In 2008 Portland-based zinester Alex Wrekk established International Zine Month during the month of July. In honor of International Zine Month, ComicsVerse is featuring a Zine of the Week for the month of July to help you learn about zines, find new zines, and explore zine events. This week is STORIES IN THE LAND and works from Madison Print and Resist Zine Fest.

Zine Thesis: Does This Count?

Technically, this week’s zine is part of an MFA degree. Specifically, the 2017 zine STORIES IN THE LAND: CRITTERS, PLANTS & PEOPLE OF ECOLOGICAL RESTORATION contributes to Liz Anna Kozik‘s degree in design studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Unlike most zines, Kozik’s STORIES IN THE LAND received some financial support from the university.

However, I don’t believe this is grounds to discount the zine from the Zine of the Week series. Indeed, Kozik’s work embodies the politically engaged, DIY-ethos of all zines. Moreover, her beautiful illustrations are a joy to behold. The intricate comic documents the history of the university’s prairie restoration work by ecologists like Aldo Leopold and John Curtis. The vignettes also feature information about the endangered rusty patched bumble bee and a humorous piece about turkeys.

STORIES IN THE LAND
STORIES IN THE LAND Exhibition poster by Liz Anna Kozik.

Like many zines, Kozik’s work pushes the envelope in terms of definition and content. Kozik’s STORIES IN THE LAND series could be considered a non-traditional approach to an art degree. Indeed, comics are not always considered “high art” enough for fine arts.

However, works like Kozik’s prove that the artwork in many comics and zines is as fine and intricate as any painting or sculpture. And, of course, Kozik’s art extends beyond comics. Kozik turns her STORIES IN THE LAND and nature illustrations into ornate wood carvings as well as textiles. Kozik reminds us that comics can take many paths. The sequential art is diverse and has room to grow. Just like the prairies, creatures, and pioneering scientists of Kozik’s work, STORIES IN THE LAND makes way for new growth in the zine and comics world.

Zine of the Week #1: STOLEN SHARPIE REVOLUTION

STORIES IN THE LAND: Environmentalist Art

STORIES IN THE LAND: CRITTERS, PLANTS, & PEOPLE OF ECOLOGICAL RESTORATION explores the history of restoration ecology, a particular field of ecology dedicated to aiding the recovery of damaged ecosystems. The University of Wisconsin-Madison fosters biodiversity within the university’s arboretum as a resource for environmental education and preservation. Kozik’s work focuses on the efforts of generations of ecologists to help restore the prairie ecosystems.

STORIES IN THE LAND
Image from STORIES IN THE LAND by Liz Anna Kozik.

STORIES IN THE LAND conveys scientifically rigorous restoration projects in a way that is accessible to readers. The beautiful illustrations of prairie plants in shades of yellow and green fill the pages of the zine. STORIES IN THE LAND exemplifies the intersection of art and science. As a result, Kozik produces a powerful resource to help encourage participation in environmental preservation.

Print and Resist!

Another reason to include STORIES IN THE LAND as the Zine of the Week is that I came by the zine in the most zine-appropriate fashion: by pure luck. The Madison Print and Resist Zine Fest 2018 came onto my radar about a week before the event. Kozik’s work features on this year’s poster.

Although I live in Utah, I have family in Madison who eagerly attended the zine fest based on my recommendation. Lucky again, my family loves nature and Kozik’s work drew them in immediately.

Madison Print and Resist Zine Fest
Madison Print and Resist Zine Fest 2018.

The Madison Print and Resist Zine Fest highlighted local zinesters in the Madison area, many of whom are also University of Wisconsin-Madison students. Along with STORIES IN THE LAND, Kozik participated in a collaborative zine with the Applied Comics Kitchen project alongside other Madison Ph.D. students and professors, including Lynda Barry.

The participants in the Applied Comics Kitchen are as diverse as their art, existing in a creative intersection of identities and disciplines. The works showcased at the Madison Print and Resist Zine Fest prove that zines are for everyone, and they have an important message.

Liz Anna Kozik’s STORIES IN THE LAND and other works can be found here. Updates on the Madison Print and Resist Zine Fest are posted on their facebook and website

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