Alex Wrekk on taking zinemaking's DIY ethic across the globe

Alex Wrekk on taking zinemaking's DIY ethic across the globe

International Zine Month — Alex Wrekk took her passion for zines to the next level and set out to declare July International Zine Month.

Alex Wrekk comes about as close to a zine connoisseur as you’ll ever get. Enthusiast, creator, innovator – wherever zines are involved, she’s been there. 

The creator of Brainscan, a zine she has been running since 1997, and the book Stolen Sharpie Revolution: a DIY resource for zines and zine culture, she is also the lead singer in the zine-themed band The Copy Scams, “the band equivalent to a 24 hour zine,” and runs the online zine and button shop Portland Button Works.

In 2010, Alex thought it would be rad to have an International Zine Month, and so, in true DIY fashion, she made it happen. This month will be the 5th IZM. Huck caught up with Alex about her passion for zines and the why it’s such a captivating medium.

When and how did you decide to start IZM?
I think it was 2011. I knew that there were all these celebrations like May 4 (Star Wars May the 4th be with you) or World Goth Day or Donut day. Why not a zine month? I looked into how to do and you could actually petition the government of the US to declare a day, go the DIY route and just say it and hope everyone else gets excited and follows along! That’s what I did and I’m really happy at how many other people are excited about it too! There is this company that keeps Chase’s Calendar of Events, it is mostly used for schools and libraries. All I had to do is send in an announcement and renew it every year to keep it alive and in their publication.

What is it about zines that appeals to you/others?
I really enjoy the way zines merge images and text. I love how many different ways you can do that and still carry engaging narratives, but that’s just the physical aspect of a zine. What really keeps me going is the friendships and connections I have made through zines. I have been able to travel through the US and other countries just because of the people and experiences I have had with zines. Each zine fest is like a summer camp and leaving always so hard. Reading zines by friends I haven’t seen in awhile is great to get a little catch up and a peak into their lives.

When did you get into zines and how did you decide to create the Stolen Sharpie Revolution book?
I started reading zines in the early 90s and at some point I realised “Hey, I can make one of these too!” So I did. I put my first zine out in 1995. I met and traded with a lot of people, which is what led me to Portland in ’99. I had some zine friends living here. I kept seeing the same problems with a lot of zines: poor photo quality, bad margins, people not knowing how to get distribution, etc. and I joked about making a zine about how to make a zine. Well, it was decided that I would never be able to scam enough copies for the demand the zine would have so we decided to get it offset printed. That was 2002. Last December I just put out the 5th printing bringing the total number in circulation up the 25,000.

What is the best way to get into zines? Why would you recommend it?
Read a bunch of zines, make a zine, trade your zine. I have a hard time offering any different method as this is what I did. We all have something to say and no one is going to tell your story for you. So, Do-It-Yourself!

What are your favourite zines?
Oh man, I hate this question! So, I’m in this zine themed band called The Copy Scams. All of our songs are about zines and all the members are from three different countries and we have this song that is about trading zines and there’s the line “My favourite zines are by my friends and I’ve got room for more of them” and that’s how I feel about zines. The zines by people I know are so much more precious to me and I’m sort of unable to be objective about it, ya know?  That’s being said, pretty much all the zines in the Portland Button Works catalog are ones that I like.

Find out more about Stolen Sharpie Revolution. Check out more of Huck’s Zine Month content.