Free print entertainment at the Rocket Zine Library in King’s Books

A cornucopia of zines!

A cornucopia of zines!

There’s lots of interesting little publications to check out at the Rocket Zine Library at King’s Books. It’s all free to borrow with donations of materials encouraged.

The eclectic variety of offerings include:

  • Journal comix
  • Advice on anarchist action
  • Anarchist essays on love
  • Recovery stories
  • Gardening tips
  • Youth center publications
  • Les Sar’zine, a collection of zines in a tin can by Seattle writing collective Les Sardines
  • and one really informative comic about the Dvorak keyboard layout!

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At first I thought the zine library was an effort by the store itself, but owner sweet pea Flaherty told me the entire idea and execution was due to a customer, Mo Lewis. I got ahold of Lewis through the emails and got her to answer a few of my burning questions about her zine library.

Mike Fitz: How did you come up with the idea?

Mo Lewis: The idea to start a zine library came from a couple different places.

First, I’ve always loved zines – I got my first zines back in 1993 when I was in high school in Olympia, and loved seeing the ways that people can document their lives or tell stories about the things that are important to them.It’s exciting to have this different way to create art, to reach out to people, to learn from each other, and to connect. Over the years I’ve amassed a collection of about 50 zines, and they just lived on my bookshelves.

The second part of the idea came from a conversation with a friend about all these little book libraries that people are putting up in their yards – little mailbox-sized containers where you can borrow a book or donate a book – and we both thought that was such a cool idea, and talked about wanting to do something like that. So when I was thinking about how to actually make this happen, I thought about zine libraries that I’ve seen in places like Olympia and Spokane and thought that it would be fun to apply that little book library idea to zines, and just try it out. I’m not a very good book sharer, but I like the idea of swapping zines and putting them out there for others to borrow or take, and Tacoma is the kind of place that embraces new projects like this. I have to give a big shout-out to sweet pea, who agreed to host the zine library at King’s Books. I’m not sure if all of these photocopied pages in an outside space would survive our weather.

Where did the cool cabinets come from?

When my partner and I first moved into our house, my dad got us these cabinets from Craigslist – some people were updating their kitchen and offered up the cabinets to whoever was willing to take them away. So when I was thinking about making the zine library, I figured why not use one of the smaller cabinets instead of building something new? Plus, it was free and already in the basement. Sometimes I get a little anxious and kind-of “perfectionist-y” about creative projects, so my goal for this was to make it as easy as possible to finish – using a cabinet and some orange paint I already had was low-pressure, and turned out pretty cute.

Where do you find your zines?

I order zines mostly online – there are some great distros that have compiled interesting collections of zines (Doris Press is my favorite, and there is even a distro here in Tacoma – Mend My Dress Press) – it’s really easy to find good zines that way. Plus then there’s the excitement of getting them in the mail! The POC Zine Project is an important resource, since I think zines tend to have a reputation of being associated only with a predominantly white, punk and riot grrrl scene, which is really just one small portion of who is making zines. I also like getting zines from friends, or at local bookstores or comic stores.

What are some of your favorites in the collection?

Doris zine is my favorite of all time – #3 was one of the first zines I read, and Cindy (the creator) just put out #30, which is amazing. There is a zine called Violette’s Letters that is made in Tacoma, and it’s very cute – it’s a four year old girl’s letters to people in her life. Adventures in the Land of Greasecars and Fireflies zine documents someone’s process of converting their car to run on used cooking oil, which is so cool to me.

I also have a particular fondness for zines about sexual assault, specifically around consent, accountability, and supporting survivors. I work in the sexual assault field, and the amount of knowledge and community conversations that can come from zines like these is amazing  – I frequently will hand out these kinds of zines to young folks I am working with, and I try to make sure there are a few copies of these zines in the library at all times.

Any cool stuff to watch for?

Yes! There are lots of new zines in the library, which is heartening to see. After the Wayzgoose festival at King’s Books, I saw a few beautifully printed zines arrive, and recently a writing group brought by a copy of the mini-zines they created, which are compiled in a silver tin. It’s always great to see zines by Tacoma zinesters show up at the library.

What’s the future of the Rocket Zine Library?

The future holds more zines, for sure! Even though the zine library is just a few months old, there are zines being borrowed and brought in all the time, and I expect that will continue. A friend brought up the idea of hosting a zine-making workshop, so we’ll see about that. This whole thing is a fun experiment, so I am looking forward to seeing what happens.

The reason you got on the internet.

The cutest book salesman.

Items from the library can be picked up any time King’s Books is open, 7 days a week 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.