Dundee Zine Fest, Good Press, and Scotland's Zine Scene

Ahead of this weekend's Dundee Zine Fest, we take the temperature of Scotland's zine scene

Feature by Ben Robinson | 08 Nov 2019
  • Good Press

For such a humble object, the zine has become quite the cultural force. Typically a small-circulation, self-published collection of texts and images – and often printed on folded-up and stapled-together sheets of A4 paper – zines are being made about art, design, film, music, poetry, football or indeed anything else you could ever think of.

It's an explosion of grassroots creativity that sees Scotland playing host to a thriving scene across its major cities. There are regular zine fairs in Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh that bring together a wide cross section of various communities, and getting a handle on all this chaos of competing voices is no easy task.

Good Press on the Scottish zine scene

With such a wide range of subjects and styles on offer, the medium seems to be asking a lot of its audience. We spoke with Matthew Walkerdine of Good Press, a heavily zine-focussed group “dedicated to the promotion and distribution of independently published printed matter” based on St Andrews Street in Glasgow, to try and find out what they’re up to.

The Skinny: What is Good Press, and what do zines mean to you?

MW: "Good Press is a volunteer-run, informal organisation and currently we're held together by artists, designers, writers, curators and musicians. We operate an open-submission policy meaning ANYONE can stock their publication here. We hope to make a home for anything independently published or released.

"Zines mean a lot to us obviously – it's our beginning! – and it’s the easiest creation when thinking about putting your work out into the world. It’s free of editorial, easy to make in low quantities and easy to distribute from your rucksack into our space."

Are there any specific zines you would recommend to readers of The Skinny?

"Come and have a look, we have thousands of independent publications on our shelves and everyone's taste is different! Something will catch one reader in one way, another thing in another way. Right now — and my taste is not to be held higher than anyone else’s — I'm particularly into the MsHeresis Issue 2 published by Rietlanden Women's Office out of the Netherlands. Brilliant format, intuitive design exploring Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell. Sunday's (our open-access print studio) has taken up publishing also and has just released a beautiful publication by Johanne Deffarges and Inés Gradot called Bouncing Balls. They've pushed their medium extremely well!"

Has the zine scene changed much in the years since Good Press was formed back in 2011?

"Definitely, things are much quicker these days. Access to consumer-level technology has definitely seen people start adding further details to their publications. If you want to make a photocopied zine that is still available, but adding in a risograph cover or a full colour glossy tip-in is easier than ever. People are making more ambitious projects at a quicker rate which is great."

Dundee Zine Fest

This coming Saturday will see the return of the Dundee Zine Fest, a regular showcase of a scene that has truly blown up since the heady days of the Yuck ’n Yum art zine back in 2008. The Yuck ’n Yum Zine Fair was held at the city’s Chamber East Function Suite in 2012, and Becca Clark, a former member of that collective, has joined forces with artist Kirsty McKeown to keep the self-publishing flag flying high.

This year’s event will include fare such as Bloodbath, the Edinburgh-based literary zine dedicated to exposing Scottish fiction’s weird horror underbelly. Publishing horror/genre poetry, short stories and illustration, Katy Lennon’s creation was featured in the BBC arts series Loop in August. In Delving into the Darkness, she talked about why female-led horror is on the rise across Scotland.

Another zine due to appear is The Queer Dot, exploring what it means to be a queer artist living and working within Dundee. The group recently took part in a panel discussion at Duncan of Jordanstone’s Cooper Gallery where they discussed intersectionality, identity, and queer culture in relation to institutions. Their zine brings together artists such as Leah Cameron, AR Crow, Morgan Black and Ana Hine of the long running feminist zine Artificial Womb.

The CHIP Collective’s acronym signifies that Comics Help Inform People, and the collective have dedicated the last year to creating a zine of stories about cancer and its treatment. Illustrated as a comic, Living With Cancer: Our Stories aims to make it suitable for people of all ages and abilities. The 44-page zine was donated to schools, libraries and health centres, and the group aims to create informative graphic novels to raise awareness about varied ranges of subjects for as wide an audience as possible.

Dundee Zine Fest, Roseangle (Dundee West Church), 130-32 Perth Rd, 9 Nov, 11am-4pm, free


Good Press, 32 St Andrews St, Glasgow, goodpress.co.uk