Zine, short for magazine or fanzine, is an independently run literary publication. Zines are usually of minority interest and are reproduced at a low volume using a photocopier, printing press or just paper and pen.
Although the word zine dates back to 1965, manyt attribute the first zine to Thomas Paine’s pamphlet entitled Common Sense, published in 1776 with the aid of the printing press. This literary publication sparked media attention to American’s rights as a separate entity from British rule during the American Revolution. The power of Thomas Paine’s words and success at self-publishing embodies the idea of being a true zinester.
During the end of the 19th century, The Amateur Press Association was founded. This organization was based mostly on those who wished to review and exchange ideas about pulp and science fiction. This idea eventually opened the doors to fanzines, which expresses a publication in which the reviewer is a fan of something and wants to share that interest with others. The staple of fanzines became prominent in various subjects and carried through many decades.
Fanzines also gave way for a more indicative approach — the perzine. Perzines (personal zines) became rapantly popular during the late 1960s (to the present) and expresses the ins and outs of one’s own life, showcasing what the zinester is personally going through in an attempt to either document or reach out to others. Additionally during this time, the commonly referred punk zines started coming out with a following of music, art, and activism on numerous bands and artists.
In the 1980s through the mid 1990s, an important zine called Factsheet Five came out, claiming title in creating one of the first zine networking systems by establishing a mailing list where like-minded people could trade zines or enter in their own reviews. Before the widespread application of e-mail and the Internet in general, this networking system proved to be an increasingly important tool for people to establish a sense of identity and community.
When Riot Grrrl, an underground feminist punk movement started in Olympia, Washington, the production of zines exploded. The content of zines was filled with raw, in-your-face attitudes about life, sexuality, gender and other controversial topics. The entire scene of Riot Grrrl pushed forward with aggression and passion and still continues today.
In the modern age of the Internet, the 2000s’ market-place for zines have been through web-based exchanges in addition to the more traditional face-to-face sale distributions. Many zines have also been put online for easy access and shareability. Some have also been turned into blogs where writers can get instant comments and discussions on zine articles. The future can only tell where the next wave of zine-making takes us!
For further inquiries, please email scrantonzinefestival (at) gmail.com.