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Zine Scene

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Psst. Hey. What’s a zine?

Glad you asked! There are several answers, but the simplest one is: Just about anything you can imagine. Mymy recently posted an introduction to the wonderful world of zines.

Self-published magazines, books, and journals have existed in some form or other for a long time. Since the invention of the printing press, writers and political agitators have printed pamphlets to spread their message. In the early part of the 20th century fanzines written by dedicated science fiction readers came along. During the following few decades, poets like Allen Ginsberg and Anais Nin published their own writing — and their friends’ as well — in journals they designed, laid out, and mimeographed or letterpress-printed themselves. Zines as we know them today owe a big debt of gratitude to the no-holds-barred, cut-and-paste publications riot grrrls made during the ’90s.

These days the zine scene is worldwide, and despite the rise of digital culture — or maybe because of it — print zines are flourishing. Zinesters are a crafty bunch of writers and artists who love to write as much as they love the feel of something made by hand. It only makes sense that they’ve found a home on Etsy: Team Zine.

Make Your Own Zine
The beauty of zines is that you can write about — or draw or take pictures of — any subject under the sun. Here are just a few topics we’ve read about in zines:

  • food and cooking
  • gender and sexuality
  • personal writing
  • how-to guides
  • body image
  • poetry and fiction
  • all kinds of craftiness
  • book reviews and film studies
  • comics and photography
  • honestly, you name it!

The format and look of zines is just as varied. Some are made of a single sheet of paper, creatively folded; others are more than 100 pages long. You can type up your text and print it out, use a nifty yard-sale typewriter, or write it out by hand. Probably the most common zine construction is cutting and pasting up your text and images by hand, then photocopying, folding, and stapling them into a booklet.


Many zinesters get creative with their printing and binding techniques. Anything that holds the pages together will do: yarn, duct tape, those plastic twist ties that come with a loaf of bread. Longtime zinester brainscan (brainscan.etsy.com) binds some of her zines with dental floss! Artnoose (artnoose.etsy.com) has been producing her zine Ker-Bloom! entirely by letterpress every two months for the last 11 years.


Share Your Zine
Another thing that sets zines apart from ordinary books is the fact that their creators distribute their work themselves. Since the worldwide zine community is friendly, open-minded and energetic, this is a fun part of the process.

Online you can post to a zine-themed message board to announce the publication of your new issue. In person there are zine fests and indie book fairs where you can set up shop at a table and peddle (or trade) your wares. Many independent bookstores, comic book stores, boutiques, and galleries carry zines, too, and more and more public libraries are establishing zine collections. If you’ve ever thought of making a zine, the time is now!

One last thought: promote your project with small flyers, patches, or buttons. We’ve yet to meet a zinester who doesn’t like a good button.


Further Resources:
Photocopied Heart, a friendly online zine community.

Grrrlzines.net: Tons of interviews with grrrl zinesters around the world.

Broken Pencil: Canada’s biggest zines resource and indie culture magazine.

Underground Press: Zine World reviews zines by the dozen.

Read Mymy’s post about zines here.