5 things to see and do at Canzine 2013

The 2013 Canzine Festival of Zines and Underground Culture is set to take over 918 Bathurst this weekend, and I do mean take over: masses of comics, chapbooks, buttons, cassettes, and alt-y literary types will spill out of every room. Broken Pencil Magazine's hip-to-be-nerdy Canzine marketplace, which years ago outgrew its old home at The Gladstone Hotel, will host scores of DIY vendors as well as talks, tutorials, art rooms, radical readings, and more. Even in the larger Annex digs, the fest is bound to be chaotic, so here are five things you should plan to check out this weekend.

Canzine Symposium for Indie Culture Makers
Canzine's small press fair is Sunday, but the fun actually starts on Saturday with the Symposium for Indie Culture Makers. Passes are $38 — steep for a community built around chump change, but during the entirety of the programming attendees will learn how to write grants, use social media, deal with bad reviews, and much more — plus there will be a zine swap, vegetarian lunch, and an indie hyperspeed talk on promoting diversity in the video game community. Passes are on sale here. Saturday, October 19, 11AM - 3PM, 918 Bathurst.

All of the things!
One nice thing about Canzine is that (in the past at least) Broken Pencil have supplied a gift bag on the way in containing an issue of their magazine but which serves its true purpose later on: holding all your goodies. Hopefully they keep the free paper satchel thing going, but I'd bring a bag along just to be safe — or make the first thing you buy be some kind of cool custom screened tote. First, there will be freebies: zines, pamphlets, stickers, buttons, and business cards for vendors you want to connect with online stack up fast.

Then there will be the treasures you buy: comics, handmade books, t-shirts, dolls and toys, micro-release vinyl editions, etc. And you should buy all the things, because a lot of this stuff is only available at Toronto's few small press fairs, or via artists' websites. I budget a certain amount of money (in small bills and change, naturally) for this every October, and it pays off because I have cool stuff to peruse forever. My best ever Canzine score was this bound book of Dave Secretary's TIME FOR SOME STORIES. It cheers me up like nothing else, but if you click that link, you may as well take the rest of the week off. You'll see why.

The Programming
I have no idea how people have time to attend Canzine's events and reading and still fondle every single item out on the market tables, but for those looking for entertainment of the live variety there's a lot going on all day, including an NXNE curated line up in Room 4 featuring presentations, a library and general store, video screenings, and a place to make your own guitar pics. There will also be a "Mental Health Comedy Zine Musical" by Dave Cave, Fan Fiction improv, radical readings, and, for attendees who sign up ahead of time via, a chance to pitch books before a panel of judges.

Art Rooms
One thing I always forget before going to Canzine is that in addition to all the dainty little things that take hours to look at, there are hearty art installations too. This year Room 2 will host The Ghost Arcade, Scot Deeming's traveling exhibition on video game culture, where you might pick up some game hacks or some obscure history. In Room three, The Mountain School Bookhouse will house an art studio, a print shop, a publishing house, a stage, and a good ol' book burning (wait, what?) beneath a pop up tent.

The people
Vendors and attendees at Canzine, if a little awkward, are really goddamn nice, and the event is something of a low key mixer for Toronto's literary and arts communities that vibes with inclusivity, quirk, and creativity more than slick coolness. People are pretty into chatting, trading art, secretly checking out each other's vintage clothing ensembles, and sharing their love of (or nostalgia for) underground culture. You'll likely find some new favourite artists this weekend, but you also might make some new friends. Aw.

Canzine 2013 is Sunday, October 20 from 1PM - 7PM at 918 Bathurst. Admission is $5 and includes a free copy of Broken Pencil Magazine. The full vendor list is here.

Note: Canzine's Symposium for Indie Culture Makers is Saturday, Oct 19 and costs $38.

Photos by Maria Cortellucci

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