, activities, and talks on grassroots organising and campaigning – sharing practical advice on what we can actually do to make a change. You’ll also find zine-making workshops, badge-making, poetry, lyric-writing, and t-shirt customisation... so bring your old tops you were thinking of throwing away and turn them into something magical.
To celebrate the upcoming Grrrl Zine Fair, founder and self-confessed “unofficial zine mom for millennials and the gen z of the south-east”, Lu Williams introduces us to 10 of her favourite zines to look out for at this weekend’s event.
A POTTED TRANS HISTORY, ROWAN FREWIN
“Frewin is an illustrator and comic artist making work about queer history. I love their neon risograph prints and am desperate to get my hands on a copy of A Potted Trans History. They also sell prints of Mary Shelley, whose mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, helped set up a girls school at Newington Green Meeting House” – Lu Williams
CHATTIN SHIT, SAUCY SEZ
“I’m such a fan of Sarah, the incredible artist behind Saucy Sez. You might know her from her ‘Council House Raised’ T-shirts. Last year she collaborated with Lazy Oaf which was incredible news for zine culture, sad news for my bank account. Sez talks frankly about working classness through writing, poetry, painting, and performance. Chattin Shit is her latest poetry zine which combines soft words with a bold 90s shopping channel aesthetic and I think she might be one of the least pretentious art-zine world people I know. Support her work by grabbing a copy of the zine at our fair this weekend!” – Lu Williams
DESTROYING THE GENDER BINARY, RU ILLUSTRATION
“Ru describes themselves as an illustrator, animator, and zine machine. They create queer and dog-themed sticker sets, enamel pins, badges, zines, and prints that are as cute as you imagine they are. Destroying The Gender Binary is a favourite zine of mine – I’m always bringing it along to workshops, losing it, and then purchasing again. It’s a reiteration of one of their first zines This is What Queer Looks Like and features illustrations of a variety of trans and non-binary bodies alongside body-positive and affirming messages” – Lu Williams
FLORXL, CARMEN SHERIDAN
“FLORXL is genuine eye-endorphins energy. It’s a mix of pastel floral cut-outs and typewriter text which will go straight to the heart of any zine-lover. Sheridan celebrates the joy of plants, gardens, and horticulture, plus all profits go to the Lemon Tree Trust. They have three full issues and an eight-page mini-zine on wildflowers called Early Bloomers dedicated to flora you can spot between February and May. It’s the perfect size for putting in your pocket when you’re out for walks and it’s way more wholesome than Googling” – Lu Williams
WEIRDO ZINE, NAZ TOORABALLY
“WEIRDO Zine is run by Naz Toorabally who will also be hosting a badge-making workshop at the fair. WEIRDO is focused on alternative South Asian subcultures, with their most recent publication being dedicated to music. They also create new music playlists for anyone who is sick of their New Music Fridays being full of white men” – Lu Williams
“Hailing from Oxford, I had a soft spot for Yente Zine before I even read it. Oxford has a great zine scene and it’s where I worked as arts editor for Cuntry Living. Yente is made by young, queer Jewish writers and, just from reading their irreverent Instagram posts and seeing the cover art, I was obsessed and lucky enough to get a copy sent for the Grrrl Zine library. Yente’s debut edition will be at the fair this weekend and you should definitely take the chance to grab a copy, I feel like they’re going to only get better!” – Lu Williams
ZINDABAD ZINE, CIA MANGAT
“Another Oxford-London-based zine, Zindabad currently has two issues and a third in the works on the theme of shame and desire. They’ll be bringing restocks of issues one and two to the fair so make sure you get a copy before they sell out again! Jamal and Bhattacharyya write about aunties ‘giving you permission before you have even thought of asking’ and western propaganda” – Lu Williams
THE SAPPHIC UTOPIA ZINE, AYSHE-MIRA YASHIN
“I met Ayshe-Mira at a zine workshop I hosted in Camden last year. She brought along her illustrations and showed me her portfolio of zines – I love that kind of energy – and we quickly become online pals. Her illustrations are beautiful, with thin black fine lines and lots of detail. After that, I asked her to help me run a manifesto zine workshop and now she’s running her own. Do check out her Tiktok where she shares nature-inspired zines on recycled paper and mesmerising drawings from her period blood!” – Lu Williams
THERE’S ALREADY A WORD FOR THAT, RACHAEL HOUSE
“I honestly feel honoured every time Rachael House joins a zine fair of mine. She’s been an integral part of the feminist DIY scene for decades and her work spans zines, prints, banners, posters, coasters, charms, patches, pots, and more. Her style is so distinctive and I’m surprised her handwriting isn’t a font by now, it’s so recognisable. Rachael will be bringing a variety of magical goods and I’d recommend picking up There’s Already A Word For That – a playful look at gender capitalism and why the hell we have to call any bag a man’s carrying a ‘man bag’” – Lu Williams
“Not officially a zine but a glorious queer illustrator whose prints should adorn your walls. I feel like we’ve been internet-pals for a while and I featured their drawing ‘Self Love is a Process’ in Grrrl In Print issue three way back in early 2019, while they were still at uni. Bee’s now with a talent agency, making art for brands and modelling and it’s always a joy to see them on my feed! We’re working together later in the year for Hysterical – a collab between Bee and Cheer Up Love and I’ll be hosting a zine workshop alongside their exhibition centred around activism of women and non-binary people” – Lu Williams
Visit Grrrl Zine Fair is at London’s Newington Green Meeting House on Saturday March 12