So Long, Buffalo Small Press Book Fair


After 10 years of bringing together print creators and artists of all types, the Buffalo Small Press Book Fair is calling it quits, with the final fair taking place this weekend (April 8 and 9) at the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum in downtown Buffalo.

Co-founder and organizer Chris Fritton said he and the staff felt it was a good time to close the door, while the event still felt vital.
“We’d like to step out before the brand or content becomes stale or irrelevant,” he says. “We’ve done a lot over the course of 10 years to keep content relevant, more progressive, edgier, I do think that it’s time for a bit of reinvention. We’ll close the door on this brand and create something that Buffalo needs.”

The BSPBF started as a haven for handmade books, zines and small press poetry – “Marginalized artists who didn’t have a venue,” Fritton says. Over the years, that vendor pool has changed and Fritton has seen an increased in applications from print on demand vendors (ie, authors who pay to self-publish through Amazon, Createspace, Lulu, etc.) Fritton estimates that print-on-demand authors now constitute 80 to 90 per cent of the fair’s applications. While Fritton takes no issue with print on demand as a rule, he was concerned about the glut of applicants taking over the fair – and taking it further away from its original purpose. He envisions a more ideal breakdown, possibly through a new festival that could be planned in the future.

“I’d really like to create an event that is divided more into sections,” he says. “An area for fine craft, area for print, area for zines, area for small press poetry, area of print on demand. A fair that still values inclusivity and affordability, that gives everyone their five minutes. When that proportion changed so wildly, it really threw the fair out of balance, out of wack. I hope I’ll be able to devise a fair that restores that balance.”

Buffalo is also changing and re-urbanizing quickly, experiencing what Fritton calls a “renaissance.” Invariably, this means the audience for events like the BSPBF is also changing. Fritton says he wants to take a minute to rethink how organizations like the Book Fair can participate in an evolving community.
“10 years is a good round number to be able end things on my own terms, not have it sputter out or fade away,” he says. “It would be out of character to do a big hullabaloo at this point. I’m happy to just celebrate the decade with a lot of new people, and people who were there from the beginning.”

The Buffalo Small Press Book Fair is happening on April 9 and 10 at the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum, Porter Hall, 453 Porter Avenue, Buffalo, NY, from 11am-5pm. It is free to the public.

Event Recap: Chicago Zine Fest 2015!

czf pano


by Jason Luther

As I walked into the Chicago Zine Fest on May 9, I was trembling. Granted, I was hungover and famished after a morning run on the shores of Lake Superior, but as I surveyed the 200-plus publishers dazzling patrons with tables upon tables of printed rainbows, the only feeling I could sense was awe. It might be the closest thing I’ve had to a panic attack.

Read more: Event Recap: Chicago Zine Fest 2015!

Event Recap: RIPE 2015!

words and photos by Jonathan Rotsztain

It’s spring and snowing in Rhode Island as zinesters and readers descend on the historic Providence Public Library for the 2nd annual Rhode Island Independent Publishing Expo. I’m humbled to highlight some stand-out books from the show and grateful to get to know another rad zine library.



New York-based cartoonist A. T. Pratt is the author of the mind-blowing Pop Pup Dog Day, a semi-fictional account of a four dogs out on a walk. The jam-packed book vibrates with a lively-line and you have to see it to believe it, with pop-ups and fold-outs on every page. Pratt relies on the interaction between his work and the reader inherent in the comics form and then pushes it to the next level. He battles with his obsessive tendency to fill space versus creating sequential art that tells a story. But it doesn’t really matter because anyway you read it, Pop Pup Dog Day is a visual feast that combines a fun basic narrative with a very innovative format. A must-read.

Read more: Event Recap: RIPE 2015!

The Buffalo Small Press Book Fair Is Coming…

BSPBF Poster 2015 copy III

The Buffalo Small Press Book Fair 2015!
Saturday April 18 & Sunday April 19
Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum
Porter Hall, 453 Porter Ave., Buffalo, NY

Since 2006 the Buffalo Small Press Book Fair (BSPBF) has been bringing together zinesters, micropresses, poets, chapbook makers and indie artists of all sorts under one roof, with the goal of promoting the work while keeping it accessible, affordable and inclusive. Vendors from all over the U.S. and Canada flock to Buffalo for two magical days in April – but the event has actually expanded to four, with readings, events and parties happening from Thursday onward. It’s a great time and barely a two-hour drive from our offices here in Toronto – why not go make a mini weekend-road trip Sat April 18/Sun April 19 and go check out some of the most exciting and original independent publications happening right now?

