For people with the surname, see Zine (surname).
See also: ezine
Zines are the product of either a single person or of a very small group, and are popularly photocopied into physical prints for circulation.
A fanzine (blend of fan and magazine) is a non-professional and non-official publication produced by enthusiasts of a particular cultural phenomenon (such as a literary or musical genre) for the pleasure of others who share their interest.
Popularly defined within a circulation of 1,000 or fewer copies, in practice many zines are produced in editions of fewer than 100.
Among the various intentions for creation and publication are developing one's identity, sharing a niche skill or art, or developing a story, as opposed to seeking profit.
Zines have served as a significant medium of communication in various subcultures, and frequently draw inspiration from a "do-it-yourself" philosophy that disregards the traditional conventions of professional design and publishing houses, proposing an alternative, confident and self-aware contribution.
Handwritten zines, or carbon zines, are individually made, emphasizing a personal connection between creator and reader, turning imagined communities into embodied ones.
Zines have cultural and academic value as tangible evidence of marginal communities, many of which are otherwise little-documented.
Written in a variety of formats from desktop-published text to comics, collages and stories, zines cover broad topics including fanfiction, politics, poetry, art & design, ephemera, personal journals, social theory, intersectional feminism, single-topic obsession, or sexual content far outside the mainstream enough to be prohibitive of inclusion in more traditional media.
(An example of the latter is Boyd McDonald's Straight to Hell, which reached a circulation of 20,000.)
Although there are a few eras associated with zine-making, this "wave" narrative proposes a limited view of the vast range of topics, styles and environments zines occupied.
Overview and origins
Dissidents and members of socially marginalized groups have published their own opinions in leaflet and pamphlet form for as long as such technology has been available.
The concept of zines had an ancestor in the amateur press movement of the late 19th and early 20th century, which would in its turn cross-pollinate with the subculture of science fiction fandom in the 1930s.
Many trace zines' lineage from as far back as Thomas Paine's exceptionally popular 1775 pamphlet Common Sense, Benjamin Franklin's literary magazine for psychiatric patients at a Pennsylvania hospital and The Dial (1840–44) by Margaret Fuller and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
1930s–1960s and science fiction
During and after the Great Depression, editors of "pulp" science fiction magazines became increasingly frustrated with letters detailing the impossibilities of their science fiction stories.
Over time they began to publish these overly-scrutinizing letters, complete with their return addresses.
By 1927 readers, often young adults, would write to each other, bypassing the magazine.
This allowed these fans to begin writing to each other, now complete with a mailing list for their own science fiction fanzines that allowed them to write not only about science fiction but about fandom itself and, in self-proclaimed perzines, about themselves.
Science fiction fanzines vary in content, from short stories to convention reports to fanfiction were one of the earliest incarnations of the zine and influenced subsequent publications.
"Zinesters" like Lisa Ben and Jim Kepner honed their talents in the science fiction fandom before tackling gay rights, creating zines such as "Vice Versa" and "ONE" that drew networking and distribution ideas from their SF roots.
Author Joanna Russ wrote in her 1985 analysis of K/S zines that slash fandom at the time consisted of around 500 core fans and was 100% female.
Russ observed that while SF fans looked down on Star Trek fans, Star Trek fans looked down on K/S writers.
Kirk/Spock zines contained fanfiction, artwork, and poetry created by fans.
Zines were then sent to fans on a mailing list or sold at conventions.
Many had high production values and some were sold at convention auctions for hundreds of dollars.
Janus and Aurora
It contained short stories, essays, and film reviews.
Janus/Aurora was nominated for the Hugo Award for "Best Fanzine" in 1978, 1979, and 1980.
Janus/Aurora was the most prominent science fiction feminist zine during its run, as well as one of the only zines that dealt with such content.
They often included fan artwork based on existing characters as well as discussion of the history of comics.
Through the 1960s, and 1970s, comic fanzines followed some general formats, such as the industry news and information magazine (The Comic Reader was one example), interview, history and review-based fanzines, and the fanzines which basically represented independent comic book-format exercises.
In 1936, David Kyle published The Fantasy World , possibly the first comics fanzine.
Malcolm Willits and Jim Bradley started The Comic Collector's News in October 1947.
Among the wave of EC fanzines that followed, the best-known was Ron Parker's Hoo-Hah!
