Best of the Fest
During Wellington Zinefest markets, we invite stallholders to submit their zines for the Best of the Fest competition. A group of judges will review the submissions, and one zine will be awarded the title 'Best of the Fest'. The prize has changed from year to year, but always involves receiving the entire box of the zines submitted for the contest, plus commemoration on a nice but ugly trophy.
About a week after WZF 2022 the Wellington Zinefest board, plus a handful of volunteers, got together to review all of the submissions. Collectively we came up with a shortlist, decided on categories for smaller awards and ultimately selected the Best of the Fest winner. The results are below.
Best of the Fest 2022
The World is Ending and so is Evangelion
Kathleen Winter (who is NOT a weeb) made a zine about Evangelion - a media franchise she really, really loves. Most of us haven't watched/read Evangelion (or can pronounce it, for that matter), but her writing style is so charming that it doesn't really matter.
Welly Cafe Memories
Mary Guo is well known for her stunning illustration, and Welly Cafe Memories is no exception. But what we really loved about this collection of comics is how LOCAL it all feels. Scenes unfold in familiar Wellington cafes in this love letter to our hospo scene.
Fan* Mail is made up of spammy nonsense emails they've received, and drawings of what the sender might look like. It is very funny, people were lol-ing. If you enjoy laughter you would like it.
Good Morning, Earth!
'Good Morning, Earth!' takes a simple concept - early morning photos from her window, and a daily greeting to the earth - and creates an immersive, profound piece of zinery.
Best Poetry Zine
Shelby is a maker. She makes notebooks using beer mats as covers, her own paper, crochet, many other things, all very joyful. Mixtape Poetry was her entry for Best of the Fest and it’s pretty great - Shelby’s taken lyrics from songs she loves, put them onto custom-made booklets and set em up inside cassette tape cases. Big nostalgia for elder millenials.
Sasha Francis is one half of publishing house 5ever Books. 5ever organised the bike-powered zook-making set up at Zinefest on Saturday - great vibes. Sasha is also a writer and made the zine Blood Notes, which features poetry that’s both vulnerable and quite cerebral - recommended.
Mix'n'Match Haiku Zine
Lizzie’s zine is a spiral-bound flip book made of those sample paint colours you get at hardware stores. You can mix up the pages to make heaps of dif combinations. The haikus are often very funny and absurd, but sometimes they end up being suprisingly deep too… it really draws attention to the weight and meaning we place on words. A DIY crowd pleaser. Bonus points for all the weird paint colour names… ‘galactic mauve’?
Best Info Zine
The Ultimate Monster Energy Review Zine
Together Charlotte and Rei tried 20 different flavours of Monster Energy, then wrote funny, thoughtful reviews on the flavours. Exploring the weird world of Monster Energy is great, but what we liked best about this zine is that it’s really a document of two friends doing weird fun shit together. Love it.
Cut-Throughs is a zine of lesser-known shortcuts for pedestrians who wanna get around Wellington.Cherie’s made maps, taken photos and written notes on each of the twelve different shortcuts she’s listed. There’s also highlights for some of them - things like ‘remember to look at the great view’ and ‘you might see a cat’. Cut-Throughs is super charming in its practicality - it even has comprehensive contents and index pages. It’s also just really useful.
Best Comic Zine
‘Hauora’ by Lisa Dao was sold at the Red Letter Distro and Asian Aotearoa Arts Hui stall. Lisa is a first year student at Massey who made Hauora as part of their schoolwork. There’s a lot to love in this comic - it’s got great illustrations, a thoughtful subject matter and a wonderful gentle energy. Please make more stuff Lisa!
We included an earlier version of this in our collaborative Cat Zine, where it really shone - the full, developed comic is even better. Christopher really bares his soul here, exploring the horror of the ‘real world’ of adulthood compounded with the loss of a dear friend. 💔
Pōneke Omega Station
Brendan’s zine ‘Pōneke Omega Station’ is an action-packed narrative set in post-apocalyptic Pōneke. Brendan writes that the hills of Southgate inspired the setting, describing the comic as a ‘love letter to my local area’. Brendan is a really impressive illustrator, and his giant mechanical magpie is a real highlight. Nice job mate.
