Drawing for a Zine | My First Zine Fest

Drawing for a Zine | My First Zine Fest

As long as I’ve dreamed of snagging some illustration jobs, I never dreamed I’d be drawing for a zine and then soon after, attending my first zine fest. I mean, seriously, when I started drawing for a hobby as a little girl, zines hadn’t even been thought of yet! I have a super neat story to tell today, and some really cool creative writing and drawing to share. I hope you enjoy this tale and learn something new (like I did). 

zine definition

Some folks who are zine enthusiasts may stumble upon this post, but for my regular readers, I feel the need to first answer the question, “what is a zine?”. For those of you who need a zine definition: A zine is a small, handmade book that can vary in content from poetry to short stories to comics. They can be deep and emotional, educational, light and flowery, or just plain silly. Zine enthusiasts are like a fun little subculture of creatives…some write, some just collect, and all seem to love attending festivals and snatching up as many zines as they can get their paws on. Some writers even share zine making tips with festival goers, and give away little blank zines to the fans.

*This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you purchase using the links I provided. All opinions are my own.

The (so un)Cool Mom

Pooh’s friend, we’ll call him “Daniel” (his name is actually Daniel), is very talented at the art of zine making. One of Daniel’s favorite books of all time is The Catcher in the Rye, and Daniel wrote a zine inspired by the classic novel, called Holden.

illustrator job

This particular zine seemed to be Daniel’s pride and joy, even though he had several others he had written. Holden needed illustrations, and Daniel had no one to do them. Cue Martie!  Just a couple of months before his first zine fest, Daniel asked me if I would mind doing some artwork for Holden so he could get copies ready for print and sell them at the festival. Yes, it was a non-paid illustrator job, but I was happy to oblige.

Y’all, that’s a lie… I was ecstatic! First of all, one of my teenage daughter’s teenage friends was talking to me! Not only did he talk to me, he actually asked a favor of me! Not only did he ask a favor of me, but he also made a lifelong dream of mine come true…I was going to be a real, live illustrator! How could I say no? I still wasn’t 100% sure what a zine even was when I agreed to this, but I really didn’t care. I just wanted to draw! So, draw I did.

I would sketch some things out, slip them into a plastic page protector, and send them with Pooh to school. Pooh would then relay what Daniel thought of that round. I couldn’t have asked for a better “boss” on the first of my illustration jobs. Daniel seemed to love my work, and did not hesitate to ask me for more drawings, more specifics, to please make them a little bolder, etc. until they were just right. You know, not many high school seniors are already experienced in what kind of drawings work in print, and how to go about relaying what they want in something like this. I think Daniel has a calling to be a writer for many reasons…mainly his writing talent, but also his creative decision-making talent.

THe art of zine

After all of my ideas had been submitted and approved, I waited. I had read Holden already, but I knew that seeing the zine in print with my artwork inside would be one of the coolest moments in my life. Much to my surprise, Daniel trumped that moment before it ever came. He trumped that moment at 11:30 at night, in the parking lot of the high school (…wait…that sounds sinister….I was picking up Pooh from the band room after an away game, and Daniel was the drum major, so he was there too…) by giving me this surprise gift.

drawing for a zine

My artwork, on a t-shirt! I could have cried, y’all. I seriously almost did, but I knew that on a scale of 1 to 10 of things that would make an 18-year-old boy uncomfortable, me crying over a gift he gave me would definitely be in the top 1. So, I choked back the tears and just said “thank you” (like 12 times). I was truly astounded. He had two of these shirts made, one for me and one for himself, and asked that I wear it when Pooh and  I accompanied him and their friend “Lilly” to the Zine Fest in May. Yep, double lockdown on the tears…he invited us to come with! I mean, it was no surprise that he asked Pooh to come with; they’d been friends for a couple of years already and that was sort of a given. But ME? Wow.

a bit of a disclaimer…

Ok, let me clarify something here…Pooh and Daniel really are just friends. He is 19, she is 15, they both play trumpet, and they have a lot in common. Daniel is just the kind of kid who knows that his 15-year-old female friend is probably not going to be allowed to whisk off to a big city, two and half hours away, without parental supervision. I’m sure my invitation was more about ensuring that Pooh could come along, but I didn’t care. It actually endeared me to this boy even more…maturity of this level is not often found in 18-year-old boys, no?

zine fest 2017

Pooh had a great time, and so did I. It had been years since I’d spent any amount of time in Chattanooga, and the last time Pooh was there she was 3 years old, so I’m sure it was like the first time for her. The festival was held in the public library, so we were in walking distance of downtown. I know Pooh could have handled herself brilliantly without me…after all, she did whisk away to Europe without parental supervision just last summer…but I’m very happy Daniel invited me to tag along.

Chattanooga zine fest 2017

I didn’t get to see the final printed copy of Holden until we got to Chattanooga Zine Fest 2017. The anticipation was torture, but worth it in the end. Once I finally saw the zine art in print, I couldn’t have been more impressed. Daniel knew just where to place each drawing, and just how. He did a fantastic job on the layout of this zine! Pooh, Lilly and I helped Daniel work his table all day, and I even got to video him while he did a public reading of some of his works for the festival goers. 

zine fest

I didn’t ever think I’d find myself at a zine fest, and I certainly didn’t think I would spend money at a zine fest. Y’all, I spent money. I just couldn’t resist! Plus, there were some things that Pooh couldn’t resist (if we are in a place that has things for sale, there will be something that Pooh cannot resist). Here’s some of our loot:

the art of zine

Some of those were free takeaways…the folks next to us were just super cool and gave me a few of their works for free, just because we struck up a fun conversation. These folks were too awesome, and so were their publications…hilarious comic-strip zines with fantastic illustrations and a super fun vibe (theirs are at the bottom of the above shot). You can follow them on Instagram @schnellville, and tell them Martie from A Hair In My Biscuit sent you. 

how can you buy daniel’s zines?

So, Daniel did really well that day, and made quite a number of sales. His works are very intriguing; some are poems, some are short stories, and some are just snippets of writings that came from a certain inspiration (like Holden). Daniel could describe it so much better than I can, and I’m sure he will in the comments. You really must check out his work! You can find him on Etsy at MidnightPrintsCo. <—that’s a link! Be sure to visit him there and favorite his shop so you can stay in the loop when he lists something new! You won’t be disappointed.

the art of zine

Daniel, thank you (again and again) for my first opportunity drawing for a zine, and for including this old Mom in your fun day. This whole experience was definitely one of the highlights of my 2017! Just let me know when we need to do it again, mmmkay? And I would definitely enjoy a repeat of Mellow Mushroom! 

And to my readers…thanks for letting me brag on my own experience, on Daniel and his zine biz, and on the other festival-goers. You should really snag a few zines of your own. Start a collection, give them as gifts this Christmas, or be inspired to write a few yourself. Drawing for a zine…and not just any zine, but Daniel’s…helped make this a great year!

Oh…and if you want to see the rest of my illustrations, you’ll have to buy the zine. 😉

X,O,X,O,    Martie