Zine Machine Raucous and Racy, Self-Published Magazines Add Their Unique Spice to the Literary Scene

By Helbig, Jack | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), August 8, 1997 | Go to article overview

Zine Machine Raucous and Racy, Self-Published Magazines Add Their Unique Spice to the Literary Scene


Helbig, Jack, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Jack Helbig Daily Herald Correspondent

You may not know it, but we are in the midst of a revolution, the zine revolution.

Every week, hundreds and hundreds of zines come out, zines with weird names like Bunnyhop or Ben is Dead or Mystery Date or Twisted Times or Duplex Planet.

Flip through any issue of Factsheet 5, the self-proclaimed "immensely fascinating guide to the zine revolution," and you will find hundreds more, with even weirder names - like Fishwrap, Geek Girl and Cubist Ants Shall Inherit the Earth - covering every possible interest, obsession and aspect of American life, from monorails to serial killers to Asian pop culture to thrift-store shopping.

So what are zines? The magazine equivalent of self-published comics or alternative rock, or at least what alternative rock was before it became just another marketing concept. Zines are small, self-published, rabidly independent magazines with tiny circulations and very devoted readers.

In a sense, they've been around since at least the '30s, when bands of die-hard sci-fi fans started putting out mimeographed newsletters discussing the finer points of the science-fiction universe. Dry wits dubbed these publications, and the newsletters of fanatical Hollywood fan clubs, fanzines.

Fanzine was shortened to zine sometime in the '70s, when scores of devoted punk rockers began self-publishing their own fanatical little magazines, using the then-new technology of the photocopier. These zines proliferated and evolved in the '80s.

Soon it was OK to write about things other than music. People wrote about TV, movies, growing up in the suburbs, living in the '80s, and thousands of zines bloomed. And in the '90s, the advent of relatively inexpensive desktop-publishing software and the proliferation of all-night copy shops only added gasoline to the zine explosion.

You've probably seen a zine or two or three dozen, if you've spent any time at all in one of the edgier record stores in town or one of the nonchain coffee shops or if you love to loll away the hours at Tower Records.

Some of them are nasty little things, with edgy, smudged, angry looking drawings on the cover and angry, digressive, self-indulgent articles inside.

But others, like Ben is Dead or Bunnyhop, have colorful covers and carefully written, artfully laid out pieces inside.

"Most zines suck," says Chip Rowe. "There is no nice way to say it," Chicago's resident zine guru writes in the introduction to his anthology, "The Book of Zines: Readings from the Fringe."

"The truism coined by Theodore Sturgen applies: 90 percent of everything is crap."

Most people forget what Sturgeon said about the remaining 10 percent. He said it was "worth dying for."

Freed from the constraints of the marketplace, zine writers are able to fully explore whatever attracts their fancy. There is an integrity and purity of intent about zines that makes even the lowliest of them compelling reading.

"With zines you know (the zine creator's) motivations," Rowe says. "They do it for their own entertainment. They don't have a health column because they have a new health advertiser. They don't review records because they want to bring in a bunch of record advertisers."

"We live in such a media-saturated culture," says Britton Walters, publisher of MOOjuice. "You go to the newsstand and you look at the magazines and you're very dissatisfied. If you're a zine publisher, you're going to want to do something that's interesting to you."

And if the writer is both obsessed and talented, the results can be amazing. That is what happened when Paul Lukas began his zine Beer Frame in the early '90s.

Devoted to eccentric discussions of marketing and popular culture - in one issue Lukas compared the labels on various cans of Sauerkraut Juice - the witty, insightful Beer Frame became an immediate zine phenomenon. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Zine Machine Raucous and Racy, Self-Published Magazines Add Their Unique Spice to the Literary Scene
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.