Zine & Tell: BP International Zine Month!

July is International Zine Month! Here at Broken Pencil we will be featuring artists in our Zine & Tell series, shining a light on their favourite zines they have ever created, zines that changed their perspective on life, and zines that created new opportunities. Would you like to be featured for Zine & Tell? Click here to submit!

“Ghost Stories” by Kathryn Hemmann

Ghost Stories collects thirteen very short stories that occupy the liminal space between horror, magical realism, and autobiography.

Why do you like this Zine?

As someone who studies literature professionally, I was always afraid to write fiction myself. It’s not that I didn’t have stories to tell, but rather that I didn’t think I was “the right sort of person” to be a published author. It was only after discovering zines that it clicked for me that there was nothing stopping me from writing and sharing stories of my own. When I printed the first edition of Ghost Stories in November 2018 and debuted it at DC Zinefest the next summer, both the writing and the layout were rough around the edges, but I still got a lot of positive feedback. This warm reception from the community encouraged me to hone my craft and step up my game, and the experience of putting my work into print helped me to realize that, even though I might not fit into neat categories, there’s no such thing as “the wrong sort of person” to write and share stories.

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I’m an aspiring writer and comic artist who teaches classes about Japanese fiction, comics, and video games at University of Pennsylvania. A fun fact about Kathryn is that they are a huge fan of the Legend of Zelda Games! Their favourite is The Wind Maker. You can find Kathryn on Instagram and Twitter!

“Painty Papers Volume 2. Social Distancing Edition” by Alyssa Pisciotto

This zine was created during her time at home in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. She was away from her studio and in her childhood home, trying to stay creative with the materials she could find. Each zine is a wordless narrative of creativity and innovation. Each zine is different in the way that each page is hand painted and drawn, featuring a different composition, while using the same materials.

Why do you like this Zine?

This zine helped me stay creative through one of the most stressful and uncertain times of my life. The making of this zine acted as an outlet for emotions feelings and anxiety and allowed me to stay creative while not having access to my studio and supplies. All while being away from my home. Giving myself a way to create in a manner that is not normal to my practice really helped me push my creativity and make something fun in the process.

Tell us a bit about yourself!

Alyssa Pisciotto is a queer artist from LaSalle, Ontario and now resides in Toronto. She graduated from OCAD University in 2016 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, majoring in Drawing and Painting and minoring in Printmaking. Painting and printmaking are her primary practice. Her current work revolves around themes of colour, line and shape, and how they interact with one another. A fun fact about Alyssa is that she can tie a cherry stem with her tongue. You can find her Instagram!


“She’s Hoping to Get Back in the Ring by Wrestlemania” by Shivaun Hoad

This zine is about her becoming a pro wrestling fan as a adult, as well as her life in the lead up to Wrestlemania 34.

Why do you like this Zine?

I wanted to talk about a weird interest but I also tricked myself into writing about personal stuff I’d been reluctant to share: the end of a 15-year relationship with the person I’d explored this interest with, and a concussion that was still affecting me daily long after I’d stopped talking about it. After I’d finished this zine, I opened up more to my friends and asked for their help with tabling so I could exhibit that year at the Toronto Comics Arts Festival without getting totally overwhelmed. From tabling at shows, I’ve gotten to have a lot more conversations with strangers about wrestling, but also brain injuries and recovery!

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I live in Thunder Bay, Ontario. I’ve written comics & zines about robots, death, feelings, professional wrestling and Twilight. A fun fact about Shivaun is that she’s never been in a fight but did use the Judas Effect on a kid in high school. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter!

“FibroZone” by @Self_Saboteur!

This is a zine dedicated to the muscular inflammatory illness called fibromyalgia. With poetry and illustrations the zine explores issues like internalized ableism and self-loathing.

Why do you like this Zine?

It was really hard to make because my illness impacts my life every day and to simplify it for other people was difficult. Being vulnerable and honest about my daily struggles is not easy. But by telling the truth, I feel much lighter.

Tell us a bit about yourself!

Self_Saboteur is a chronically-ill south asian artist living in Canada. She makes zines about disability, mental illness and loneliness. Her hobbies include hanging out with her cats and making up corny stories for herself. A fun fact about Self_Saboteur is that she loves eating spicy food, especially ones that make her cry. You can find her on Instagram!

“Gold.” by Sarah Royal

This Zine is about her time working for a scammy ‘cash for gold’kiosk ata mall in Portland, Oregon, when she needed a job.

Why do you like this Zine?

This zine, more than any others I created, I think, provided a gateway for me to really dig into what capitalism and ‘work’ means in American society, and in my life specifically. Transforming the drudgery of the day-to-day at this mall kiosk, and exploring the real humans affected by it, through writing was exceptionally therapeutic. It really illustrated the difference in my emotional state with contrasting actually being there with telling the story about being there. Essentially, it was excellent therapy.

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I’m a loud-mouthed and boisterous New Jersey native living in Brooklyn with my husband and kiddo, working on writing, reading, exploring, and discovering new punk bands. I constantly feel like there is an endless pile of cool things to do and experience, and I’m working on balancing new adventures with being content with the awesome life I’ve already built. A fun fact about Sarah is that she once played guitar on stage with Green Day in front of 66,000 people. You can find her on Instagram!

“Cooling Down” by Stefan Alexander

This Zine depicts a character strolling on the beach in his green speedo in very hot weather until he decides to cool off in the water for a swim, floating on his back staring at the sky.

Why Do you Like this Zine?

I like this Zine becasue I am enthusiastic about water and swimming which I do often and wondered what it be like swimming in the sea.

Tell us a bit about yourself!

Stefan Alexander is a freelance comic artist and zine maker based in West London who is in the autistic spectrum. His zine practice session mainly focused on water, daily life and fantasy as he’s very hyper prolific consistently producing many zines. Also currently creates a weekly Web comic The Fluffs. He previously exhibited related articles and zine fairs like; DIY Space For London, South London Comic And Zine Fair, Hyper Japan Festival and Mcm Comic Congress, especially Pehu Cafe based Osaka, Japan where he had his work displayed. He even does smallscale watercolour painting capturing scenery landscapes while travelling. A fun fact about Stefan is that he dances, is outgoing, an wears a speed for swimming. You can find him on Instagram, Twitter, and on his Website!