When Broken Pencil launched the COVID Zine Micro Grant mere weeks ago, we hoped that we could make a difference for a few rad zinesters by putting even a little money in their pockets. We had no idea how generous of a response we’d receive, and quickly! Within a couple weeks, we were amazed to find that more than $4,000 was raised on GoFundMe, more than doubling our original goal. That money, plus $2,000 from BP, allows us to offer $400 grants to 15 creators! Thank you to everyone who has donated and spread the word, seriously. Your help not only benefits artists directly, it also supports crucial self-publishing work that will document these strange times.
Get to know the final batch of artists who’ve been selected to receive the COVID Micro Grant below (you can check out our first five here and our second batch here). It was terribly difficult for our staff team to decide on how to allocate the funds, and we would be lying if we said there aren’t extremely deserving people who didn’t make the final list. However, we are determined to find new and creative ways to support zinesters at this time, so stay tuned for new opportunities and big thanks to everyone who applied.
TJ Felix is a Secwepemc First Nation member from the interior of BC who has been making comics and zines for just over a year. These projects are more than just a hobby or a shot at a career for Felix — they are an essential tool in his recovery from trauma and addiction. “I believe zines are a way of fostering holistic approaches to healing and community building,” says Felix, who has published two issues of his zine Big Mosquito since September 2019. Subjects have ranged from living in SRO’s in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, drug addiction, lateral violence, poverty, Indigenous sovereignty, grassroots movements etc. His next issue will focus on the resilience of Indigenous communities including his own.
We first heard about the rad work Olivia Montoya is up to in North Canaan, Connecticut a few years ago when she founded and acted as a driving force for the first ever Litchfield County Zine Fest. While people living in big cities might take things like self-publishing communities and zine fairs for granted, we are always amazed and delighted when people in smaller cities, suburbs and rural contexts remind us how important zines can be anywhere, and how different the impact can be from place to place. Montoya is also a prolific zinester, who has published more than 25 zines that range from fiction projects to perzines to photozines to political work. If you can believe it, this busy zine hero is also a co-founder of the Ace Zine Archive, which documents how asexuality is discussed in zines. As such a a ceaseless champion of zines and for that, we are so proud to support her ongoing projects during tough times like these.
julia eff is one of those badass zine heroes you are bound to encounter, at least in print form, at some point in your zine journey. eff has staked out a unique space in zine world, having developed bold, classic xerographic aesthetics throughout their 15 years as an active member of the zine and music scene. CRAPANDEMIC, their queer goth perzine distro (yes, weirdly apt name), offers a catalogue of over a dozen LGBTQ zinesters from the US and the UK. Check out this review of a recent zine in BP’s Spring issue. eff also tables at up to twenty fests a year! That’s commitment. The funds received will be going to julia but also to the artists represented through the distro.
Los Angeles-based multimedia artist, activist and facilitator Sarah Gail is just the kind of prolific zinester we love. They’ve got a dozen zines under their belt which span topics such as self-empowerment, sexuality, satire and creative expression. They have shown their visual art at various exhibitions in addition to tabling at LA Zinefest for yeas. Recent projects in the scene include moderating a panel discussion about Black queer zine creators and running a week long zinemaking project with underprivileged youth through LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions).
Despite being based in our hometown of Toronto, Seb Pines had flown mostly under the radar to us at BP for a while. So we were excited to check out the queer game designer, material artist and zine creator’s work work a bit more and discover some awesome zines straddling all kinds of sub-genres — perzines, games, illustration and more. Their work is unconventional in the gaming world in that they centre around feelings, queernes, the supernatural and other personal and political topics.
Pines is also an active workshop facilitator and has been sharing skills and workshops with other RPGers, encouraging people to try out the medium and nurturing the community of RPG zine makers and readers. These game zines too often seems to get left out from the broader zine scene, but RPG zines hare an awesome and long-running tradition that we’re stoked to support more intentionally.