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Queer Artists and Authors Embrace Self-Publishing

Today, many LGBTQ artists and authors embrace self-publishing and zines, and our city make it easy with the Denver Zine Library, founded in 2003, home to more than 15,000 zines and helping to elevate the scene in Colorado.

OUT FRONT got to chat with four queer zine-fiends about self-publishing in 2019.

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Guild and Mori Guild/Morguild Visual

Stephanie Guild / Mori Guild

The brother-sister-duo Ryan and Stephanie Guild make up Mori Guild: Ryan’s collaging, Stephanie’s pen and ink, and their photography pushed them to zines, where they could share their work in a more comprehensive way.

SELF EXPLORATION AND EXPRESSION THROUGH THE CREATIVE PROCESS

“Art for us is an analogy for life Zines are just a great way to get things on paper, things that you sit and process on your own, things you might not necessarily feel the greatest about. It’s my most intimate thoughts and fears, and a lot of that is, ‘Who am I? Where do I fit?’ I’m just a human having thoughts like everyone else is.”

STRICTLY DIY

“The zine-creating process is so personal that it almost feels weird to hand it over to somebody else and say, ‘Print this the way we want it printed.’ We really do love taking ownership of every step in the process.”

Stephanie and Ryan are planning trips to incorporate into future issues. Find them at moriguild.com or on Instagram @moriguild.

Photo courtesy of Nan Crandall

Nan Crandall / Mermaid Ink Comics

Nan Crandall and Rosa Anderson live and breathe horror. The queer ladies author an ongoing noir webcomic and series of zines, Children of Kronos, and their new series, Rainbow Horror Shorts, is a dark interpretation of the colors from the pride flag exclusively featuring LGBTQ characters.

WHY HORROR?

“I studied to be a medical illustrationist in school, and it took a weird turn. Rosa, her story writing, I don’t think she can’t write creepy. Paired with my drawings of doing really anatomical stuff, it was really easy to go into horror.”

CREATING INCLUSIVE ART

“We couldn’t help but make all of our main characters gay, you know? With Children of Kronos, at least starting it out, it was like, ‘Everybody’s gay.’ I think it’s also how our world and our community are gay and a diverse group of people, so it makes sense to write what reflects in our lives.”

The first installment of Rainbow Horror Shorts debuts at next month’s Denver Zine Fest. Find more from Mermaid Ink Comics at mermaidinkcomics.com or on Instagram @mermaid.ink.comics.

Brendan Williams-Childs / Swamphouse Press

Brendan Williams-Childs hadn’t heard of a zine when his partner, Maricat Stratford, told him they should make one about their Dungeons and Dragons campaign. Swamphouse Press eventually took off as an alternative way to share their ideas with the masses.

THE INTERNET AND LGBTQ CULTURE

“We focus on interests of folks who were in their early teens when the internet was sort of becoming a thing. A lot of people were also into fantasy, roleplay, and how that helps people find their identities. We were really interested in that specific experience, especially with queer people.”

FREEDOM AS A QUEER ZINESTER

“We have some very niche zines. Maricat did a translation project of Sappho’s work into a language that was constructed in the 80s by a feminist sci-fi writer. There’s no professional outlet for that kind of thing, but it’s a cool project. People at zine fests have really been drawn to it. There are underground markets for LGBT people and queer authors, and I think zines are definitely part of that.”

Brendan currently works at the Denver Zine Library, and Swamphouse Press plans to debut a new zine at the Denver Zine Fest in June, with submissions opening soon for future issues. Find them at gumroad.com/swamphousepress or on Facebook: facebook.com/swamphousepress.

Photo courtesy of Cristy C. Road/Croadcore

Cristy C. Road / Croadcore

Cristy C. Road first entered the zine scene writing and illustrating Green’Zine in 1997. She has participated in the DIY publishing community in Denver since 2002 and is currently based in New York. She self-published the first press of her most recent project, The Next World Tarot, a deck focused on resilience, breaking the gender binary, and anti-racism.

90s AND 00s ZINE AND PUNK CULTURE

“I saw feminism and queerness in music and subcultures, seeing Green Day and all these things, it was the first time I saw a world I could be a part of. There was this whole circuit of zine communities that was really wild. It was like the internet was new to us, so we were like, ‘Oh my God! This is so easy!’ It was this weird, exciting, high-energy era for me.”

A QUEER LATINA IN THE COMIC WORLD

“I was interested in more than just the project existing; I was interested in making the money that I think I deserved to make, which also is not a part of punk that I ever articulated. People of color, queer people, people on the margins, women, people who have had f*cked up lives, deserve to make what their project is making. If their project is making money, where the f*ck is that money going?

Comics-at-large, it’s just such a boys’ club. Memoir comics have always been this guy thing, and I just feel like my stories haven’t always had a place in the comic world until recently. Even the graphic novels that I write, they were confined, still, to like, ‘sad woman stories.’ I want a table at comic conventions! They never pick me. It’s so weird. I feel like zine culture, it’s like, ‘Oh, you’re an angry, crazy girl! We want you!’”

Cristy is working on bringing some of the classic Green’Zine issues back to life and currently fronts the band Choked Up. Find her at croadcore.org or on Instagram @croadcore.

These creators and many more will be at Denver Zine Fest on Sunday, June 23 at the McNichols Civic Center Building from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.. For more on the Denver Zine Fest and the Denver Zine Library, visit denverzinelibrary.org.