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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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I'm only partially aware of the debate going on about the zine/magazine divide, so I'll only report what I have read in other publications. According to some zinesters and zine review zines, a zine never has (or should not have) a bar code and ISBN number. For instance, Broken Pencil (the Canadian equivalent of Zine World) has a bar code. That's why Zine World reviews it but under the "not a zine" category. I think.
Apart from that, I don't care very much about this debate. If it's good, I'll read it.
It's interesting to find out what people mean when they say zine/magazine/newspaper - and why these different definitions mean what they define is itself different. I kinda liked Hannah Neurotica's response for it's sheer pithiness.

Mind you, definitions and names are tricky. A single word can have two or more different meanings. An object can have two or more different names. And two or ore objects can share in certain qualities in common while be different in other respects. (For instance, a rectangle is not a square, but a square is a type of rectangle.)

I suspect that in the world of publishing - whether professional or unprofessional - people pretty much make up meanings and titles as they go along. So if a newspaper wants to call themselves a zine, they'll damn well go and do it. Indeed, I once did some volunteer work for an Australian air force base newspaper that referred to itself (on the internet) as an 'the world's fastest growing e-zine'.

Pardon me, I'm ridiculously pedantic. If I was any more pedantic I'd start sneezing up semi-colons.
Speaking as a scrabbler, I'm really happy that 'zine' has made it into the SOWPODS dictionary! (Gets a good score, too)! Macquarie Dictionary, which should know, presumably, has this to say about the word:

zine
noun Colloquial a magazine, especially one about an alternative subculture, or one in electronic form published on the internet. Also, zeen, 'zine. [abbreviation of magazine]
One thing that I've always had a certain fascination is the "small" company, whether it be a publisher, film producer, record label, etc., that tries to "imitate" the "majors". I'm fascinated by their obscurity, their being "under the radar". Such companies don't seem to care to be considered "underground" or "indie" at all.

As far as movie distributors go, a company called "Alpah Video" and "Mill Creek" come to mind, which I guess all you dollar DVD film fans may be familiar with. I'm just very curiouos about them. I'd love to see the factory of where they're produced. I'm not sure why, but for one, I like the way they've gone in, probably purely with profit in mind, and hunted down all sorts of cheap, forgotten grade-Z movies and are making them available for a dollar or less at places like Walmart and Big Lots. I recently splurged on an order from Nina's Discount Oldies that distros these labels and got some really great classic silents I've been enjoying, for $5 each.

I guess I have a similar fascination with "minor" (but again, not necessarily, indie) magazines, tabloids and comics. I guess the old "pulps" would be in this category too. Before that, the old "penny dreadfuls" of the 19th century. Wouldn't it be great if some company starting reproducing fascimile copies of these and started selling them for $1 or less. (Probably no market, like movies though).

Of course I think zines are great too, but I don't see why I should despise all larger circulation publications just because I enjoy zines. Zines, fanzines, proto-zines, dime bin paperbacks, thrift store videotapes, cassettes and CD's and a million other obscure entertainments, old magazines, for me, are all part of the same panoply of fun. They're all inter-related.
Totally agree James. And there's more resources than ever, on computers and the net, that would make a republication of the penny dreadfuls quite feasible nowadays. One of these days I might try a few projects like that with old, out of the way pieces by interesting writers (I'd love to see an obscure work by Shakespeare redone with the technology we have available nowadays.) I wonder what the copyright laws say about republication of writing over 100 years old?

On a related note: a facebook friend sometime ago linked to an online copy of A Defence of Penny Dreadfuls, by the inimitable G K Chesterton.
Gianni Simone said:
I'm only partially aware of the debate going on about the zine/magazine divide, so I'll only report what I have read in other publications. According to some zinesters and zine review zines, a zine never has (or should not have) a bar code and ISBN number.

I think you mean ISSN number, which is for serials, rather than an ISBN, which is for books. Funny thing is with my old punk zine, I totally got an ISSN just for the hell of it. I've worked in libraries all my life and it's free to get and aids in getting your zine cataloged in libraries and back in the day in print reference indexes (like the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature). So as both a zine geek and library geek, it seemed totally appropriate. I don't think getting an ISSN, which I got for free by sending two copies of my zine to the Library of Congress, is actually much of a sign of being corporate or anything. Again, it's a gray area, not black and white, no one could argue my old zine was a magazine even if it had an ISSN.
Labels, all labels!

This is an interesting discussion and it's good to see that not everybody gets so hung up on what things need to be called.
You are right, Dan, I meant the ISSN. My memory probably failed me about the ISSN number being the mark of the devil.
Gianni Simone said:
You are right, Dan, I meant the ISSN. My memory probably failed me about the ISSN number being the mark of the devil.

I think it actually stands for In Satan's Sack Now ;)
Actually, Book of Zines (and affiliated website) is Chip Rowe, not Heath Row.

Dan 10things said:
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

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