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What to expect at Mumbai’s first zine festival

With 200 zines on display, an ongoing exhibition in the city celebrates the culture of self-published comics and literature

art and culture Updated: Apr 29, 2017 10:20 IST
zine
A selection of zines from the exhibition (Photo courtesy: Bombay Underground )

John Porcellino, the popular creator of minicomics (a comic book published by the creator), has been drawing and publishing zines (self-published works reproduced using a photocopier or just paper and pen) and graphic novels for three decades. Best known for King-Cat Comics — a photocopied series where he pays tribute to his cat, Maisie Kukoc — Porcellino has inspired generations of cartoonists.

Himanshu S (36), who co-founded Bombay Underground (a city-based initiative for creative social exchange) along with Aqui Thami (27), has been closely following Porcellino’s works. So, when the US-based artist sent across the 75th issue of the King-Cat Comics, it was a fanboy moment for Himanshu.

Read: 10 zines you should be reading now

One of the zines on display (Photo courtesy: Bombay Underground )

King-Cat Comics, and several other zines, feature s part of You deserve to DIY, a celebration of zine culture, which is being held in collaboration with Bombay Underground at the Colaba-based art gallery, Chatterjee & Lal.

The exhibition is a celebration of independently published literature, comic books, poetry, journalism, and drawings. With a wide range of works, from more than 200 zinesters (zine makers) around the world, it aims to broaden the zine culture in Mumbai.

One can find zines that feature cooking recipes, women and their relationship with periods, asexuality and polyamory, street theatre and Babasaheb Ambedkar’s stance on casteism, among other topics.

Thami and Himanshu have sourced the zines from countries including Spain, Sweden, Netherlands, Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and various parts of India. The works range from the personal to the political. “Within the country, we were interested in looking at the works of small-scale publishing houses and printing presses of the ’90s,” says Himanshu.

A zine from the exhibition (Photo courtesy: Bombay Underground )

The duo, who organised the first Bombay Zine Fest earlier this year and were part of the Kochi Biennale, have been celebrating the medium which has often been used to voice dissent.

As part of the exhibition, Himanshu and Thami will revise, revive and remake self-published material and encourage visitors to participate. People can make their own zines on the history of the red flag, George Orwell’s Animal Farm and their favourite toys. Videos on how to make zines and interviews with zinesters will be played too. The duo aim to set up a zine library where people can display their works as well as read zines.

“The experience of handling zines in person — turning each page to reveal comics and poetry — can’t be duplicated online. The philosophy behind making a zine is that you are contesting your own stream of publication because you are doing the alternative. The idea is that anyone can make it, and we want to celebrate that,” says Himanshu.

You deserve to DIY: A Celebration of Zine Culture, in collaboration with Bombay Underground, is on view till May 11, 11am to 7pm
At Chatterjee & Lal, Arthur Bunder Road