A ?hipster mecca? for everyone

Authors, musicians, artists and producers will gather under the same roof on Nov. 13 and 14 for the ninth edition of one of North America’s largest small press fairs, Expozine.

Thomas B. Martin, Chat Blanc Records’ graphic designer, attended last year’s Expozine. He compared it to “those big sci-fi conventions,” with “lots of Trekkies and Star Wars fans in big convention centres, sweating and talking Klingon,” except “instead of sweaty geeks, you get [sweaty] awesome creative people with crazy stuff to sell, in a church basement.”

Expozine was created in 2002 after a bunch of small publishers and zine makers got together to make it happen. It was an instant success. Every year since its creation, the venue has been packed; hence the sweaty creative people mentioned by Martin.

Louis Rastelli, one of Expozine’s organizers, estimates the number of visitors at up to 15,000, with over 300 exhibitors. He said “the challenge is making sure the event is not overbooked.”

“Some people call it the “hipster mecca”, but in reality there are people of all ages, generally folks who read a lot of books, zines, graphic novels etc,” said Rastelli. Expozine is a great opportunity to buy publications you would not be able to find anywhere else in Montreal. It is also the place where magic happens when great artistic minds meet. “Almost every year, I meet graphic designers or musicians, that I happened to work with afterwards,” said Pascal Asselin, Chat Blanc’s co-founder.

Chat Blanc Records was created in 2004 by Quebec City native Asselin, who is also known for making music under the moniker Milimetrik. The label has over 54 releases to its name.

It is now Asselin’s third consecutive year at Expozine, where Chat Blanc Records stands out from other labels because of its limited-run mini-cds. Asselin described the sleeves as “three inches by three inches, stitched by hand, with great graphic designs on both the mini-cd and the cover. [They’re] little pieces of art that comes with the music.”

Martin will make good use of his artistic skills over the weekend to attract more people to Chat Blanc’s table. “This year, I plan on drawing cats on little cards and give them to the people stopping by our table. I plan on charming cute girls with my cat drawings,” he said, adding that his intentions are to “meet interesting people to collaborate with, but mostly to charm cute girls.”

The fair attracts English and French press alike. Nelson Roberge and Leonardo Calcagno founded Baron Magazine in December 2009, only a few months after BangBang, another publication they had created together, stopped print. Baron is published four times a year, while their website is regularly updated. They have been in the alternative publishing industry for about 15 years; they know what they are doing and it shows.

The French magazine covers a variety of subjects, from arts and design to politics and travel. “We like to talk about things that are timeless and that interest us. Leo and I meet every week and discuss what’s happening in the world,” Roberge said. The 2010 fair is exciting for the duo since it will mark their first year as Expozine exhibitors, even though they attended every previous edition.

Expozine will take place on Nov. 13 and 14 at the Saint-Enfant-Jésus du Mile-End Church. To start this weekend of sweaty discoveries on a good note, they are throwing a party at La Sala Rossa on Nov. 12, where it will be possible to meet some of the collaborators.


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