The Chicago Zine Fest is an independent event creating an outlet for small press and independent publishers to showcase their work. Our goal is to make DIY zine-making accessible, highlight the talents of self-published artists, and give independent artists a chance to interact, and swap skills through tabling, community events, and workshops.

Past years at a glance…

Chicago Zine Fest 2010 (March 12 & 13)
Friday featured a reading at Quimby’s Bookstore, an art show, and a screening of the Gadabout Film Festival at Johalla Projects. Saturday featured workshops and a day of zinesters from around North America exhibiting their zines at Columbia College, and an aftershow featuring bands and more readers at the Ball Hall.

Chicago Zine Fest 2011 (March 25 & 26)
Friday featured a student reading & panel discussion with Al Burian and Aaron Cometbus at Columbia College, a youth reading followed by an exhibitor reading at 826CHI, and zinester karaoke at Quimby’s Bookstore. Saturday featured a day of workshops and zinesters from around North America as well as New Zealand and Germany exhibiting their zines at Columbia, and an (in)Formal dance after party.

Chicago Zine Fest 2012 (March 9 & 10)
Friday featured a reading by students from Columbia College, a panel entitled Gender, Race, and Sexuality: A Discussion with Women in Self-Publishing with Cristy Road, Mimi Thi Nguyen, and Anne Elizabeth Moore, a youth reading and an exhibitor reading at 826CHI, and the 2012 Spring Zine Olympics at Quimby’s. Saturday featured a zine exhibition at Columbia with over 200 tablers (along with a DIY film fest, workshops, panels, kids activities, and an art show / zine reading room) and a karaoke afterparty.
Chicago Zine Fest 2013 (March 8 & 9)
Friday featured a panel entitled Writing about Health, Disability, and Accessibility in Zines with Kerri Radley, Maranda Elizabeth, and Dave Roche, a youth reading and an exhibitor reading at 826CHI, and a game called Zine, Lose, or Draw at Quimby’s. Saturday featured a zine exhibition at Columbia with over 200 tablers and 2,000 attendees, along with workshops, panels, kids activities, and an art show / zine reading room. Saturday ended with a CZF favorite: a karaoke afterparty.

What is a zine?

A zine (an abbreviation of the word fanzine, or magazine; pronounced “zeen”) is most commonly a small circulation publication of original or appropriated texts and images. More broadly, the term encompasses any self-published work of minority interest usually reproduced via photocopier on a variety of colored paper stock. A popular definition includes that circulation must be 5,000 or less, although in practice the significant majority are produced in editions of less than 100, and profit is not the primary intent of publication. Zines are written in a variety of formats, from computer-printed text to comics to handwritten text (an example being Cometbus). Print remains the most popular zine format, usually photo-copied with a small circulation. Topics covered are broad, including fanfiction, politics, art and design, ephemera, personal journals, social theory, single topic obsession, or sexual content far enough outside of the mainstream to be prohibitive of inclusion in more traditional media. The time and materials necessary to create a zine are seldom matched by revenue from sale of zines.


Chicago Zine Fest 2014 is sponsored by Quimby’s Bookstore, Columbia College Chicago’s Book & Paper Center, 826CHI, and our newest sponsors, CHIRP Radio, Hairpin Arts Center, and the Chicago Publishers Resource Center!

To embody the spirit of community that zines foster, the Chicago Zine Fest sought out a select group of stores and organizations to back us with non-monetary means. These sponsors agreed to work with us to make the zine fest a success by helping promote the fest, organizing events that tie into the fest, and giving access to advice and resources. This model of valuing human connection over US currency is one that runs through the very core of the zine fest.

You can support the Chicago Zine Fest by donating through Paypal, contacting us about an in-kind donation, or better yet, volunteering!

Check out our awesome past sponsors and donors here.