The Cline Library MakerLab defines zines (short for "fanzines") as self-published, low budget publications with small print runs (10-5,000 copies) with a strong intent to share information or self-expression, often with a cost of $5.00 or less. We consider "published" to mean anything intended for public consumption; if you intended for it to have an audience, we want to help it find one. Zines cover a wide range of topics with many focused on politics, art, creative writing, and personal narratives. Zines are:
Independent or self-published, not professionally published
Means of self-expression, like precursors to personal blogs/vlogs
Often include handwritten text, art, images, cutouts, collages, etc.
Almost always for not for profit publication
Benefits of Zines
There are many reasons why creators may choose to express themselves via zine instead of other forms of media. With Zines:
Authors have full control over the content, design, and distribution of their work
There are no set guidelines for form; a zine's design and format are open ended
Authors are not beholden to publishers or platforms (circumvents corporate interests)
Authors are able to challenge traditional authority (social/cultural/political authority)
Authors can promote relationships with like-minded people (zines are more intimate)
Authors are more free to address niche or counter-culture topics
Historic Examples of Zines
“Common Sense” by Thomas Paine (1776) - This 70 page pamphlet was written during the early years of the American Revolution and set forth the author’s arguments in favor of American Independence. Thomas Paine, being a bankrupt and regularly out-of-work Englishman, was forced to write anonymously for fear of reprisals from the British soldiers and their loyalist allies. Thanks to its plain language, “Common Sense” became extremely popular and influential throughout the colonies and served to galvanize reluctant colonists to commit to the war of independence.
“The Comet” (1930s) - A first of its kind science fiction fanzine, published in May 1930 by the Science Correspondence Club of Chicago, Illinois. Importantly, fan contribution was crucial in the publication of “The Comet” and fans of science fiction would regularly submit art, reviews, radio episode guides, articles, etc. for publication. This is also where we begin to see the development of the typical zine style and format.
“A Letter From Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King Jr (1963) - In April of 1963 MLK was arrested for leading a march through Birmingham Alabama’s business district and was put in jail; he wrote this letter in response. Much of the letter was written on the margins of a newspaper, which was the only paper available to King, with later portions written on bits of paper smuggled in to him. In the letter King says that people have a moral responsibility to break unjust laws and to take direct action rather than waiting potentially forever for justice to come through the courts.
"Riot Grrrl" (1990s)- Riot Grrrl was an underground feminist movement that began in the Pacific Northwest in the early nineties. Riot Grrrl activism was closely tied to punk music and a DIY aesthetic and involved meetings, the creation of zines, and a nationwide network of support for women in music. Riot Grrrl zines were defiantly homemade - using cut and paste, collages, and Xerox machines – and often address issues such as rape, domestic abuse, sexuality, racism, patriarchy, classism, anarchism and empowerment.
Zines at Cline Library
A small portion of the Cline Library’s Zine Collection can be found in the Cline Library MakerLab; these zines are available for all to read, take, and share. We also collect zines that fall within specific topics and subjects (listed below), that are available for teaching or research purposes. Browse the collections via our catalog or check out the whole collection by visiting the library's main Ask Us! desk with your NAU ID.
The following zine collections are available to all library users:
In this DIY guide to zine-making, editors Bill Brent, Joe Biel and a cast of contributors take budding self-publishers from the dreaming and scheming stages onto printing, publication and beyond. Covering all the bases for beginners, MAKE A ZINE! hits on more advanced topics like Creative Commons licenses, legality, and sustainability. Described by Feminist Review as 'inspiring, easy, and digestible read for anyone', this illustrated guide is comprehensive, fun and full of flair.
Since 2002, Stolen Sharpie Revolution: a DIY Resource for Zines and Zine Culture has been the go-to guide for all things zine-related. This little red book is stuffed with information about zines. Things you may know, stuff you don't know and even stuff you didn't know you didn't know! Stolen Sharpie Revolution contains a cornucopia of information about zines and zine culture for everyone from the zine newbie to the experienced zinester to the academic researcher. Sharpie Revolution consists of thoughtful lists and step-by-step how-to guides on everything from definitions of a "zine," where to find zines, why they are important, how to make them and how to participate in zine culture. This book has everything you need to get started creating your own zine, or to figure out what to do with the zine you just made. Stolen Sharpie Revolution serves as both an introduction into the wide world of zine culture and as a guide to taking the next step to become a part of it.
Slug & Lettuce, Pathetic Life, I Hate Brenda, Dishwasher, Punk and Destroy, Sweet Jesus, Scrambled Eggs, Maximunrocknroll—these are among the thousands of publications which circulate in a subterranean world rarely illuminated by the searchlights of mainstream media commentary. In this multifarious underground, Pynchonesque misfits rant and rave, fans eulogize, hobbyists obsess. Together they form a low-tech publishing network of extraordinary richness and variety. Welcome to the realm of zines. In this, the first comprehensive study of zine publishing, Stephen Duncombe describes their origins in early-twentieth-century science fiction cults, their more proximate roots in 60s counter-culture and their rapid proliferation in the wake of punk rock. While Notes from Underground pays full due to the political importance of zines as a vital web of popular culture, it also notes the shortcomings of their utopian and escapist outlook in achieving fundamental social change. Duncombe's book raises the larger questionof whether it is possible to rebel culturally within a consumer society that eats up cultural rebellion. Packed with extracts and illustrations from a wide array of publications, past and present, Notes from Underground is the first book to explore the full range of zine culture and provides a definitive portrait of the contemporary underground in all its splendor and misery.
A zine is a handmade magazine or mini-comic about anything you can imagine: favorite bands, personal stories, subcultures, or collections. They contain diary entries, rants, interviews, and stories. They can be by one person or many, found in stores, traded at comic conventions, exchanged with friends, or given away for free. Zines are not a new idea: they've been around for years under various names (chapbooks, flyers, pamphlets). People with independent ideas have been getting theirword out since before there were printing presses. This book is for anyone who wants to create their own zine. It's for learning tips and tricks from contributors who have been at the fore front of the zine movement. It's for getting inspired to put thoughts and ideas down on paper. It's for learning how to design and print your own zine so you can put it in others' hands. Whatcha Mean, What's a Zine? is for anyone who has something to say.