Zine Fest Houston Ventures Into the Cyberfuture, This Afternoon (And a Long-Overdue Thank-You to Shane)

Hey, folks, just wanted everybody to be aware that today — Saturday, November 11th — is this year’s Zine Fest Houston, and it promises to be a very, very cool one. It’s nice to see that what started out as a humble gathering of a handful of zine fanatics turning into something bigger and more fully-fleshed-out.

This year there’s a pretty full program, with different talks/lectures by people about zine distribution in the modern age and, erm, prison abolition (not sure how that fits in, but hey), zine-making workshops for teenagers, live podcasts, video clips(?), and animation workshops, plus a ton of vendors and food trucks (Moon Rooster, Food Music Life, & Chocolate Wasted Ice Cream Co., all of which sound very cool). And, of course, it’s free, like always.

Oh, and this year’s theme is apparently T H E C Y B E R F U T U R E I S N O W — capitalization & spacing theirs, not mine — focusing kinda-sorta on the cyberpunk-esque world that a lot of us (yes, me included) wanted to see happening by, well, right about now, at least back when we were kids.

Yeah, I went through a period during college where I read every single damn book that might even remotely be considered “cyberpunk,” and College Me would be sorely disappointed that we don’t yet have real virtual reality or neural jacks. (Although the idea of getting something stuck inside my skull always squicked me out, I’ve gotta say.)

So for me, it’s a cool theme. Check out the promo video for it below, in all it’s ’90s glory:

Beyond the expanded programming, it’s also great to see the festival in an actual space, namely the Lawndale Art Center. It’s been a few years, I’ll admit, but the last time I was able to make it to ZFH, it was held on top of the parking garage over at Khon’s.

That same rooftop, sadly, was the last time I got to see and hang out with ZFH founder Shane Patrick Boyle, who passed away last March. I’ve been trying to figure out what the hell to say pretty much since then; his death truly knocked me for a loop, even though we mostly talked in the online world rather than the real one in the two decades we knew one another. Even now, it feels unreal that he’s not here anymore.

Shane was an amazing, hard-working, astoundingly generous person, somebody who wanted with all his heart to share his love of all things zine-related with the world. I’d like to say he and I were kindred spirits, but honestly, that feels like a disservice to him — I’m a lazy slacker and a dilettante in comparison to his devotion to this particular medium. Without him, Zine Fest Houston just plain wouldn’t exist, and I know he’d be happy as hell to see it continuing on, thriving, even, after he’s gone.

When we last met, I gave him a bunch of the zines I’d collected over the years here — it was an obsession with mine in the early days of SCR — because honestly, there was noone else I would’ve entrusted them to. He took a dying medium and treated it like the art it was (and is), a curator rather than a collector who was dedicated both to preserving what he could of its past and encouraging the next generation to keep it going.

I know I said it to him that last time on the rooftop, but I didn’t say it to him enough while I still had the chance: thank you, Shane. You’re a hero to me.

Also, I want to offer a big thank-you to the other ZFH organizers, the folks who’ve taken over the reins the past few years (even before last March, because of Shane’s and his mother’s health issues) — you folks are awesome, and I applaud you for keeping this thing going. It’s appreciated, truly.

Now, to the rest of you: get on over to Lawndale this afternoon (it starts at 1PM) and celebrate Shane’s legacy, alright?

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