Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Zines, zines zines, if yr looking for a good time!

Recently I have had quite a few people ask me about zines, what zines are, how you make them, what can they be about. So I thought I would write a (hopefully not too lengthy) post with all I know about zines!

I'm not claiming to be the holder of all zine knowledge, I just know I like zines a lot, I like to read them and I love to make them, in fact I've been making zines on and off for half my life!
I started contributing and making my own zines around the age of 15 and 15 years later I still contribute to others and make a whole host of zines of my own.
I sell at zine fairs, I read books about zines and zine culture, I give workshops on zines, this blog exists alongside it's namesake zine and I love to encourage others to make zines!
ZINES ZINES ZINES! I just love them, so here goes....

What is a zine?
To me, the definition of a zine is a self published magazine.
Self published works have begun even before the birth of printing press, but I believe some of the first zines to exist were in the '30s and were self published works by science fiction fans who wanted to share and tell their stories.
There was a big resurgence of zines in the '70s with the rise of punk, anarchic and DIY culture, using zines to talk about music, politics and rebellion. There was also a rise of underground self published comics and prose in the 70s, written by very politicised people. The second wave of feminism in the 70s also meant a lot of comics/zines/ manifestos relating to feminism were published around this time.
The next great surge of zines was in the '90s particularly related to the riot grrrl movement and the third wave of feminism that came with that. Taking ideas and inspiration from zines of the 70s and 80s, the punk aspect and DIY ethos, whilst mixing in with politics and feminist theory. This is where I discovered and learnt about zines.
A zine, is quite often unlike the glossy magazines mass produced and sold worldwide in that they have a DIY feel to them, especially zines coming from the 70s/80s/90s, where the cut and paste method came from.
The do it yourself, with the resources you have style came about as it was the only way you could get your zines made, no computer programmes or fancy equipment, just scissors and glue, words and pictures.
The aesthetic of a zine can obviously vary greatly, but to me it's essentially a little photocopied book of joy!
Just some of my zine collection!

What are zines usually about?Zines can be about ANYTHING! like anything in the world, you can write/draw/stick/say whatever you want to, it's YOUR work.
I have zines about all sorts of things, music, film, TV, being a fan, tea, countries, feminism, class, POC, art, crafts,fiction and more. I have made zines about; class, fake letters to celebrities, friendship books, fandom, jackets owned by Gerard Way(see ANYTHING!) Because zines can be about ANYTHING there are sometimes sub genres of zines you can use just to give people an idea of what your zine is about.
You might hear...

Fanzine: to me where the word of zine comes from, in the 90s this term was used a lot, especially with music zines and the whole Britpop boom. A fanzine is a zine written about being a fan of something, whether that's music, or a person or sport or whatever. I feel fanzines are not as valued as they once where and regarded less due to the nature of the content, but I feel fandom is awesome and should be celebrated and want to see the rise of fanzines!

Perzine: This is where you take a shortened version of magazine and a shortened version of personal and get perzine! A zine mostly about yourself! I have read so many from topics such as mental health, eating disorders to self care, sex, class, race lot's of things!

Art zine: this is exactly what you think it is, a zine that mainly contains art, be it illustrations, photography or more. The term art zine is often used to describe a more glossy high quality zine, compared to more cut and paste style.

mini comic: Again another self explanatory one, some people may refer to their mini comic as a zine others may not, but another self published work.

web zine: This is not a paper format physical zine, but often people say they write zines online. Some web zines are a continuation of physical format zines or something that started up just online.

all the zines I made in my teenage years/early 20s!

How do I make a zine?The following information will be about how to make a cut and paste style zine, as I am not technologically advanced enough to use computer programs and stuff to make zines ha!
Also the methods I use are accessible to most people and really fun to do, so the way I always lead zine workshops!
I always say if you want to make a zine and never done one before, the best place to start is with a one page zine. here is how to do one.....