In 1960, Richard and Pat Lupoff launched their science fiction and comics fanzine Xero and in 1961, Jerry Bails' Alter Ego, devoted to costumed heroes, became a focal point for superhero comics fandom.
Calvin T. Beck's Journal of Frankenstein (later Castle of Frankenstein) and Gary Svehla's Gore Creatures were the first horror fanzines created as more serious alternatives to the popular Forrest J Ackerman 1958 magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland.
It later became a prozine under journalist-screenwriter Mark A. Altman and has continued as a webzine.
Stover's Black Oracle partner Bill George published his own short-lived zine The Late Show (1974–1976; with co-editor Martin Falck), and later became editor of the Cinefantastique prozine spinoff Femme Fatales.
In the mid-1970s, North Carolina teenager Sam Irvin published the horror/science-fiction fanzine Bizarre which included his original interviews with UK actors and filmmakers; Irvin would later become a producer-director in his own right.
In 1993, G-FAN picked up where JFFJ left off, and reached its 100th regularly published issue in Fall 2012.
Rock and roll
Several fans active in science fiction and comics fandom recognized a shared interest in rock music, and the rock fanzine was born.
(1966) and Shaw's two California-based zines, Mojo Navigator Rock and Roll News (1966) and Who Put the Bomp (1970), are among the most popular early rock fanzines.
(1966) quickly moved from its fanzine roots to become one of the first rock music "prozines" with paid advertisers and newsstand distribution.
Bomp remained a fanzine, featuring many writers who would later become prominent music journalists, including Lester Bangs, Greil Marcus, Ken Barnes, Ed Ward, Dave Marsh, Mike Saunders and R. as well as cover art by Jay Kinney and Bill Rotsler (both veterans of SF and Comics fandom). Meltzer
Other rock fanzines of this period include denim delinquent (1971) edited by Jymn Parrett, Flash (1972) edited by Mark Shipper, Eurock Magazine (1973–1993) edited by Archie Patterson and Bam Balam written and published by Brian Hogg in East Lothian, Scotland, (1974).
In the 1980s, with the rise of stadium superstars, many home-grown rock fanzines emerged.
At the peak of Bruce Springsteen's megastardom following the Born in the U.S.A. album and Born in the U.S.A. Tour in the mid-1980s, there were no less than five Springsteen fanzines circulating at the same time in the UK alone, and many others elsewhere.
Gary Desmond's Candy's Room, coming from Liverpool, was the first in 1980, quickly followed by Dan French's Point Blank, Dave Percival's The Fever, Jeff Matthews' Rendezvous, and Paul Limbrick's Jackson Cage.
In the US, Backstreets Magazine started in Seattle in 1980 and still continues today as a glossy publication, now in communication with Springsteen's management and official website.
Crème Brûlée documented post-rock genre and experimental music (1990s).
1970s and punk
Punk became a genre for the working class because of the economic necessity to use creative DIY methods, echoed in both zine and Punk music creation.
Zines became vital to the popularization and spread of punk spreading to countries outside the UK and America, such as Ireland, Indonesia, and more by 1977.
Amateur, fan-created zines played an important role in spreading information about different scenes (city or regional-based subcultures) and bands (e.g. British fanzines like Mark Perry's Sniffin Glue and Shane MacGowan's Bondage) in the pre-Internet era.
They typically included reviews of shows and records, interviews with bands, letters, and ads for records and labels.
The punk subculture in the United Kingdom spearheaded a surge of interest in fanzines as a countercultural alternative to established print media.
The first and still best known UK 'punk zine' was Sniffin' Glue, produced by Deptford punk fan Mark Perry which ran for 12 photocopied issues; the first issue produced by Perry immediately following (and in response to) the London debut of The Ramones on 4 July 1976.
Other UK fanzines included Blam! , Bombsite, Burnt Offering, Chainsaw, New Crimes, Vague, Jamming, Artcore Fanzine, Love and Molotov Cocktails, To Hell With Poverty, New Youth, Peroxide, ENZK, Juniper beri-beri, No Cure,Communication Blur, Rox, Grim Humour, Spuno, Cool Notes and Fumes.
Slug and Lettuce started at the state college of PA and became an international 10,000 copy production – all for free.
In Canada, the zine Standard Issue chronicles the Ottawa hardcore scene.
Gearhead Nation was a monthly punk freesheet that lasted from the early 1990s to 1997 in Dublin, Ireland.
