While the rock band Green Day didn’t know it when they released American Idiot and the notorious words, “Now everybody do the propaganda,” the band makes a great reference to the simplistic art of creating zines.
Zines are typically self-published works of texts and images either created manually or text and images that are created with the use of external material sources, such as photographs, fonts, and so forth. Zines are often duplicated via photocopier and typically have a partially informal appearance reflective of the cut-and-paste or hand-drawn style, allowing almost everybody to jump into the craze.
The published works are often used to spread awareness, share information, or share opinions. While not necessarily propaganda, especially considering the negative and misleading connotations often associated with the term, Zines can have a very propaganda-like or political-cartoon like aesthetic to them. Using carefully crafted phrases or pieces of art that can evoke emotion and interest from the reader, zines are effective in catching attention and making readers see a matter in a different light.
One zine that stands out to me is an instructional zine by Marko Crabshack, entitled “10 Steps to Delicious Soymilk” (Lewis). While I do love myself a big old cup of soy milk, what stood out to me was the style of the art and the words on the cover. I tried to identify where I had seen something similar before and then it hit me! Cereal boxes often use a similar form of art on the back of the box, with very expressive and active characters. There are a lot of characters and objects condensed into a tight space, with characters doing something silly – and in this case they are jumping into a glass of milk. I thought harder and realized I also saw some similar pictures while reading the Sunday comics. Lastly, there was the font, which I noticed had similarities to the letters found on the back of Garbage Pail Kids cards . Overall the aesthetic reminded me of calm Sunday mornings that I used to spent eating, relaxing, and enjoying the hobbies I love. The message of learning how to make one’s own soy milk is also just positive and informational.
I created an imitation zine of my own, with just a cover, that has qualities similar to Marko Crabshack’s piece. While little information exists about Crabshack and his zine, I can share with you the message and qualities I incorporated into mine. My zine promotes Oreo Truffles, which are essentially balls of Oreos and cream cheese blended and then covered in chocolate. The tasty treat works well for the pamphlet as they are simple to make and there are many people that have never tried them. I made sure to add a bunch of characters with different shapes, facial features, and body movements. I used a border with stars and planets. An explosive design is shown at the top, containing exclamatory terms as Crabshack does. The border, location of words, word usage, and other elements are also Crabshack inspired.
Next time you want a tasty snack, distribute an instructional zine to all of your friends while you sit back and enjoy the benefits!
Lewis, Danny. “Four Finds from University of Kansas’ Collection of Radical Zines.” Smithsonian.com, Smithsonian Institution, 14 Sept. 2016, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/four-finds-from-university-of-kansas-collection-of-radical-zines-180958761/.