Zines Are Having a Moment

Stack of zines
Stack of zines

Zines, zines everywhere. Fangirling began long before Twitter or Tumblr existed. The original platform for fans to gush about their idols and themselves began with science fiction culture in the late 1920s; fans handmade and copied pamphlets which were coined “fanzines.” The term was later shortened to “zine” (pronounced ‘zeen’). Later, during the 70’s, zines saw a revival with the punk scene and then again with the Riot Grrrl bands of the 90’s.

A zine, is a do-it-yourself publication. Described romantically by the NYC Feminist Zinefest site, a zine “is like a small, pocket-sized emissary of ideas, one who will eagerly come with you on a long train or bus ride, and share its hidden tales.” Even though zines may not have been present in the popular culture in the last few decades, they have continuously existed in and around various do-it-yourself, punk and feminist scenes, and certainly among marginalized groups as a means for those to express themselves. The 2017 zine culture is alive and thriving with hundreds of zine festivals worldwide and a listing of over 3,500 zines for sale on Etsy. (A zine festival is an event much like a fair where, zinesters, those who make zines, table and sell or swap their zines) .

In a world where we have so much available to us at our fingertips, literally by swiping a screen, it is surprising people still take the time to produce something by hand. Is the zine culture becoming more popular? I would contend that zines have been rising in popularity and hit a mainstream high in 2011, when Time published the article, “The Anatomy of a Zine,” (usually such publications are the last to recognize a subcultural trend). Yearly there has been an increase in zinefests, especially in the US. Many libraries across the US (and worldwide) have zine archives. Barnard College has a zine collection that actually goes out into circulation. With popular culture’s renewed interest in zines, I worry about the commercialization and destruction of something DIY and genuine. For example, you can enroll in a $675.00 fall course on creating zines at the School of Visual Arts. But why the rising interest in zines when we have the interwebs and social media? I asked Elvis B, co-founder of the NYC Feminist ZInefest and creator of the zine, “Homos in Herstory” why they thought zines were thriving in 2017, and this was their response:

“Zines have been going through a strong revival over the past five years...and counting! They fly low on the cultural radar, allowing for zine spaces to be truly cultivated by local communities and interested folks. I personally hope that at the heart of the zine revival is a growing kernel of resistance to surveillance, as evidenced by this newfound devotion to print, and (hopefully) all things analog.”

Here’s your chance to support the local zine community by checking out one of these happenings in the upcoming two months:

In case you want to check out zinefests worldwide, Zinenation is a great source .

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