My Pittsburgh Zine Fair 2011 Report

Pittsburgh Zine Fair 2011

My friend Dan mentioned that he hasn't seen any reports from the 2011 Pittsburgh Zine Fair yet, so I figure I'll post an impromptu one from the perspective of an organizer and exhibitor at the show.

This debut PGH Zine Fair was the baby of Erin Oh, who started working on it back in June (I think). I joined the organizing crew in early July, and attended meetings every Monday night at Pittsburgh Filmmakers in North Oakland.

While Pittsburgh's had other recent small press events in the past few years (SPF and PIX come to mind), this Zine Fair was dedicated to zines above all else, making it a bit different than its predecessors. Also, it stands out from the pack by being a wholly volunteer and organization-free project. There was no backing company -- profit or non-profit -- involved.

Anyway, we all worked hard to design the best show possible with limited resources, and I think Erin did a fantastic job leading the show to definitive success. I was really impressed with the attendance. I would say it was a good-to-great turnout for a random late summer Thursday evening. Also, because the main vendor space was tightly packed, it felt really well attended.

The crowd was more bohemian than I expected. I'd consider myself one of the less traditional people that I can think of in the Pittsburgh comics scene... but the Zine Fair crowd made me feel like I was one step away from wearing a suit and tie to the event.

I'd be lying to you if I said I got a good feel for the material that was there. Honestly, I didn't walk around that much. But I did see a pretty wide range of stuff, from minicomics to photocopied prose to art books to perfect-bound novels.

Personally, I did a very modest business. But I always do a very modest business. And the Zine Fair was on par with how I normally perform. One friend of mine did what I consider to be very strong business (and it was her first show), while another did very weak business (and this was his umpteenth show). I fell somewhere in between.

And there were more than zines! We had DJs (I was one of them). The first DJ to go on was AWESOME! She should have played the whole show. The next DJ didn't show up, so a show organizer went on next. I was last. 

We used a PA system, which was great for microphones... but not so great for music. The speakers couldn't handle low or high sounds (it's just not in their dynamic range), so half of my tunes sounded great and the other half sounded empty. But it was awesome that we even had a PA at the show in the first place, so kudos for that.

We also had free food (not my style of grub but it was kickass that we had some), water (I love water), and workshops. I was too busy manning my space to go to any of the programming, but I assume it all went well. I didn't hear any complaints!

Also, there was a raffle, and what I found notable about the raffle was how PACKED the room was when we announced the winners. It was a healthy mix of vendors and attendees, and that was really nice to see.

Here are a few more pics from the Zine Fair on the main site. And here are the same pics plus more on Andy Scott's blog. And here's some personal reflection on the show from Wayne Wise, putting the event in a historical context.

All in all, I had a good time and I felt like the show did terrific for its first year. I really hope we can bring it back again next year and make it an even greater success!

4 Responses to “My Pittsburgh Zine Fair 2011 Report”

  1. Erin Oh says:

    Nick, thanks for posting this. Great reflection on the night. My reflection would go something like: it was awesome, lots of great people, i wanted to vomit off and on, i loved the community discussion, headache, bookmaking workshop was super well attended. everyone is awesome.

  2. Nick Marino says:

    HAHAHA I like your reflection waaaaay more than mine!!!

  3. Jerry Goebert says:

    Sounds like fun. I got tied up with a friend who needed to be out of her place by the first 🙁 But, PIX is definately on my mind...I gotta do a first show sooner or later.

  4. Nick Marino says:

    I'm hoping PIX will be a really strong show this year. And if you decide you want to set up, it's not like you can beat the price!