Alternative, Indeed

The East Bay Alternative Press Book Fair is a celebration of DIY culture and a substitute for standard holiday shopping.

Tomas Moniz came to Rad Dad, his long-running parenting zine, the way it seems most people find their creative passions these days: through sheer necessity. As a young, radical, activist parent of color in Berkeley, he was looking for advice, commiseration, and distraction that was a bit more conscious — and contemporary — than, say, What to Expect When You’re Expecting or Parents magazine. It didn’t take long for Moniz to realize that if he wanted it, he’d have to create it: “At some point I just said, ‘Screw it,’ and made my own.” The first issue of Rad Dad came out in 2005, and today, six years later, it’s a small empire, with nineteen subsequent issues and a newly released book.

The same do-it-yourself, necessity-is-the-mother-of-invention spirit could be said to have spawned another Moniz venture, the East Bay Alternative Press Book Fair, the second annual iteration of which comes to Berkeley City College (2050 Center St., Berkeley) on Saturday, December 10. The East Bay has long had a thriving alternative press, but as an inherently low-budget, limited-distribution, DIY enterprise, it lacks the infrastructure of the mainstream press. Consequently, it can be hard to make the connection between producers and consumers (especially for casual fans or those new to the scene), and even between artists themselves. In Moniz’ mind, that’s where the fair comes in: It’s one of the few dedicated spaces for artists and zine-makers of all stripes to meet each other and their fans, to bring together a diffuse community, and to showcase work that’s very labor-intensive but that often doesn’t find exposure beyond a relatively small group of people.

Brooke Appler, a Berkeley-based illustrator who designed the (beautiful) poster for the event, has been working to organize it along with Moniz. “This stuff is so personal, and often you’re making it in creative isolation,” she said. “The best part … is the opportunity to have a face-to-face interaction with readers, and to meet like fifty of these people that are doing what you do.” Or as James the Stanton — another Berkeley artist, otherwise known as Gnartoons — put it, events like this provide up-and-coming comic- and zine-makers a chance to share resources, ideas, and techniques: “It’s basically a chance to talk to twenty people that live in your area and do nothing but draw comics all day.”

Moniz kept exhibition fees as low as possible to encourage a broad swath of the community to participate; he wound up with what will be tables upon tables of artists, writers, and other creative types showing all kinds of alternative media, broadly defined: poetry chapbooks from Sixteen Rivers Press; comics and graphic novels by local artists like Kane Lynch, MariNaomi, and Sophie Yanow; and zines on subjects as varied as anarchy, graffiti, feminism, and more. Mystic World Press specializes in fiction, prose poetry, and children’s books, all hand-bound in Japanese silk book cloth; Suck It Mussolini Comix just did a series of strips with dialogue written by 11th graders in Pacitan, Indonesia; and Endless Canvas specializes in street-art-inspired books and gifts. In other words, there’s something for everyone. (And, needless to say, it’s a surefire — and cheap — source of creative holiday gifts.) Should be, well, rad. 10 a.m.-4 p.m., free.


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