MadZines at the Edinburgh Zine Fest and Artists Book Market.

Early May saw the MadZines team (Hel, Tamsin and Jill) heading north for the Edinburgh Zine Fest 2022.

Kiki Smith, Neon Bow

It was held at the Fruitmarket Gallery – a free, public space for culture, just behind Waverley station. The Fruitmarket’s annual celebration of artists book culture was on at the same time. For those unfamiliar with artists’ books, there is a great explanation on the Smithsonian libraries blog here.


Over 40 zinesters were tabling at the zine fest, bringing a huge range of self-published DIY zines to over 900 attendees. We didn’t have a table ourselves this time, so were free to browse the stalls, take full advantage of workshops, catch up with old friends and make new contacts. We took along some copies of Asylum, the radical mental health magazine – to sell on the communal table – and went well supplied with MadZines badges and our MadZines intro zine, for swapping.


It was great, after the forced confinement of the pandemic, to be out and about again. As inspiration, we grabbed a copy of the excellent Z marks the spot – ‘a wee map of zine libraries, distros, printers and other cool stuff’ and look forward to further trips.


Hel attended Lea Cooper’s excellent ‘Zine Fever’ workshop, w with Alex Dunedin from Ragged University.  They were  both  hugely inspired by Lea’s fascinating perspective on the history of zines and the resources they generously shared with participants (some of which are shown here)


We loved checking out Annie Pocalypse’ and Steven Fraser’s tables and adding some of their new zines to our collection (see below), along with Annie’s ‘Psychiatrist’s Tears’ bookmark which we will treasure.


We enjoyed catching up with Jen and hearing about developments in the wonderful Mental Health Zine library, and spending time with fellow zine scholars Michael Gratzke, Lea Cooper – of the Take it Back zine project – and DIY archivist Kirsty Fife. Tamsin  Lea and Kirsty are part of a group organising Zine Assemble, an online zine symposium and zine jam which will happen later this year, See call for submissions.


We loved chatting with Maya Chowdhry, of Skear Zines, whom we encountered again the following week at the Partisan Collective Riso workshop in Manchester.


It was a bonus  to have access to the collection of zines from the Edinburgh Zine Library – hung with clothes pegs against the gallery windows. The EZL online collection is under construction and ever growing.


The relationship between the form and content of a zine has become a recent preoccupation. Upstairs in the Artists’ book fair there was a lot to inspire us. Particularly intriguing were Tom Alexander’s story in a Mobius strip, his primate backpacks and especially his Oubliette – a story about a man in a hole, read with the aid of a dental mirror!


We gained some new skills ourselves too. We’re particularly interested in how stories can be told in ways that do not ‘fix’ them, so were keen to learn from Elaine Robson, of Lost Path Press, how to make zines with spines that allow the pages to be moved around. She introduced us to three different folded paper structures that need no glue or stitching: the crown spine, the cut and pleat spine and the tubular spine.


We’ve also been thinking about zines as spaces for the cultivation and ‘seeding’ of ideas, so were intrigued by Lucy Roscoe’s ‘a garden in a book’ which combined the form of a compound concertina with classic pamphlet stitch. That idea – with its three-dimensionality – has multiple potential applications. A psychiatric ward in a zine anyone?




Alex Dunedin, of Ragged University, proved a wonderful guide on our first evening. We caught up, the second day, with Mad Studies scholar and erstwhile zinester, Sarah Golightley with her adorable rescue pooch, Bramble. Later in the weekend, we found time to chill in Princess Street Gardens and explore the Water of Leith. Our trip north also provided us with a welcome opportunity to facilitate a workshop for the Mad Studies students at Queen Margaret University. You can read Lisa Archibald’s blog about that HERE.


Our bags were heavier, heading south, than when we came – with new MadZines to add to our collection. Highlights included several new acquisitions from Annie Pocalypse and Steven Fraser, including Steven’s Conversations with my Imaginary Friends, complete with pull-out letters, and Greta Sharp’s zines we were delighted to discover in the Artist’s book fair.



Greta has been crafting zines about various aspects of trauma through their personal relationship with the British Seaside (note: Margate is hosting its first zine fair on 25 June 2022)


We loved august (in the wake of) dawn and levi richard’s, ‘When I dream it feels like drowning’ – from Door Ajar comics – with its exquisite black and purple illustrations. In this fascinating interview August touches on the zine’s origin in experiences with hallucinations, dissociation and depression, as well as the process of its co-creation.




We were intrigued too by Jake Parappa Hainey’s zine, My name is Larry, about Larry ‘Wild Man’ Fisher’s music and its impact on the zine creator. Fisher’s song, Hainey tells us, ‘lack traditional structure or time signature and would often devolve into ramble or simply fade out when he forgot the lyrics’. The zine deals sensitively with the fine line between appreciation and exploitation when raw experience is shared.


We’re looking forward to future trips over the border. Next stop – Glasgow Zine Fest in July.

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