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An article from Do or Die Issue 10. In the paper edition, this article appears on page(s) 299-309.

Zine Scene Revolution

Xerox Crazy Kids Sniffing Toner In the Office After Closing Time

Definition of a zine: "a small, handmade amateur publication done purely out of passion, rarely making a profit or even breaking even" - Factsheet Five

Another definition: "Zines are publications done for the love of doing them, not to make a profit or a living." - Zine World: A Reader's Guide to the Underground Press

"Doing this zine is good fun for me, and it's my zine so I can do what the fuck I like anyway." - The intro to Sexual Chocolate No. 1

Zines, short for fanzines, have been a means of expression and something to occupy yourself with for thousands of dissatisfied, bored, creative, cynical, enthusiastic, troubled, and passionate individuals. Zines give a voice to the everyday anonymous person. The basic idea is that someone sits down, writes, collects, draws or edits a bunch of stuff they are interested in or care deeply about, photocopies or prints up some copies of it and distributes it. The zine creating process is a direct one, remaining under the writer's control at all times. "Perhaps its outstanding facet is that it exists without any outside interference, without any control from above, without any censorship, without any supervision or manipulation. This is no mere formal matter; it goes to the heart of what fanzines are." (The World of Fanzines by Fredric Wertham, 1973, p. 71)

This idea has led to vast networks forming across the world of people trading zines, writing for each other's zines, creating resources for zines such as libraries, distributors and review collections, and forming an essential part of many countercultures. All this exists outside the commercial market; profit and other commercial concerns are usually irrelevant. "As you can see, issue #3 of No Reason is pro-loss and basically the principle behind this is that if you make a profit or even just break even then you are a SELL OUT. Ha Ha Ha Ha." (No Reason No. 3). The non-material reward is unbridled expression and a connection to a larger network of self publishing. The Do-It-Yourself ethic holds strongly - make your own culture instead of just letting the mainstream feed you, participate instead of consume. When we go and make our own culture, it doesn't necessarily mean it's very good - there's a whole lot of fairly awful zines out there full of drivel - but you can't help but feel inspired by the authenticity and the genuine sincerity that can completely outweigh the dross.

Self-publishing has been a common outlet of 'the people' ever since printing was invented. A forerunner of today's zines can be found in the Amateur Press Associations (APA) that emerged in the early 19th century in the USA as a reaction to the penny press. Amateur writers formed networks to share their stories in small print runs and without pretensions. An 1875 APA-directory listed over 500 writers. There were separately organised APAs for black and women writers. Another forerunner can be located amongst the Science Fiction fan communities in the 1930s in the USA and the UK. The fans first communicated via the letters pages of big Sci-fi magazines, and went on to form clubs and share fan fiction and commentary on Sci-fi series. One of the first self published Sci-fi 'fanzines' was The Comet, printed in 1930 and started by a group called the Science Correspondence Club. Zines for comic fans followed suit. Comics news, commentaries and reviews were also soon complemented by self published comic books - the forerunner of minicomics, still flourishing today.

Then, the mid-'60s with all its political unrest saw the growth of alternative newsletters all over the USA and the UK. Every self-respecting underground scene had some type of access to a printing press and would churn out mostly locally focused political commentary. Many talented comic artists were involved in this, and carried on publishing independent comix (the 'x' stands for 'x-rated' and also serves to distinguish them from mainstream comics) after all the hippies got jobs. The very strict Comics Code had imposed extreme restrictions on the comic industry - no violence, sex, drugs, or social relevance basically - and self-publishing stuck two fingers up to the comic industry. There were a number of court cases against 'obscene' comic artists; these still occasionally occur today, even though the Comics Code Authority has lost most of its hold. But, to quote Art Spiegelman (the creator of Maus, and Raw, a magazine that revived alternative comics in the early 1980s): "The flaming promise of underground comix had fizzled into cold glowing embers. Underground comix had offered something new. Unselfconsciously redefining what comics could be, by smashing formal and stylistic, as well as cultural and political taboos. Then, somehow, what had seemed like a revolution simply deflated into a lifestyle. Underground comix were stereotyped as dealing only with Sex, Dope, and Cheap Thrills. They got stuffed back into the closet, along with bong pipes and love beads, as Things Started To Get Uglier." (Read Yourself Raw, 1987). The final co-option came when in 1974, Marvel comics - America's biggest and dominant comics publisher - launched their Comix Book, 'underground-like' comics but news-stand friendly (it only lasted five issues though).

