The roots of zine festivals in Houston can traced back to a spontaneous gathering in the Hermann Park picnic area where the creators of Black Fist, Coffee and Hash Browns, Uh, and Virus Board came together to show off the latest issues of their zines back in May of 1993.
Zine Fest Houston began in 2004 as The Houston Comix and Zine Festival. The first two festivals were sponsored by the Houston Area Comics Society, but the event became a separate entity and officially broke away from the parent group in 2006.
The name change to Zine Fest Houston came in 2008 to differentiate the event from the traditional idea of a comic convention and to emphasize the focus on diy and alternative media and to better reflect the wide variety of subject matter represented by the publications showcased at the event.
The first event was held at Super Happy Fun Land on November 20, 2004. Despite the ambitious program book, it was an intimate gathering of comic and zine creators, similar to the original zine picnic, but indoors. Over the years, the zine festival would slowly grow and so would the local zine scene.
The 2005 festival took place at Southmore House as unofficial extension of the Art Crawl route. This year saw a slightly larger crowd in a smaller venue and featured the addition of music, provided by Organ Failure and Boone Graham.
In the fall of 2006, the Houston Comic and Zine Festival partnered with the Westheimer Block Party for a festival within a festival with more creators and more traffic than in previous years. The Zine Fest crew continued to exhibit at the semi-annual Block Party under the banner of “Comix and Zines and Westheimer,” until the last Block Party in Fall of 2009, and though there was no official zine fest in 2007 the comics and zine exhibit on the patio behind Avant Garden during the Fall 2007 Block Party was a sort of mini zine festival.
In 2008, the name was officially changed to Zine Fest Houston and the planned date for the event was moved from the fall to late spring. The original plan was for the new Zine Fest Houston to “return” to Super Happy Fun Land, now at a new location. Unfortunately, the City of Houston had other plans. Super Happy Fun Land was temporarily closed and began a battle with bureaucracy that lasted over a year. Super Happy Fun Land did not reopen until 2009.
The 2008 Zine Fest was canceled, but it didn’t stay canceled. At the last minute, the Secret Saturday Show came to the rescue of the orphaned Zine Festival and let us set up during their Memorial Day weekend show. The spontaneous event turned out to be the largest zine fest in Houston up to that time and featured interactive art projects, an auction to benefit Super Happy Fun Land and music provided by the Secret Saturday Show including a surprise appearance by Butch Klotz of 30 Foot Fall who was also one of the veteran zinesters of the Houston scene in the 90s. What started as a small gathering became a small festival.
2011 AND BEYOND:
As we move into 2011, plans are underway to make the next Zine Fest Houston bigger and better with more exhibitors, a more central location, a larger audience and a more diverse assortment of zines and other media.
In addition to spotlighting the diverse talents represented in zines being published today in Houston and elsewhere, we will also feature guests and programming to represent some of the hidden history of zines and alternative press in Houston. We also debuted a zine featuring samples of zines from Houston in preparation for the 2012 Zine Fest Houston, and will release another in anticipation for Zine Fest Houston 2013, taking place on October 12th.
But it’s not all about the past. We hope to inspire more zines, minicomics, diy and alternative media with an expanded offering of workshops and panel discussions and plan to develop some programming specifically for teens and young adults.
The idea is that everyone who attends will go home feeling inspired to create something new.