Some say the zine began with Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine and other underground (and often subversive) pamphleteers in the 1700s. In 1930, the Science Correspondence Club published a sci-fi fanzine called “The Comet.”
Sci-fi aficionados continued to appreciate the power of the medium (and still do). “Spockanalia” appeared on the scene for Star Trek fans in 1967, featuring stories, art, and poetry by fans, Q&A by the editors, and even content by some of the actors themselves.
Sci-fi isn’t the only fandom that employed zines for self-expression. Poets have a long history of self-publishing simple pamphlets for their fanbase. Called chapbooks, these zines are still a popular way for poets to get their work out before public eye.
Music zines have also been hugely popular. The medium was a perfect fit for the Punk subculture starting 1970s. The DIY and individualistic nature of zines synched with the Punk movement. The underground element and platform potential for socio-political expression also blended well with the Punk ethos. Zines were a big part of the Riot Grrrl scene when Punk mixed with Feminism in the 1990s.
The advancement of computers and the advent of the internet have combined to make zines even more accessible in the 21st century. The 2020 Covid-19 pandemic gave rise to the “quaranzine,” a new iteration of the flexible, creative DIY medium. With the new century, the topical appeal has expanded as well. While zines are still an effective tool for activism, they are also great for connecting with fellow fashion, food, and manga enthusiasts, dog-lovers, gamers, and collectors. They can be a space to share about mental or physical health issues, spiritual or religious views, or your cultural heritage. And as they always have been, zines continue to be a prime platform for engaging in and over artistic endeavors, from literary to visual to musical and beyond.
Teens have always been major producers and consumers of zines. If you would like to investigate and indulge in this creative medium, sign up for RPL’s hands-on how-to zine series for Teen Writers and Artists.
June 12, 2 pm: Discover the flexible and fascinating medium of the zine! Experiment with formatting and folding zines and catch your vision for YOUR handmade mini-mag.
July 10, 2 pm: Launch your zine! Get your zine ready to go, share it with your friends, explore ways to improve and distribute your work, and generate ideas for future issues.