Tuesday, 2 July 2013

International Zine Month 2013

Over the past year I have become mildly obsessed with the zines and comics culture. I'm surprised it's taken me this long. From a young age, I loved reading girls' magazines like Mandy and Judy, Girl Talk and even the good old Bunty. Magazines and comics were just more items to add to my reading pile. Bonus points: they were easier to read when I was having my lunch. Magazines dispensed information, made me laugh and sometimes made me think a little bit. 

So it's a wonder why it took me so long to get into zines. One of my roles at my job is to look after a fairly extensive zine collection. An outreach project involved a lot of work with this collection and I got a taste of how to produce a zine. I have to admit: I rather enjoyed it. The sheer beauty of zines is that they can be about anything you want to write about. Many zines do have their roots in alternative culture that is not featured in mainstream culture. However, I'm sure if someone wanted to write a fanzine about X-Factor then they could. Let me know if someone has. 

Zines are great to stick in your bag and read on the bus home from work. They can range from having a professional finish (which is becoming more common) to being a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy. My personal favourite has to be the per-zine genre, where people write zines about their everyday lives. It's very intimate peeking into someone else's thoughts and zine provide that personal connection that you don't get with blogs. Someone has gone to the effort of arranging the page layouts, writing the articles and standing over a photocopier until their back spasms, to create the very zine you are holding in your hands. 

To my delight, July marks International Zine Month. IZM is the brainchild of Alex Wrekk, a leading voice in the world of zines. Each July zinesters (those who make zines) and zine fans join together in the celebrations that take place. You can have a look at the daily challenges handed out below: 

So I suppose I should attempt today's challenge Top 10 reasons why you love zines:

1) Every time I read a zine, I learn something new. Whether it's a new way of looking at the world or a great recipe, I pick up a little tid bit of information. 

2) Each zine is unique. It reflects the personality and character of its creator(s) which you certainly don't get with mainstream publications. 

3) Making a zine is a labour of love. Many zine makers lose money when they produce zines. Yet they still keep making 'em. 

4) Zine culture is inclusive by default. You want to write a zine about your partner's dog's friend's weird desire for eating stale cookies? Then go right ahead! 

5) People that make zines like to talk to each other. There's even a special social network designed for people who make zines that like to talk about zines called We Make Zines

6) Zines forced me to realise that I missed being creative and that I should make more of an effort in this area of my life. 

7) Zines are so great that they even have their own libraries. Have a look at the Salford Zine Library or even this blog post about the collection I work with. Yay! 

8) Zine makers love mail art. I like to imagine it's the work of zines that keeps the post service operating - hey a girl can dream! 

9) Zines can make me laugh so hard one minute and make me cry the next.

10) Zines are that amazing you get an entire month to celebrate them. Go forth and be zine-tastic!


Alex in Leeds said...

Oh my word, what a blast from the past! I used to do mail art calls in the 1990s and was an avid zine reader. I remember that I used to race home from high school to see what oddities I had in the post each day. :)

Wandering Naval Gazer said...

That sounds fabulous. I am a late comer to zines but the roots were there when I was a child. At the age of seven I created my own "magazine" that was handed out to (or forced upon, whatever) my friends and family. The entire magazine master copy was written on lined paper and look hideous when photocopied! Sadly any copies of my first entry into the world of zines have been consigned to the dustbin of history.

If you have any copies of your mail art, I'd love to see them :)