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Hey guys,
I'm new to the zine world and I'm thinking about starting an activist zine in my town. Are there any resources that you all would recommend? Any advise? I don't know where to begin but one is definitely needed in my area! :) What's needed? Where to print? (i should just be creative.)
Thank you for any information!

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Jenn, Stolen Sharpie Revolution is a great resource on how to get a zine going, there are tips on layout, photocopying, etc. & there's a great index of resources that you can use to get in touch with people working on similar projects who might be able to help you out. When I make my zines I use a computer with a word processing program, some old magazines, books, scraps of paper, rubber stamps, either a stapler or some thread for binding, but the materials you use are all up to you. I copy my zine at a local copy shop, but most schools, libraries, and office supply stores have copiers you can use.

I think before you begin, it's important to know what you want your zine to be -- "activist zine" is pretty broad, do you want to put together a zine with tips and resources for activists, do you want to write about your personal experiences with or thoughts on activism, etc.? Knowing where you want to go with your project will help you figure out what you'll want to include in your zine.
Thank you K.! I'm happy you said the part about activist zine being broad. Very true. I wouldn't have thought about that until later. :)
ooh! I like to give advice! I'm part of a collective that's made a free monthly anarchist zine for the past two & a half years. (You can see some recent issues here) Not that the way we've done things is the best/only way: it's based in our circumstances, but I reckon a lot of the questions we've considered will be helpful to you.

first, like K. said, you should really think about who your audience is & what the point is. We decided at the start that we didn't want the audience for the zine to be just be people who thought of themselves as 'activists' or as 'anarchists' - we wanted it to be something to help people communicate more broadly about ideas & struggle & discontent. This influences lots of things. It means we don't publish purely theoretical articles - we want stories that are about particular situations, personal experience, or the politics of particular aspects of everyday life. We also try to be creative in our design, & be eye-catching without using the standard activist graphics. We also try not to be too subcultural: we have a reviews section, for example, & we make sure we don't just talk about punk bands: we get reviews of video games & mainstream movies, as well as more obscure books that people think are really cool. It's also a major reason why we chose to make a free zine: it's a lot easier to distro in more unexpected places, & people are more likely to pick it up.

In terms of process, one thing I've found really valuable is sticking to a deadline as best we can. It's been really helpful to not wait around til we have a perfect zine, but put something small out every month. Cos things are never perfect, & if you wait, stories & announcements go out of date. The quality of our zines has varied, but we've put something out every month. Having a deadline means you also have to chase up articles and keep an eye on events and stories to write about: I think it helps the zine be more varied. I also like being reliable.

A month is a pretty tough timeframe: it works, just, cos there's a solid small collective, but we still always find ourselves struggling with the cycle of printing/distro/chase up articles/chose articles/edit text/lay up/printing/distro etc...

Deciding to be a regular monthly zine, & free, meant that we decided to make the zine small. It's always 16 pages A5, or 4 double-sided A4 pages. (I think A4 is roughly the same as your north american letter paper?) This means it's easier for us to utilise our main printing resource: people who can sneak copies in offices & student unions.

If you want to get contributions, think about who you can get to write. One reason we started the zine is cos we wanted to encourage more of a culture of writing & reflection among anarchists/radicals in this part of the world, & encourage that writing to be done in a way that can be shared. Are there groups or projects that you could encourage to write regular updates on their activities, or announcements of events?

I hope at least some of this lengthy ramble is helpful - I really love talking about this stuff, so let me know if I can be of any more specific help.

xLousie
Thank you! I've run into a new...question. I'm wanting to keep the number of people working with me on our zine small; however, I have a lot of people wanting to help and contribute. This is a good and bad thing I think. As people with experience in working on zines, is it better to keep "the staff" small or not? Most of the people wanting to help out still go to our University and are also a part of a student organization known as S.A.V.E. but I want the zine to be known to the community NOT just environmental activists on campus...I also want to separate the zine from the S.A.V.E. because I feel that would include the community more and the zine would be taken more seriously. Any thoughts???

Thank you so much for the advice guys! :)
I think all zines should start pure without any hints or tips, that's how the scene stays so fresh.

But a lot of people buy zines that are in a simular vein for inspiration
hmm, well, i like talking about process, & I'm kinda opposed to purity :-)

so here goes:

I'm interested to know how many people you're talking about. our zine has a core collective of about 5 or so, plus at least that number who help out sometimes, & a wider circle we hassle for contributions. I'd like to have a few more people, cos, like i said, there really is a lot of work in a regular publication.

I think the key thing is whether the other people wanting to help out share your vision of making the zine accessible to the off-campus community. if they don't, they can start their own zine: that's a good thing. if they do, then more people could be good: it means you all can do more of the work to get it out there - distribution in different places, talking to people, chasing up off-campus news stories. as long as you don't let a big collective make you lazy (cos everyone thinks someone else will do the work, or cos you can always fall back on something from campus instead of seeking out something more exciting).

also, my slightly cynical side says: wait & see how many people are going to really do the work, regularly, before you start trying to limit numbers. 'wanting to help' can range anywhere from writing the occasional piece to helping with text-editing to staying up for late-night layup sessions. it's good to have multiple levels of possible involvement, but you need a few people who are going to work consistently.

good lord, i ramble on.
Oops, I really should pay more attention, but there's so much going on just outside my window, the world is exciting and distracting

*sees dog with fluffy tail and runs off giggling*

lousie said:
hmm, well, i like talking about process, & I'm kinda opposed to purity :-)

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