In today’s installment of ‘Meet this Zinester’ we meet the awesome creators of Blkgrlswurld Zine, Christina Long, Creative Director and Courtney Long, Editor. So stick around, get inspired, and then make zines~
Where are you guys from?
Harlem, New York & Detroit, Michigan respectively.
What are zines to you?
Courtney: In a broad sense, they can be seen as snapshots of the culture of this space and time. This is because they often hold ties to the cultural references of the time. More specifically to me opening a zine is like tugging the lid off of someone’s hidden treasure box. Inside we get to see the creator’s favorite, most cherished things (good and bad) described on paper.
When did you guys discover zines? What was your first reaction to zines?
Courtney: I personally first discovered zines when I got dragged to a zine fair by Christina. My first zine was a little booklet of local woodland creatures the artist had saw on a walk and had drawn onto these little sheets of paper. My first thought was wow! Such variety! This was because at zine fairs I saw people who were sharing little photocopied hand folded booklets all the way up to hand bound hard cover books. It showed me that anyone can make a zine. The door was wide open. And that’s what we did.
What is your favorite thing about zines?
Christina: What I love most about zines is that anyone can make one. I’m trained in traditional printmaking processes, completing a Master’s degree at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. It excites me to see folks expressing themselves while working out the kinks of book-making, regardless of fancy materials or formal training. Sharing content you care about is what matters in DIY zine culture.
What is Blkgrlswurld Zine all about?
Christina: Blkgrlswurld Zine is a bi-annual zine sharing our love of heavy metal music through visuals like photos, art, and writing. It’s a way for us to document and share some of the cool experiences we have had at metal shows. Some of the prose and photos also share a slice of our personal lives as young Black women navigating this world as best we can. Sometimes it’s hard celebrating the alternative music, anime and comics we enjoy. We get pushback from other fans that it’s odd we like mosh pits or music fests. But if we can keep rocking on and pushing through, so can our readers!
What made you guys want to create a zine like Blkgrlswurld Zine? What was the inspiration behind it?
Courtney: Blkgrlswurld Zine was a direct reaction to feeling like our voices/experiences as black girls in the heavy metal scene were not being heard. It might even have been sparked by an article that tried to say black women were hard to find in the metal scene. Hard to find?! We rock just as hard as anybody. Our zine is a visual documentation of not only some of the coolest stuff we’ve seen straight up happen at these shows, but also of us out and about and enjoying it. We are present, we are here, and we are having a great time. It’s also an outlet in general for our creative expression. I know for Christina in particular, she was feeling a little disillusioned by the art world and its structure. There are no rules in zine making. We get to put whatever we want in it. We can change up the page numbers, even the order if we wanted to every time we print. Every edition is special and not always supposed to look exactly like its neighbor. It allows the kind of freedom that sometimes isn’t allowed in the traditional print art world. Zines are also a medium that is open to the public, and most specifically the kids. Zines are accessible to everyone and every budget, which makes it much easier to get into the hands of the kids who are going to these metal shows.
What do you hope people get out of Blkgrlswurld Zine?
Christina: I just want other women to see themselves in the content we share and validate that it’s ok for us all to like aggressive music and quirky video games, comic books, etc.
Courtney: Our zine often is bought by what we call, ‘the kids’, between the ages of 16-21 who are going to these metal shows the most. That’s our scene. We want to be able to reminiscence with people who were at these shows and say hey! You remember when that happened?! Wasn’t that awesome? Did they do that on their tour in another state? We also want the kids to know that if they feel like outcasts, they aren’t. We want them to know it’s not strange to like heavy metal music. It’s not strange to be a black woman who likes heavy metal music. It’s not strange to be a heavy black woman at a metal show enjoying heavy metal music. You are not alone. So there is something in it for everybody, it’s all inclusive.
Why did you guys decide to convey your love of the Metalcore music scene through the medium of zines?
Courtney: For us if there is no music, there is no art. It may just be the way our brains work. I know for Christina in particular, she cannot make art if there is no musical instrument involved. So of course she paints while listening to music. For me as the editor, Courtney, I work through my toughest emotions through my heavy metal music. Only after I have worked through them with the help of music am I able to sit down and finally write. Also again, zines are accessible to everyone and every budget so it makes it easier to share copies directly to the kids who are going to these metal shows.
Tell me a little about your zine-making process.
Courtney: We try to be biannual but life sometimes gets in the way. We attend metal show monthly, if not weekly – Christina goes to shows in NY, while I go in Detroit, and sometimes we are able to meet in the middle and go together. At the halfway point we usually turn to each other and go hey! Tell me about that crazy show you went to again? Let’s make a note to put that in the zine! Then it’s a mad scramble of organizing our pictures, writings, and drawings. If you have ever met Christina, then you know she doodles through everything. There is never a shortage of doodles for her. Same with Courtney, she writes on scraps of napkins, sticky pads, and scrap paper. All of those are scrutinized and the best ones declared best ones and put in the zine. We then usually politely ask, then demand, and then shake our younger brother William (22 yrs. old) down for his comic illustrations.
Name two of your favorite zinesters and why?
Christina: OMG I’ve met so many talented zinesters since moving to NYC 4 years ago. 3 Dot Zine, Suffragette City and The Bettys have all inspired me in different ways. But the main trend they exposed me to was zine makers as community drivers. They each in their own way have taken their publication further through nightclub launch parties, fundraising rock shows or music fests, art exhibitions and even hosting their own zine fair events. It’s a level of activity from book artists I hadn’t seen until moving here. I’d love to try and host some kind of event in the coming year.
Do you have any advice for new zinesters?
Christina: Just give it a try! Don’t be intimidated by other zinesters if you don’t have everything just right yet, or don’t have the funds to look like a small business like some of the other zinesters at these fairs. At my first event, I showed up with the zines and a business card. 3 years later I have a pop up kit feat several kinds of merch, stickers, postcards, Xmas lights, posters, decorations and gift bags, LOL. It takes time to explore what kind of publication you want to be, so take it slow – but don’t quit!
Interview conducted by Solansh Moya
Pictures provided by blkgrlswurld instagram.
Stay tuned for next week’s “Meet this Zinester” with Emma Wasielke, creator of many super cool art zines.