Microcosm Publishing and the 2007 Philly Zine Fest
Last weekend I went hunting for odd and unusual publications at the annual Philly Zine Fest, which this year was part of a citywide literary celebration known as the 215 Festival. Apparently the Philly Zine Fest has been happening for a number of years now, but as the event’s organizer explained to me, his former partner — who in the past had been responsible for inviting most of the publishers and setting up the majority of the workshops — was out of town and busy attending law school. In other words, this year’s fest wasn’t too hot. There were no workshops to speak of, and only a handful of zine publishers selling their creations. As far as I could tell, nearly every publisher was local, and that’s never a sign of a healthy event.
I did manage to meet a guy by the name of Steven, however, who had traveled all the way from Bloomington, Indiana, to sell the books and zines of a wonderfully creative company known as Microcosm Publishing. MP was formerly based in Portland, Ore., and if their name rings a bell, that’s probably because you’ve seen a copy of Stolen Sharpie Revolution, Microcosm’s somewhat legendary how-to-make-a-zine book that for years now has been a consistent best-seller in the self-publishing scene.
Anyway, Steven was standing behind a table that was certainly the largest in the room, and it was piled high with literally dozens of great titles. I picked up the Zinester’s Guide to Portland ($4), which is actually a pocket-sized, perfect-bound paperback; Making Stuff and Doing Things: A Collection of DIY Guides to Doing Just About Everything! ($10); and Do-It-Yourself Screenprinting ($9), a trade paperback that compiles the first three issues of the zine of the same name. Quite a haul!
I can’t possibly recommend Microcosm Publishing enough — assuming you’re the type of person who’s interested in mail art, silkscreening, cheap travel, squatting, Dumpster diving, veganism, freeganism, lo-fi culture … that sort of thing. The company distributes a fantastic (and free) 16-page illustrated catalog, which I’m sure anyone can request online. Visit these creative folks at www.microcosmpublishing.com, and look out for their logo — a bicycle gear with a heart in the middle (see the image at the top of this post) — the next time you visit a decent magazine shop or independent book store.