I attended Orlando Zine Fest 2018, my first zine fest ever, and I had a fantastic time. It was a cool central Florida winter evening, and equipped with a stack of print copies of my own zine, Rhymes With Seen, I ventured down to Downtown-ish Orlando not knowing what to expect, but sure that I wanted to be a part of it.
Held outside local watering hole Will’s Pub, the zine fest looked like a pop-up gypsy caravan, a mass of tents, lights, smoke, and people. It was an almost intimidating scene, as you could tell this was a tribe gathering in earnest, their attention focused inward on each other and on the zines on display, but there were enough breaks in the huddled mass to let newcomers in, so in I went headfirst.
The variety of zine topics was the most impressive feature right off the bat. There were photo books, comics, poetry collections, punk scene news, sci-fi/fantasy reviews, art collections, edited anthologies, fiction, memoirs, travelogues, photojournalism, politics, activism, music, love, comedy, local interest, essays, to name a few. I’m usually shy when faced with big groups and new people, but after chatting with a couple zine creators, I loosened up and started having fun checking out everything that was on display.
I was at the zine fest for about two hours, and got a chance to check out pretty much every table. While I wasn’t able to buy everything I would’ve wanted (I really wanted to support each and every creator just for their work), I still ended up buying a decent number of zines and some extras like stickers and pins. In turn, I gave away a copy of my zine to every creator I bought from as a thank you for their work and to share my own. Each and every one of them was honestly surprised and thankful when I handed them a copy of Rhymes With Seen, which was very humbling. I hope they all enjoy it.
For someone who’s lived in Orlando for two-and-a-half years and barely connected with the city, this was an excellent opportunity to see the kind of talent the City Beautiful boasts. I’ve connected with many of the zine creators on social media since, and I look forward to being more in tune, and a part of, the local art scene in whatever way possible. The zine fest was also invigorating for me as a first-time zine creator, and I cannot wait to produce my zine throughout 2019. Maybe by the time Orlando Zine Fest 2019 rolls around, I won’t only be attending, but selling my work as well.