The punk explosion in the 1970s rediscovered these traditions. Ignored and misrepresented by the mainstream press, punks took it on themselves to interview the bands that would never ever appear in the mainstream music press, review their records, and write about what punk meant to them. Punk and hardcore focused fanzines still make up a large section of the zines you see today, but hundreds of thousands of other zines have expanded on this. There are fanzines for all other types of music, football, Sci-fi, sports, TV series, anything you can think of. There's political zines. Personal zines with artwork, biographical stories, rants, jokes. Fringe culture zines - covering topics such as UFOs, serial killers, conspiracies... Health zines. Comic zines. Sex zines. Literary and poetry zines. Religious zines. Network zines. Prisoner zines. Most zines though end up reflecting the writer's diverse interests, and provide lots of different combinations of the above and more.

The decline in the cost of PCs, the proliferation of photocopiers and cheaper printing costs have contributed to zines looking more diverse than ever, though many stick to the traditional messy cut and paste - the more unreadable, the more punk! To be fair, cut and paste techniques still produce some of the most memorable and interesting, artistic layouts. And some zine writers are almost perfectionist in their hand-pasted layout. "I'd forgotten how much I change my mind and how much I want my own photocopier. The bloke at the newsagents must think I'm some kind of xeroxaddict, in there 3 times daily for weeks... guess I am... there's something compelling about not getting it right the first time." (Names Have Been Changed #1)

Zines are usually distributed on a smallish scale. Reviews in other publications and word of mouth among zine readers can get direct orders, other distribution points include independent mailorder lists and distros, gigs, conventions and some shops. Barter is common, publications are often swapped (even if you don't know what kind of crap you'll end up with). Quite a few zines are free to prisoners.

"Will you buy my fanzine? NO! Will you buy my comic? NO! Will you buy my tape? NO! Will you be my friend? FUCK OFF! Fanzine nerd, fanzine nerd, I've never ever had a bird..." (from the song 'Fanzine Nerd' by Anal Beard).

A zine writer is usually not trying to be the next Hemingway, or the next Bill Gates, or even the next middle manager. The opposite is often the case - zines celebrate being outside the mainstream, being a geek, having odd passions, resisting authority. "They celebrate the everyperson in a world of celebrity, losers in a society that rewards the best and brightest." (Notes from the Underground by Stephen Duncombe, 1997, p. 2). A complete misfit in society can sit down and share their otherwise ignored thoughts in relative freedom. It doesn't even need to pass an editor. And through zines they can find a community of people who will call themselves losers, outcasts and marginalised with pride (though you do get arrogant overly self-confident tossers desperately trying to be the cool ones too, as you do anywhere). There's zines devoted to libraries, charity shopping, '70s TV shows and roleplaying, in which the writers present their passions with pride and shamelessly obsess about the oddest things. And there are zines that contain personal writing that lays it all bare and present the writer with all their weaknesses.

The emphasis in zines is usually a personal one. Even in a zine with no personal writing, the editor/writer's personality can shine through. This also means that politics can be discussed in a non-academic, unpretentious way. "Zines should also act as a catalyst for individual thought and change. Your views as an individual are just as important as any politician's... It is up to us, if we want to challenge the staid, capitalist, dogmatic way of looking at things, to voice our own opinions and spread our knowledge and ideas ourselves, and by doing zines, reading, researching, talking to others, going on actions, having fun. We can all participate! It's up to us!" (Attitude Problem #32)

Zine writers will research and share information, call for action or just relate their stories, thoughts and feelings on the world - and listening to someone who doesn't think they're an expert or authority figure can be very refreshing.

Any type of rebellion will find itself being co-opted into the mainstream and surprise, surprise this has happened to zines too. In the USA in the early '90s the media 'discovered' zines and inaccurate and overly hyped articles started appearing everywhere, saying 'look at our cute angry youth and their quirky zines - and how do we get into this market?' 'Alternative' became a marketing term and some corporations started making their advertising resemble 'zines', or even replacing their advertising with zines, since then 'the kids' could identify with them.

