A zine festival that brings together the best of independent artists | Cinema News

The pandemic has forced events to move online, which has now become the norm. While attending an online workshop last year, artist Indu Antony realized he really misses seeing people in person. “That’s when I thought of organizing a festival, because I was interested in conceptualizing a gathering of people. I proposed the festival and the British Council supported it,” says Indu. Thus was born his offline and in-person zine festival, titled “Zine Festival – Play”.

170 zines by over 70 artists

The past two years haven’t brought the best news, so Indu wanted to keep the festival theme – “Play” – light. Approximately 170 different types of zines are exhibited by established publications and independent zine makers, with a total of over 70 participating artists. “There is a wide range of zines on display. For example, one of the zines talks about a toy that my assistant’s son hung onto during his 28 days of chemotherapy,” Indu explains.

One of the artists exhibiting his work at the festival is Delhi-based Soumitro Datta. As an alumnus of the National Institute of Design in Bangalore, Soumitro had the chance to interact with comic book and zine makers. “In India there is currently a growing community of indie comic and zine artists. I came across indie comics that were playing with the comic format. Layouts are freer and smoother in comics that eventually made it into zines. That’s how I started experimenting with zines and storytelling,” says Soumitro.

The first eight issues of “Noteboox”, which he created and published with some friends, are exhibited at the festival. He thinks the theme, “Play”, was fortuitous due to the way he designed and released Noteboox. “There is no interdependence when it comes to themes; it is a microverse in itself. There is no explicit connection between the stories, which is related to the theme of ‘game’,” he adds.

“Zines are governed by the DIY ethic”

Mumbai-based Nikita Fernandes, a freelance artist, who has a self-publishing initiative, has two zines on display – “Unemployed” and “The World Needs More Spinach”. “‘Unemployed’ was the first zine I made as part of my self-publishing initiative, back in 2018 when I had just graduated. I was in a liminal place of getting out of a structured scheme. There’s a running joke that you won’t find a job if you’re in the arts. So that’s how ‘Unemployed’ came about,” says Nikita.

And what’s the best thing about zines? According to Nikita, it’s the fact that zines are governed by the do-it-yourself philosophy. “For example, ‘Unemployed’ is a square zine made on legal green paper that’s cut into pieces, while ‘The World Needs More Spinach’ is a paperback zine,” she says as she signs.

‘Zine Festival-Play’ is held at Kanike Studios, St Thomas Town, from 11am-6pm, until the end of March.

-Sravasti Datta


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