Saturday night’s reading schedule includes folks from Bloof Books, Furniture Press and SunnyOutside Books, some of whom are featured in our next issue, due out in mid-April, in a column by our assistant editor Jonathan Valelly! (You can read the story on our NUB mobile app now.) On Sunday there will be a host of rad open workshops as part of the fair. All events are free and open to the public and there are still more to be announced!

Visit the BSPBF website, and follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to get all the latest updates.

Event Recap: SPX – The Big Small Press Expo


I’m south of the Mason-Dixon line in Bethesda, Maryland at the Small Press Expo (SPX). Self-published cartoonists and mostly small presses offer their comic book bounty. A split between invited exhibitors and lottery-winners vie for customer and mutual attention. Growing from the mid-90’s, SPX has become a jewel in indie-comics broadening convention circuit. Executive Director Warren Bernard says via email that the show has, “doubled the exhibitor floor space since 2011 from 12,500 to 25,000 sq ft. We now have 280 tables up from 162 in 2011. Attendance has gone up from just about 3000 in 2011 to over 4000,” at this year’s event. Though the show remains a niche affair, independent comics are attracting more talent and readership. A lottery winner myself, I’ve come to the local Marriott Hotel and Conference Center to try and sell my books, break even on my exhibitor fees and find where the more familiar DIY-zine culture I’m used to lives among the shiny artwork of SPX.

Read more: Event Recap: SPX – The Big Small Press Expo

Recap: Chicago Zine Fest 2014


Toronto Zine Library volunteer, co-creator of Static Zine (their 9th issue on Food is out now) Broken Pencil board member and all-round great human Jessica Lewis headed across the border to the Windy City last week for her second-ever visit to Chicago Zine Fest. She was kind enough to document her adventures for us in words and photos. Thanks Jess!

I loved Chicago Zine Fest so much last year, I had to go again. It’s close-ish to Toronto and centrally-located for both countries (sort of), thus people from all over make the trip. The fest makes a massive effort to be inclusive, with gender-neutral bathrooms, accessible spaces and lots of representation. It includes a youth-specific reading event. The main event boasts over 200 tablers. Everyone is there because they live and breathe independent art and publishing and appreciate the space for it.

Last year, I went with my zine partners to table as Static Zine. When you travel any kind of distance for a zine fest, you must know that you won’t break even on your expenses. You go for the experience. You go to get your name out there and to learn lots of other names, too. Since last year, I’ve not only had a hefty to-read pile, but I’ve also kept in touch with a bunch of zinesters from across the U.S.A. It was really cool to be able to “actually” meet them and spend time with them this year. “These are my people,” I thought.
So, yeah, I had to go again. This year I went on my own. Here’s what it was like.

Read more: Recap: Chicago Zine Fest 2014

We Went to the Brooklyn Comics Fest

words and photos by Kasia Mychajlowycz


The fourth Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival was a week of book releases, gigs and film screenings culminating in one sweaty Saturday, November 12 at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Some 100 or so publishers, small presses and people with access to a photocopier sold their art to fans crowded into the church gym and basement, spilling out the door and down the block. The comics on display had a lot more to do with zine and underground art culture than with Superman and Comicon. In fact, with the exception of the larger publisher’s tables, all of these comics looked like zines: self-published, radical booklets often featuring experimental story-telling.

Read more: We Went to the Brooklyn Comics Fest

Five Questions: Philly Feminist Zine Fest

As part of International Zine Month, we’re getting in touch with some enterprising folks in the zine community and asking them a few questions about what they do and how they do it. First up is Sarah Rose, a Philadelphia-based zine-maker and distributor co-presenting the first-ever Philly Feminist Zine Fest along with pals Kristen Asher, Taryn Hipp and Jen King. Taking place on Saturday August 26, the fest will feature a variety of feminist exhibitors and zinemakers, as well as some amazing-sounding workshops, including ones on sex communication and decriminalizing sex work. All proceeds from the fest will go to the  Project Safe, which provides and promotes harm reduction strategies for women working in prostitution on the street in Philadelphia.

