By Broken Pencil
The normally cranky and irascible organizers of Expozine couldn’t help cracking a smile over the 2005 edition of the Montreal zine fair. Starting out with about 60 vendors in its first year, it has grown exponentially, and boasted over 200 exhibitors at the current fair. “It was a really good representation of practically all the people who do this kind of thing in the metropolitan area,” says co-organizer and Fishpiss publisher Louis Rastelli. “And from elsewhere-a lot of people came up from Toronto, Vermont, New York-the guy from Bodega Distribution came up from New Jersey and said he’d never seen a bigger zine fair, he was stunned.” The sprawling zine population explosion was given plenty of room in the ginormous basement of Saint-Enfant-Jésus Church on the Plateau, where droves of shoppers, punters and browsers were serenaded by Sixtoo’s ambient djing, munched on all manner of goodies at the mobile Café Esperanza snack shop, and, of course, dropped mucho dinero on all the lovely publications.
Asked if the fair encountered any problems, Rastelli pointed to the less-than-equal representation of Francophone product, despite the fact that this year Francophones like Claudine Vachon, Pascal Angelo Fioramore and André Racette (all of Éditions Rodrigol) were brought in as organizers. “It was only one third French to two thirds English,” Rastelli said. “It seems there’s less zining activity on the French side, although there’s lots of music zines-and then there’s probably parity between the languages in terms of comix, poster makers and silkscreeners.” Another complaint among the visitors was that they were confronted with an embarassment of riches. “People were wishing it was two days, because it wasn’t possible to visit all the tables,” Rastelli said. “Especially since a lot of the stuff you see at Expozine you won’t see anywhere else.”
This year has seen the inauguration of the Expozine Alternative Press Awards, featuring three prizes in French and three in English, for best book, best comic and best zine. Expect an announcement on the winners in early February, 2006. (Vincent Tinguely)