We Make Zines

a place for zinesters - writers and readers

Hi All..

im currently doing some research for my dissertation.. basically im looking into how people make zines today compared to before when it was strictly photocopiers and staples! 


if anyone (anyone at all!) would mind answer 3 little questions i would be beyond thankful!


.. here they are!

1.    Do you use any digital processes in making your zines? If so, what are they?

2. Why do you make zines when you can just put the same information onto a blog or website?

3. How long do you keep any zines you have bought?

thanks so much

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Undergrad dissertation? PhD dissertation? Sociology, history, literature...? Have you read any of the topics on here about the subject? Do you make zines yourself?


I don't mean this to be antagonistic but I think maybe a bit more information would encourage people to answer.

I'm studying Illustration at Cambridge school of Art and i'm am in my 3rd year.

I do make zines myself yes. I personally like to make them the old fashioned way using a photocopier and hand stitching them together. i don't use any computers to create them.


I would be really really grateful for any reply. Thank a lot, Laurie x

I type many of my zines on Dell 1998 Dell computer, with Word 97.  I never learned how to do "desktop publishing", that is, scanning, photo layout & manipulation onscreen, etc.  I'm thinking of maybe trying it some day, but what little attempts I've made at it have been hopelessly frustrating and confusing.  I'm not sure if it's worth all the time & trouble. There are a lot offers for "free e-zines" on this site.  I can't enjoy reading a screen, and half the time I can't figure out how to print them out, so I just ignore them. I wonder how many others do the same.

I do have a blog on We Make Zines and sporadically make entries in it so it's not an either/or proposition. I have forum comments all over the place.  I get very few responses & when I do, they're usually not very long.  When you write a blog, you "agree to" a contract which says that you don't own your own writing.  I've plowed through a few contracts I've printed out and you pretty much saw that the agreement is overwhelmingly in their favor.  Most sites that "host" your writings can come in and censor and even delete anything you write.  The can "flag" them for controversial words and censor you.  Sometimes it's just a mindless program that does that.  The Internet's very controlling and nosy.

Further, there's something that seems slower and more focusing in doing a zine the old fashioned way.  As I said, I know how to do it.  I'm in control & don't have to wrestle with all the do's and don't, often confusing to me, the Internet rigidly requires.  Further, I believe in helping prisoners and others who have little or no access to the Internet.  We seem to think more alike.  We're both marginal each in our own way.   It's hard to really explain.  I just get the sense that Internet publishing is mostly a bunch of shallow, jabber, jabber, jabber, and I don't think people who prefer really want to read my writings.  I suspect that people who prefer ordering a zine and getting it in the mail are a bit more appreciative.  I'm like that on the Net a lot too.  I just quickly surf and pick through, much like the old "channel surfing" of days gone by.  That's not good, indeed, there's a certain desperate boredome to it,  but that's the behavior the Net for some unknown reason seems to instigate.


God, I've got boxes and boxes and boxes from decades back, including a little box of treasures I'm sure nobody even remembers but which I really liked.  There are blogs that had some good writings which I fortunately printed out that I'm sure have totally dropped off the Net and aren't even cached anymore, but then maybe I'm just not savvy enough to find them.


Here are a few discussions that go into your questions:




Thanks for the reply Laurie. One more question: what's the deadline on answering this, so that people don't keep providing you with answers after you've handed your essay in?


1. I write the articles for my zines in OpenOffice. I then print them off, cut them out, and stick them onto a separate page so that the pages will all be in the right order to photocopy. I've never been able to figure out how to do all that Photoshop malarkey. When there are drawings in my zines they're ones I've done by hand directly on to the page. I think the photocopiers at the copy shop I use might also be digital rather than xerographic but I don't have much involvement in that. Finally, I'll often use email to arrange trades and contact distros.


2. I agree with a lot of what James has said here. Not everyone has access to the internet. I'm lucky enough to, but the time I spend at the library is usually for looking for jobs, emailing people, etc rather than putting out a blog. While I do have a blog I use it for occasional updates about my zine rather than publishing my articles, which often run over two thousand words and are therefore easier to read on paper. The things I'm writing aren't really suitable for a blog format where anyone can come along and read what you've written. I think that if you've traded or been given a zine, you're going to be more careful with it than if you've been sent a link, which you can then share with countless other people.


3. I've never thrown a zine away, although I've given some of my old ones to friends in the past.

1. I'm all digital.  I don't have enough skill or physical creativity to make a zine completely by hand.  With that said, I am going to start experimenting with handwritten articles and sketches then scanning them in.   So my workflow is kinda simple.  I use Wordpress as my workflow management system.  Stories got in, they get edited and prepped for web and print.  The assets are kept there and in my dropbox acct.  Then I fire up pages and edit the story there and then to my in-house printing press.


