In commemoration of International Zine Month 2015, we did a quick email interview with founder Alex Wrekk. Besides being the original force behind IZM, Alex is a well-known and well regarded zinester who publishes Stolen Sharpie Revolution: A DIY Zine Resource, and Brainscan Zine. Alex also organizes the Portland Zine Symposium, and runs Portland Button Works & Zine Distro.
How did the idea of International Zine Month come about in the first place?
It was kind of a joke. There are all these celebrations like May 4 (Star Wars May the 4th be with you) or World Goth Day or Donut day. Why not a zine month? I looked into how to do and you could actually petition the government of the US to declare a day, go the DIY route and just say it and hope everyone else gets excited and follows along! That’s what I did and I’m really happy at how many other people are excited about it too! There is this company that keeps Chase’s Calendar of Events, it is mostly used for schools and libraries. All I had to do is send in an announcement and renew it every year to keep it alive and in their publications.
Who were some of the zinesters or zine lovers who helped nurture its beginnings?
Too many to name. I’ve been making zines for over 20 years so I’ve got lots of people in zines to encourage my silly ideas.
Where and when was IZM founded?
2011 was the first year. I think it just existed on the internet. 2012 was the first year that I made the little posters with ideas for activities.
How was July chosen? (That’s my favourite month, no complaints, just curious…)
There was already the 24 Hour Zine Thing going on in July so it seemed like a good fit to line up with that. 24hourzines.com
Are you surprised or encouraged by how popular the event has become internationally?
Not especially surprised but definitely encouraged. I know there are people making zines all over the place and having something that happens once a year could be a touchstone to help connect people who love to read and create zines. I don’t see it as something I own, I see it as something we all contribute to in whatever ways we are able.
Where do you see IZM going in the future?
Well, I’d like to get an intern to help out with promotional stuff. It started to get really hectic to post about it every day when I’m trying to run a business, travel, and organize a zine fest. I’d like for other people to take the idea on their own terms and make it work for them.
Is print dead? Just kidding, but it seems like there is a bit of a resurgence in general interest in zine culture, do you have any opinions or insights on why this may be occurring?
It waxes and it wanes and it comes with new faces. For a long time there were all these “zines are dead!” articles. Now there’s the “Zines are back and thriving” articles and I just think “where were you?” I’ve been here making zines and going to zine events and watching there be more zine events and more archiving and academic research involving zines. Just because some people walked away from zines and zine culture doesn’t mean the rest of us stopped, ya know? A lot of it is just your perspective and what is available to you.
Here is the poster for IZM 2015: