In a small Tempe strip mall, Marna Kay and Charissa Lucille are painting walls and hanging small paper zines in an artistic frame to go up on the wall. The pair has spent many long days preparing for the December 6 opening of the Valley’s newest gathering spot for local publishers, creative writers, and artists.
“She’s pretty much my zine wife,” Kay says of Lucille as she paints the brick walls.
Wasted Ink Zine Distro is the brainchild of the two women who, after attending L.A. Zine Fest this past February, discussed their mutual longing for a zine-central shop.
“We love zines and everything about them, so we decided to create a space where we could make them available because that’s what we would have wanted,” Kay says.
Kay’s own zine, B-Sides Magazine, features write-ups on Phoenix-based musicians, artists and businesses. Lucille is the creator and editor-in-chief of Fem Static Zine, a fourth wave feminism submission-based publication. Both will continue to manage their own zines in addition to running Wasted Ink.
In their time preparing to open the shop, Kay and Lucille have reached out to writers here at home and across the country to stock shelves.
“Because Marna and I both have sort of a vast online network of zinesters, we’ve just been reaching out a lot and sort of posting on all the pages and forums and blogs and whatever we can find,” Lucille says amid a large, colorful pile of independently created magazines. “Many people have already sent in some zines and have been meeting with us in person to make sure they’re represented here.”
Wasted Ink will sell all types of publishing and will feature a selection of works that will be kept in the library section, which means they can be read and perused inside the shop. Kay and Lucille are still accepting all types of zines, ranging from literary to artistic to journalistic, and everything in between.
“Whatever that people are creating that is original works for us,” Lucille says.
Jake Friedman of Four Chambers Press met Lucille through various poetry and literary events. He plans to collaborate with Wasted Ink and, because of his experience with literary journals, knows how the shop will effect local writers.
“I think it means visibility for literary culture,” Friedman says. “There are a lot of people into arts and culture in Phoenix, but we’re working from home or on the Internet. Having a physical storefront will allow people to engage in a way they wouldn’t be able to.”
Kay has worked with zines for many years and has seen an increase in writers, but a lack of organized circulation.
“It’s still a growing scene, but there have been zines here for a long time,” Kay says. “There’s just never been a place here for them to rejoice in and celebrate zines until now when there’s zine fests and shops.”
Damon Begay, the creator of Interstellar Comix, will also sell his work at Wasted Ink. He met Lucille on Tumblr when she asked him to contribute to Fem Static Zine. He, like many zine creators, has struggled to find a place to promote and distribute his work.
“I used to drop off at comics stores, but they weren’t picked up because you’re competing with Batman,” he says.
Begay has been working on his own publications for seven years, and he sees the new shop as an opportunity to bring the zine community closer.
“Phoenix usually stays with Phoenix and Tempe stays with Tempe, so I hope we get to see more of each other and see what each other is doing,” Begay says. “I think I know everyone and then I see something new, so hopefully it brings us together.”
But in addition to promoting and featuring self-published works, Kay and Lucille want their store to be a place where writers can find community and learn more about the industry.
“We’re creating a center for it all to exist and organically,” Lucille says. “It’s really exciting to have a stranger come up and say ‘I made this, put it in your store!’ It’s so overwhelming and awesome because there’s finally a chance for someone else to see it.”
Along with providing publishers with an outlet and readers with a wealth of material, Kay and Lucille plan on hosting poetry readings, release parties, monthly zine nights, various art shows, and workshops.
“We’ll try to hold workshops like ‘Make Your Own Zine’ or ‘How to Start a Zine’ because a lot of people find say things like ‘I don’t know how to get started’ or ‘I don’t know how; I don’t have the confidence,’” Lucille says. “It’s not a printing press by any means, but it can morph into many different ideas and projects.”
For now, they anticipate the store’s hours to be mainly on Saturdays and Sundays with occasional events throughout the week.
The grand opening of Wasted Ink will be on Sunday, December 6, from 4 to 8 p.m. Featured zines include Kay and Lucille’s own work, Death West, Hometown Apparitions, Hush Baby Collective and more. There will be performances by Allie Long, Dirtmoon, and Hiccups and a photography exhibit. Silent Flight Coffee and SoJo’s Bakery will provide light refreshments.
Those interested in having their zines featured at Wasted Ink can mail or drop off five copies of their work to sell or donate to the shop at 2121 West University Drive, Suite 110, Tempe, AZ 85281.
Editor's note: This post has been updated from its original version.