Some hardcore punk zines became available online such as the e-zine chronicling the Australian hardcore scene, RestAssured.
In Italy, Mazquerade ran from 1979 to 1981 and Raw Art Fanzine ran from 1995 to 2000.
In 1977 in Australia, Bruce Milne and Clinton Walker fused their respective punk zines Plastered Press and Suicide Alley to launch Pulp; Milne later went on to invent the cassette zine with Fast Forward, in 1980.
In the American Midwest, a zine called Touch and Go described the area's hardcore scene from 1979 to 1983.
My Rules was a photo zine that included photos of hardcore shows from across the US an in Effect, launched in 1988 described the New York City punk scene.
Among later titles, Maximum RocknRoll is a major punk zine, with over 300 issues published.
As a result, in part, of the popular and commercial resurgence of punk in the late 1980s, and after, with the growing popularity of such bands as Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Fugazi, Bikini Kill, Green Day and The Offspring, a number of other punk zines have appeared, such as Dagger, Profane Existence, Punk Planet, Razorcake, Slug and Lettuce, Sobriquet and Tail Spins.
"In the post-punk era several well-written fanzines emerged that cast an almost academic look at earlier, neglected musical forms, including Mike Stax' Ugly Things, Billy Miller and Miriam Linna's Kicks, Jake Austen's Roctober, Kim Cooper's Scram, P. Edwin Letcher's Garage & Beat, and the UK's Shindig!
and Italy's Misty Lane."
Mark Wilkins, the promotion director for 1982 onwards US punk/thrash label Mystic Records, had over 450 US fanzines and 150 foreign fanzines he promoted to regularly.
He and Mystic Records owner Doug Moody edited The Mystic News Newsletter which was published quarterly and went into every promo package to fanzines.
Wilkins also published the highly successful Los Angeles punk humor zine Wild Times and when he ran out of funding for the zine syndicated some of the humorous material to over 100 US fanzines under the name of Mystic Mark.
During the 1980s and onwards, Factsheet Five (the name came from a short story by John Brunner), originally published by Mike Gunderloy and now defunct, catalogued and reviewed any zine or small press creation sent to it, along with their mailing addresses.
In doing so, it formed a networking point for zine creators and readers (usually the same people).
The concept of zine as an art form distinct from fanzine, and of the "zinesters" as member of their own subculture, had emerged.
Zines of this era ranged from perzines of all varieties to those that covered an assortment of different and obscure topics.
Genres reviewed by Factsheet Five included quirky, medley, fringe, music, punk, grrrlz, personal, science fiction, food, humour, spirituality, politics, queer, arts & letters, comix.
1990s and riot grrrl
As feminist documents, they follow a longer legacy of feminist and women's self-publication that includes scrapbooking, periodicals and health publications, allowing women to circulate ideas that would not otherwise be published.
The American publication Bikini Kill (1990) introduced the Riot Grrrl Manifesto in their second issue as a way of establishing space.
Zinesters Erika Reinstein and May Summer founded the Riot Grrrl Press to serve as a zine distribution network that would allow riot grrrls to "express themselves and reach large audiences without having to rely on the mainstream press".
Girls use this grassroots medium to discuss their personal lived experiences, and themes including body image, sexuality, gender norms, and violence to express anger, and reclaim/refigure femininity.
Scholar and zinester Mimi Thi Nguyen notes that these norms unequally burdened riot grrrls of color with allowing white riot grrrls access to their personal experiences, an act which in itself was supposed to address systemic racism.
Additional zines following this path are Shocking Pink (1981–82, 1987–92), Jigsaw (1988– ), Bikini Kill (1990), Girl Germs (1990), Bamboo Girl (1995– ), BITCH Magazine (1996– ), Hip Mama (1997– ), Kitten Scratches (1999) and ROCKRGRL (1995–2005).
Starting in this decade, multinational companies started appropriating and commodifying zines and DIY culture.
Their faux zines created a commercialized hipster lifestyle.
By late in the decade, independent zinesters were accused of "selling out" to make a profit.
Distribution and circulation
Before the invention of the printing press (1440), the Mesopotamians, Chinese and Egyptians used stamps and presses to emboss images into clay and print on cloth (BC).
With the invention of paper in the second century AD, reproduction of literature became more efficient.
