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Carlisle's First Ever Zine Fest

Kendal Zine Fest was launched last year by Jess Autumn aka Autumn Illustration. It was so successful that Jess recently moved a bit further up the county to launch Carlisle’s first ever zine festival.

Assisted by her lovely little dog Storm and fellow creative and life partner Jonny, Carlisle Zine Fest kicked off last Saturday.

It took place at StArt Open Studios, a local arts project located opposite the market hall that usually hosts pop up exhibitions, workshops and events held by local artists.

Carlisle Zine Fest had almost 20 stall holders who were hosting zine making workshops and live drawing as well as selling their fantastic zines.

Come and join us as we celebrate these seriously creative Cumbrians and artists from bordering counties.

Dani Kazuko Münz

Dani is an artist based in StArt Open Studios. A good catalogue of her work pays homage to traditional Japanese art while breathing new life into it.

Ride the Dragon, one of Dani’s gorgeous Japanese prints.

Dani floods her artwork with beautifully bright colourways and it is modernised by the use of manga-esque characters (predominantly women) and subject matter.

Dani’s artistic style is not limited to this though as we can see in her other work and the way she represents nature.

Nature is not just represented in the realm of this world but that of something that is mysterious and magical. Dani creates the perfect prints for those looking for something a bit different and a bit strange.

Dani also created some limited edition prints to demonstrate against the war in Palestine. The prints, titled 'Love and Rage', really encapsulate the feelings of many in regards to the senseless violence that is happening.

Georgie Mac

We're taking it back to the 80s and 90s with this artist who’s taken two iconic figures from each of the decades and thrusted them into their world. What does Steve Harrington of Strangers Things, space and poetry all have in common?

Well Georgie, who is based in Glasgow, would tell you it’s the perfect mix to make their zine 'A New Kind Of World Astronaut'.

The zine itself tells a story like no other. It's set in the backdrop of space with Steve Harrington as the main protagonist and some really comical and sublime poetry.

Don't worry we won’t spoil the rest for you, just take a look for yourself here if you really want to get immersed in something rather unique.

On top of their zine, Georgie also reimagined some of the most iconic artworks in history to date with Furbies as the main the subject matte.

I mean who hasn’t been to Van Gogh Museum or the Louvre and thought hmm, Sunflowers would look better with a Furby or better yet the Mona Lisa as, you guessed it a Furby!

My personal favourite has to be Furbies as Edvard Munch’s the Scream.

Some of Georgie Mac's amazing Furby art.


Capturing the beauty of the Yorkshire Dales, which is where our next zine maker is based, MaryMWoolf takes a look at life through the lens of their DSLR in a different way to most. Her photography focuses on protest, rural life and colour.

Mary’s zines are very simplistic yet that’s what makes them and their subject matter so effective.

There’s no need to Jazz up the white base the photographs are laid out upon as the photographs really do speak for themselves and take you on a journey of where they were taken.

Top centre: ‘york minster would fit in here’. Bottom left: ‘a weekend in Yorkshire’.

Bottom right: ‘things I’ve seen in Ikea’.

Our personal favourite has got to be the ones Mary had taken inside Gaping Gill which is the largest cave chamber in the UK and has the largest underground waterfall and was aptly titled ‘york minster would fit in here’ by Mary.

Michael Duckett

Sometimes all you really need as an artist is paper and pen and that’s what Micheal Duckett, a Northumberland based artist, accomplishes with his work.

Micheal travels across the north to make his continuous line drawing and comic book zines using a limited colour palette.

He encapsulates the essence of each of the places he’s visited with the likes of Grainger Market based in the beating heart of Newcastle and Bardon Mill where he’s from.

Bottom left: 'Gigzine'. Middle: 'lost in grainger market'. Top: 'malta and miss marple zine'.

One of his best zines is his GIGZINE where he does live drawing at Gigs all around the north. I think I’ve even spotted him at The Cluny before (a Newcastle based live music venue).

Another of his best zines is the Checkies, a free zine dedicated to the front line workers of the North East’s Metro system during the pandemic.

What I really love about Checkies is it really has the heart and soul of North East in it and made me nostalgic for when I used to live there. Even if you haven’t been to the North East you’ll want to after Checkies.


Mitra’s zines are somewhere between girlcore, feminism and a are a tad booky but in really a good way.

