Tobi Maunu, Writer

What are zines? 

Zines (pronounced “zeens”) are small booklets that are self-published and produced in small batches. They’re basically a mini magazine. Zines are about creativity, and sharing ideas and thoughts. You can use anything to make a zine and it can be about anything. The way they’re distributed is by photocopying the original booklet. 

A brief history of zines: 

The idea of zines originated during the Harlem Renaissance, at the time they were referred to as little magazines. They broke away from strictly poetry and allowed for experimental writing, which included topics of undermining authority, and radicalism. They were created by individuals or small groups and were independent from established literature. The little magazines were distributed locally, and featured new voices alongside popular Black artists. Two examples of little magazines from the time are The Messenger and Fire!! They featured Black creatives and gave “a space for discussing and developing Black intellectual, political, and creative culture” (Jensen 2019). 

Many say zines were created in 1930, with the creation of The Comet by the Science Correspondence Club. But that erases the history of zines I mentioned above; both the Harlem Renaissance and the creation of the fanzine are important to the history of zines. 

The first fanzine, The Comet, was created in 1930 by the Science Correspondence Club. Fans of the zine discussed science and science fiction. In the 1940s sci-fi zines were booming, and the term fanzine was coined by Russ Chauvenet in his publication Detours. In the 1970s and 80s punk zines and a DIY style took over zine culture. Copy shops were also widely available making the distribution of zines quick, easy, and cheap. In the 1990s an underground feminist punk movement, Riot Grrrl, was created. This movement resulted in many political zines. In the 2000s zines were created to critique homophobia and society as a whole. Zines have been evolving since their creation, and though they aren’t as popular now, they’re still a fun craft to pick up. 

How to make your own zine! 

There are many different ways to make zines but here are some easy ways to get started. You can make a mini zine by using one sheet of paper and folding it into eight equal sections. You then cut the middle fold, so the paper can fold into a booklet. Once you have that you can make your zine about anything! Some ideas are: how to’s, music, movies, poetry, people, things you like, sports, art, etc. You can draw, print things out, collage, use stickers, to make your zine. Once you’re done decorating you can fold it back into a booklet and your zine is done! If you wanted to make copies of your zine you just unfold your booklet and photocopy it. Keep in mind that when photocopying it will create a border, this means you can photocopy onto bigger paper or decorate with the border in mind.

Another way to make a zine is to fold a paper in half hamburger style, and then do that as many times as you want to create the pages. Once you’re done you can use a stapler to put your pages together into a booklet. If you wanted to make copies of a bigger zine you would start with photo copying the covers, and then the pages, once all of them are copied then you can staple it together. 

It’s important to note that you should keep your “master copy,” which is the zine you were physically making. This way you can make copies of it whenever you want.

Zines aren’t just limited to these two methods though. You can make accordion zines, tinier zines, zines in different shapes, popup zines, etc. You can use a computer or technology to make your zine digitally instead of physically collaging. You can use string to bind your zines instead of staples. The creative opportunities are endless when it comes to zines. 

Here’s my first zine I made!