Since then, offset printing (1875), the mimeograph (1886), the duplicator/"ditto machine" (1920s), Xerography (1938), inkjet printing (1951), laser printing (1965), and digital printing (1991) have made the process increasingly more accessible to the general public.
Comparatively, digital printing produces 2,400 times more sheets per hour than the original printing press.
Zines are sold, traded or given as gifts at symposiums, publishing fairs, record and book stores and concerts, via independent media outlets, zine 'distros', mail order or through direct correspondence with the author.
They are also sold online on distro websites, Etsy shops, blogs, or social networking profiles and are available for download.
While zines are generally self-published, there are a few independent publishers who specialize in art zines such as Nieves Books in Zurich, founded by Benjamin Sommerhalder, and Café Royal Books founded by Craig Atkinson in 2005.
In recent years a number of photocopied zines have risen to prominence or professional status and have found wide bookstore and online distribution.
There are many catalogued and online based mail-order distros for zines.
Some other longstanding operations include Great Worm Express Distribution in Toronto, CornDog Publishing in Ipswich in the UK, Café Royal Books in Southport in the UK, Fistful of Books in Scotland, AK Press in Oakland, California,, Missing Link Records in Melbourne.
Libraries and Archives
A number of major public and academic libraries and museums carry zines and other small press publications, often with a specific focus (e.g. women's studies) or those that are relevant to a local region.
Libraries and institutions with notable zine collections include:
- Barnard College Library
- The University of Iowa Special Collections
- The Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture at Duke University
- The Tate Museum
- The British Library
- Harvard University's Schlesinger Library
The Indie Photobook Library, an independent archive in the Washington, DC area, is a large collection of photobooks and photo zines dating from 2008 to 2016 which the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University acquired in 2016.
In California, the Long Beach Public Library began to be the first public library in the state to start circulating zines for three weeks at a time in 2015.
In 2017 the Los Angeles Public Library started to circulate zines publicly to its patrons as well.
Both projects have been credited to librarian Ziba Zehdar who has been an advocate in promoting circulating zines publicly at libraries in California.
It has been suggested that the adoption of zine culture by powerful and prestigious institutions contradicts their function as declarations of agency by marginalized groups.
Zine fests, workshops, and clubs
There has been a resurgence in the alternative publication culture beginning in the 2010s, in tandem with the influx of zine libraries and as a result of the digital age, which has sparked zine festivals across the globe.
The Los Angeles Zine Fest, which is considered to be one of the biggest in the United States, started in 2012 with only a handful of exhibitors, now hosting over 200 exhibitors.
Other big zine fests across the globe include, San Francisco Zine Fest, Brooklyn Zine Fest, Chicago Zine Fest, Feminist Zine Fest, Amsterdam Zine Jam, and Sticky Zine Fair.
At each zine fest, the zinester can be their own independent distributor and publisher simply by standing behind a table to sell or barter their work.
Over time, zinesters have added posters, stickers, buttons and patches to these events.
In many libraries, schools and community centers around the world, zinesters hold meetings to create, share, and pass down the art of making zines.
2000s and the effect of the Internet
With the rise of the Internet in the mid-1990s, zines initially faded from public awareness possibly due to the ability of private web-pages to fulfill much the same role of personal expression.
The metadata standard for cataloging zines is xZineCorex, which maps to Dublin Core.
E-zine creators were originally referred to as "adopters" because of their use of pre-made type and layouts, making the process less ambiguous.
Since, social media, blogging and vlogging have adopted a similar do-it-yourself publication model, with the most efficient form of communication yet.
Rancid News filled the gap left by these two zines for a short while.
On its tenth issue Rancid News changed its name to Last Hours with 7 issues published under this title before going on hiatus.
Last Hours still operates as a webzine though with more focus on the anti-authoritarian movement than its original title.
Artcore Fanzine (established in 1986) continues to this day, recently publishing a number of 30-year anniversary issues.
Since that time, alt.zines has seen more than 26,000 postings.
Throughout the 1990s alt.zines was zinesters.
The online encyclopedia for zines was launched in 2006 by Alan Lastufka and Kate Sandler.
The main character in Our Hero, Kale Stiglic, writes about her life in the Toronto suburbs.
The episodes are narrated and presented in the form of zine issues that she creates, inheriting her father's storytelling passion.
The show won titles from the Canadian Comedy Awards and Gemini Awards during its development.
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zine.