The 4th Annual Artspace Book & Zine Fest

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A selection of items from The Foragers Club at the Artspace Book and Zine Fest at the Peterborough Public Library on February 23, 2019. Photo by Sarah Cockins.

The 4th Annual Artspace Book and Zine Fest took place on February 23 in the Community Room in the lower level of the Peterborough Public Library. The event featured zines, comics and graphic novels, letterpress prints and cards, the work of small presses, woodcuts, screen prints, handmade books, as well as other types of paper arts. The event began at 10 A.M. and ran until 5 P.M. The Book and Zine Fest was open to the public and was free to attend.

The lineup of artists this year was remarkable, featuring over 30 talented artists and publishing groups. To name just a few: bird, buried press, Call Out Comics, CYOA Ptbo, The Foragers Club, Jo Yetter, Mirror World Publishing, The Monthly Zigns, Nick Taylor, Robb Mirsky, Shiny Pliers, and Wyrdsmyth Press. There were established names from the Peterborough area, as well as emerging artists and authors that have only very recently started showing their works.

From watercolour prints to handmade zines to published books, contributed works were available for purchase. In addition, many contributors handed out samples, freebies, and business cards. It was thrilling to see such extraordinary creativity and talent in one space, with each person bringing something unique to the table.

Inquiring on artists’ preferred medium, some favoured traditional – ink, paint, and paper – while others preferred digital art, and some work with a combination of the two. Some contributors illustrated and wrote their own zines, comics, or books themselves. Others collaborated on pieces, often with friends or family.

Inside the entrance to the Community Room, Call Out Comics distributed their third issue of their newspaper for free. The black-and-white newspaper states “Adult+” on the cover, and it certainly didn’t disappoint: inside there are various comics that tackle subjects such as gender identity, privilege, misogyny, and climate change.

One particular piece that stood out was CYOA Ptbo’s choose-your-own-adventure book set in downtown Peterborough, where the reader plays as an ambassador, with over 30 possible endings.

Attendees mill about the Artspace Book and Zine Fest at the Peterborough Public Library on February 23, 2019. Photo by Sarah Cockins.

At another table, twinkling fairy lights drew attention to Dragon Girl, a children’s book written by Christos Aslanidis, illustrated by Andria Keen, and published by Elwood House. Dragon Girl is “the empowering tale of a young woman’s quest to avenge her father’s death” as she “learns about justice, mercy, friendship and love.”

Throughout the event, a few sample zines were handed out to guests. Contributors encouraged viewers to take a better look at their work, offering a quick read or to flip through illustrations.

Artspace is a non-profit, artist-run centre that helps artists showcase their work. Artspace aims to “foster a stronger appreciation for Canadian contemporary art,” as well as to “build on our reputation as one of our region’s most vital arts organizations.” Additionally, Artspace aims to advocate for the rights of artists; “specifically, we recognize the institutional barriers faced by specific groups of artists and aim to create space for Indigenous, regional, and emerging artists working in all disciplines and medias.”

The Book and Zine Fest had a lot to offer, showcasing many spectacular pieces of writing and art, and it was clear to see the hard work and effort was poured into every piece. From potential artists and emerging writers to published professionals, the mix of participants and guests at the event was proof that Peterborough has a lot of talent.