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A guide to zines, DIY/homemade publications which allow folks to tell their own stories or share information. Topics include mental health, disability, queerness, race and racism, sexual assault, political topics, recipes, and much more.

"Zines: The Power of DIY Print" (short documentary)

Some Typical Things About Zines

  1. Self-published: zines are typically created by one creator or one collective from start to finish, including content, design, photocopying, and distribution. 
  2. Small Print Run: many zines have a print run of 1000 copies or fewer. 
  3. Self-Distributed: Zine creators often sell or trade their work at zine festivals, online (Etsy or online distros), or sometimes at zine distros. 
  4. DIY (Do It Yourself): zines may have beautiful original art (digital or analog) or utilize cut-and-paste techniques and appropriation of content from magazines, the internet, etc. The common theme is that content and design are executed by the creator/publisher. 
  5. Cheap!: Zines are generally reproduced inexpensively (such as on a copy machine), and creators tend to sell them for anywhere from $1-10 apiece. 
  6. Motivated by Desire to Share Message, not Profit: Zine creators often use this medium as an outlet for sharing their art, telling their story, or sharing information on a particular topic that impacts marginalized communities. 

Brief Timeline of Zine History

  • 1930s - The Comet (often believed to be the first zine) is published by Chicago's Science Correspondence Club. (Zines remained a popular format for science fiction fans).   
  • 1943 - Science Fiction Fantasy Commentator begins in 1943 and continues (with interruptions) until 2004 
  • 1955 - Hugo begins awarding a Best Fanzine at the World Science Fiction Convention, and is still awarded today
  • 1967 - Star Trek fanzine Spockanalia is published with contributions from writers and actors. The zine is often credited with helping keep the show on the air, after rumors of cancelation after two season
  • 1970s-1980s - Zines thrives in London, Los Angeles, and New York as they become a favorite format for punk culture
  • 1990s - Riot Grrrl, a punk feminist movement evolves in the Pacific Northwest (Olympia, WA) and Washington, DC, and becomes an outlet for folks to share about music, feminism, etc. 
  • Today - zines are still popular! Zines cover any number of subjects, and are often a tool for LGBTQIA, people of color, folks with disabilities, activists, and others to share their message. While there are online zines, many are still DIY printed and sold at zine festivals, zine distros, and on sites like Etsy. 

More Resources on the History of Zines