The struggle to be 'down with the kids' can also backfire though: a zinester amused herself with feeding a New York Times reporter made-up expressions for a 'Grunge Lexicon' they were doing (e.g. 'swinging on the flippity-flop' and 'cob nobbler'). And it has also resulted in even more alienation with the mainstream amongst many zinesters, who can get quite lost in debates on how to not 'sell out' in the desperate bid to protect the underground they've created.

The last few years have seen a noticeable decline in zines in the UK. The print runs are getting smaller, long-running zines are calling it a day, distribution is more difficult. It's not easy to pinpoint what's causing this. Some say it's due to the emergence of e-zines (i.e. zines on the internet), some say the popularity and authoritativeness of big name and circulation zines are stopping kids shop around the zine networks, some say the whole zine network's just floundering. Who knows, but it definitely is a shame to give up on printed self-expression and all the fun that is zines.

"Snarla was the first girl fanzine I ever saw and it was so important, so explosive, so secret, something I could do. It was a way to explore these things we tried to hide or hide behind, a forum for public discourse that we could control and define." (Doris #16)

You don't just read a zine. You read a zine, and contribute and then participate yourself, either by corresponding with the zine writer or by making your own zine or by creating some other link in a counterculture. Not replicating the passive, commercial consumer culture that dominates our world. Breaking through the barriers this world erects between us, and letting our passions and desires be known and felt.

Zine Contacts

Distros, Review Zines, Websites, Listings - these are all places to get started on your search for zines. Remember when you write to include an SAE (stamped addressed envelope - though also remember you can't use for example US stamps in the UK, send International Reply Coupons instead).

Active Distribution
BM Active, London WC1N 3XX, UK
Email: jon@activedistribution.org
Big punk anarchist record, zine and book distro, also do wholesale

Bald Cactus Distribution
PO Box HP171, Leeds LS6 1XX, UK
Email: andy@baldcactus.fsnet.co.uk
Music, and lots of zines and pamphlets

Bypass, PO Box 2927, Brighton BN1 3SX, UK
Email: bypass@bedsit.fsnet.co.uk
Web: http://www.bypass-zine.co.uk/
Long running UK review zine

Death Wish Distribution
39 Station Road, Thirsk, North Yorks YO7 1QH, UK
Email: smallsailor@another.co.uk
Zine distro - lots of good stuff

Echo Zine Distro
PO Box 11102, Shorewood WI 53211, USA
Web: http://www.geocities.com/echozinedistro/
Committed zine distro, wide variety

Flat Earth Records and Distribution
145-149 Cardigan Road, Leeds LS6 1LJ, UK
Email: info@flatearth.free-online.co.uk
Web: http://www.flatearth.free-online.co.uk/
Mostly hardcore records, some zines

Flatline-Imperium
c/o M99, Manteuffelstr.99, 10997 Berlin, Germany
Email: flatline_imperium@hotmail.com
Zine and book distro based in Germany, lots of English stuff too

Microcosm Publishing
PO Box 14332, Portland, OR 97293-0332, USA
Web: http://www.microcosmpublishing.com/
DIY distro, lots of zines, with good descriptions

Morgenmuffel Mailorder
PO Box 74, Brighton BN1 4ZQ, UK
Email: katchoo63@yahoo.co.uk
Zine and pamphlet distro

Pander Zine Distro
PO Box 582142, Minneapolis MN 55458-2142, USA
Web: http://www.panderzinedistro.com/
Girl orientated zine distro

Plain Wordz Distribution
PO Box 381, Huddersfield HD1 3XX, UK
Email: plainwordz@hotmail.com
Anarchist pamphlets, lots of prisoner writings, some books and benefit merchandise

South Chicago ABC Distro
South Chicago ABC Distro, PO Box 721, Homewood, IL 60430, USA
Email: anthonyrayson@hotmail.com
Big zine distro with lots of prisoner writings

Stickfigure Distro
PO Box 55462, Atlanta, GA 30308, USA
Web: http://www.stickfiguredistro.com/zines/mailorder/
Lots of zines, books, also a record shop

Synthesis Distro
PO Box 23272, London SE14 6XD, UK
Email: xsynthesisx@ekno.com
Web: http://connect.to/synthesis/
Zine distro

Total Annihilation Distro
Evan, PO Box 298, Sheffield S0 5XT, UK
Web: http://www.anarchopunk.free-online.co.uk/bitter.html
Punk and hardcore zines, a free review minizine also available

