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Canzine: Homemade Zines flourishing in the Twitter age

It’s a safe bet there are no conferences celebrating Betamax or 8-Track, yet Canzine, the annual celebration of zine culture, continues to thrive even as the media it celebrates appears superfluous in a world awash with online journals, status updates and tweets.

Short for fanzines, zines are typically small-run, hand-made magazines that double as sub-cultural records and confessional journals.

Over the years, they’ve played a large role in documenting underground cultures from science fiction to punk rock. Sub Pop, Nirvana’s first label, began life as a music zine, while a character in the film The Perks of Being a Wallflower creates Punk Rocky to document her love of punk and the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

The uniqueness of handmade has slowly crept into the cultural zeitgeist years after zines hit their mid-’90s peak. “They form a sense of community between the people that make them and share them,” says Lindsay Gibb, editor of Canzine organizers Broken Pencil Magazine. “There’s something different about making something yourself.”

Gibb discovered zines in the ’90s as a teenager living in the 905. She documented the suburban indie rock and punk bands she and her friends loved in her own zine, mixing in pieces about her own personal experiences. “I really liked zines that were about people’s lives, being able to follow along with what they were thinking and doing,” she says. “Reading other teens’ zines, you felt like you could relate and connect.”

Despite supposed obsolescence, zine culture is flourishing. Broken Pencil reviews 30 to 40 news zines each issue, while Canzine has been a regular fixture on the alternative arts calendar since 1995. This year’s edition boasts 200 tables of zines, comics and art. It’s the, “Oh my God, I can do this,” element that keeps the form going, says Gibb. “It’s an outlet for people who create them.”

Canzine runs Sunday, Oct. 21, at 918 Bathurst Centre, 918 Bathurst St.

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Much more to see and do at Canzine

There’s plenty going on at Canzine besides zines. This year’s instalment includes an arts and crafts room and a DIY games room featuring independently produced video and board games.

“The people who made them will be there to explain how they work,” says Gibb.

There will also be a series of workshops, like the Great Hollywood Rip-Off Piracy Zine Challenge, where participants race to complete the zine-version of a well-known film, and the Punk Radical Reading series featuring Sam Sutherland and Laina Dawes. The event has also expanded into Saturday with skill-sharing symposiums.

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