Canzine 2009 All About Indie Video Games, Kooky Zines, Collaborative Comics, Unflattering Portraits, Graphic Tees and More
Canzine returned at the Gladstone Hotel.
Brought to you by your friendly quarterly magazine Broken Pencil, Canzine is Canada's largest celebration of small press publishing and "alternative culture." Five bucks got me access to an all-day gigantic zine fair, interactive art installations, and a bunch of awesome activities, including a screen printing workshop... plus a free copy of BP's latest Olympics issue. Not bad for a lazy Sunday afternoon.
I maneuvered the Melody Bar of The Gladstone in a daze (not sure if that was due to my previous night's festivities or because it was so packed with people). Over 150 kooky and creative zines were on display, from small press zines and comics to arts and crafts.
I had to squeeze through crowds of bespectacled hipsters to check out the different displays, but the elbows and awkwardness were well worth it. The room oozed with talent and creativity.
A range of works caught my attention, including an Internet search poetry project, an anarchist publication entitled the Molotov Rag (so off the grid that it doesn't have a website), colourfully awesome mixtapes by Bennifer Editions), and delicious, delightful chocolates. Yum.
Unfortunately, I missed the "One-Two Punch Book Pitch," hosted by Broken Pencil's fiction editor Hal Niedzviecki. Writers got a nerve wracking two minutes to pitch their book to a panel of judges, who then determined whether or not they were worthy to be published. Ack.
Luckily, I caught a bit of the screen printing workshop led by Michael Morton, who's experimental fashion label Crime League offers cool graphic tees.
Canzine embraced this year's theme, the Olympics, with its own indie games. Hipsters felt the burn as they battled for medals in different competitions, including a "Zine Lift" and "Word Relay Race."
A highlight for me this year were the art installations. Five of the Gladstone's rooms on the second floor were transformed into weird, explorable environments.
Appearances can be deceiving, as proved to me by Artcade 2009. What looked to be a sparsely decorated room was actually an indie video game showcase. That's right. You read correctly. Members of the Hand Eye Society showcased various manifestations of DIY video game culture with a retrofitted arcade cabinet. Translation: I got to draw my own video game character!
In another hilariously strange room, I was greeted by the floating glow-in-the-dark head of Macaulay Culkin. The creators of Wowee Zonk built this weird 3D installation of the Home Alone character's giant head in a cave.
I chatted with one of the artists, after being tripped out by the glow in the dark lair and asked where they got the inspiration for the aptly titled "Spelunkin' fer Culkin." His answer? Wordplay.
A found photo exhibit of awkwardly posed children, teen and adult mannequins from the 1930s and 40s transformed another room. Odd, yet cool.
The eerie collection was actually found discarded in front of a downtown Toronto apartment complex in 2002. Never thought recycling could be the stuff of nightmares.
I felt like I stepped back through time as I walked into the City of Craft General Store. The guys in girls in old-time costumes didn't hurt, either. A range of works were on display, like Unflattering Portraits from the Misanthrope Specialty Co, handmade books from Nightjar Books and really cute/disturbing Damned Dollies.
The Toronto Comic Jam also set up shop at Canzine. Passers-by were invited to stop in and draw a panel or two in this collaborative comic installation that normally happens at the Cameron House on the last Tuesday of every month.
Cramped and sweaty quarters aside, it was a great day of buying, selling and trading zines (or just admiring on my part). Can't wait for Canzine 2010!
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