Zine World: A Reader's Guide to the Underground Press
PO Box 330156, Murfreesboro TN 37133 0156, USA
Big review zine, No. 17 was 88 pages and cost $4

More Websites

http://www.piscescatalog.com/
Mainly women orientated distro with zines, handmade crafts and novelties!

http://www.bbr-online.com/
Mailorder and resource site mainly for 'speculative fiction' small press, e.g. Sci-fi etc.

http://www.worldwidepunk.com/distro.html
Big list of punk distros plus links to zine reviews, e-zines

http://www.zinebook.com/
Lots of resources - archives, links to review sites, distros, interviews, how to distribute etc.

http://www.angelfire.com/zine/spykidsdistro/
Zine distro run by a 15 year old zine editor in Oklahoma

Name That Zine!

Trying to come up with a snappy title for your zine? Well, anything goes as the following zine titles show...

Mr. Poohead; The Palindromist (it's a zine about palindromes!); Sniffing Behind the Cistern; Cubist Ants Shall Inherit the Earth; Gibbering Madness; Goth, Shmoth; Icthyoelectroanalgesia (it's written by an archaeologist); Itchy Bum; Me Me Me; Suburbicide; Kill Everyone Now; Zimmerframepileup; Adventures of an Unemployed Entomologist; Fist Fucked; Loafing the Donkey; Notes From the Dump.

Zinesters Interviewed

Zinesters Interviewed

1. Please introduce yourself, who you are, what you do, and why you do a zine.

Anthony Rayson from Thought Bombs, USA:

I'm a 47 year old anarchist, activist organiser, zine writer, editor and distributor. My distro, South Chicago Anarchist Black Cross Zine Distro, has about 250 titles available now. So I'm very focused on zines as a means to spread education and agitation.

Butch Regala from Get in Touch, Philippines:

I do the zine together with some other people or should I say my collective buddies or close friends that share the same thoughts, dedication, ideas, beliefs, and a lot more... but I don't mean literally okay?! These are just my personal thoughts. I'm 21 years old, still studying in college. And I'm still living with my parents, though I'm too old to be doing that. And seriously, I'm just an ordinary Filipino guy. And there isn't much interesting about my personal activities at all.

With the zine, we just want to help the local DIY scene/community here. And write something, share thoughts. And the great thing about making the zine is all my close friends I now made through making the zine or being involved with the local scene here and abroad, and I'm very happy about that.

Shawn Granton from Ten Foot Rule, USA:

I'm 26 years old and currently living in Portland, Oregon, on the West Coast of the US. I primarily work on two different comic-zine projects, under the umbrella title of 'TFR Industries'. The first is called Ten Foot Rule and it's my own personal comic that I've been working on since late '96. The other comic is called Modern Industry and it is an all-compilation anthology.

I've also submitted several comics, illustrations, and covers for various publications over the last few years. But of course, none of this pays the bills so I have to work a dead-end day job (nothing worth noting). I also volunteer at the Independent Publishing Resource Center which is great volunteer run organisation that provides the tools for people to make zines.

Leo from Reason to Believe, UK:

RtB is a loose casual collective formed in the winter of 2000. The notion that we should do a zine which focused on the various aspects of the DIY element in punk, promoting practical alternatives to ideas, media, economics, living and art was soon agreed upon and the goal was to offer 'the kids' a little bit of insight into 'who, what, where, when, how' the scene runs. Having 'old timers' on board meant an abundance of contacts were made available for distribution, advertising, contribution and being taken seriously in the early days of the zine. Over a year later, the zine ploughs on, providing plenty of scope into areas often overlooked by other zines and punks in general.

Jesse from Stay Gold Jesse, Stay Gold, USA:

I'm a 20 year old living in Mid-West America. I go to school and work at an after school programme for youth. I've been doing my zine for 3 years and am on Issue #7. Doing a zine gives me a voice, and a lot of mail in my PO Box.

Laura Wirtz from Synthesis, UK:

I'm currently 27 years old and a research student in the Sociology department of Goldsmiths College; the famous haven of radicals and artists. I also shelve books in the library to pay my expensive London rent.

