Those born within the last ten years might not ever come to know the importance of a zine. What’s a zine? It’s defined by Merriam-Webster as, “a small magazine that is written by people who are not professional writers and that usually has stories about a particular subject.”
Zines reached their height of popularity in the pre-internet days of the early to mid 1990’s. They were essentially fan-made magazines for the ‘90s punk and hardcore punk music scene. They often included band interviews, record reviews, news articles, lists and even opinion columns. As Jason Heller explains in his article, “With zines, the ’90s punk scene had a living history,” published in October of 2013, “Before the Internet began to supersede them in the late ’90s, zines were the blogs, comment sections, and social networks of their day.”
According to Heller, a few zines, “served as flashpoints for entire subcultures-within-subcultures, from rowdy garage-punks to vegan anarchists,” in addition to a platform for up-and-coming writers of the time.
Currently the blogosphere has become a hot bed for music journalism. So, where does that leave zines? These days, zines are often seen as offline, low-cost personalized magazines. Rookie Magazine, an online publication for teenage girls, explains that zines, “…usually deal with topics too controversial or niche for mainstream media, presented in an unpolished layout and unusual design,” in their 2012 post, “How to Make a Zine,” which also offers step-by-step instructions on how to make one.
But where do zines fit in the current digital landscape? According to Justine Hyde’s recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald titled, “Zines defy death by digital,” zine popularity is increasing in Australia because of the Internet and social media rather than in spite of it.
Hyde writes, “Zine makers have embraced Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram to engage with their readers. Etsy, an online arts and crafts e-commerce site, features their latest zines for sale.”
It’s an interesting premise to think of in an era in which newspapers are dying because of digitalization of information. Zines, a do-it-yourself, print and handmade medium, are actually embracing online as a form of engaging and promoting to potential readers. In fact, Hyde’s article is itself a preview of an upcoming zine festival in Australia, which is titled, “Tonerpalooza.”
However, don’t think it’s only overseas that zines are still making an impact. Zines are an important part of the United States’ underground media history. In fact, DePaul University’s Library has a special section dedicated to Midwestern zines from the past 10 to 14 years. And as of last month, 3rd Language, a “Chicago queer artist/writer collective,” held a “Insta-zine-ing workshop,” according to an article on GapersBlock.com.
While it seems that print and online are often sparring partners, it’s encouraging to see how a print medium can survive while embracing digital.
Dajska, E. (2012). How to make a zine. Retrieved June 15, 2014, Retrieved from http://www.rookiemag.com/2012/05/how-to-make-a-zine/
Heller, J. (2013). With zines, the ’90s punk scene had a living history. Retrieved June 15, 2014, Retrieved from http://www.avclub.com/article/with-zines-the-90s-punk-scene-had-a-living-history-104206
Hyde, J. (2014). Zines defy death by digital. Retrieved June 15, 2014, Retrieved from http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/zines-defy-death-by-digital-20140613-zs78g.html