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There was an interesting comment by Gianni on a previous discussion thread about zines being made as far back as the 19th century.

Most discussion at this site seems to be about zines made in the 80s, 90s and 00s. I know a few ziners who started making during the 70s, possibly the 60s. Science fiction writer Michael Moorcock edited an Edgar Rice Burroughs fanzine in the 1940s, when he was a kid.

And I can think of possible earlier examples too - scrapbooks, diaries written for friends, etc. But I know little about the early-20th/late 19th century history of zines - can anyone enlighten me?

The more that I think about it, the further back you could date zines. For instance, the earliest copies of mass-circulation magazines like The Spectator or The Tatler were just small essays closely printed on a sheet of paper and sent out like letters to a small (but growing) market. Were these more of a 'zine' or a 'magazine'?

There are more recent examples of a 'zine' changing to a magazine. F'rinstance, Reason magazine was once a regular letter distributed amongst a few economics geeks. 'Rolling Stone' magazine, I think, began as a fanzine as well, in the 60s.

Anyone able to fill in some of the gaps in zine history? Is it possible, or even desirable, to make a clear distinction between magazines, newspapers, and zines?

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Ciao Tim, I'm afraid you picked up the wrong person. I was only repeating something I had read in another (or other ) zine(s). One person I know who has some knowledge about zines' old history is Canadian Dale Speirs who makes the zine Opuntia. He doesn't like the e-mail and only checks messages once a week at the public library, but you may want to contact him at this address: opuntia57@hotmail.com. If you don't succeed, I can give you his postal address (or I think you can find it yourself if you google him). Among other things, he knows about zines (and APA zines) that focus of zine history.
That sounds like a fun read, Sarah. Next time I go into Melbourne's Sticky Comics I'll ask them about that.

I suspect that as long as people have been able to publish and circulate material on paper, 'zines' - personal publications amongst small groups and subcultures - have been around in one form or another. Although of course they will have been given different names over time.
I started making zines because I write a lot of stuff anyway, so it's an easy outlet.

But I like mass-media publications like books, or magazines, or newspapers, and I like playing around with their format and formatting tricks anyway. (Microsoft Word and Microsoft Publisher are extremely good for this sort of thing.) So maybe I've trained myself to notice the similarities between zines and mass media, and overlook the differences/distinctions.
Someone should document the rise of the per-zine or -ist based zine as they seem to mark a sort of decline in the medium and also the rise of the self-entitlement and importance that precludes trading, worries about copyrights, and frowns on bartering networks of found and uncredited information. Clutter and gossip used to keep the "scenes" alive and generate issued discussions that rippled influence across the small venues and basement shows of inconsequential bands.
Heh. I had to look up 'perzine' to find out what it meant, shows how much of a ziner I really am!

The discussion that I linked above does seem to centre around the issue of 'personal zines', and how they relate to copyright, and what rights authors/makers of zines have over the distribution of their zines by people who have originally received them. I was at first a little baffled to be told that there was any problem with the onselling of zines, but apparently there is.

The rise of personal zines seems unsurprising. We live in a time of memoirs and diaries, when personal anxieties and individual creative expression is generally privileged over older ideas about subsuming the personal self in some type of writing tradition or writing style. That's just the way things are. I don't mind the rise of perzines so much; I have a few in my collection and I respect the writers. But it's not a style I'm much interested in writing in/exploring.

As for the rise of -ist zines - I presume you mean 'anarchist/communist/capitalist/whateverist' zines, I dislike them too, but what can you do? So long as we value freedom of expression, we can't do much more than tolerate their existence, allow them space for expression, and do our best to combat them with our own arguments and zines.

Mind you, there are some weird and wonderful examples of perzines and -ist zines out there. I was quite taken with the 'Gun Culture Zine' that some libertarians mentioned on this thread some months ago. I'd be quite interested in getting a copy of that.
Heath Rowe's website (and book, his Book of Zines is mandatory for all zinesters to own) has a lot of good zine history info and links, check out this page:
http://www.zinebook.com/directory/zine-history.html

Particularly I love this article, with reprints of a fanzine from 1950 ranting about fanzines, format and content... you could totally see someone writing a similar rant today, but the language and ideas (mimeographs) is totally dated.
Great picture John, and I love you for what you said. I don't like it when a majority wants to impose certain ideas on a minority, but I like it even less when it's the other way around.

Tim, just to make you feel better, I can assure you that historically there's never been a problem with the onselling of zines. At least until now.

Regarding perzines, I wouldn't condemn the whole genre. I've read many good such zines. As for -ist zines, I don't read them but judging from the reviews I read it seems many or maybe most of them are very boring and ponderous and use a very convoluted style.

I think you are talking about American Gun Culture Report. I couldn't recommend it more. I have all the three issues that Ross has published so far and they are very interesting - even entertaining - opinionated and very well researched. Whatever you think about carrying guns, it will give you a new, fresh perspective on the subject. You can read my review of this zine here http://gloomy-sundays.blogsot.com (the review is dated Aug 29, 2008).
Thanks Gianni - though just to make myself clear I should say that I wasn't offended by the previous discussion, though I did find the imprimatur against onselling of zines from some ziners, well, weird. I should actually have posted this discussion under a different title, since I didn't mean the 'histrionics' to be a slanting reference to that linked debate, either. I'll look at your review ASAP, in the meantime I'll be googling around to try and find more interesting early examples of zines/alternative culture publications.
wow dude, way to turn a personal gripe into a weird generalisation based on selective data!

my involvement with zines has always been based around what i think you'd call perzines - and i can tell you that the trading networks that developed around them, and the conversations that happen across/between zines & the mail networks & friendships that develop are central to the medium.

in my experience at zine fairs etc., i've had far more experience of people making literary/music/pop-culture 'impersonal' whatever zines who are more likely to seem to be aspiring to some kind of professional proper magazine status that precludes trading with the scruffies. but i wouldn't claim that as an irrefutable sample i can make glorious generalisations from.

and i don't know about your theory that 'historically there's never been a problem with the onselling of zines' either. for example, there's been a pretty strong link between zines and punk culture since the 1970s, and i know that elements of punk have long been opposed to profit and commodification.

Maybe you can just deal with the fact that some people see things differently to you?

R.John Xerxes said:
Someone should document the rise of the per-zine or -ist based zine as they seem to mark a sort of decline in the medium and also the rise of the self-entitlement and importance that precludes trading, worries about copyrights, and frowns on bartering networks of found and uncredited information. Clutter and gossip used to keep the "scenes" alive and generate issued discussions that rippled influence across the small venues and basement shows of inconsequential bands.
The OP is about zine history and the distinction between zines and non-zines. Are we getting way off topic or am I missing the point?
tim
a corollary of the 'printing press'...no doubt...1544...wazit??? :)
thomas paine...'common sense' was a 'pampheleteer...
um...tatler/spectator...started as 'broadsides'

um wikipedia...the initial ENTRY
&
zine culture...mahalo...duke university'...will INITIATE
the
TSUNAMI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!(of DATA...info...OVERLOAD)!!!
(with their hyperlinks)


um, the creations we are sending roundabout the world...NOW
are really
SIDEBARS
of....................1. computer
2. Internet
3. Dying of 'newspapers'....'cause most of us now realize they
are merely propaganda ORGANS...:):)

tim scannell
port angeles
USA
Rick Bradford said:
The OP is about zine history and the distinction between zines and non-zines. Are we getting way off topic or am I missing the point?

Rick, I apologise if I contributed to lead this thread off topic. I'm going to delete my previous comments. Hopefully the others will do the same and we'll start again from scratch. Hey folks, let's enjoy zining!

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