My lifestyle is pretty typical for a London anarchist type: vegan, cyclist, activist. I am also part of the collective that is setting up the autonomous centre 'Emmaz'. I started doing Synthesis zine when I was 20 because I wanted to be more involved in the underground scene and writing for me is easier than music... If I have a bee in my bonnet the zine is a focus for expressing and exploring the issue.

2. What does your zine focus on? What does it mean to you?

Anthony Rayson from Thought Bombs, USA:

My main focus gravitates to prison issues, but I really try to cover many, many situations and give them an anarchist explanation and critique. I try to present what I think are the talented writers and artists in the underground, who are quite often incarcerated in the nation's hideous gulag empire. This information is very important and is basically censored by the authorities, and working closely with prisoners with a powerful message necessitates this type of medium (zines). No one else will touch this information in such a comprehensive, brutally real manner, and dealing with ongoing situations. The new techniques used inside morph to the general population - those of us on the 'outs' in minimal security. Just today, the government placed the entire population vaguely on 'high alert' for the second time in a month. Sounds like the routine 'lockdown' so many prisoners have faced in these last few years.

Butch Regala from Get in Touch, Philippines:

Actually at first we just wanted to start a fanzine, and honestly, it's a typical hardcore oriented zine, with very usual stuff like interviews, reviews, columns etc. But the learning process issue by issue made it a little more serious and matured. And frankly the ideals we have change every once in a while from when you start something, like a zine. Yeah, like you're getting sick and tired of the same shit all the time. So the learning process is your everyday life encounters. Your ideas are getting more concrete, and the environment I have here is the main reason. It gives me a lot of awareness and thoughts about everything you read and experience not being permanent. The zine means a lot to me you know, basically this is DIY in all aspects. But anyone could do what we are doing. If the mainstream has their own, we have our punk and DIY media that's kicking. Personally, it is a great outlet to communicate and reach people locally and abroad. I've made a lot of contacts through it..

Shawn Granton from Ten Foot Rule, USA:

I've wanted to be a cartoonist from the time I could escape the crib. But to be a 'pro' cartoonist means working for a big, lifeless company drawing superhero drivel. In the mid-'90s I came across the mini-comic community and it inspired me to work on a comic. Since then I haven't really thought much about the 'why' I do a comic zine, I've just thought about doing it. I don't think my comic has much of a real focus, just basically whatever I felt like drawing about. In the beginning, I concentrated more on humour and tried to develop some fictional characters. Over the years, I've brought in more personal stories, but still kept the humour in as well. I've never had much success with creating characters and making long stories, so I probably won't be doing much of that soon.

Leo from Reason to Believe, UK:

The aim of the zine is to focus on the 'mechanics' and goings on of the European DIY network. However it seems to have gone beyond those borders and become an increasingly international and political publication. I have always believed that the nature of punk is that it's created and evolves by those involved in it, and that is just what the zine is about, hopefully inspiring and informing people of alternatives in reasoning, thinking, 'news', economics, music, travel, getting stuff done etc. On a more personal level, the zine means lots of hard work, dull seemingly endless meetings with weak tea, cheap biscuits and Sned and Kilvo arguing about nothing. There are some pretty good perks to the job, such as praise from readers and plenty of free records and zines to review which at the end of the day does make it all seem a lot more fun and worthwhile.

Jesse from Stay Gold Jesse, Stay Gold, USA:

My zine focuses on personal stories and reflections on life, organising, friends and society.

Laura Wirtz from Synthesis, UK:

Issue 3 was when my zine took on a distinct personality. The articles tend to have a strongly feminist point of view. Each issue has some sort of critique of some aspect of the straight edge scene, and there are one or two spoof pages. Up to now I have had zine reviews but the next issue will be review-free. With Synthesis I wanted to provide an interesting, fun, intelligent, inspiring zine that encourages people to engage with radical politics, feminism, veganism and the other things I like. My zine has put me in contact with dozens of people all over the world including some of my most beloved friends. Most of all my zine gives me another way of engaging with people.

3. What's so great about zines? Any shortcomings?

Anthony Rayson from Thought Bombs, USA:

Zines are great because you can concentrate the information about a certain situation or hammer away at it in as many intense pages as you want. Many things can be covered, contacts can be spread, people - especially prisoners - can be kept relatively informed about rapidly changing developments. It really helps connect, inspire, empower, inform and motivate people to organise harder, with more purpose, more connectedness to others. The bad thing? Like almost everything else that's important, people ignore and dismiss them to a great extent. The ocean of bad zines hides the genuine and purposeful underground.

