ZINE LOVE—I HAS IT.
I love zines. Lovey, love, love, love.
WHAT’S IN A ZINE? WHAT IS A ZINE?
Zines are little magazines and chapbooks and collections of thought and wonder. Sometimes they’re about boyfriends and bands, but they can also be about things like mad science or self-expression or lyric poetry. Zines are generally photocopied, but I’ve seen them letter-pressed, too. What’s the difference between a chapbook and a zine? Well, sometimes literary folks are into calling things chapbooks, when really they’re kind of just zines. Sometimes chaps are more fancy, with heavier, more artsy covers, but often they’re not.
Sometimes they’re written all by one person, sometimes they’re a collaboration (often called comp. or compilation zine). A perzine is a personal zine. (Zinesters like to abbreviate and smoosh words together.)
THANKS FOR CLEARING THAT UP, RIGHT?
Small press stuff ranges from smashed together and folded with a beer bottle to razor creases made with a bone folder—from cheap, crooked staples to hand sewn, intricate bindings. It’s really all about the aesthetic and what someone chooses to call something, with maybe a bit of a nod to content (chaps & lit mags tend toward a more literary, polished look). Zines are unabashedly cool with being anything from super sophisticated and all glossy, aaaaaall the way to crooked photocopies assembled with a glue stick & some attitude.
WHO MAKES THESE THINGS?
I have chaps, lit. mags, indy comics, and zines in my collection, affectionately known by most zinesters as the stash. Sometimes it’s really difficult to tell which is which, and I think that’s ok. The point is this: you can do anything with a zine. You can say anything, make anything, share anything. I have zines by sex workers, depressed poets, jubilant roadtrippers, and unabashed academics. I have body positive zines, angry ranty zines about nothing-in-particular, sketchbooks photocopied into miniature form, and photo series’ done up in mini catalogs. Art majors make them, but so do accountant mamas home schooling their babies.
BUT SERIOUSLY, IS IT A ZINE OR NOT?
If it’s photocopied & run in very limited edition, it’s probably a zine. Particularly if it looks suspiciously like someone took a glue-stick to strips of text and smashed them down over a map or something. (What? Don’t hate. Maps are cool—JUST LIKE BOWTIES—even if they are a zine cliche. :D)
ZEEN OR Z-EYE-N?
I say zeen, (like magazine) but you can say whatever you want. Collect some, make some. They’re neat.
My stash has a mind of its own, and usually ends up growing about once a year, when I place an order with Sweet Candy Distro & Press. Occasionally, I’ll order one from an etsy shop, though I generally like to see a review of a zine before I buy, unless the subject is one I know I must have. I have boxes of these things, and, yeah, sometimes I do buy them because they have a cool cover.
THEY’RE EVERYWHERE (NOT JUST PORTLAND)
One of my favorite things to do is pick them up when I travel. I bought a really cool art zine in a London art supply store (I’d link it, but it’s probably packed away with my photos & sketchbooks from undergrad), a rollergirl comic in Chicago (Graham Crackers has a zine/indy comic rack—how cool is that?), and even found a beautifully illustrated tale here in Cincinnati, at Shake It Records.
If you can’t make it to a zine fair (where a slew of distros come together to table and hawk their wares), you can order online from a number of distros (distributors). There’s a large selection of zines available on etsy, though the search feature has been problematic in the past. (Sometimes artist books/sketchbooks/other books come up if you search “zine”). Using a distro allows you to rely on the owner’s taste and reviews—there’s someone standing between you and a sea of publications. Once you find a couple of distros you trust, it makes shopping online much more likely to produce something you love. (Sweet Candy, for example, has an entire section dedicated to Body Image zines.)
A benefit of Etsy, of course, is that you can see multiple images of the zine’s content, which becomes particularly important if you, like me, favor zines that include art. Most distros only show you the cover art—there’s a reason I shop from both!
GET ME STARTED
If you’re looking for a place to dive into the community, you can either just start making & selling a zine, or, if you’re chatty & forum-friendly, there’s an online community for zine makers & readers called We Make Zines. There you can find groups dedicated to every kind of zine from teaching zines to poetry zines, tiny zines to zines about death, and even a section called calls for submission. There are several new calls posted weekly. The zine community at large is definitely thriving.
INTERNATIONAL ZINE MONTH
Yep, July is International Zine Month. There’s a list of activities for zinesters this month. Example: Next week is zine distribution week. There’s an assignment for each day:
15 – Leave a zine in public for someone else to find.
15 – Promote a zine that you really like that is not your own.
16 – Send your zine to a distro for distro consideration.
17 – Review a zine online or write a review of a zine to add to your zine.
18 – Order from a zine distro that you have never ordered from before.
19 – Zine Shop appreciation day! Stop by a shop that sells zines and buy some zines or consign your zines.
20 – Free Zine Day! Give your zine away to someone!
See? One of the best things about being around zinesters is how helpful and open the community can be. There’s always someone out there ready to inspire you to do something vital. SSR even provides a cheat sheet for your printing pleasure. 😀
RESEARCH & GOODS
You can find some of my zines (including Toy Camera) in my Etsy shop: Stubborn Binding.
If ya haven’t figured out by now that Sweet Candy is my fav. US distro, you haven’t been paying attention.
My favorite UK zine distro: Marching Stars. (Also a great place to purchase Toy Camera across the pond.)
Stolen Sharpie Revolution maintains a list of zine distros to try, as well as brick-and-mortar stores that carry zines.
DJ does One Minute Zine Reviews. It’s good for your ears!
Articles on zines & authors: Zine Wiki.
BODY IMAGE ZINES
Love Me, Love My Belly is a new compilation zine that venerates the body in every shape and size, and is: “dedicated to the acceptance of self and imperfection as beauty. It’s about the space between us, our differences, our scars, our wobbly bits, and our power as it relates to the bodies we live in.) LMLMB features art, poetry, creative nonfiction (essays & narrative), and fiction.”
Sage (Sweet Candy Distro & Press, writer of Hard Knox and Tattoed Memoirs) edits a compilation zine called Fattastic. Check her blog for the Friday Five, an interview series with zinesters (5 questions, 5 answers).
Milky Robot hosts a call for Body Riot, “based on body positivity, fat acceptance, self love, queer and a touch of feminism.”
WHO ARE YOU AGAIN?
Hi. I’m a zinester (among a lot of other things). I’ve been making zines since about 2000, and have participated in lit. mags since around 1995.
If you’re familiar with art or body image zines, you may have seen mine floating around. I’m probably best known for my zines like the series mostlyHANDwritten and Fat Girl minizine, as well as one-offs like DO NOT BEND, Cook This!, and Toy Camera.
My art has appeared on the covers of zines like Eye Candy, Figure 8, and is upcoming on v. 44 of the lit. mag. Licking River Review.
SHARE THE LOVE
If you love zines, feel free to post your favorite distro, zine title with a description, or tell me how you came to fall for them.