A zine (abbreviation of magazine or fanzine) is a small circulation publication, often self-published and reproduced via photocopier. They are becoming more and more popular in photography and are a very Crusader-ly way to share work (meaning they are accessible and affordable). Zines have arguably been around forever tracing back to poilitical pamphlets in the 1700s.
Since then, zines have played an important role in the development of many music scenes, subcultures, and activist groups, including punk rock in London (Sniffin Glue Zine), New York (Punk Magazine) and the Riot Grrl scene in the ‘90s.
For my part, I’ve always been fascinated and moved by the fact that zines were a major means of communication for lesbians during the extreme oppression and media persecution of gay people in the 1950s. The first known lesbian zine,Vice Versa, was meticulously typed on carbon paper, and produced in batches of just 12 per issue.Those issues were read, mailed, and passed on so that hundreds of women ended up reading them. Queer zines of the ’90s like Shocking Pink and Outpunk are also legendary for providing radical theory to an entire generation of queers.
Zines run the gamut in both quality and subject matter, but they all share a common and salient thread — they speak for their time, they are unedited, they are personal, and they deal with things you would never read about in major publications, from the personal to the political and beyond. While zines remain a mostly print function, recently the medium has taken on changes to adapt to the digital age, not only by making zines easily available directly from zinesters via platforms like Etsy and Big Cartel, but in their format as well (read collections of zines by queers here –https://www.qzap.org/v8/index.php
To my mind, zines have always been there for people who are typically shut out of standard publishing venues, people who have to rely on their own wits to get their words out.
Here are a few of my own zines I have collected from all over the world at various DIY events, festivals, shows etc.
PS: I am currently seeking out people to start a collaborative zine with so hit me up!!
FERN O’ Carolan