Butch Regala from Get in Touch, Philippines:

Well, it's the absolute alternative reading material for the hardcore/punk and counterculture in general, for people that have the same interests. But we all know that zines are the best way to reach people and communicate with each other... it is a tool to express feelings and ideas regardless of who and where they came from, it's a whole world in a our hands... And it is a source for interested people to get in touch with other guys/gals from around the globe. Zines are the few remaining reading materials that don't have censorship and you can express anything you wanted to in... you can write whatever you want and react to this bastardised society we have. But yeah, this is only my personal opinion coz everyone has different ideas regarding this...

Shawn Granton from Ten Foot Rule, USA:

I think the greatest thing about zines is the personal, DIY aspect of it. When you order a zine in the mail, you'll receive something that was crafted by one person with that one person's unique world-vision. There were no marketing reports or strategy teams going into it. To top that off, that one person has personally put their zine into an envelope and sent it off to you. It wasn't anything processed by a computer in a magazine's subscriptions department. Where else in this day and age will you find that direct connection to someone via their art? But since zines are an underground media, unless you know where to look they can be very difficult to find.

Leo from Reason to Believe, UK:

Zines allow the reader to close off and hopefully discover, learn, think and evaluate about stuff for at least a short while in otherwise hectic lives. I've always been into the promotion of ideas and learning, the expansion of the mind, especially if it's done from an individual perspective and not being enforced by some half- witted authority figure (like a teacher).

Zines also act as important periodicals and resources which provide a taster to events and life in a certain age. Shortcomings are the fact that they're sometimes a total waste of paper. Another thing I hate is that they cost money to produce/distribute/collect etc.

Jesse from Stay Gold Jesse, Stay Gold, USA:

Zines are a great source of independent information and opinions. There is such a diversity in the zine world. The problems come from limited advance, bad layout and mindless production that keep ideas isolated.

Laura Wirtz from Synthesis, UK:

Zines give us much of the social, political and community aspects of the underground and ensure we are a network and not just a music audience. However sometimes the people who write in zines can become something of an elite in themselves much like the people who play in a band.

4. What do you think is the political relevance of zines?

Anthony Rayson from Thought Bombs, USA:

Zines are the only means of expression prisoners have—and high school kids—and punks—and students—and mental patients—kids in Indonesia—you name it. The most inclusive, current and informed political analysis is to be found in zines. I even use zines and DIY ethics, cut and paste, to fight the state of Illinois over a hideous airport in my area. The very practicality of zines has enormous potential to distribute powerful arguments about ongoing struggles for any and all groups, but it takes dedicated hardworking zinesters to do it.

Butch Regala from Get in Touch, Philippines:

Zines are the medium of the underground community or the punk/hardcore scene. It's to counter mainstream magazines, which I think misinterpret people. Our zine doesn't have that direct political approach. But you have complete control of everything in it. For example in a big magazine you're pressured to do things and work your ass off because you are being paid to do that and you know it is intended to fool and make big cash. In a small publication like ours it's more of our personal thing, which no one forcing you to do. You work for it cause you love it and have a big heart and dedication for what you're doing and your drive and passion is there.

Shawn Granton from Ten Foot Rule, USA:

I think the nature of creating a zine is inherently political, if you look at it from the perspective of the traditional power structure. Even though 'democracy' plays lip service to giving people a voice, that usually doesn't happen, since you need money to get what you say out there. Doing a zine allows you to have your say without having to spend loads of money, so opinions that were generally ignored in the mainstream have a way of getting out there.

Leo from Reason to Believe, UK:

The political relevance of zines becomes apparent when you realise that they're DIY, thus immediately posing a threat to the system, simply because it's 'us' creating the media and not some overpaid journalist conjuring up half truths in the interest of some fucker in a suit. At RtB we'd like to have an open forum for people to contribute their own news/opinions and hopefully provide an alternative to the biased, commercially–led mainstream.

Jesse from Stay Gold Jesse, Stay Gold, USA:

Zines could be politically challenging because of their autonomy, although I think many zines only appeal to small numbers of people which limits their ability.

