Print’s Not Dead

Local Small Press Fair Expozine Hits Decade Mark

Participants check out the zine scene last year. Organizers expect another healthy turn out at this year’s Expozine. Photos Emily Campbell

Check out photos from this year’s Expozine here.

In the age of Internet domination, where we’re told almost daily that the printed word as we know it will soon be obsolete, Montreal’s infamous small-press festival, Expozine, is celebrating a decade in the biz and showing no signs of slowing down.

“Ten years ago a lot of people told us that we’d barely last a year or two because there was this thing called the Internet and blogs and, ‘You’re starting a book fair at the worst time, pretty soon there won’t be any paper.’ Clearly, at this point it’s all about culture and it’s not going to stop,” said Louis Rastelli, one of the founders of Expozine and organizer of this year’s event.

“Every year, we’re really seeing a whole new generation of people at Expozine. They’re 18, 19, 20; they totally want to make zines and books and posters and poster art like the other generations did,” he continued.

“I’m not really worried about the Internet or blogging, or that the new generation is going to change anything. If anything, Expozine is going to keep getting bigger, because we’re seeing it this year that at least half the exhibitor list are very new people.”

One of those first-time exhibitors is Jack Allen, an Honours English and Creative Writing student at Concordia and founder of small press Trapshot Archives.

“What I’m looking forward to most at Expozine is, lamely, to be more involved in the Montreal print/publishing community. There’s such a rich sense of the literary, music and visual art scenes, but print seems to fly under the radar a lot of the time,” Allen said.

“It’s cool because Expozine lets independent presses be proud of what they’ve been doing, but it’s also an exhibition where you can see what other people in print are getting up to.”

The idea for Trapshot began this time last year, but didn’t fully develop into something tangible until this past summer. “Trapshot became a way to motivate myself, as well as my most talented peers, to do something without the constraints I experienced in other [publications] I was involved in.” 

Montreal artist, writer and Concordia graduate JP King is another young member of the independent print world. “Expozine is living proof to anyone who loves making books that other people also love making books,” said King.

“Paper can be a lonely world, so it’s a chance for everyone to crawl out of their basements, attics, lofts and walk-ups to show what drives them, what they can’t keep inside of their heads or hands, what they compulsively, and by any means necessary, must create to share with you.”

King started Paper Pusher, a Montreal-based micro-press, after a decade of thought and experimentation.

“Over time I’ve worked with lots of different people, and now I’m at a point where I’m doing it all alone and loving it,” said King. “I started buying and collecting and scavenging all sorts of print production equipment and have now built a substantial bedroom-print-shop. It was what I dreamt about at 17, and now have at 26.

“Owning the means of production makes for inexpensive manufacturing, which allows me to create well-crafted, affordable books. The idea for Paper Pusher came from somewhere between a nerdy office-worker love for paper, and a sort of black market fantasy of books becoming a contraband good in the future.”

With the new generation on its side, Expozine continues to expand in both popularity and influence.

“After two or three years, we didn’t expect the project would get so big so fast,” Rastelli said.

“At this point, we can barely keep up. We are really sad to turn away so many people who want tables at Expozine. It fills up so fast. After 10 years we’re all really proud of the things we’ve set up; we really did address a need that existed at the time, and we’re all surprised at how huge the need still is today.”

The fair has a lot to celebrate this year—it is currently one of the largest small-press fairs in North America, with over 270 publications, both English and French, participating and visitors and exhibitors from all across the United States and Canada. For readers interested in underground and alternative publications, it doesn’t get any better.

Local literary arts zine Four Minutes to Midnight will be launching a special anniversary issue in honour of the event.

“They interviewed the organizers and lots of people who have taken part over the years and put together a lot of excerpts from various zines over the past decade,” said Rastelli.

“There’s a free launch of this magazine at Drawn and Quarterly [on Nov. 25], the founders of Expozine will be there too to tell stories and discuss and take questions and launch this special magazine. It’s really nice that we have someone actually making a zine in honour of the 10-year anniversary. I think it’s pretty appropriate.”

There will also be a birthday party incorporated into the weekend. The event, being held at Casa del Popolo on Nov. 26, promises some wicked DJ sets—DJ crew Jazz Amnesty Soundsystem will be spinning tunes—as well as some fun surprises. The party, as well as the rest of the weekend’s events, is free.

Expozine / Nov. 26 to Nov. 27 / Église Saint-Enfant Jesus (5035 St. Dominique St.) / 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. / JP King will give a free poster to anyone who mentions this article at the Paper Pusher table.