All About Zines

Traveling to the Carnegie Library to see the zine collection was a unique experience and I was introduced to a new way to share one’s creativity with the world.  Zines were first started by Thomas Paine when he distributed his ideas in pamphlets,and zines are still around today. Zines are almost like a tangible and handmade form of social media. Someone sharing their thoughts, ideas, or stories with the world in a unique way tailored to them. Creating a zine can be as simple by using paper and a marker or more complex by using a letter press, photo copier, or art. According to Amaranth Borsuk, author of The Book, “the book is an idea we have of a bounded text, issued into the world through the power of publication, and able to take any number of physical forms…” (Borsuk 197). Zines are an example of books taking any number of physical forms.

After touring the library and seeing the zine collection, I noticed a level of freedom that was found within the zines. They were often imperfect, unique and very personal. The topics ranged from ducks, to diaries, things people hate, and things people love. No two zines were alike. There are no real constraints within the zine collection. The shapes and sizes of the zines are all different. The materials used to create the zines also vary. There are truly no two alike. The fringe space that zines are created in is so open that anyone can create something. However, zines are not that popular. For example, before taking this class I had never heard of zines before. Zines are almost like a best kept secret, they are big in small groups and are often shared within a community of people. It’s all about who’s in the know and are told through conversation. 

© 2019 Elspeth Mizner from the Zines at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Oakland

Zines are very different compared to the traditional and commercial form of publication. Zines are not mass produced. They all vary with how they are distributed, some people only made one copy while others personally number every copy that gets made. I found it interesting when paging through the zines that there was no copy right page or mark. It seemed to me that the creators were more focused on spreading creativity and not on authorship or money. 

When looking through the archive I was very surprised at all the different materials that were used to create the zines, some were made of paper, others material, and a few even made with fabric. By looking through the zines I felt as if I learned more about the author through how their zine was put together. There was a certain child-like aspect to the zines, almost as if they could create whatever they wanted and no one could tell them differently. 

© 2019 Elspeth Mizner from the Zines at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Oakland

I think publication is defined in zine land as sharing your work with the world. There is an imaginative aspect to zines and creating things at one’s own liberty. These authors are not being told what they can and cannot write or illustrate about, it’s all up to them. I believe that zines are meant to be read and shared and it’s all about how the reader wants to interpret it. Zines are about sharing one’s own personal stories and artwork. Indie publishing is similar to zines with their uniqueness and creativity but are different because often indie poetry may have someone overseeing the work and holding someone accountable for the poetry. In zines, there is no one looking over one’s shoulder to see what they are doing. 

Seeing the zine collection exposed me to a whole new world or creativity and publishing. I think we often get caught up in reading books that are only seen on shelves at book stores and we forget about the small publishers or the unique books or zines that are still being created. This excursion forced me to look outside my comfort zone when it comes to looking for new materials to read. 

Work Cited

Borsuk, Amaranth. The Book. MIT Publishing. 2018.

1 thought on “All About Zines”

  1. I like how you note the unique properties of individual zines. With something that can include homemade drawings, have a lot of details, etc, there is a lot of room for different ways of sharing opinions or information. I also like that you note the child-like properties of zines, because I think it really says something about how easy it is for everybody to get aboard the zine train and that professional appearance is not always needed to share inform or sway and audience.

    Like

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