Working as a middle school secretary six years ago, Liz Mayorga found out about the annual celebration of DIY culture known as Zine Fest when one of the school’s teachers left a newspaper on her desk with a big circle around it.
“It was going to Zine Fest — that was a good kick in the butt for me to start making things,” Mayorga said by phone. She has been a director of the festival, which turns 14 this weekend, for three years.
“I was trying to write and draw on my own, but I really didn’t know how to put it out there, and I didn’t really have any friends who were into the same things. So Zine Fest provided that network, and that community.”
Mayorga says she “ended up kind of taking leadership by default” as volunteer organizers became too busy to maintain both their jobs and festival responsibilities. “People have taken turns carrying the torch,” she said. “New people take leadership and they change things, and it continues to grow — maybe not in numbers, but it continues to grow in character.”
An average of 160 artists show at the festival every year. This year, for the first time, organizers — Mayorga and five others — curated Zine Fest through an application process rather than operating on a first-come, first-served basis.
“There’s been more people coming (to San Francisco), and the work becomes flashier and all about selling really expensive prints, or T-shirts, or stuffed animals, which is great. It’s fine to have a little bit of that, but we wanted to make sure the focus is still on zines,” Mayorga said. “We try to engage people and not just have them shop.”
In addition to two rooms full of zines, comics and other ephemera, the daylong event includes panels and workshops featuring people who have been active in the community mixed with working artists who have DIY roots.
“It’s a nice way of giving back to where you started,” Mayorga said, “but it’s also a really good way to talk to people and guide them on how to pursue their artwork or how to pursue their career and create a career.
“I think that Zine Fest is a really unique place within San Francisco, because it ends up bringing people together who have a genuine love for the things that they make, and it’s one of those places where people show up not to make money and not necessarily to network aggressively. There’s an overall, very genuine feeling of love and support that I think, in a lot of ways, San Francisco is lacking.”
IF YOU GO
SF Zine Fest: 11 a.m. Sunday, September 6. Free. County Fair Building, Golden Gate Park, 1199 Ninth Ave., S.F. (415) 831-5500. www.sfzinefest.org. Festival-related events include:
A reading featuring special guest Madeleine Flores with Avy Jetter, Rachel Dukes, more: 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 4. $8. Cartoon Art Museum, 655 Mission St., S.F.
Oakland Creates, a comics and zines pop-up art show, features Eugene Young, Ajuan Mance, Avy Jetter and Dawood Kawab Sekhem: Noon-5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 5. Free. 755 E. 10th St., Oakland.
Zine Fest Pre-Party: 7-10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 5. Free. Mission Comics, 2250 Mission St., S.F.