Broken Pencil: So what inspired you to put on a feminist zine fest? 

Sarah Rose: The NYC Feminist Zine Fest was amazing. Best fest ever, in fact. A month or so after that, someone asked if I’d help out with a craft fest that was happening at the Rotunda which was meant to be a benefit for Project Safe. The organizer of that fest left town, and by that time, the idea had been planted in my head to have a benefit that involved zinesters as well as crafters. So, a natural progression from there was to evolve it into a zine fest that might have a few crafters present.

How do you and the other organizers know each other?

Kristen, Jen and I are all staffers at Wooden Shoe Books, an anarchist bookstore and infoshop here in Philly. I’ve read and admired Taryn’s writing for as long as I can remember, so asking her to be involved was also a no-brainer.

The proceeds of your fest are going to an organization that provides harm reduction services to sex workers in Philadelphia, and a couple of the workshops are either indirectly or directly related to working and relating to sex workers (I’m thinking specifically of the Decriminalizing Sex Work and How to Be An Ally workshops). How did you decide that this organization would be the recipient of the fair’s proceeds, and concurrently, why did you feel it was important to include these particular workshops?

Previously, I had been approached for help with a craft fair that was to benefit Project SAFE. It was a bummer when the craft fair fell through, but the idea had been planted. I had been familiar with Project SAFE via some stuff they’ve done with the Wooden Shoe, so it never really occurred to me to find another recipient. But even if I had, I think there tends to be less funding for sex workers than there might be for other totally worthwhile organizations designed to aid female-identified people.

Read more: Five Questions: Philly Feminist Zine Fest

Portland Button Works Grand Opening

For all our U.S. friends in the Pacific Northwest, here’s an event for you.

After a successful Indiegogo campaign to get the store off the ground, zinesters and Nobody Cares About Your Stupid Zine podcast co-hosts Alex Wrekk and Derek Neuland are opening their Portland Button Works storefront in Portland on Sunday, May 20th. The store will offer custom made buttons and bottle openers as well as zines, books and comics.

The store is located at 1322 N. Killingsworth and will be open seven days a week from 10am-8pm. The first 10 customers to the store on Sunday will receive a “super awesome gift bag full of surprises!”


Chicago Zine Fest This Weekend!


The annual Chicago Zine Fest is fast approaching, as in THIS weekend! With two days of informal panels and workshops, a mini film fest and a handful of practical DIY demos, the CZF is both an exhibition of independent publishing, and an opportunity to swap skills and participate. The hands-on Center for Book and Paper Arts offers a chance to brush up on your book binding and letterpress technique, and runs all afternoon on Saturday.


The Fest grown since 2010, now offering two days of programming as well as the main Zine Exhibition this Saturday afternoon at Columbia College.Highlights of this year’s programming include Anchors Away!, a presentation from the beloved Halifax institution, Anchor Zine Library and Archive; Teaching with Zines, a workshop for educators who want to use zines in the classroom; and Distributing and Marketing Your Zine a panel discussion to be led by Ayun Halliday (Zinester’s Guide to NYC), Mac Fischer (Temporary Services) and Amy Leigh (from Toronto’s twelveohtwo distro). Speaking of distribution, while you’re in town why not check out the Fest’s handy online list of Chicago zine retailers?

The Chicago Zine Fest’s ambitious programming wraps up on the Saturday night with Zinester Karaoke (location: TBD). For complete information on all of the events,  local and international exhibitors as well as rideshare and housing forums, head to

Invited exhibitors at the 2012 CZF include:

Art Noose
Billy the Bunny
Cambodian Association of
Illinois Girls Club
Chicago Center for Literature
and Photography

Chicago Publishes
Nicole J. Georges
Half Letter Press/Temporary
Ayun Halliday
The Land Line

Anne Elizabeth Moore
Mimi Thi Nguyen
The Queer Zine Archive
Cristy C. Road