I’ve been thinking a lot about zines lately. For centuries people have published and distributed their writings to tell stories, share ideas, and build relationships. And as far as independent comics go, these self-published booklets are about as indie as you can get. But one of the drawbacks of underground communities is that they can be hard to access from the outside. This is certainly changing, with zines showing up in Etsy shops, zine fests popping up around the country, and online communities devoted to the making and sharing of zines. But if you’re still not sure where to start, here are a few suggestions.
Did you know that there are some libraries devoted entirely to zines? Here you can borrow zines just as you would any other book, and possibly add your own zines to the collection, depending on the library’s submission/donation policy. The Denver Zine Library is the largest library of this kind in North America, but there are plenty of others around the world.
Some bookshops, especially those that focus on alternative and independent literature, also carry a selection of local zines. Stolen Sharpie Revolution maintains a list of stores that carry zines, but more shops are adding zines to their inventory every day, so if you think your bookstore might carry them, don’t be afraid to ask!
I love being a part of the zine community, but, unfortunately, it’s pretty spread out. Unless you live in a place that is saturated with local zinesters, much of the interaction is carried out online or through the mail. This is all fine, but it’s incredible to be able to meet with your peers face-to-face. If you’ve developed lasting, long-distance friendships, nothing is more rewarding that spending time with them in person. Here is a list of zine fests (mostly in the U.S.). This list isn’t exhaustive though, so if you don’t see an event near you poke around a bit in your community, or see about starting your own!
Want to get your hands on some zines but don’t have any libraries or shops nearby? Online shops like Etsy and Gumroad are popular venues for both physical and digital zines. Many zine distributors (distros) also have an online catalogue so you can get your zines wherever you are.
One great way to discover new writers and artists is to read reviews of zines you might not pick up on your own. Here at WWAC we like to review inclusive, feminist zines, and Broken Pencil Magazine publishes reviews and other features on zine culture.
The internet is a wealth of information for the young zinester getting started. Stolen Sharpie Revolution is a print guide and website full of resources, and We Make Zines is an online forum dedicated to…zines. Zine World no longer publishes their print review zine, but they do offer several pointers on their website. And of course, for everything else, there’s always ZineWiki.
The zine community is a great place to be, and I hope these resources will encourage you to see them out and create your own!
In other indie news:
Kate Beaton drew some funny comics about boob windows. Which brings to mind this comic from Kate Leth, and this illustration from Chris Haley, and makes you wonder “how many times have we had this conversation?” Jess Fink is Kickstarting a print run of Isabelle and George, the second arc of her beloved sexy steampunk robot comic Chester 5000. Oh, and the variant covers for the first issue of the new Betty & Veronica comic were revealed. NBD.