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Three questions with Biawak Gemok

Written by
Nadia Rosli

Biawak Gemok Distro sells zines (small, self-published magazines) – specifically, zines concerning social issues like LGBTQ and religion. We speak to the duo behind the distro, Liy and Nine.

Tell us about yourself.
Nine: I’m a writer and editor, I’m originally from Northern Ireland.
Liy: I’m a part-time publicist, part-time writer and also part-time voiceover talent so I guess I work a lot with the English language in terms of writing and speaking. I’m very concerned about reading being accessible because it can be an expensive hobby here.

How did you guys get started?
L: We started last year, Nine was already selling zines and I had a booth for instant poems. We decided to expand our zine selection and make it official. The name was Nine’s idea.
N: Biawak Gemok is my idea for what may be the Komodo dragon.

Why zines?
L: I feel like zines make the idea of reading a lot more accessible. I’m a big fan of sharing stories and getting experiences that aren’t necessarily mainstream to the surface.
N: The beauty of zines is that there are no rules; you do it your way, there is no particular format, completely DIY. I love reading people who write about their personal experiences and connect it to a wider issue in society.

Biawak Gemok's zine picks


‘Cast Aside’ is a simple zine celebrating unsung Japanese heroes, it makes me really happy, Chiune Sugihara's story made me cry, to be honest. - Nine


‘Race-ing And Dating’, it’s about life in KL from the perspective of a young Nigerian man who’s been living here for nine years. - Liy


‘The Past Didn’t Go Anywhere’, it’s about anti-Semitism from an anti-Islamophobia, pro-Palestine perspective and I really want to get it translated into Malay. - Nine


Shieko Reto's 'One Big Longkang' series are five zines sharing the perspective of life in KL as a transwoman. - Liy


This was made by a guy who came to our zine-making workshop at Buy Nothing Day and he put so much effort into this. He came that day purposely for this. He’s from Southern Thailand and was made to migrate here because of the conflict and this is about his experiences of moving to KL. This is exactly the kind of stuff that I want us to be putting out there. - Nine

Sales from the zines go to SEED and Justice For Sisters. Find Biawak Gemok at creative markets like Art for Grabs. Follow them on Instagram for updates.

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