variety: half-page zines, quarter-page zines, single-sheet zines, zine compilation books, fancy cardstock covers, and the IZM activities list
Because I’ve been a lazy blogger, I never posted about July being International Zine Month. Shame, shame. But I’m here now, and I wanted to share my response to the day one prompt of IZM: Make a Top 10 list of reasons why you love zines.
Zines are like an approved form of voyeurism. First and foremost, zines can be intensely personal, especially, well, perzines. The honesty and trust that go into making zines is so impressive. I’m always interested in other people’s lives, which is also why I love blogs and social media and all that–I like seeing what other people have going on in their world at any given moment–and zines are another way for me to see that.
No two are exactly the same, in content or creation. Zines can be just about anything you want. They can be simple, one sheet creations or long, half-page books with nice cardstock covers. Of course, part of that has to do with what you can afford, as well as what interests you, but the fact that there are so many diverse zines created by diverse people is absolutely mind-boggling and inspiring.
They help me connect with people I might never have encountered otherwise. I’ve met some really cool people through zines, and I’ve also inspired my own friends to make zines. They’re just another awesome way to connect with others about something you mutually enjoy, whether it’s what you’re writing in your zines or the simple act of creating the zines themselves.
Zines let other people read my writing. As a writer I have somewhat selfish affections for zines and the fact that, for me, they’re an easy way to make my writing visible. They’re marginally more expensive than a blog, and it’s worth paying for that physical publicity, that piece of something (me) that people can hold in their hands and easily look back on when they want to. (Hopefully they want to.)
Zines let me talk to people without physically being with them. This is good for introductions especially because I have a hard time when I first meet people. But I’ve made some very cool friends with people who first read my zines, then decided to keep talking with me.
I’m in control. This goes along with a lot of self-publishing possibilities. Making zines myself–from writing to printing to assembling–I am, like, 99.7% in control. All creative decisions are mine. I decide what goes in and what doesn’t, what it looks like. It’s a sense of power in this mixed up world called life, which brings me to my next reason…
The possibilities are endless. I have literally seen a zine about bread ties. (It was a free mini-zine at the Pioneer Valley Zine Fest called, “Bread Ties of North America.) If I wanted to, I could do a zine about potatoes, Sailor Moon, yard sales, gardening, belly button lint*…anything. And it’s not an overwhelming situation, but an exciting one.
There’s no requirement to commit. If I decide–maybe tomorrow, maybe years from now–that I don’t feel like doing one of my zines anymore, I don’t have to. Sure, if I’m lucky it might make people a little sad for me to stop, but there’s not really any negative impact past that. Similarly, I can do a single issue of a certain kind of zine and be done or do a series for years.
Zines can be (surprisingly) educational. I’ve learned a lot about a lot of different topics since I started reading zines, from series subjects like gender identity and ableism to more, shall we say, palatable subjects, like bicycle maintenance and friendship. It’s always an educational adventure when I crack open a new issue.
I simply love to read. Reading is kind of like breathing to me: it’s something I do daily that comes naturally to me. And zines are the perfect way to get a little reading fix when I need it, sometimes to the detriment of other things I’m reading (re: A Feast for Crows). I’ve read many items in my day, and I have to say that zines are one of my favorites that I’ve indulged in.
I read so many zines by people who have been doing this for years, decades even, and I can only hope that I’ll manage to stay inspired and motivated and confident enough for that long to continue creating my own zines.
*Some of these are actual ideas I’ve had for actual zines, and someday I might do them.