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Friday, September 12, 2008


posted by on September 12 at 13:00 PM


My books section was tiny this week due to massive Genius profiling, but if I had the space, I would’ve written about this: Tomorrow is the day that ZAPP (the House’s zine library) reopens to the public at the Hugo House, from 3 to 7. I highly recommend going.

I know some commenters have smart-assy things to say about zines—mostly comments of the “Is it 1994 again?” variety—but they’re missing the point. This is a zine library, possibly the largest zine library in the world, and as an archive of the period just before the Internet, it’s invaluable. They have zines from the Riot Grrl scene in Olympia archived away, including the original Bikini Kill zine. There’s also early work by Miranda July and dozens of other comics artists, musicians, and writers you’d recognize.

ZAPP has been closed for about a year now, because its former basement home was flooded, and the new digs are a little smaller but much more organized. It’s actually possible to find a particular zine now, which is a nice change from before. There’s still dedicated areas and supplies to make zines, and the library is still taking on new zines.

On the whole, zines have become a little more sophisticated in the time since the Internet: as objects, many are beautiful, and the content is often reliant on the format, making it the sort of thing that can’t be duplicated in a blog. The free, four-hour celebration of ZAPP’s reopening will involve zine readings and tours of the new space. It’s a pretty great precursor to the Genius awards, too: After all, how often do we get to celebrate the re-opening of a library in this town? I think the Hugo House deserves credit for being custodians of a little-celebrated branch of literature and providing a place for people to explore this unique store of information.

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ZZZZZZAP! the latest greatest toy spark plugger in the universe.

minus the bear of course.

Posted by | September 12, 2008 2:00 PM

I was really hoping this would be about the amazing film with the same title.

Posted by Little Red Ryan Hood | September 12, 2008 2:17 PM

Paul write: I think the Hugo House deserves credit for being custodians of a little-celebrated branch of literature and providing a place for people to explore this unique store of information.

Credit also goes to the many past zapp volunteers who have had to deal with HH's bureaucracy and politics. There's a difference between the hoity toity HH board and the passionate volunteers who gladly toiled away in zapp's previous basement location.

Posted by stinkbug | September 12, 2008 2:24 PM

but do they have any of the old Mr Nose comics/zines?


Posted by diggum | September 12, 2008 2:49 PM

The credit really goes to the current volunteers, interns, and staff of ZAPP and Hugo House. Don't dwell on the past, stinkbug. The basement is full of old prom dresses now, and the new archive is drier, safer, and way cooler.

Posted by Stacey | September 12, 2008 2:53 PM

I think Stinkbug has a valid point. I volunteered there 10 years ago, including booking a 'zine convention (Which The Stranger generously sponsored.) and saw some of those struggles.

But Stacey also has a valid point. I'm just thankful that some of my writings were considered valuable enough to stay in the archives all these years later. You'd be hard pressed to find writing from that era that has the same flavor, quirkiness, and vibrant creativity as that library stores.

Posted by godsactionfigure | September 12, 2008 4:08 PM

@5: I'm not "dwelling on the past". I was simply pointing out that credit also goes to people beyond the typical HH honchos/crowd. And I never claimed above that the basement was great. It's cool that it's now in a more visible spot.

Posted by stinkbug | September 12, 2008 4:31 PM

I spoke briefly at the beginning of the ZAPP open mic, and am worried that I may not have given props to all the volunteers. I meant to say "This reading is dedicated to all the volunteers, past and present, who have built ZAPP into what it is." But I think I forgot.
The RHH deserves props as well for making zines a part of Seattle's literary culture. Do zines garner this kind of respect in any other city?

Posted by Lasky | September 14, 2008 2:28 AM

Credit goes to... everyone. Really, this goes beyond copyright.

Posted by vilebush | September 14, 2008 4:13 PM

Yes! the new space is dry and nice. The new voulenteers made it look great, they worked hard. It's clean and bright.
But for fact checks, Zapp was not closed by the flooding. That happened months after it was closed by the RHH without informing -any- voulenteers, or the current paid co-ordinator of the time. I'm not trying to dwell in the past, because I honestly see heart in these new voulenteers , and a future for the collection,(be it at RHH or elsewhere in the future) but let's also not efface what actually happened, which, sadly and effectively splintered seattle's zine community and created rifts.
I guess there's only time for a slow rebuilding.

Love/Shine On,
Danielle Warhola

Posted by Danielle Warhola | September 14, 2008 7:06 PM

The Hugo House and ZAPP were uneasy bedfellows from the start, with very different agendas and goals. Danielle is correct, the closing was actually *way* more mired in bullshit than this post alludes to. I'm not going to get into it and get all anti HH, and I am optimistic for the future. But I will say that in the past the House hasn't done much of anything for ZAPP beyond providing it with a space. That is indeed a generous gift, but the volunteers and past and present coordinators are the ones that have built, protected and loved this baby, with precious few exceptions.

Posted by k | September 15, 2008 7:34 PM

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