We Make Zines

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The Big, Inclusive, Zine-Review Zine---How to Revive It?

Since reading that Jerianne had to abandon the last Zine World in progress due to the pressure of her graduate studies (not to mention major technical problems), I have been concerned about the absence of the large, inclusive, zine-review zine that was at various times filled by Factsheet 5, Zine Guide, and, of course, Zine World.

I am not blaming Jerianne at all for not being able to complete ZW's last issue. I fully realize she has some very heavy burdens. I'm not dissing distros. I just think the zine scene needs more than distros. I'm not dissing on-line zine review sites, they just don't work for me. Although those who think the issue is much ado about nothing, who think things work just fine with etsy & blogspots & all, are welcome to comment, this discussion is mainly for those old-school-oriented zinesters who DO feel a lack in the absence of a "Factsheet 5", and would like try to put in their 2 cents worth in, in getting the ball rolling toward reviving one.

Below is an e-mail exchange between Heath Row and myself. Some of it's a bit too technical for my understanding, but some of you may understand it enough to get some ideas. Maybe our many hands can make light work? Let's hope it's a start anyway.

FROM ME: I was thinking of broaching the question/challenge on We Make Zines I asked in .Zap!!omania #4 about Papernet Gazet. I tried visiting http://tinyurl/papernet-gazet, but got the message, twice, that the page couldn't be displayed. Is this just a temporary glitch with my system, or is that submission page now inactive?

FROM HEATH: You need http://tinyurl.com/papernet-gazet. The URL above misses the dotcom.

ME: I guess you read the suggestion by aelicia in Zine World #27 (Winter 2009) of a dual on-line/print-zine option. It sounded to me a lot like what you're doing with PNG. Is it? I was skeptical at first---luddite that I am---but maybe that might be the only option we have now, of have a large, comprehensive, easily-printable-paper review-zine like Zine World, Factsheet 5, and Zine Guide.

HEATH: What I'm doing with the zines and apazines I do these days is make sure that stakeholders (contributors, subscribers, traders) get the print copy first. And then I make the PDF available through whatever channels are available. It's a printzine first and then online. Papernet Gazet I intended as only online because of all the listings, time requirements, and the smaller audience for mail art.

ME: I was coming around to the idea that distros, particularly those with a paper-catalogue-via-USPS option, might be an acceptable substitute for the nearly-defunct inclusive zine-review zine, but I read a comment on WMZ that have made me doubtful again. Distros seem to filter out zines that are less "marketable", i.e. that are less visual, don't quite follow the "classic cut-n-paste" ideal of what zines "are supposed to be". Don't get me wrong. I LOVE a excellently-done classic cut-n-paste zine, but I also loved the inclusion of the obscure, crudely illustrated "shit-zine" cranked out by some "low-class marginal" youth from Louisiana, or the very plainly done text-heavy zine from some old man discoursing on some "uncool" subject that obsessed him. There are many zines like these that aren't very "marketable" even to zinesters. Zinesters who make these, need zines like FS5, Zine World and Zine Guide.

HEATH: And those avenues that exist will continue to review them. Distros need to carry zines that will sell, which tends toward more marketable zines. They can't carry inventory -- or the cost of consignment, in some cases -- for zines that won't sell (or sell as well). Having run a distro for a while, I know that first hand. You can't carry everything. You can, however, come closer to _reviewing_ everything.

ME: Now. A few questions about Papernet Gazet. Is it totally automatic? That is, does it make itself, at the date of the next projected release, just from the accumulated submissions that have been entered in the submission box? Or do you have to do something? I'm clueless about these things, so pardon my density.

HEATH: Entries drop into a spreadsheet, which I edit into a Word doc and then turn into a PDF. And I've done just the one issue.

ME: What about ailecia's suggestion? Would it be as easy as PNG (if PNG actually is easy---I've never done one). Would the time and money saved in doing it this way be a sufficient motivation for a sustained and concerted effort by those who used to produce Zine World?

Or is apathy a greater barrier than either time, or money.

HEATH: What we need is a Yelp for zines, I suppose. A Web database of zines --and zine issues. Anyone can review a zine writ large or an issue specifically. The challenge is taking the next step to PDF or print, which is what online review aggregators (of everything) don't do. Except for Zagats.

ME: This is not in anyway an attack on Jack Cheiky or any on-line zine review site, but I just can't "digest" them the way I can a print-zine and for reasons too tedious and vague to go into, printing out blogs is too often problematical. (Jack's site seems to take forever to download even on high-speed.) There needs to be some sort of on-line e-zine that comes out in discrete issues and is either easily printable or requestable via physical mail. Zine Thug comes very close to this, but it's not inclusive in its reviews (no criticism intended).

HEATH: Maybe one solution is an online zine review site that publishes quarterly "unbooks" that collect content added in the last x amount of time, however it's defined. Add some framing content -- introduction, a couple of articles, essays, or reprints, and a zine title index in the back, and boom. You've got something that could be printed on demand.

ME: I might like to post this and your reply, if and when you're able to make one, to Zine Geeks, Alt.Zines and We Make Zines, to invite further discussion.

Hope everything's going well with your move & your life,

James

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Kinda late joining the party, but I thought I'd throw in a clarification:

Zine World isn't kaput, not yet anyway. This year was just really difficult for a variety of reasons, which led to repeated delays to getting out a new issue of ZW. I've had a volunteer helping with the layout of this issue; it's like 90 percent done, but we (again) are having problems getting to the finish line.

So, it looks like we'll have a new issue of Zine World out in January, which unfortunately is going to be full of old(ish) content. We're planning to release a 'review supplement' -- a stripped down half-issue with just reviews -- at the end of January. This spring will be my last semester of grad school, as was previously mentioned, and I am itching to reinvigorate my involvement in zines. I am planning a redesign of Zine World. After that, we'll see what happens.

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