The one page zine is great because, it's only one sheet of A4 so you won't get tired of making it! It is easy to photocopy as just ONE SIDE of A4, and no need for stapling!

Once you have mastered the one page zine it good place to go is an A5 zine. This is where you make it up on pages of A4 fold and staple it (or stitch or pin or tie yarn/ribbon, or don't even bother at all!).

I find the best way to make one of these is to make up each individual page on loose sheets of A5 and compile them at the end on sheets of A4. A good thing to remember is you will need to have pages that are multiples of 4 (each sheet of A4 paper has 4 sides of A5!).
Work out how many lose sheets you have, then divide that by 4, that's how many sheets of A4 you will need (remember to include a front and back cover!)
Hope that makes some sense.
Then you just need to either do it yourself or take it somewhere to get double sided copied!

Here are some handy tools and bits and bobs you might want when making a zine...

Glue stick: A cut n paste zinetser's (someone who makes a zine!) best friend is the glue stick.

Scissors: See above ha! who needs photoshop when you have scissors and glue!

Long arm stapler: If stapling is the method you want to secure your zine then the long arm stapler is what you want to go for. Can be found in most big stationers.
If you don't have a long arm, you can use a regular stapler. Place centre of the zine on a cork mat or at the very edge of a table, open up the stapler and staple the zine, using a ruler, flatten down the staples!

Dymo tape/Letraset: Dymo is great for headings and titles and just looks great! Letraset (transfer letters) is also great for this too.

Stickers: who doesn't like stickers?

Sharpies: and other brands of  permanent marker are great for lettering, drawing and much more.

Scraps of paper: Bits of paper make for great backgrounds, from wrapping paper, to inside envelopes. Save it all you may never know when you need it!

How do I distribute my zine?So now you've made your super awesome zine but don't know what to do with it! Hand them out to your friends. but if you want to reach further afield there are ways.
When I was a teenager making zines, I used to find out about other zines via pages in the back of magazines, Teletext, at gigs or in fact inside other zines. Mainly through post, good old fashioned snail mail, sending on fliers for my own and others zines, to penpals and people who buy my zine. Back then it was all about Sellotaping a pound to a bit of card and sending a SAE to send a zine back.
Now however things like webstores (Etsy, Big Cartel and more) exist so you can have an online shop to sell your zine.
Prefer to do it in real life, many cities host zine/publishing fairs and can get a table and sell your zine. If you don't have funds or enough zines to do this, many zine fairs have a communal table where you can leave copies of yr zine to sell.

If you don't/can't have an online presence or attend a zine fair there are such things as distros.
Distros are usually run by one or a few people and is their way of collating zines, music, art and more and selling it through one space. You can contact distros and ask if they would like to stock your zine.
They take them in a number of ways, several copies that they pay you for, or on a sale or return basis. Some distros ask for flat copies, this just means they want a copy of the zine unstapled or folded so they can make copies of their own, this sometimes proves cost effective for both parties involved!

Another great place to have your zine be seen by a bunch of folk are zine libraries. Zine libraries are exactly that, a library full of zines! Some places pay for a copy of your zine others don't have the ability to do that. Some zine libraries are static (in buildings, in actual libraries, in places of education) and some are mobile!!!

Useful links....
We Make Zines: a great zine community where you can talk zines, connect with other zinesters and more

Stolen Sharpie Revolution: A great site for news about zines, how to's, distro and libraries lists, zine fairs and stuff about International Zine month (which Alex Wreek, all round good gal of SSR was instigator of!)

List of  UK Zine libraries: My great friend Holly compiled this list of zine libraries, super handy.

Footprinters: based in the north of England, this co-op printers are not only really ethical BUT zine friendly so can offer you a bunch of hints and tips when it comes to printing your zine.

Fanzines: keep up to date with all things zine related.

Sorry that was A LOT of words, but hopefully of some use! The two important things to remember are,
1. zines are a labour of love, they are more often than not non for profit, so don't expect to become a millionaire through making them 2. making zines is fun!