At the core of Mitsmakes zines is a deep appreciation for all things queer and all things women. This can be seen with her zine ‘what’s in my tote? {asthma girl edition}’ which, being a fellow asthmatic girlie, I deeped.

Mitsmakes thought-provoking zines.

We can also see where Mitra has embedded embracing their sexuality with her ‘Fluidity’ zine.

Again, as a fellow queer, I really related to this zine but I could see it also as an important zine for anyone that would want to learn more about queer people’s experience and how to be a great ally.

By far one of the best prints Mitra had on display came from her zine on Daruma dolls which traditionally are a bit scary looking but this one was serving the watery eye emoji and it looked so darn cute.

New World Soul

New World Soul is a collaborative effort between both Cumbrian and bordering county creatives that features an ensemble of different art from photography, to illustration, poetry, comics and more.

The real beauty behind this zine is not just the array of different artistic expressions that are in places downright bizarre, magic and overall quite culturally genius...

It is the fact that the entire mag is cohesive throughout despite the perceived differences and are juxtaposed in such a way that you really can’t help but love the layout.

It’s a really hard choice to say what our favourites are because each page in it’s own right has its own artistry behind it.

What we will say is that a few people who were already at Carisle Zine Fest were featured in this unique collection of works, such as: The Absurdatory, Georgie Mac, Stephen Benson of Queer Cumbria, Jess Autumn.

It even featured the work of Luke Hobson, who performed at Tullie House’s Secret Garden Party with his band Jiggy Beast, and Dub Princess, who performed on Solfest’s mainstage this year.

The front cover of New World Soul and for just £7 its an absolute bargain.


Oscar Roberts started making his comic book 'The Hanged Man' during lockdown.

Set in the very distant future, it focuses on the darkness that war brings and really sets a precedent for a story that you can get lost in.

A copy of 'The Hanged Man' on sale at Oscars stall.

The elements of comedy within it really breaks up the deeper more philosophical undertones of what war means for both parties.

It has a neo noir dystopian tone throughout that fits well with the underlying story… but hey we won’t spoil the rest for you, take a look here.

Oscar also had one of his more recent comic's 'Mutton Chop' on sale which, in terms of tone and style, is completely different to that of the more serious 'The Hanged Man', but it goes to show the range of Oscars work as a comic and zine maker.

The Absurdatory

Loki, aka The Groove Shaman, aka The Absurdatory is currently holding a drawing workshop in Carlisle this month.

He was at Carlisle Zine Fest selling his zine: 'a portrait of the artists as a young entity', but the star of their catalogue of work was their magical mushrooms (no not that kind).


Bottom: mushroom print that was originally made with mushroom ink.

It is clear from viewing Loki’s work that they have an affinity with all things fungi selling everything from mushroom fridge magnets, stickers, specimens and even prints of mushrooms that were made with recycled mushroom ink.

Loki’s love for drawing isn’t just confined to mushrooms and their other artwork is just as trippy.

There's his spore spreading fruiting bodies with some really effective typography prints they mashed up in a scanner and some nods to the environment we all have a fondness for in Cumbria with some prints of enchanting steps.

Queer Cumbria

Queer Cumbria launched their first official print version of their magazine with an absolute bang at Carlsle Zine Fest. It is the first ever queer magazine in Cumbria, made by queers for queers and allies alike to indulge in.

The magazine features poetry, artwork and in depth interviews about all LGBTQ+ goings on in Cumbria.

What is really effective and striking about the mag is the front cover which was a picture taken by Stephen Benson in 2015.

Queer Cumbria’s stall featuring the iconic photograph taken by

one of the producers of the magazine, Stephen Benson.

The cover photo showed two women kissing each other in front of the hateful preacher that is usually spotted in Carlisle city centre.

The preacher said it was a sin, so rightfully these women kissed each other in protest. Now that’s a demonstration we can get behind.

It is not only a magazine celebrating queerness in all it's fashions, but also celebrating a directory of organisations that support queer Cumbrians that many may not have found previously.

It includes articles about Pride in North Cumbria, Woman Up and newly formed CIC Proud and Diverse Cumbria.

We hope you enjoyed reading about Carlisle Zine Fest. Be sure to check out some of these amazing works and artists for yourself!

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