You may or may not know this, but there is a vivacious zine scene in Little Rock, although you have to go underground to truly find it. Zines about social issues, fanzines, zines depicting some pretty dirty, although pretty hilarious stuff – we’ve got it all in Rock City.
Perhaps you’ve made a zine yourself, or you have no idea what a zine is – either way – you won’t want to miss Little Rock’s Third Annual Zine Night this Friday at the Dunbar Community Garden Project.
Friends and organizers Tyler Evans and Everett Gee have been interested in a communal zine community in Little Rock for the past few years. In 2013, the two partnered with the Garland House and put together their first Zine Night.
Gee says, “We loosely had an idea of what we wanted to do and … it came together pretty quickly.” Needless to say, they were nervous that night. “We were worried no one would show,” laughs Evans, but Gee adds, “It went far and beyond better than we ever could have thought.”
Gee, a screen printer and comic creator himself, met Evans through music, and the two have found their friendship deepening over their mutual love for zines.
As Zine Night has grown exponentially from that first event two years ago, the two have since discovered The Dunbar Garden. Evans happened upon the garden with one of his friend’s last year, and remembers being overwhelmed by the space. “I had never been there before, and it’s amazing. They are literally the most welcoming people in a positive space,” he says.
This year’s event will include musical performances by William Blackart, Sad Magik, and Tare, a New Orleans-based band, as well as food by The Waffle Wagon and Box Populi.
Gee says, “It certainly hit us real quick that a lot of people don’t have any clue about what zines are, and that’s fine, I didn’t know what it was fifteen years ago either. People just kind of see it as an art show maybe.”
An art show doesn’t quite fit as a proper descriptor, though. Think DIY, art, humor, social issues and music, plus everything in between. That’s part of what makes zine culture so contagious and interesting, it’s as widespread and dynamic as those who create them.
Gee says, “There’s so many different formats, it’s easy, everyone has access to the Internet. It’s such a great way to keep yourself busy, it’s so much better than watching TV.”
Evans was introduced to zines through punk music, as he’s currently in a band himself, Mean Ends. “When that happened I started seeing a bunch of zines for the first time. They are literally about anything and everything.”
Think zines are reserved for the elite? Think again. You can also grab your bullhorn and join the convo at any time. “If you went to a publisher, ten times out of ten they’re going to tell you your work is crap and they don’t have a market for it. You don’t have to listen to that garbage, you can do this yourself,” says Gee.
Need to rant? Want to make a joke? Zine it. Gee says, “This is a great way for people to vent. It really is the most honest – you’ll get more honesty out of some of these things than you ever will from New York Times bestseller.”
Plus, zines end up being a way to connect, in this day and age of screens, on a different level. Gee has several stories of people from other towns coming to Little Rock, only to recognize his art from one of his zines. He likes to trade when he’s on the road, sometimes touring with Evans’ band. “I have a huge bookshelf of nothing but comics and zines. I got a lot of them from being on the road, trading, things like that.”
You can even find coops online, where you send in ten of your own zines and you receive work back from ten different people.
But the best part? Gee says, “You have a right to do/create whatever you want.” Evans adds, “That’s ultimately the point, there’s no rules – except for no negativity.”
And it’s catching on, as Gee says, “The most exciting thing is seeing all my friends getting into this right now. You’ll ask someone to hang out and they’ll say, sorry man, I got to go to Kinko’s and get this printed. That’s exciting, we didn’t see that five years ago.”
Don’t miss out on this event. Head to the Dunbar Garden at 7 p.m. this Friday and see for yourself what zines are all about.