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The zine is not just a thing of the past
By Zoe Turner
For those of you who haven’t yet discovered the wonder of the form, a zine (short for magazine or fanzine) is a small, independently published booklet which focuses on a specific topic. It often includes a range of media such as short essays, photographs, poetry, prose and illustration. Creators will distribute their zines to libraries, or trade and sell them at fairs or online.
The zine community is something I’ve only recently discovered and is considered quite an underground phenomenon, which is unsurprising when you can trace back their origins to sci-fi fandoms of the 1920s and, later on, the 70s punk subculture. The intent back then was to promote scenes and gather societies that didn’t get the same coverage in mainstream journalism as others, or just weren’t as widely discussed.
Zines became associated with challenging the norm, either in a political sense or simply by recognising the more niche, subverted interests of smaller groups of people. Nowadays, big focus points for so-called ‘zinesters’ are women’s, trans and gay rights, but the themes are vast and many of them don’t fit into a specific category, instead exploring aspects of our lives through different artistic mediums.
What fascinates and attracts me to such a platform is how easy it is for a person to express their feelings, passions and opinions through whatever suits them best, and how personal a piece of expression it really is to be able to share and swap with other people. Those who make their own will often send them to others in exchange for theirs, relishing in each other’s creative similarities or differences and offering feedback for the creator to grow from. The whole concept seems almost too brilliantly connecting and liberating to be true.
So, here’s the real issue. Since the 90s and the true birth of the internet, zines have taken a back seat, with other outlets emerging for people to take hold of, forming fandoms and groups through social media with ease.
What is a post on a Facebook page compared to a hand-made booklet to open in your hands? What could feel more accomplished and special than the real thing?
This is a call for all passionate creatives with something to speak about, something to vent and discover and share; we need to keep the zine alive. Search for your nearest library, join some groups online to find events and hear shouts for submissions, have a look on Etsy for any that might be of interest to you.
In this day and age, keeping such an irreplaceable community flowing is so important to maintain our self-expression and individuality. Loads of people are looking forward to getting their hands on your zine already.
My name is Zoe and I’m a second year English student at Manchester Metropolitan University. I study literature, film and creative writing, all of which I absolutely love. Alongside my studies I edit and write for the university magazine Humanity Hallows, specifically in entertainment or comment. I’m a member of both the feminist society and Time to Change. As an NUS journalist, I cover student lifestyle, which means I’ll be looking at popular culture in the lives of students and how we respond to this. I wanted to write within this field because I believe that the music, films and figures that surround us have a huge impact on us every day. They need, and quite often wish, to be discussed. Writing about these things for NUS made sense to me, as NUS are here for students to have a voice and a discussion that I hope I can help to start.