|Whatcha Mean What's a Zine?Excerpted from The Book of Zines|
zines suck. There's no nice way to say it. The truism coined
by Theodore Sturgeon applies: Ninety percent of everything is
crap. Most people forget what Sturgeon said about the remaining
10 percent. He said it was worth dying for.
I'm dying! Zines (pronounced
"zeens," from fanzines) are cut-and-paste, "sorry
this is late," self-published magazines reproduced at Kinko's
or on the sly at work and distributed through mail order and
word of mouth. They touch on sex, music, politics, television,
movies, work, food, whatever. They're Tinkertoys for malcontents.
They're obsessed with obsession. They're extraordinary and ordinary.
They're about strangeness but since it's usually happening somewhere
else you're kind of relieved. You can get to know people pretty
well through their zines, which are always more personal and
idiosyncratic than glossy magazines because glossies and the
celebrities they worship are so busy being well known.
Most zine editors can recall
the moment they first saw Factsheet Five, the zine that
reviews zines, and asked themselves (1) that's what I've been
doing? or, more likely, (2) I can do that, and why not? Everyone
cleared space on their kitchen tables, and estimates flew like
confetti10,000 zines, 50,000 zines, a million readers.
Nobody knows. A zine dies, a zine grows. Over the years since
I assembled the first issue of Chip's Closet Cleaner and sent
copies to my puzzled relatives, I've exchanged zines and letters
and e-mail with hundreds of underground publishers and found
we share the same desirethe same needto create.
Factsheet Five used to ask its readers a deceptively simple question,
"Why publish?" and always received passionate (if sometimes
Most zines suck, but you find
that golden 10 percent and you're hooked for life. Found mine.