Laura Wirtz from Synthesis, UK:

Much of our political dialogue takes place in and is documented by zines and zines can also be a force for change when the writers use them as a place for campaigning. For example, my article on Nestle in issue 4 brought the issue to many, many people for the first time and encouraged more people to take up the boycott.

5. What generally impresses you in a zine?

Anthony Rayson from Thought Bombs, USA:

I am impressed with the combination of powerfully written material juxtaposed with meaningful artwork and graphics. I've been convinced by tremendous underground (prisoner) artists how important it is to combine the two. Favourite zines? Well, my own, vainly enough. I adore Sean Lambert's zines. They're like 10 zines in one. The punx nearby now named Slaughter Attack do some wild zines. I think Cyanide is a classic feminist zine. Zolo Agona Azania and Glenn Wright do beautiful zines, Ron Campbell wrote excellently for his zine, Constipation, and I think Todd (Hyung-Rae) Tarselli is the most talented political artist around. These guys are all prisoners.

Butch Regala from Get in Touch, Philippines:

Nowadays I'm very impressed by personal writing in zines or sharing personal ideas, experiences and thoughts. I love to read about tours, vacations, personal experiences, life, etc. It really interests me now when the writer writes like s/he is talking with the person reading it, like you're talking face to face. I can't really deal with the more serious or those 'politically correct' zines. Coz mostly the things I read in them are very different from the situation we have here. And those political and activist zines are based on the situation in America or Europe which I don't have a problem with, okay! But people in places like ours are more aware than those armchair revolution types of surviving everyday life and dealing with it. Sorry but it's better to be honest here...

Shawn Granton from Ten Foot Rule, USA:

Basically, good and interesting writing. I know a lot of people are putting emphasis on 'production value' these days, and are really concerned with making their zine look fancy, but if there's no good writing inside, then what's the point? I like it when people write either about things that interest them or talk about their experiences in an engaging, passionate way. I hate it when people do a 'by the numbers' zine and fill it up with things that can be found in a lot of other zines, either because of a lack of creativity or because they figure that's what people want to see. A zine should be a work of passion of the person that created it, not something done out of obligation or to earn them 'scene points'.

Leo from Reason to Believe, UK:

It doesn't matter how glossy or well-produced your zine is, if its form doesn't follow its function it's lost out. Quite often it's the personal touches, opinions, and human element that I like most, as well as the sense of support and sharing that comes with them. I'm not a fan of overpersonal, self indulgent rants, cry baby emotional tales of woe or raving fanatism in zines, nor in real life for that matter... However, getting to read scene reports from far off places, reviews, inspiring layouts and pictures, practical ideas etc. is what makes zines appealing to me.

Jesse from Stay Gold Jesse, Stay Gold, USA:

Good writing or good layout is what I look for in a zine. Comix are great. My favourites are Phoenix was a Mistake, Scam, Assassin and the Whiner, Scenery, Robots:1 Humans:0, Cometbus, Slug and Lettuce and Two Tears in a Bucket, Mother Fuck It Zine.

Laura Wirtz from Synthesis, UK:

I like to see good writing and I like to see it laid out well and attractively since this makes people more likely to read and take in what is being said. I love to see good feminist pieces that are lacking in cliches and political articles that come from people's personal experience. The women's issues of Heart Attack were pretty good. All these zines are by women: a London riot grrrl zine called Bitter Strawberries, Morgenmuffel, Fucktooth and Personality Liberation Front.

6. Who do you reckon reads your zine? Do you get a lot of feedback?

Anthony Rayson from Thought Bombs, USA:

A lot of prisoners read my zines, as well as other anarchists, underground publications, my friends and relatives and a few random people I give it to here and there. I try to get them spread out as much as possible, stocked in infoshops around the world and make them available free to prisoners. I do get lots of feedback. I get letters and zines from all over the world. I spend a lot of my time in serious letter writing correspondence, most deeply with conscious prisoner writers and activists.

Butch Regala from Get in Touch, Philippines:

Anyone could read it and could get it... but yeah, we know it's more based on the punk/ hardcore community. The zine isn't just for the punks though, it's for anyone with the interest and passion to share feelings and ideas with. We've received positive criticism. Of course there's always the negative ones and we really love to receive criticism like that coz we could improve something.

Criticism gives us fuel to continue the zine, and kick it as hard as we can, as long as we all have the desire and drive to continue sharing what we think means something.

