Festival of the Photocopier 2015: Lovely

As I discovered yesterday, a pretty sizable amount of Melbourne’s librarians already knew about the Sticky Institute Zine Fair, so maybe you do too.

But in case you don’t – the 2015 Festival of the Photocopier ran between 12th to 15th of February this year, culminating in a fabulous event at the Melbourne Town Hall. Zine makers from all over the country (and from outside Australia too) gathered to share their work in a five hour event that was as invigorating as it was totally exhausting.

I was so pooped by the time I got there to set up, owing to the fact that I had a very late night finishing my zine, paired up with a very early morning so that I could get to the printer before the fair started. But coping with the mental and physical strain of being a world class procrastinator is something which I ~kind of~ learnt at uni, so I had one of those buckets of coffee they sell at 7/11 and I was basically fine [1].

I was fortunate to be sharing a table with the wonderful Karen Redlich (on Facebook), who not only draws beautifully, but is also a great librarian, and a former co-worker. This was excellent in a number of dimensions, not the least of which being it meant I got to catch up on all the news from my beloved former library service. Karen is also a veteran mini-comic-maker and FOTP attendee, which definitely gave me the courage to give it a go, seeing as I am a newb to both.


Karen at our stall, displaying her infectious enthusiasm for DIY publishing

My offering was a little comic – Liblionomy [2] – containing a few of my thoughts on information literacy, and featuring the most amusing thing I’ve drawn in years (i.e. a member of the Reptoid Federation spreading misinformation about Heidelberg School artists, something I’ve long suspected is part of the Reptilian Agenda). I felt so inspired after participating in the 14/01/15 session of #critlib  – The Critical Reference Librarian – and this was what prompted me to make it. Working on the comic was a great way to re-engage with those ideas through the filter of my own experiences.

(As an aside – the #critlib chats are the reason every librarian should be on Twitter. Do check them out: about | cheat sheet | critlib on tumblr)

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This is basically me after every #critlib chat I’ve sat in on, except that we don’t have such fancy shelving carts, and we do have much bigger and more numerous bookshelves than I was ready to tackle drawing

Making my comic was fairly straightforward – I wrote the text, broke it down into chunks, and then fiddled around with the layout until I was happy with how it looked. Doing this was when I had most of my ideas for panels, so I went ahead and drew them without too much fuss, and I ended up using nearly everything I drew. The whole process of laying it out would have been maddening without the little maquette I made, so unless you’re one of those people who can hold long strings of numbers or intricate directions in your head, I’d suggest making one of these. I inked it with whatever fineliner was lying around the house, and then digitally painted in all the tones on my iPad, mostly while watching old episodes of The X Files. I mention this as it is clearly an important part of ~my artistic process~

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This little maquette totally saved my brain

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The same pages in the finished comic

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Oh yeah, and this thing too – it helped me figure out how my pages were going to look on an A4 piece of paper. Definitely do this if you’re worried about being half asleep and putting your files together backwards

In classic 11th-hour-fashion there was an issue at the printer (pages printed out of order, discovered 1 hour before I was supposed to be at my stall), but fortunately it was such a small run we were able to reprint it on the spot. My cool-headed, patient and supremely supportive girlfriend helped me get everything collated and stapled (30 minutes before I was meant to be there), and said lots of soothing things like “we’re nearly done” and “you’re not going to be late” and “here is a muffin for breakfast”. This is the sort of thing that happens when you leave things to the last minute, so you know, don’t do that if you can help it.

As I mentioned, it seemed like there were a lot of librarians there (which doesn’t surprise me – Melbourne librarians are some of the with-it-est you’ll find on planet earth). It was so lovely to get to have the “which library?” conversation with so many people (and to get some tips about upcoming library jobs as well).

Someone asked me if there was a selection process for determining which zines were included – there isn’t – and this is important when you reflect on just how great the work that people bring really is. I managed to say hello to some of my favourite artists – Gemma Flack, Nicky Minus, Ashley Ronning and Sam Wallman – which was pretty neat, even though the winning combination of sleep deprivation & social anxiety left me at my most jittery and least charming. It was such a pleasure to meet some of the contributors from Brisbane’s Woolf Pack too – I loooove the monster-themed zine they swapped me for – a total joy to read on the tram home, and it had a neat Maleficent sticker in the back.

Zine stash

Some of the zine haul. If I was a dragon, I think zines might be the thing I’d hoard. Or hair products.

Participating was a really big deal for me, and I’m so happy that I actually managed to finish my comic that I’m able to quiet the part of my brain that’s highly skilled at pointing out flaws, mistakes and problems. Mostly, heh. Despite some wonky drawings and the fact that I picked up two spelling mistakes last night (after the fair, of course), I nevertheless loved the experience of making it, and will upload a web version to this blog in the next few days (Edit: it’s here). I sold all my copies, so I’m thinking of maybe doing a second printing and taking a few to Sticky’s store as well.

Another shot of our table, before the fair opened

Another shot of our table, before the fair opened – including several of Karen’s “I might look miserable but…” zines

The thing I’m wondering now is – will I draw any more? Maybe! I don’t know! It is all very mysterious.

Thank you Sticky Institute for running such a wonderful event, I would absolutely encourage anyone who is curious to participate in the next one. Below are some of my ideas about how to have an excellent time:


  • Don’t procrastinate. Or, if you’re going to procrastinate, at least make sure you know in advance how to set up your digital files so there are no last minute printing nightmares
  • Relinquish control of the long armed stapler. If people are offering to help you, it’s poor form not to let them have a go. If you don’t have a long armed stapler you can use mine, because I am nice
  • If possible, go with someone who has been before, or bring a friend (otherwise you won’t really get to see the rest of the fair, because you’ll be minding your stall the whole time)
  • Take stuff to make your table cute
  • Bring change and anticipate people like my sister, who will show up and be a little surprised that most zine makers aren’t set up to handle EFTPOS transactions (Consider accepting alternate forms of currency? Paypal? Bitcoin? Ask them to go out and get you another bucket of coffee?)
  • Absolutely wear platform shoes, because you won’t have to walk in them so much, and when you stand up at your stall you’ll seem majestic
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INTERESTING AND TRAGIC FACT: this cover depicts a fish that was tragically eaten by my cat

[1] You know that episode of The X Files with that soldier guy, and he has these hypnosis powers as a result of not sleeping for 25 years? I did the maths and based on the sleep debt I accumulated in my 20s, I figure I only have, at the outside, another ten years before my powers kick in

[2] As far as I know, this isn’t a word. I went with liblio- rather than biblio- because centering books in discussions of library stuff seems kind of old fashioned. Is liblio a real prefix? I dunno! Probably not! I thought about a few different and exciting suffixes (-ostomy, -mancy, -ectomy) but settled on -onomy because it was less gross than the idea of a Libliectomy, and because i didn’t think I could deliver on the promise implied in the word Libliomancy.  (Though I’m making a mental note to return to this because I’m loving the idea of a librarian’s grimoire…)


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