zine, [zeen] noun. 1. abbr. of fanzine; 2. any amateurly-published periodical. Oxford Reference


Sunday, November 2, 2008

FROM: The student newspaper of Victoria University in the University of Toronto

Canzine: a yearly literary dream

Betina Alonso

Issue date: 10/30/08 Section: Arts and Culture
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A massive one-day festival of art and culture in all media imaginable, Canzine is a yearly celebration of Canadian indie culture. Featured are zines, small publishing houses, graphic designers, and comic artists.

"Everyone's a writer these days: surgeons, bus drivers, meat packers, people with an actual story to tell, a beginning, an ending, a something," reads an excerpt of Thumbnail, a photo literary zine.

At Canzine, everyone and anyone is eligible to buy a table and showcase his or her work. Visitors are exposed to a postmodernist's wet dream, with publications ranging from published personal doodling books to home-printed Toronto Pizza Reviews. In addition to the fest of zines, this year's gathering also boasted the One-Two Punch Book, wherein writers were challenged to pitch their books to literary agents and editors in two minutes and got a one-minute response from each: either ripping the work apart or, occasionally, requesting a manuscript.

"It's an open process to break down myths of creativity, which is part of our agenda," says Hal Niedzviecki, a UofT grad and one of Canzine's founders.

Indeed, it provided for an interesting public display of the writer-publisher interaction, as one could witness an author of a four-volume, Frank Miller inspired, Hitchcockian graphic novel, spanning three decades, being told he needed more of focus. The sound, unfortunately, wasn't working too well, and the audience missed out on a lot of what was going on onstage.

Another attraction were the art rooms, featuring handpicked artists showcasing their work. Lisa Smolking, for example, filled hers with drawings in ink pen and watercolour featuring individual women reflecting their multi-layered, daily states of mind. "It's blurb art," says Smolking. The younger girls were interspersed with tongue-in-cheek statements, such as "My attachment issues are bigger than yours."

In the Artcade room, visitors could play mini video-games created by independent designers, with the idea of alternate, interactive artistic medium. "It's another way of showing the creative possibilities in a medium locked into the corporate protocol," says Nietzviecki. It featured interesting projects such as "Mondrion Provoken," a beautiful, glowing Atari-style maze.

With its variety and celebration of independent initiative, Canzine is the kind of event where you can find anything ranging from an independent poetry publication, containing hidden literary gems, to zines dedicated to individual rants. Overall, you get out of Canzine what you put into it, and it was definitely worth exploring during a Sunday afternoon.


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