Comics Come Home

Local graphic novel storytellers band together at Houston Zinefest.

By Sara Samora October 9, 2015

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DIY comics on display at Zinefest

With superhero movies filling up summer slates and comic conventions like ComicCon drawing bigger and bigger and still bigger crowds, it’s safe to say that nerd culture has taken over—and we couldn’t be happier. The graphic novel and comic book cultures has evolved into multi-million dollar businesses with offshoots that range from TV to movies, comic collectors to artists, inspiring creative minds in more ways than one. To continue on with the blizzard of creativity, the Houston Zinefest returns with some of Texas’ best up-and-coming graphic artists and storytellers.

Zines—short for “magazines”—are independent and self-published books, papers or websites that anyone can create. Since its inception in 2004, the Houston ZineFest has seen crowds of artists and admirers grow year after year. “Last year, we had over 800 people come to the museum on Zinefest day,” says the event’s organizer, Maria-Elisa Heg. “And this year, as far as vendors go, we had such a big response in registration that we had to expand to six or eight tables.”

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The growth is due in part to Heg visiting other satellite events around the country along with Zinefest organizer Stacy Kirages. Together, the two have hit cities from Portland to New Orleans, Austin to Dallas. “We try to get out there as much as possible to connect regionally as well as nationally on some level,” says Kirages.

The festival will predominately consist of local artists, as well as zinesters from Austin and Dallas. Additionally, the fest will have workshops for teens and kids. Adults who attend can check out entertainment like a Zinefest comedy show, a zine event organizers panel, as well as a conversation with People of Color Zine Project, whose mission is to distribute zines created by people of color.

Zines are growing in popularity because of their access to fans, coming in multiple formats like photography, comics and graphic novels. But the bigger draw is that—given the fact that they’re self-published and the subject matter can be unpredictable—they can toe the line of controversial subjects.

“That’s kind of like the nature of the medium,” Heg says. “You can do whatever you want. As long as you publish it your self and you put it out there, it’s a zine so it can be about anything; there’s no restriction at all.”

Houston Zinefest, Oct. 17. 2. The Printing Museum, 1324 W. Clay St.; after-party, The Summit. 9. 3536 Navigation Boulevard. Both events are free.

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