A quick trip to the Alternative Press Spring Fair, taking place as part of the No Dark Places music and DIY festival, revealed there's plenty of new and established talent on the zine scene.
Its presence in part fills the considerable gap in the zine calendar left by Edd Baldry's Last Hours collective's London Zine Symposium. The fair took place in The Albert hall (no, not that one) a pebble's throw from Queen's Park Station. If the symposium had great passing footfall in Brick Lane and a wave of hipsters, the Albert has a simple charm to it. Despite fantastic local signs, most will have had to hunt the event out and few will have left disappointed. Props to the organisers.
Among the 30-odd exhibitors there are some real gems including the beautiful design of the Monster Emporium Press, the eclecticism of ShadowPlay stockist Peter Willis' Dead Trees and Dye distro and Holly Casio's odes to Bruce Springsteen and what he represents against her queer, working class background. There are the usual mix of brilliantly bizarre comics, impassioned feminist zines and calls to action - not least The Occupied Times - which continues to publish articulate and in-depth studies in activism with each issue examining a theme in depth. As ever, I often feel the awkwardness of some of the stallholders can seep into the browser and those offering a smile, a complimentary sweet, a daft tale or, in the case of the three lads from the University of East London, boundless enthusiasm, are those who make the day.
Unfortunately my visit was only fleeting - missing excellent-looking screen printing, stop motion animation and DIY politics workshops - there's nothing like a good zinefest to inspire creativity. It's been a while since the last print edition of ShadowPlay as life continues to get in the way but with each clever idea picked up that long-armed stapler looks more tempting than ever.