March 1, 2000
For the last ten years,
I have held a certain fascination with zines, which I like to define as
homemade magazines to those who aren't aware of the phenomenon. What's
absolutely pathetic is that in all that time I could never get my act together
to actually put one out on paper myself.
Instead, I would buy
books about zines.
And so, as a feeble means
to justify this past obsession, I now present
The Rain Barrel Extremely
World of Zines : A Guide to the Independent Magazine Revolution (1992)
Zine reviews are grouped
under such headings as "Fringe Culture", "Music" and "Hobbies & Collecting"
and are interspersed with illustrations from said zines. Advice and resources
for starting your own zine are also included. Street Cred: Founded
the bible of zines, Factsheet5. Capsule review: As most zines don't
last more than three issues, a directory to zines has a very short shelf
life. Didn't age well. Luckily,
Mike now 'blogs.
The blurb describes
it quite well: "For six years, I published a magazine all about myself.
In it, I documented everything from my dreadlocks hair care tips to the
antics of my roommate's pet pig to my travails as a struggling fiction
writer. The magazine was a little Xeroxed, stapled together thing that
I handed out to friends and acquaintances - but it changed my life. I began
publishing it in an effort to procrastinate, to trick people into liking
me, to get dates, to turn myself into a star, and to transform my boring
life into an epic story. And the scary thing was. it worked." Street
cred factor: six years in the wilderness; has since published novels.
Capsule review: it's good, it's honest, and shows how a zinester
can turn one life into a literary character or even a subpop star. Oh yeah,
Pagan's wired too.
Volume I (1996)
The reputable RE/Search:Vsearch
publishing house tackles zines the same way it approaches all its other
cultural subjects: lengthy interviews with the creators. The authors of
Thrift Score, Beer Frame, Crap Hound, Housewife Turned Assassin, Meat Hook,
X-Ray, Mystery Date, AK Distribution, Outpunk, Fat Girl, and Bunnyhop speak
out. Street cred factor: RE/Search: V Search Publishing has truckloads
brother. Capsule review: a great way to learn what drives people
to create zines or at least to learn what they look like.
Volume II (1997)
More interviews with
the creators of Dishwasher Pete, Temp Slave, McJob, Revolutionary Knitting
Circle, Aim Your Dick, Slant, Eight-Track Mind, Tiki News, Arthur Cravan,
Bruno Richard, International Mail Art, It's a Wonderful Lifestyle, and
Murder Can Be Fun. What I Learned: Candi Strecker, creator of It's A Wonderful
Lifestyle, has been doing zines since 1979. Since she graduated from library
school, I may add.
Book of Zines (1997)
Chip lets the zines
speak for themselves as the book is comprised from many short excerpts
from many different zines. Street cred factor: author of Chip's
Closet Cleaner; works for a real magazine (Playboy), keeps the zine faith
with his website.
It makes for a very strange, but entertaining anthology. You don't really
learn that much about zines, but learning by example is the zine way of
doing things anyway.
Factsheet Five Zine Reader (1997)
It seems that Seth learned
from his predecessor's book to concentrate on zine excepts as opposed to
zine reviews. Street cred factor: another past editor of Factsheet
Five. Capsule review: Like The Book of Zines, but with fewer but
longer excerpts and with a greater variety of sources. It would have a
good zine book - in any other year than 1997.
from Underground : Zines and the Politics of Alternative Culture (1997)
Unlike all the previous
zine books, this one is dedicated to analysis of the zine scene. The gist
of the book: "radical culture" - by itself - doesn't really challenge the
powers that be. Street cred factor: Stephen is an associate professor
who just happens to write regularly for the Baffler. Capsule Review:
I really love it. There's enough analysis going on to encourage a rethinking
of zines and its done with a minimum of coaching the language in acadamese.
It took a while, but
finally I no longer have the drive to buy books on zines. At least I have
a nice collection to donate to some library in the future.