One hundred artists. One day. Once a year. On Aug. 31, KC Zine Con (KCZC) presents its annual fest, where dozens of artists exhibit, sell and trade their self-published zines. This year marks the fifth zine gathering in Kansas City.
Typically created from a fusion of written and visual elements, and often produced using copy machines, zine forms include comix, books, newspapers, anthologies and pamphlets. Exploring a seemingly infinite spectrum of subjects, these DIY readables open a window on the artists’ unique voices and experiences.
“The materials are simple, so you don’t need much to create a zine and bring your vision into fruition,” says zine artist Vanessa Wardy. Wardy published her first collage-based zine in 2018 and also participated in last year’s Zine Con.
“The medium lends itself to so many possibilities, and that’s really empowering,” she says. “I’m also the type of person who’s a perfectionist, and I feel like zines can help you break free of the limitations or bonds of over-perfection.”
Dayna Meyer, one of KCZC’s organizers and a zine artist, agrees. As a teenager, Meyer created her first zine after discovering Francesca Lia Block’s epistolary story, “Girl Goddess #9.” She has been writing and illustrating zines since.
“Zines provide an easily accessible, low-cost venue to immerse ourselves in a different world and express ourselves in a ‘thinking-outside-of-the-box’ way,” she said. “We put our passion into creating a tangible object, and the Con gives us an opportunity to get our work out there.”
Meyer says KCZC is also a discovery experience for the audience.
“Attendees see over 100 wildly different zines and walk away with a new world of art and information that’s very affordable. It’s a great place to learn about new subjects and the artists.”
Artist Valley McWest says her humorous, anecdotal zines are an ideal outlet for communicating personal experiences and connecting with readers who share those experiences. A welding instructor at Metropolitan Community College, McWest designed and published her first zine in 2017.
“The most rewarding thing about Zine Con is being able to connect with people from all walks of life,” she says.
That connection is also key for Wardy.
“The Con is significant because you’re sharing your art and creativity and also becoming part of a new community,” she said. “It’s hugely fulfilling.”
KC Zine Con will be held Aug. 31 at Pierson Auditorium on the UMKC Campus, 5000 Holmes St. Hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, kczinecon.com. In addition to the annual fest, KCZC facilitates writing, collage and zine-making workshops throughout the year.
Above: A sampling of zines exhibited at last year’s KC Zine Con (KC Zine Con)