Canzine West Festival illuminates the Underground Zine Culture

The Canzine West Festival includes over 200 zine artists, 60 small presses and a gathering of "radical readers."  

(Page 2 of 2)

“Story exists in all mediums,” said Prain, comparing textile artists to Canzine artists.  “One thing about textiles is that people want originals. They want something that says something rather than being flashy and trendy.  It is a way to get away from commodification.” 

 As in Prain’s book, the collection of artists at the festival is extensive. When pushed to choose, Alison Lang, the editor of Broken Pencil, came up with a few recommendations.

 Veteran Canadian comic artist Colin Upton’s work is “idiosyncratic, cantankerous, hilarious and uniquely subversive while still appealing to a sense of archival nationalism,” says Lang.

"wiTHIN" by Emily McGrattenEmily McGratten is a Vancouver artist who recently self-published a challenging and fearless graphic novel, “wiTHIN,” about her sister-in-law's experiences with family, mental health and specifically, anorexia as a young woman.

 Albert Art/Homeless Quatchi and Friends tells the story of Vancouver's Olympic mascot after the Olympics ended.  In this long running webcomic, the mascot becomes homeless and unemployed.  While hilarious and cute, Lang says, it is provides “a deeply cutting and highly critical view of Vancouver's systemic problems.”  

Carina Piccioni is a perzine or personal ruminations and confessions, artist.  She creates amazing rock posters, comics and now her own zines.   Seattle artist Anna Vo makes “smart, informed punk zines about everything from queer issues to mosh pit,” says Lang.

At the center of this afternoon experience is a pitch session with up and coming zine artists. 

“The Punch Book Pitch is the essence of what zines and Canzine is all about,” says Hal Niedzviecki.  In the pitch session, which promises to be lively and entertaining, writers pitch their ideas in two minutes and then the judges, who include such notables as Timothy Taylor from the UBC Creative Writing Program, have one minute to respond.  To keep things dramatic, there is a winner. 

“The Punch Book Pitch encourages and celebrates independent creative action, breaks through barriers and brings people who have stories of cultural knowledge together with those who are just starting out on a creative journey and helping them learn from each other,” says Niedzviecki.

Joining Prain is a stellar lineup of the “best and brightest of the independent press,includingMeredith Quartermain, the author of “Rupert’s Land: a novel,” “Recipes from the Red Planet” and Vancouver Walking;” Daphne Plessner, an artists who creates text based artwork and public interventions; and Alyson Young who just published her first collection of short stories, “Hideout Hotel” with Caitlin Press.

 "Self Portrait" by Mimi Pond

A big draw for fans of comics is Mimi Pond, the Los Angeles cartoonist of “Over Easy” fame.  She will be talking about her journey to success. 

Lots to see and enjoy at this festival of creativity and subversity.  Pure Fun! 

The festival runs from 1-7pm.  For more information go to

More in Art

Giacometti & peers: "no lack of void”

Van Art Gallery show places mid-20th century master in cultural context

Move over Van Gogh: A New York City artist has re-emerged in Vancouver

Original, illuminating, Bhaskar Krag's 6x6 foot abstract paintings will rock your world. Krag's studio, along with many others, will be open this soon, part of Eastside Culture Crawl.

Canzine West 2016: giant zine fest hits Vancouver on Nov 5

Free festival showcases the best in zine and DIY art
Speak up about this article on Facebook or Twitter. Do this by liking Vancouver Observer on Facebook or following us @Vanobserver on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you.