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Courtesy Disaster zine

What to buy at GRRRL, London’s punk publishing fair

As the fair opens its doors this weekend, zine queen and Polyester founder Ione Gamble selects the titles she’ll be heading straight for

Ask anyone who produces a zine why self publishing is important to them and one of the first answers will always be the supportive scene surrounding their practise. With the amount of small press, self published publications exploding over the past year, much has been spoken as to the reason more and more of us are choosing to reject the mainstream media and go our own way when it comes to our choice of reading material.

Whether it’s our dissatisfaction with the status quo, a sense of fatigue with online life or desire to go our own way and create media that more accurately represents our own experiences, zine fairs have become a mecca for feminist, political, queer publications and those who produce them. GRRRL zine fair, taking place Saturday 10th September at Dalston’s The Shacklewell Arms, has always been one of the most inclusive offerings in the zine community calendar. Importing publications from across the globe as well as inviting members of the London scene to table and DJ at their punk publishing parties, the inclusive events always transcend just selling publications and act as a real celebration of the self publishing boom.

But for those less seasoned in the world of all things DIY, it can be hard to know where to start when picking up your first zine. While with the beauty of self publishing means there truly is something for everyone, below’s a ten point guide of some of the best titles to look out for when perusing the stalls.


A year on from SIREN’s inception and it’s fair to say the collective has managed to disrupt the cis, straight white male dominated London club scene and start vital conversations surrounding representation of minorities and harassment in nightlife spaces. Their choice to sporadically publish zines alongside the curating and hosting of events ensures their queer, political grounding isn’t lost amongst the partying. As well as DJing at the fair they’ll have their first print instalment up for grabs at the event.


Angel Rose’s work within the zine community is particularly interesting to me as she uses non-traditional printing techniques, such as packaging her publications in VHS cases or presenting postcards in an actual sick bag, to push the definition of the medium forward. Her dissections of counterculture, and unashamed celebration of gross girls straddle the worlds of self-publishing, fine art and subculture – with a Sick Bag postcard looking just as at home framed on your wall as it would in a bag usually purposed for your post-Friday night 4am vomit.


Sister was one of the first modern grrrl focussed publications I ever read, or contributed to, back in 2013. Their completely non-pretentious approach to creating a magazine fills me with nostalgia for old teen mags that I used to obsess over in my pre-teen days, such as Mizz or Girl Talk. While waiting for their next instalment, “The Size Issue”, to drop later this month, the girls will be selling back issues at GRRRL.


Self-confessed “emotional baby bullshit”, I first encountered Lauren O’Neill after picking up one of her brilliant academic essays on the Kardashians from one of the first GRRRL events in Oxford. Her latest zine outing, Affirmations, combines fuzzy iPhone photography with beautiful sad girl poetry in an attempt to break down hierarchies within the creative industries.


OOMK, (aka One Of My Kind), are true titans of the London self publishing scene. Now on their fifth issue, the small press, biannual publication is inclusive of all creative females and minorities – however focusses particularly on representing the experiences of muslim women and women of colour. The collective also host DIY Cultures, one of the most highly anticipated dates in the zine scene calendar, as well as regularly heading up residencies and smaller workshops to bring the community together.


For most of us, reliving our hashed out relationship disasters may sound like the makings of our worst nightmares. But for co-curators Tori West and Josh Cook, our failed hook up stories make for prime, to be printed and remembered forever, zine content. With the rising popularity of #relatable content, Disaster Zine ensures our most embarrassing dating woes are immortalised in the form of hilarious illustrations and snappy captions – because if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.


This submissions based, quarterly zine is all about encouraging young women into the arts. With anyone able to send in their work for consideration, Milk and Honey is an accessible, non-hierarchal platform, providing equal opportunities for everyone femme to be featured. Alongside their print and online offerings, curator Celia Wickham also helps organise events such as self-care clubs to elevate her feminist ethos from the printed page to the IRL world.


I’ve previously described Rudy Loewe’s venn diagram t-shirts as the unofficial uniform of queer South East London, and it’s a statement that still rings true. Using a healthy dose of comedy and satire, Loewe creates work that tackles complex narratives such as intersectionality, race, gender, and mental health and presents them in a way we can all relate to, understand, or want to wear on the front of our shirts.


With every modern publication feigning a social conscience, sometimes it seems hard to remove the genuine political statements from the clickbait BS fed to us via our newsfeeds. STRIKE! Is a genuinely anarchist newspaper, with the anonymous editorial team prioritising the voices of those directly affected by oppressive structures and those actually involved in anti-oppression politics and grassroots resistance.


Providing a platform for issues surrounding culture and race, Skin Deep aims to tackle the way in which culture seems to often be simultaneously popularised and depoliticised when brought to the fore of mainstream consciousness. A more academic addition to the zine community, each issue works on submissions and tackles a different theme from Roots and Theorising From Outside, to Imagining 2043 and Terrorising The Masses.

GRRRL zine fair run this Saturday 10 September from 3 – 11pm at Dalston’s The Shacklewell Arms, click here for more information