Zine History

A zine an abbreviation of fanzine, or magazine is most commonly a small circulation publication of original or appropriated texts and images. More broadly, the term encompasses any self-published work of minority interest usually reproduced via photocopier. A popular definition includes that circulation must be 5,000 or less, although in practice the significant majority are produced in editions of less than 1,000, and profit is not the primary intent of publication.

Zines are written in a variety of formats, from computer-printed text to comics to handwritten text. Print remains the most popular zine format, usually photo-copied with a small circulation. Topics covered are broad, including fanfiction, politics, art and design, ephemera, personal journals, social theory, single topic obsession, or sexual content far enough outside of the mainstream to be prohibitive of inclusion in more traditional media. The time and materials necessary to create a zine are seldom matched by revenue from sale of zines. Small circulation zines are often not explicitly copyrighted and there is a strong belief among many zine creators that the material within should be freely distributed. In recent years a number of photocopied zines have risen to prominence or professional status and have found wide bookstore and online distribution.

1970s and punk

Punk zines emerged as part of the punk movement in the late 1970s. These started in the UK and the U.S.A. and by March 1977 had spread to other countries such as Ireland. Cheap photocopying had made it easier than ever for anyone who could make a band flyer to make a zine.


Zines and the Internet

With the rise of the Internet in the late 1990s, zines faded from public awareness. It can be argued that the sudden growth of the Internet, and the ability of private web-pages to fulfill much the same role of personal expression as zines, was a strong contributor to their pop culture expiration. Indeed, many zines were transformed into websites. However, zines have subsequently been embraced by a new generation, often drawing inspiration from craft, graphic design and artists' books, rather than political and subcultural reasons.

Zines are sold, traded or given as gifts through many different outlets, from zine symposiums and publishing fairs to record stores, book stores, zine stores, at concerts, independent media outlets, zine 'distros', via mail order or through direct correspondence with the author. They are also sold online either via websites or social networking profiles. Zines distributed for free are either traded directly between zinesters, given away at the outlets mentioned or are available to download and print online. Webzines are found in many places on the Internet.