D#KE 4L3RT 002
A ripper of a zine that feels straight out of the Queer Zine Archive Project. It hits so many classic zine themes - it’s bw, cutn’n’paste, DIY, queercore, riot girl, ranty, personal, sarcastic, political, provocative… D#KE 4L3RT 002 just feels like such a ZINE dude. It’s refreshing to revisit that style, cheers Ashley.
Rewiti & I
Ethan’s zine is “a photographic exploration of cultural reconnection through personal experience. The title comes from Ethan’s lost relative Kuku Rewiti. Following his journey through the east cape, Ethan captures moments of his experience in revisiting significant parts of his family’s past and how they are intertwined through historic events.”
Best Art Zine
Curse and Effect, Book One
This is a high action, super-detailed, kinda gory comic. There's heaps to take in, so we ended up staring at each page for quite a while. Sam's high contrast illustration style also looks awesome printed black and white. V cool!
Dogs Waiting Outside of the Kelburn Four Square #2
Dogs Waiting Outside of the Kelburn Four Square #2 is a collection of photos of dogs waiting politely outside the Four Square - very cute, very awkward, very funny, love it. Also dope cover art by Ira Ledneva.
Miles edited this collaborative zine which includes work by 19 different artists (!). Each of the submissions in Delightful Garden are inspired by Hieronymus Bosch's 16th century work "The Garden of Earthly Delights". A massive undertaking, the pieces in Delightful Garden are equally funny, beautiful and chaotic. Well done everyone.
When we picked Best of the Fest, our team divided up the submissions box and shortlisted our picks. A LOT of Darcy's zines made the shortlist. Like, a kind of awkward amount.
As we started sorting out the categories, Darcy being overrepresented made judging quite difficult. Our way around this was to come up with this thing the 'Legacy Award'.
The award is our way of saying that we think Darcy's zines are and have been, consistently, exceptionally good. Darcy is a really beautiful illustrator / artist / maker, so lots of his zines show that off. But his writing is also genuinely very funny, and often at the same time, super personal and vulnerable.
He does great concepts, too, like his latest zine ‘Curse Coupons’ which is a bunch of coupons for curses like ‘you will enjoy the smell of a strangers fart’. Awful
Congratulations Darcy you’re the first ever Legacy Award winner. May your legacy remain legacal.
Best of the Fest 2022
Electric Meat #2
Electric Meat #2 is a zine which combines old polaroid photos and stories from Charlotte’s grandparents after they arrived in Wellington from the UK in the 1970s.
Charlotte writes in the introduction that the Electric Meat series are zines which explore her identity - “how and why I became the person I am today… all the parts that make up my electric meat suit.”
While it might seem like we’re being primed for a super-personal diary, Charlotte doesn’t actually tell us much about herself. Instead, the zine keeps its focus squarely on her grandparents. Charlotte’s writing is straightforward and anecdotal, and she tells us stories about the jobs they had, their interactions with locals, places they’d visit. She gives us space to consider for ourselves how ancestry shapes who we are. How do Charlotte’s working class grandparents inform her contemporary sense of self? How do our own grandparents lives live on in all of us?
The zine is reminiscent of photospreads in any bestselling celebrity biography, but Charlotte’s grandparents aren’t famous, and Electric Meat probably won’t sell thousands of copies. Through self-publishing, Charlotte’s been able to platform *regular* peoples stories, demonstrating that they too have value and that our everyday experiences can be just as formative as the dramatic ones.
Electric Meat #2 ticks every box for us - it’s local, pretty, well written, unique and personal. Charlotte’s zines take advantage of everything zine culture makes possible. It’s accessible both in that it’s easy to read and that it’s a simple concept that anyone could explore. It’s also a reminder that zines aren’t just about showing off creative skills or production values. They’re also about sharing, expressing, or what Charlotte calls ‘externalising’.
Electric Meat #2 reminds us that zinemaking is just as much about the *production* as the product itself. Through making this zine, Charlotte’s considered her past, collected and placed memories, and reflected on them critically. It’s a process we could all probably benefit from doing sometimes.