By Kate Wolf
Artwork by Darin Klein
When Darin Klein made his first zine in high school in the late ’80s — a literary journal full of friends’ poems, writings and photographs — he thought he might have been the first person to ever do so.
“I’m from a very small town in Central California,” says Klein, 34. “I did not know that people went to Kinko’s and made art. I thought they just made copies of their résumés.”
One can imagine, then, the shock of recognition he felt on a trip into San Francisco, when he discovered, under the stairs at City Lights bookstore, the chapbook-and-independent-publication section.
“It was like, oh, other people are doing this!”
Klein immediately began collecting independently printed matter of all kinds, made as far back as the 1950s and with topics ranging from elective amputation to sea life to gay punks.
Now, some 2,000 zines later, Klein is also the author and organizer of 60 or so zines himself, and has curated two shows in San Francisco about independent publications and book art, as well as numerous visual-art exhibitions around Los Angeles. And he brings his passion for and knowledge of zines to the Hammer Museum this Saturday, with “Zineland,” which will feature 15 individual Los Angeles–based vendors, as well as Skylight Books and Family Bookstore, a panel discussion led by ANP Quarterly editor Aaron Rose, an ice cream truck (Heartschallenger), a cash bar, the local band Sounds of Asteroth, and just perhaps a bubble machine.
Vendors are set to include Eden Batki, with a reprint of a zine about lesbian S&M originally made by her mother in 1978; Journal of Aesthetics & Protest; Brass Tacks Press; Eve Fowler selling her own artist’s books and copies of Ridykeulous; and work by Edie Fake, 2nd Cannons Publications, Elk, Insert Press, Christopher Russell, the now defunct Library Bonnet, Mark Todd and Ester Pearl Watson of Unlovable, Trudi Gallery, and ANP Quarterly. There will also be a commemorative zine of the event, with contributions from all the participants available free of charge.
With so much great material for sale on the cheap, it’s no wonder that people like Klein, who began working at the Hammer as programs coordinator in January (he was at Skylight Books for five years before that), can easily build a collection. Zines (or “exhibitions in print,” as Klein likes to think of them) can have a slightly addictive quality. And then there’s figuring out how to display them.
“I’m constantly fantasizing about the perfect shelving situation,” he says.
“Zineland,” in the Hammer Museum Courtyard, Sat., July 14, 6–10 p.m., with panel discussion at 7:30 p.m.; free.