What is a Zine?

According to the Salt Lake Alternative Press website:

“No one knows for sure.”

Back in 1776, a little pamphlet called “Common Sense” was written by Thomas Paine. This pamphlet presented American colonists with an argument for freedom from British rule. “Common Sense” had all the elements of a zine (and then some considering that it expressed opinions that led to revolution), but mainly, it was independently published, copied and distributed.

Zines are essentially handmade, self-published books or pamphlets about whatever content the author wants to express. Zines typically have a limited number of pages that can contain photos, illustrations, text, a combination of all three or just one of the above.  Unlike magazines, they are not subject to style guides, layout grids or copy editors. They don’t need to be branded. The pages don’t have to be numbered. They don’t have to be censored. It’s not even required to have a specific opinion about anything. *In short, there are no rules.

There are possibly an INFINITE number of zines in the world today. Some are purely photographic and contain images of the authors choosing. Some are highly opinionated discourses about politics, society or global issues. Some have themes that are consistent throughout and some are simply random piles of weirdness and unicorns. But that’s the beauty of it. They can be published by anyone about anything.

Here are some links you might find useful in your exploration of zines:

Salt Lake Alternative Press

Zine Catalog at Salt Lake Public Library

U of U Book Arts Program (Calendar)

Zine Making – A Short Presentation by Wikibooks

Rookiemag – How to make a Zine

*Zine projects in classrooms will typically have specific criteria that needs be met in order to fulfill the requirements of the assignment, but as an independent publisher, there really are no rules. 

2 thoughts on “What is a Zine?”

  1. What a great way to start the semester. I wonder (!) how many of the ART 2230 ADV T&L students will be the first to read this! Whomever from that class is the first to leave a reply here BEFORE class on Tuesday, August 28th, will receive bonus points! –– KG

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