“Karina Killjoy is a sick & disabled queer femme artist who creates cute & colorful zines with the hope of empowering survivors to move from surviving to thriving. Their work has been described as “powerful,” “fierce,” “inspiring,” “empowering,” & “transcendent.” Karina was recently recognized by Zine Fest Houston with the shane patrick boyle Emerging Zinester Grant in 2020.”
Who are you? Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hi bbs! My name is Karina and I use they/them pronouns. I’m a chronically ill and disabled, fat, queer femme zinester, librarian, and educator who creates super cute and colorful zines, intentionally grounded in my lived experience, centered around themes of radical self-love, healing, vulnerability, trauma recovery, community care, mental health, friendships, disability, and moving from surviving to thriving.
I started Femme Filth Press in 2017 so I could share my zines with a wider community of survivors, queer femmes, fat folks, chronically ill and disabled babes, and people struggling with their mental health. I strive to inspire and empower you, offer you hope as you heal, offer you concrete and practical coping skills to navigate your hardest moments, remind you of all the things you need to hear (but likely didn’t) through heartfelt affirmations, and serve as a pocket-sized companion you can pull out of your bag when you need a reminder that you’ve got this, that you’re not alone, and people, even strangers like me, care about you.
My work has been described as “powerful,” “fierce,” “inspiring,” “empowering,” & “transcendent.” I was recently recognized by Zine Fest Houston with the shane patrick boyle Emerging Zinester Grant in 2020.
What do zines mean to you?
When I think about what zines mean to me, I think about creating communities of care, sharing knowledge and resources freely, supporting one another in our struggles (and celebrating each other’s accomplishments too!), how empowering it feels to share your story on your own terms through self-publishing, learning to embrace imperfection, personal + collective growth, and the power of having a community who relentlessly roots for you, especially when you’re new.
How did you first get started with zines?
In the aftermath of trauma, I needed a way to share my story on my own terms. I had grown up in punk and DIY communities where zines had been a staple of my cultural upbringing, so on a whim, I decided to create one. By 2016, I had decided to start self-publishing my work with Femme Filth #1, a zine about living with and healing from C-PTSD, radical vulnerability, and queer femme survival.
The following year I attended my very first zine fest as a tabler, Richmond Zine Fest, which was such an amazing and affirming experience. RZF awarded me a print stipend for marginalized zinesters to produce and print Femme Filth #2, which explored community care, trauma recovery, interdependence, and the challenges and complexities of healing from sexual violence. This zine fest cemented my commitment to creating zines, self-publishing my work, and continuing to be an active part of the zine community.
Tell us about your zines.
Some of my favorite zines I’ve made include:
💖 The Little Book of Affirmations for Survivors which is a zine filled with over 35 positive, trauma-informed, affirmations for survivors, by a survivor. I’ve turned the affirmations from this zine into a set of postcards which can be used as art prints as well!
🧡 Friendships as Resistance: Creating Communities of Care #2 is a zine about friendship as it relates to community care, mutual aid, and healing from trauma, as well as topics such as competition and jealousy, boundary work, and radical vulnerability. Friendships as Resistance #2 includes a list of questions designed to help you create your own boundary language, a recommended reading list, and a workspace to dream up your own list of needs and wants in your friendships.
💛 Keep Going!: A Pocket-Sized Pep Talk for When Things Are Hard is literally just that: a colorful, adorable, mini-zine filled with a pep talk you can keep in your pocket to support you on rough days.
💚 Surviving to Thriving: A Trauma Survival Toolkit is a gorgeous pastel zine that compiles the coping strategies, techniques, and tools I’ve used (and continue to use) to move from surviving to thriving in my trauma recovery and healing process as a survivor.
💙 Affirmations for Radical Self-Love is a super cute mini-zine of affirmations you can use to strengthen and create new neural pathways to nurture radical self-love in your and to create new stories about yourself while letting go of the old, limiting, beliefs all of us have (and have the power to let go of).
💜 Pink is a mini-zine about the power of discovering the histories and communities of nonbinary folks and queer femmes, healing my relationship with gender and sexuality, color theory, surviving trauma and chronic illness, and of course, the color pink.
What resources do you use to create your zines?
I use my laptop to type and print the written content of my zines. I also use classics like a long-armed stapler, scissors, paper, stickers, washi tape, and adhesives such as glue sticks or adhesive dot rollers. I use a photocopier to print them.
Tell us about your zine-making process.
My artistic practice is similar to composting: I use the crap I’ve experienced and transform it into zines and other containers for healing that are inspiring, colorful, empowering, cute, and hopeful.
Do you have any advice for newbie zine makers?
Just start. Start anywhere. Start with what you have. Think of what you don’t have on hand as a creative constraint. Be messy. Embrace being imperfect. Share your story, on your terms. Share what you’re excited about, interested in, or simply curious about. Ask for support and help if/when you need it; we’re here and happy to help. Get involved in the community; we need you. We need what you create.
What is your favourite thing about zine culture?
The sense of community, care, and camaraderie.
Do you have a favourite zine or zinester?
I really love the zines Golden of Diasporan Savant Press creates. My favorite zine of theirs right now is the Audre Lorde Harm Reduction Workbook which is such an amazing, brilliant, and gorgeous resource.
Why do you make zines?
Because I need to; zines have saved my life. And they continue to save it by giving me the space to process my experiences, connecting me with a community of fellow survivors so I no longer felt alone and isolated but rather, supported and cared for, and for offering me a way to express myself through creatively channeling my trauma, thoughts, and feelings into a healthy container.
You can check out Femme Filth Press by visiting them on their socials…