A Tale of Two Distros

By Alex Gurnham

One’s from out west, the other resides in Southern Ontario. One lives its life online while the other demands face-to-face interaction. Black Budgie Zines Distro and Broken Arts distro may carry a number of distinctions from one another, but they’re both ultimately in the business of trying to foster community in places that need a boost.

Just over a year ago Ashleigh Rajala created the Black Budgie Zines Distro, one of the only distributors of its kind based out of British Columbia. The project began with her own zines and recognition of a community need and has since grown into a successful hub for the fledgling Vancouver scene as well as international titles.

“I’ve looked and can’t find any other online distros in Vancouver, and there are a few stores around town, but when you can count them on one hand, you know it’s a problem,” Rajala tells me. “With that said, though, I do feel as though it could be changing. The main branch of the Vancouver Public Library has a whole host of zines now, and it seems as though a great little community of independent artists and writers and publications are cropping up.”

Meanwhile, in suburban Oshawa, Ontario, the Broken Arts collective is taking a different approach to community building and zine distribution. In contrast to Rajala’s distro, which operates online and takes a small commission solely to cover postage costs and distribute through the mail, the new Broken Arts distro intends to sell its wares solely at festivals and events, taking commissions in the form of a single issue donation for their newly formed zine library. Harley Pageot, a Broken Pencil contributor and Broken Arts head, identifies the organization as an arts collective first and a zine distributor second.

“Our mission is simply to bring creative people together and create an environment that fosters and encourages the production of art,” Pageot says. “We don’t want any money from the zines we distribute. We just want to help facilitate their spread to new readers and new sets of eyes any way we can.” The methods may be different, but from Vancouver to Oshawa the goal is the same. Rajala sees her distro as the perfect opportunity to meet and share work with people she wouldn’t have otherwise, a purpose Pageot says is the same as any distro.

“This is our attempt,” he says “to shine a light on some of the terrific work being produced around the globe the simplest way we know how -by spreading them out on a table and saying, ‘Here! Look! Read!'”

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