Everything ’90s is new again, and zines aren’t breaking the rule. To wit: they’re back. There’s a zine-ness to Toronto’s own Worn Journal, the indie fashion magazine favoured by Tavi. There’s the new, must-order First Kiss zine, by New York writers Marisa Meltzer and Elizabeth Spiridakis (aka White Lightning). And tonight, there’s an interactive zine workshop at Magic Pony in Toronto, headed by the arguably over-talented Sonja Ahlers.
Ahlers is an artist, craftswoman and writer whose third charming publication—The Selves (Drawn & Quarterly)—is out now. Part scrapbook, part book-book, The Selves tells the tales of females born mostly in the ’70s, growing up with fashion, Princess Diana, chick flicks and other fairy tales. Their expectations are so romantic, they’re comedic. The book is bildungsroman as bedroom wall collage, with pictures so pretty you can hardly see how scary-smart the words are.
“It’s a collective biography,” says Ahlers. “All the Princess Diana imagery speaks to a group of people. We grew up with her… It’s about a specific demographic and generation of women that I feel needs a platform and a voice.”
If you are of this generation, or kindred with it, you’ll hear yourself quiet and clear from page one. The book begins with two quotes: one from Sylvia Plath, one from Kate Bush. Need you know more?
Among Ahlers’ current idols and inspirations, she counts not only Kathleen Hanna (who ringingly endorses the book) and the artist Shary Boyle, but also the many alternative health-care practitioners she counts as friends. Her work, too, is alt-therapy: “I’ve joked that my books are a form of social work.”
So, if you can free up three likely delightful hours for Doc Ahlers tonight, do. Tickets to the workshop are $30 or $25 with a student card; it’s from 6 to 9 at Magic Pony (694 Queen St. W., Toronto, 416-861-1684, magic-pony.com). And if you can’t, pick up a copy of The Selves, $21 and pricelessly nostalgic.
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