Demons, a shitty living arrangement, the escapades in a stranger’s diary found in a gas station bathroom, politics, recipes, eating disorders and sex.
These are just a few of the topics you can find covered in the Bend Zine Library (pronounced zeen), located at the Workhouse at the old Iron Works. This library has grown, through the contributions of half a dozen zinesters, to about 1,000 little books. They’re housed in small plastic tubs on a small bookshelf in the front corner of the crowded Workhouse.
The checkout process is lo-tech, just write your name on an index card, write down what you took and when you took it, and begin to peruse one of the most interesting forms of art being created in this town today.
There is no textbook definition for a zine. Typically photocopied and hand stapled, the self-published mini-books have a multi-media format combining writing, drawing and photography. Each zine is as unique as its creator.
“It’s self-propelled journalism,” said Rachael Lee-Carman, one of Bend’s longest standing zine writer. “You don’t have to write anyone’s story that you don’t want to.”
At the Bend library alone there are zines with zines inside of them, with leaves laminated and stapled to the covers, pages upon pages filled with comics, typed pages, handwritten words, photographs and other odds and ends that have some intrinsic meaning to their authors.
The lack of rules is what makes the art form accessible for makers and extremely entertaining for readers. You never know, by looking at the photocopied covers, exactly what you’ll get inside. It might be something similar to a journal, band reviews, or maybe just vintage photographs. Their lack of structure is a huge part of their draw.
“Mostly for me it’s about community connecting,” said Lee-Carman, “I’m creating a more pure form of myself in my conversations, my philosophy and my experiences and putting it into a more accessible form that other people can connect to.”
At 26, Lee-Carman has been self-publishing for 10 years and is the creator of Show and Tell, a zine about her life, which she has been putting out since 2009. She’s basically the face of the Central Oregon zine community.
Lee-Carman can regularly be found around town conducting interviews, sipping Boneyard IPA and working on all kinds of community based art projects. Additionally, she teaches a zine class for teenagers at The Nature of Words twice weekly.
On top of Show and Tell Lee-Carman has also put together several community collaboration zines including We Are Bend, which hosts the contributions of Bendites at First Friday Art Walk. Lee-Carman’s most recent collaborative work is called Fighting with Demons, dealing with our personal demons and how to handle them.
“They’re such an easy form of self expression and creative expression,” said Laura Walker, another of Bend’s zinesters who has been making zines on and off for 25 years and is the author of Welcome to Bend among other zines. “There aren’t any rules to zines you can do whatever you want as far as content and format.”
Walker has provided the bulk of the content for the zine library at the Workhouse.
“I had massively started compiling zines for this collection,” said Walker, “Here I had like 600 zines saying ‘What do I do with all of these?’”
Through her and Lee-Carman’s work, zine awareness in Bend is on the rise but Walker estimates there are still only five active zine makers in town. Despite the small culture, Walker, Lee-Carman and Heather Kennedy, author of The Smoking Bear Cub Club, continue to champion the art form.
In addition to seeing their stuff at the zine library, you can purchase their zines locally at many of the smaller book stores, including Dudley’s, Between the Covers and Pegasus. The Horned Hand also hosts a small collection of local and regional zines for sale.
On top of exploring what is out there, Walker and Lee-Carman encourage everyone to create their own zines and say that the beauty of the art form is that it’s open to anyone.
“I just want people to do it. I want to see people’s shit. I want to hear people’s experiences. Not on a blog, something that I can hold in my hand,” said Lee-Carman. “I want to get a little bit heavier and see something handwritten.”
Bend's best zines
Show and Tell/Rachael Lee-Carman
Documentation of the life and adventures of Lee-Carman in Bend. Hand-written, hand-drawn, personal stories. Available at various local booksellers.
Fighting With Demons/Edited by Lee-Carman
A compilation of community stories and art. Some of Bend’s most creative minds express how they deal with their personal demons.
Cloud Factory/Laura Walker and Ryan Homsley, who is incarcerated in the Multnomah County Jail. Walker publishes Homsley's drawings and writings. Available on Etsy.com at “WalkerWorld.”
Welcome to Bend/Laura Walker
A topical zine about life in Bend. Issue topics include bikes, seasonal stuff and yoga. Available around town and on Etsy.com.
The Smoking Bear Cub Club, Cathartic Method, Emotional Eater, Dad/Heather Kennedy
Various zines covering humor, eating disorders, hipster fashion trend predictions, and family relations. Kennedy’s zines can be found at The Horned Hand and on her Etsy.com site “nickelplatedangel.”
Photo; Rachel Lee Carman
Bend Zine Library
11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday
The Workhouse, 50 SE Scott St.