What's a zine, you ask? Well, it's this thing you write and share with other people. It's like a little magazine (so you see where the word zine comes from--and now you know how to pronounce it--zeen like bean, not zine like mine). But a zine is not mass-produced and driven by corporate advertising. It's usually photocopied and stapled, and sold for a couple bucks or traded for another person's zine. Because you write a zine for fun, not for money, and not to compete with other writers of zines, but to share experiences and build community.
People write zines for lots of reasons, but probably my favorite one is that they don't find their own experience reflected in the popular culture. So they write a zine about their experience, and put it out there, creating some culture of their own. I love that idea, being able to
Create Your Own Culture.
You can write your zine about absolutely anything you're interested in. Write about your life, like Ramsey Beyer does in LIST:
This is one of my absolute favorite zines. It has evocative writing, fun drawings, and it's a fabulous idea--to write about everything in the form of a list--executed to perfection. This type of zine is called a "perzine," short for personal zine, because it's mainly about the zinester's personal experience of life.
Another type of zine is a how-to zine. Craft Leftovers Monthly is a very popular example of this type:
This particular issue was on the theme of making miniatures. Kristin is the editor, but there are many contributors to this zine, and it's chock full of how-to's, website recommendations for how-to's, even memories of how-to's. It's also got a couple interviews with crafters, and they're very informal and fun.
BUZZ is a comic zine done by Corinne Mucha:
Corinne writes about a wide variety of stuff, some serious, some fantastical, all funny.
An Alphabet of London is a comic "one-shot," meaning it doesn't have more than one issue:
This also came in a little slipcase, which just makes it more fun. An alphabet of anything is a great idea, I think, and even if two people do the same topic, it will come out different because they have different interests, beliefs, and experiences. Like R for "Rozzer"? I've never heard that word before, but I love it because now I learned some London slang for copper! This zine inspired me to do an alphabet of Minneapolis.
And here's one more example, an oldie from the 90's when I first discovered zines. Kevin Eldridge writes this hilarious collection of poems called Come Look At My Brain:
Not only do I love the absurd writing in this zine, but the design is funny as well. Each frame looks so serious and classical, juxtaposed with the goofy words within.
So there you have several examples of zines. In my class, I'll give people a chance to browse through some of my collection of zines to get ideas for what they want to write about. Then we'll do some in-class writing exercises to prime the pump, as it were. I'll give you some fun homework to find design elements for your zine. We'll spend time in class assembling your zines, and by the last class you'll have (I hope) a finished product, your first zine!
My hope is that I can work out a way to get copies of each zine to every person in the class, if that is okay with people. So I might have to take your original mock-up with me and then make copies and mail them back to you. I haven't quite figured out the logistics for that yet, but I think it would be great to make that happen, so that you get to see what everyone in class has done as well as start your own zine collection, spurring you on with more ideas to do another zine later!
Sound fun? Sign up here for class!