An act of rebellion, a symbol of individuality, an outpouring of radical intellectualism: a zine. Since the invention of the printing press, marginalized populations have published their thoughts in the form of newsletters or pamphlets, but it wasn’t until the 1970s, during the rise of the punk movement in the UK, that inspired misfits began publishing ‘zines’ (a shortened term for ‘magazine’). If you could make a flyer and use a photocopier, then you could publish your own zine. Since the seventies, the world of zine publishing has seen radical change and increased popularity. Once a venue for members of the science fiction crowd to share their thoughts on future civilizations and alien sightings, the production of zines has become synonymous with feminism, underground art and music as a way to share ‘off the beaten path’ opinions in a venue that has little to no rules about what is appropriate. The appeal of zines is that it is 100% governed by the people, for the people; a place where interests of the misrepresented or overlooked can share ideas otherwise apathetically disregarded by the general public. In the late 1990s, the internet slowly obliterated the production of zines. Many zines became blogs, websites that sold, ironically, magazines of the once radical content, or webzines. With that being said, zines are starting to make a comeback as our generation starts to crave more personalized, ‘crafty’, means of expression and originality. Keeping with the digital age, many artists, graphic designers, printmakers and musicians have turned to the production of art books and downloadable PDFs as a way to fulfill the creative void without having to spend hours photocopying and distributing. But, the community and ‘secretive’, subversive nature of zine production is lost when you have access to it on a screen. Its similar to the feeling you get when one of your favorite underground bands has suddenly ‘sold-out’ and ‘gone mainstream’ when they compose a song to be used in a commercial. Back in 2012, Juxtapoz, who prides itself on the production and idea behind the publication of zines as the way they got their early beginnings, featured numerous articles on their website entitled What Are You Doing To Participate. The articles covered a zine / art show in Los Angeles where zines from the 1980s to the present were featured for the public to reminisce and appreciate. The show quickly inspired a revival (and a zine show in Vancouver) which was covered in Juxtapoz’s July 2013 issue called Zine Culture, featuring artists and some of the best (tangible) art zines of 2013. As a supporter of the written word, counterculture, punk, and creativity, I commend the zine’s comeback and hope that its here to stay.
To read more about Zine Culture, click here.
Read more about feminist zines on Autostraddle.