In the digital era, zines have been subjected to somewhat of an identity crisis. They are reminiscent of an age of ripped paper, craft scissors, scribbles, and photocopiers. They are the punks and feminists standing on street corners or in the back of cafes trading wares. They approach the world’s issues with a DIY attitude.
So where does the internet place them? Is it a blog? An e-comic? A full-blown e-magazine? It seems that zines can be all of these and more, or none of them at all. But the fact remains—the zine is thriving.
The internet has provided accessibility to the zine culture that simply did not exist when it was purely a print medium. True, this takes away from some of the exclusivity of the culture and the joy of fetishizing the art of print. But isn’t it exciting that a feminist cartoon doodled in Brixton can reach a young girl in Kolkata or Indiana or Lima, provided they have web access?
Zines are reaching an all-time-high number of readers, and thankfully are still being used for good. Chella Quint has put her zine expertise to Adventures in Menstruating, a periodical in every sense of the word, and works as a combatant against the idea that periods shouldn’t be talked about. Then there’s the Chapess, a quarterly zine featuring art and writing from women with a beautiful Tumblr blog to boot.
I caught up with Phoebe at Heroine zine, a great Liverpool-based outfit that aims to bring creative women together and make them more visible. She talks about the days before everything became digitized when people would have the “physical experience of going to a bookstore or zine library and finding this underground artifact, and then taking it home and displaying it, or trading it between friends.” It’s all rather romantic.
As someone from the same generation as me, Phoebe said that she got into zines through the internet. “I like the accessibility the internet zine culture has given to people, like the way we can create a community based around Heroine.”
The zine is a wonderful space for people to explore their creativity, so much so that it has become totally hip. Major high street retailers are jumping on the bandwagon to advertise their lookbooks in zines, which is bound to rub hardcore zine queens and kings the wrong way, as this is a total re-appropriation of the original intent of the zine culture.
That being said, as the zine is part of a counter culture, it is bound to long outlive the more mainstream fads. Zines are a simple tool to get thoughts, ideas, art, writing and much more out into the world, and their accessibility only grows with the internet. Get yourself on ISSUU or to your next local zine fare and find something that excites and inspire you, because zines are here to stay.
Title image source: www.melbourneplaces.com