An Escapologist’s Diary. Part 25.

Organising the zine fair was a surprisingly stress-free caper. There are really only three components: venue, audience and contributors. Thanks to the Internet, these things all fell into place quite easily. This can be our little secret though. The event looked very impressive and we’re happy to take any credit that’s going around.

Less easy was the physical work of carrying the all-important trestle tables up the hill from a local church, which Samara and I did together at 10:30 on the morning of the big day. The chap from the church who’d arranged to meet us was amused that a lanky young man in running shoes and a tiny Canadian woman had planned to tackle the whole load alone. True, we’d have done better with more volunteers but it felt too much of an infringement upon various friendships to ask for help at such an intolerable hour. It was only upon Samara’s insistence that I didn’t do the entire schlep on my own. Samara, who is accustomed to much harder work at major art shows (“carrying a bronze sculpture, backwards, while wearing heels” is her job description) made light work of it, but two days later my muscles are still burning from the rare feast of lactic acid.

It was fun (and unusual for me) to scurry around so early in the day with a clear agenda. It felt perfectly symbolic to carry the zine fair tables past the building in which I used to work; my bleary-eyed former colleagues almost certainly labouring quietly within, unaware that I was up to such monkey business. They’d be clicking around on Facebook and drinking poisonous instant coffee, while their one-time water-cooler pal was embarking on an Escapological caper right outside the window.

The zine fair took place at the Free Hetherington, the student-occupied university building I mentioned in my last diary entry. The numbers blue-tacked to the ground floor window declared that it was Day 122 of the occupation. Most of the occupants were at a student protest at nearby Strathclyde University, but a few sleepyheads were still savouring some zeds on the upper floor and two friendly girls were juggling colourful balls on the front step.

After parking the tables at the Hetheringon, we went home for a shower, a rapid lunch and to collect our stock of New Escapologist. We brought an ambitious number of Issue 5s and a smaller selection of back-issues. In the end, I think we sold more back-issues than we sold of the new edition, but these things can never be predicted.

As we cleared the upper floor and began to set up the tables, the other dealers began to file in. Among their number were our friends from Team Girl Comic, Kleinzeit, Lock up Your Daughters and Aye-Aye Books. I was also happy to see Stuart Smith with his back-issues of Beard magazine, about which I am fondly nostalgic.

For posterity, the full list of dealers can be found on our event page at the eternally brilliant Zine Wiki.

Once we were all set up, the rest of the day whizzed by very quickly. Just as I had done at the Montreal Anarchist Bookfair and Expozine last year, I had perfected a little sound bite to describe New Escapologist to anyone browsing the stall. I explained that we are an “anti-treadmill publication with a nice mixture of funny and earnest articles, and with contributors from all over the world”. I don’t know why exactly, but different venues make me want to describe the publication slightly differently. In Montreal, I was keen to describe us as “a humour periodical from England” simply to explain my accent immediately. Here, it felt that the anti-treadmill (education>employment>retirement) angle was the key for some reason.

Lots of pals showed up to support the gig. I was particularly glad to see my comedian friend Ian Macpherson. I had been feeling pretty ragged from the table carrying and magazine touting so I was very happy to see the hangdog chops of this not-quite-fallen-but-hanging-from-a-thread trickster god in our midst. He regaled us with anecdotes about getting his new book published by Rory Bannerman-Coutts, who sounds quite a character.

It was also good to meet Graham Fulton whose funny poetry about office life will make an appearence in Issue 6 of New Escapologist; and two of the librarians from the Glasgow Women’s Library: a cause highly worthy of your support.

As ever at these things, we had to ration the number of publications we bought from other people, lest all of the days proceeds be completely absorbed in the same enterprise. Nevertheless, we bought some of Graham Fulton’s brilliant stuff (a book of poetry about the Glasgow subway system and a single poem about The X Files); New Escapologist contributor Paul Jon Milne‘s zine, Guts Power; issues of Team Girl Comic; and a Lock Up your Daughters to boot. Browsing through the latter, I was surprised to see a photograph of myself! It was this one.

The zine fair was a modest success, I reckon. Big thanks to Tom Coles and everyone at the Free Hetherington.

Today we managed to find the energy to march along with the Slutwalk between George Square and Glasgow Green. You can see my head sticking out of the crowd emu-like in this picture. It looks like I’m talking to myself but I’m actually enjoying a nice conversation with tiny Laura Gonzalez about Momus who we hope to see perform in Edinburgh next week. New Escapologist salutes the Slutwalkers.

Thanks to Neil for the above pic.

About

Robert Wringham is the founder and editor-in-chief of New Escapologist. He's also a humourist and performer.

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