2. For me, it's a combo.  Because I feature artists, sometimes they want a printed copy.  But in truth, I just have a profound respect for zines in general so I do both.


3.  I've been a LOOOOONG admirer of the idea of zines.  When I would find them I would just become so inspired even when the content was completely off-center or made almost no sense to me at all. But when ever I found these gems, I would hold on to them with dear life.  I've read almost none of them, I just appreciate the amount of effort and the passion behind them more than I love the content.


thanks so much for all of your replies - i really do appreciate it and you've all said some really interesting stuff so far. the deadline for the actual essay is dec 8th (ahh!) so anytime before that. thanks a lot

1. Yes, for decades

2. Paper is better for absorbing information. The internet is more for scanning information

3. everything since 1980 is archived in the TAM-Archive. For exhibition the archive is used as well.


Ruud Janssen

I could write a much longer and more rambling answer but you can always get that off me later if you want.

Brief as I can make it:

1 - not if I can help it. Pritt stick, scissors, pens and laying things out on a table is a far more satisfying way to do it, and it matches how I think - I feel at peace when I work that way. Whereas whatever I do on a computer is clunky and dependent on other machines/gadgets/online timings and ways of working. I can only use digital tools when I know (by the hands-on process, above) what I want. So yes a digital photo with the contrast exagerrated, a print-out of some text from a word document, will then get pritt-sticked on somewhere. Sometimes pictures will get scanned. But no, no publisher, photoshop or other intelligent digital process. A good example is the 'wor diary' i do with 3 dozen other people up here, which the printers (I know) would much prefer to be a digital file so it can talk to their machine in a language it understands and not have to go thru their human eyes and fingers, but instead I send them a wodge of variably sized prittstick-heavy papers. Images at http://wordiary.org I s'pose even a photocopier is digital really, though...


2 The web doesn't really exist. Talking to somebody at a computer is not talking to a person. Things picked up in a pub, from a bus seat, at a friend's house are actual real parts of our world. We are not evolved to sit all day staring and tapping with 2% of our muscles and coordination engaged. It's unavoidable, I know, for work and communication and everything now, but breaking out of this little rut that we've collectively chosen to imprison ourselves in is good. The more overbearing computer drudgery is, the more valuable are the things that help us break out of it. Zines help you do that, especially free ones left in public. I think it's like the case with postcards too - postcards have travelled, emails have not. And any fuckers out there who only advertise their events on facebook, they are missing the beauty and contribution and opportunity that hand-making a poster and sticking it up in a public place gives to society. Our images should be on the walls, they should not be reserved for profiteering adverts and psych-manipulation.


3. Indefinitely. Same for the ones I've picked up free, swapped, or found. Zines are smaller than books so I don't need to get rid of them as often. If I don't ralate to anything at all in one, or there's just a single image or line of text I like, then I cut that out and stick it in my diary scrapbook. But if the zine is complete as an interesting object, it stays with me until I'm dead.

love Mike


1. Yes.  Word Processor, library printer, photoshop

2. Because I want to make the kind of thing I would want to read.  I am 500x more likely to read your zine if you hand one to me than I am to read your blog if you email me a link to it.

3. Forever, except for ones I give to people.  Even if it sucks I keep it.

1. Up until the last zine, no, it was all typewritten and cut and paste. For the last one, because I wrote it when we were moving out of our place and my typewriters were packed (plus I couldn't write at the house with all the boxes), I used a computer. I still cut and pasted the actual text and hand-drawn illustrations, though. I may switch to computer text, it really is a lot easier to photocopy.


2. I do write blogs. I consider the kind of things I write in a zine to be different -- not worse or better, but different -- than a blog. For one thing, zines aren't topical, so if I want to write about a recent news story, I'm better off blogging it. But zines are timeless, you can write something in a zine now and in ten years it will still be there. This influences what I write because I try to make it more... I guess "narrative" is the word. On my blogs I mention anecdotes, in my zine I talk about history. But yeah, basically I consider them qualitatively different things that aren't really meant to be conflated (even if many zinesters write blogs and vice versa).


3. Some forever. But most get donated to a zine library after I've read them. I've only ever thrown away like three zines because they were offensive (neo-Nazi, jokes about rape... like, really?). I just don't have the space to keep every zine forever. Right now my "permanent collection" is around 100 zines.


Hope this helps!

1. Yep! I use Pages, which is surprisingly good for laying things out, it feels professional, without the serious hubbub and knowledge needed by more, erm, adult design programs. I've tried using Gimp and Adobe things, but honestly, it's a differently feeling.


2. I really love the physical aspect of printing and binding. I have my awl, hundreds of stamps and inks, some letterpress letters, all that stuff, I really love it. I just got into binding empty journals into hardcover novels and children's books. I see it as a piece of art, I really enjoy making the books!


3. I've only gotten rid of a few, ever. Most I keep, or give to others, or give to people who are just getting into zines.



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