Seeking a creative space for personal expression and exploration, 2014 ASU alumnaCharissa Lucille published her first zine in her last semester at ASU.
“I didn’t feel like I had a lot of places to have my voice heard,” Lucille said. “I didn’t have somewhere where I could say what I wanted to say, so I started my first zine.”
Four years after graduating with a degree in journalism and mass communication, Lucille is at the center of the Phoenix zine community, publishing over 25 zines, organizing the Phoenix Zine Fest and opening the city’s first zine library and storefront, Wasted Ink Zine Distro.
Tapping into both her creative writing background and technical journalism skills, Lucille said she collaborated with a lot of people on her first zine "Fem Static" which is a multi-modal reflection of a different subgenre of fourth-wave feminism in each issue.
Rosemarie Dombrowski, inaugural Phoenix Poet Laureate and one of Lucille’s former professors at ASU, said Lucille scheduled an appointment with her to share her idea to converge a multitude of voices into one platform to take a stab at defining the modern feminism movement.
“I don’t think I had any conception of how enormous and important that conversation would grow to be when we were first having it,” Dombrowski said. “I was thinking sharpies and photocopying, but I was also thinking I would be fully in.”
She said the first issue was a hodgepodge of poetry, thought pieces, memoirs, shopping guides, photography and a “bunch of images of breasts of all shapes and sizes.”
“A multiplicity ran through every element of her zine, and I think it still does,” Dombrowski said. “There was a multiplicity of genres, gender identities, layers and experiences — it used collogistics in every conception of the term.”
Dombrowski said that after some rogue late night photocopying for the first two issues of the zine, she knew that the zine community would be in good hands with Lucille, a community which Dombrowski had also been immersed in since college.
“Shortly thereafter she started Wasted Ink Zine Distro and I was filled with pride — I thought ‘wow she is really doing that,’” Dombrowski said.
She said that Lucille’s egalitarian approach to giving the community a physical space played an integral role in paving the way for the next generation of zinesters.
The store first opened in a rented space in a strip mall that used to be an old candle shop, carrying work from only 30 artists. Now, Lucille has grown the distro to represent over 250 artists including local, national and international artists.
A year after the distro opened, Lucille identified the city's need for a festival outside of small back alley gatherings.
“The creativity was always here, we just needed an opportunity to show it off,” Lucille said.
Brodie Hubbard, an ASU alumnus who has been an organizer of the Phoenix Zine Fest since its first iteration in 2016, said both the distro and the fest serve as platforms to unite local creators.
“It has really given Phoenix a voice in the national community by connecting them to folks across the country,” Hubbard said.
However, Hubbard said that growing the fest to a place of prominence was not always easy.
“I think one of the most important things for me is to make sure it is not only an accessible space, regardless of one’s job or education, but also a safer space regardless of their age or gender,” Hubbard said.
The whole point of a zine, which Lucille described as a publication that creates a space for marginalized voices, is to exist outside of the oppressive norms that keep people silenced.
Hubbard said that preserving that spirit in the Phoenix Zine Festival has been one of their most prioritized efforts and greatest successes.
Briana Noonan, one of Lucille’s closest friends and a collaborator on her most recent zine, "Femme Fotale," said that Lucille’s efforts in the local zine community will continue to have a rippling effect.
“Starting with her original dream, Charissa (Lucille) has created this interdisciplinary space for lots of different art where lots of different voices come together,” Noonan said. “She is a true force of nature.”
Noonan said Lucille’s work to grow the festival is something art appreciators and creatives won’t want to miss.
“It is really important to support local artists of all levels and intersections,” Noonan said. “If you don’t go, you are missing out on an important moment in Arizona’s art scene.”