The Dublin Zine Fair took place in The Exchange, in Temple Bar Dublin from 17 – 18 August. Lynda Rucker and I went along on the Sunday to check out the talent and see who is producing work in this scene in Ireland. The event is organised by Sarah Bracken, who also is one of our guests at the next Laydeez Do Comics on Wednesday, 11 September.
The bright, airy location was chock full of tables, staffed by enthusiastic people flogging their creations. From what I could see women were in the majority by at least 60%, and there was a very high presence of people selling indie comics. There were familiar faces at the event (such as Gar Shanley), but actually there were a lot of people whose work was entirely new to me, which is always a pleasure. It reminds me just how many people in Ireland are working away at their creative passion.
I’m sure a lot of people would be surprised to know there is an active zine scene in Ireland. Most people associate it with its emergence during the 70s and into the 80s as part of the alternative art and political scenes, which often folded in alternative music – such as punk. It’s easy to imagine that with the advent of the digital age new creators – especially those raised with an ubiquitous Internet – might disdain or reject the need to create physical objects, and put their effort strictly into virtual goods.
If anything the Dublin Zine Fair, and Independents Day earlier in the year, prove that there is a very healthy alternative scene in Ireland, which embraces quirky and individual projects. Hand-crafted items are celebrated, even as they are generated with a virtual presence. It defies most of the doom-sayers who stated that the next generation will forgo the physical in favour of the digital. Quite clearly this generation enjoys both.
Lynda and I chatted to a number of dealers throughout our time at the event, such as Lou Walker, who is involved in Seomra Spraoi, Dublin’s autonomous social centre, which hosts workshops, film screenings, political meetings, and has a vegan café and a bakery to boot. The venue is hosting a Zine Making and Spoken Word Workshop on the 20 October, which is known as EddiePieHands.
I purchased a number of comics available on the day, all of which I enjoyed. Such as The Adventures of Maggie & Yuto by Sarah Cunningham. It’s a bright, imaginative story, perhaps aimed at a younger audience, about Maggie’s travel to battle the demons of her nightmares, with the aid of her companion Yuto. There is an obvious influence here of Studio Ghibli’s work, in particular the excellent Spirited Away. It’s a sweet and satisfying tale.
Gareth Gowran and Sadhbh Lawlor produce Splitting Borders, a web zine which is also a physical comic. I had a good laugh reading through the strips in this long, rectangular comic book. It also came in a hand-made brown envelop with a beautiful block print on the front. Gareth & Sadhbh showed a particular love of well-made beautiful pieces on their stand.
One of my favourite comics I picked up was Disquiet by Quidditas of Cat Fox Wolf, which you can read online or download. It’s great to read a comic which ponders upon ‘the terrifying business of being a human being’ in a direct fashion.
This is just a sample of the creators I met. Some of the dealers that were there on the Saturday, weren’t there for Sunday, so I’ve missed some folk, and I didn’t chat to everyone. Over the past six months I’ve become increasingly inspired by the level of talent, both established and emerging, in the Irish comic book scene, and the variety of its expression.
Amanda Spitzner (pictured above) of Exploding Comics, was kind enough to volunteer her services to Lynda and me, and has created a terrific flyer for our Laydeez do Comics event on Wednesday. Hopefully some of you we met at Independents Day, and the Dublin Zine Fair, will come along and meet more of our amazing comic book talent in Ireland.