Shawn Granton from Ten Foot Rule, USA:

While I get my fair share of alternative comic-book fans reading my stuff, I think most of the audience I have is the zine community. One thing I find interesting is the amount of women who read my comics. When thinking about it in zine world terms, it's not surprising, because there are loads of women making and reading zines (and quite a few doing comics too!). But if you think about it in comics world terms, that's amazing.

Leo from Reason to Believe, UK:

I don't mind who reads the zine, but I'd be stoked if people's parents read it. In a way, that explains why the layout and whole 'look' of RtB is sort of 'accessible'. The aim is to allow it not to be categorised or pigeonholed into any punk genre, and I don't care who reads it as long as they don't come get me in the middle of the night. As far as feedback goes, it all seems to be pretty positive. But most people who have negative things to say, won't, mainly out of gutlessness.

Jesse from Stay Gold Jesse, Stay Gold, USA:

I'd say my zine pretty much stays in the punk/hardcore scene, and maybe goes out in to radical circles because of what I write about.

Laura Wirtz from Synthesis, UK:

Most of my readers are hardcore kids/punks, some are riot grrrls, some are general feminists, some are non-punk anarchists, some are non-punk friends of mine. I do get a great deal of feedback, usually by letter. Best of all is when it is a young woman who has felt inspired or empowered or when it is a young man who has started to question his own sexism.

7. Any advice on entering the world of zines?

Anthony Rayson from Thought Bombs, USA:

I suggest that people ask people who have done zines how to get started. I have an outline that I'd be glad to mail about zinemaking. Like everything else, the biggest part is getting off the dime and doing it.

Butch Regala from Get in Touch, Philippines:

Do it and be yourself, try to be honest with everything you write and talk about. If you have just started making the zine please don't be bothered by or think too much about negative criticism. You know it's normal for people to talk too much even though they don't know you well, and I guess they don't have the right to question and criticise everything you do.

If you are interested, get in touch, I would love to help anyone who's really interested in corresponding with us.

Shawn Granton from Ten Foot Rule, USA:

Make sure that you write about the things you want to write about, and can write about them with enthusiasm. Look to other zines as inspiration, but not necessarily as a blueprint. Read as many zines as you can and don't stop reading books either. Don't be afraid to ask other zinesters for advice. Don't worry about your first zine sucking because it's a learning experience, and you'll get better as you do more. And don't forget to have fun!

Leo from Reason to Believe, UK:

Keep it simple. Keep it original. Give credit where credit is due. Do what you want and not what you think others want you to do. Keep the self-righteousness to a minimum. Try to be both objective and subjective at the same time. Keep going.

Jesse from Stay Gold Jesse, Stay Gold, USA:

My tips on entering zine world are make sure you have a good layout and good printing. Make sure people can read your writing, cos otherwise it's a waste of paper. Don't rush yourself. Good writing may take a while. Try to scam free copies, but don't overuse your hook-ups cos kids can lose their jobs. For real!

Laura Wirtz from Synthesis, UK:

Read good zines and take account of what is good about them. Print zines cheaply and on recycled paper. Distribute them at gigs and other events as well as through the post. Trade with other zine editors and keep track of your zine-trading network.

Contacts

Thought Bombs
South Chicago ABC Distro, PO Box 721, Homewood, IL 60430, USA
Email: anthonyrayson@hotmail.com
Web: http://members.xoom.com/thoughbombs/
Web: http://members.xoom.com/S_T_A_N_D/

Get in Touch or better known now as thE cOnspiRacy
PO Box 3900, CPO Manila 1000, Philippines
Email: getintouchxxx@yahoo.com

Ten Foot Rule
TFR Industries, 3719 SE Hawthorne Blvd, #243, Portland, Oregon 97214, USA
Email: shawntfr@hotmail.com

Reason to Believe
c/o 145-149 Cardigan Road, Leeds LS6 1LJ, UK
Email: rtbzine@yahoo.com

Stay Gold Jesse
Stay Gold, 845 Missouri, Lawrence, Kansas, USA
Email: goldyouth@hotmail.com

Synthesis
PO Box 23272, London SE14 6XD, UK
Email: xsynthesisx@ekno.com
Web: http://connect.to/synthesis/


Do or Die DTP/web team: doordtp@yahoo.co.uk