a place for zinesters - writers and readers
Hi, I'm Lisa, and I've been producing Bad Influence since 2004.
My first issue was a black and white, cut and paste zine, printed on my laser printer, with inclusions and interactive bits.
The second issue was also black and white, but with full-sheet pages, and comb bound.
By the time I got to issue three, I had acquired a color laser printer. So, full-sheet pages, in color, and comb bound.
When I got to issue six in 2010, I went straight to Amazon CreateSpace, and had the zines printed and bound. I've produced five issues like that, and am about to launch Kickstarter to raise money for a sixth. Somewhere along the line, I also went back, and uploaded all the early issues, except the first, interactive one, to CreateSpace, and to Kindle, so they're all available as print on demand through Amazon and the Kindle store.
So, when I put issue #1, which was a traditional cut and paste, black and white zine, next to the zine I produced last year, which is full color, professionally printed and bound, available on Amazon---they look like completely different animals.
My question, at long last, is what makes a zine a zine? And when does a zine cross out of zinedom, and become---well, something else? When is a zine no longer a zine?
If you look into the history of the word "zine" you'll find it was applied to a huge variety and range of styles. I think the idea that "cut and paste" is the "true" zine is kind of narrow and cliquish, even though I've loved some good cut and paste zines. Even in cut and paste, there are variations in style to suit different tastes.
This is going to sound negative and heretical, but I've pretty much lost all interest in "zines" as they're conceived today. I came to zines because I was interested in ideas, new ways of seeing things. Right now, even though I much prefer print on paper, I think the Internet is richer and more varied as a source of ideas. I'd love to see more of the Internet's content in skillfully edited print-on-paper form, in zines, amateur journals and magazines, but most of the creators of that content prefer websites and electronic communication. I guess I'm learning to live with that.
I've tried printing out some "print on demand" zines from the Net, but many times I've been stymied. I've gotten a bit more skilled at the Net, but there're still a lot of roadblocks and walls of technical complexity and confusion that I can't overcome, or don't want to waste my precious time winding through or hurdling. It's a bore and a drag. Totally takes the enjoyment out of it.
Pre-Internet zine culture was very, very different than it is today. It has a very different make up, a whole different feel, a whole different vibe. I think it's pretty much lost. I wish Fred Wright would come out of the woodwork and do some kind of comparative micro-sociological study of this.
Very much with you on that "true zine" first paragraph. For me I think the answer to "is it a zine" is more cultural than aesthetic, for all that there is a definite "accepted zine look" that I see often - black and white, text strips across some background images.
I can be frustrated by the focus on that style in part because a "busy" page is quite hard for some people to read, and an important part of zinestering for me is getting this thing in my head out there and finding whether anyone else sees the world in a similar way.
Considering that I've seen zines that are just pieces of paper in a bag, all the way up to Risographs and bound books, I would consider what you've talked about a zine.
Honestly, its a form of self expression, and if you're more comfortable doing your work in a different way, you go for it. You started out in a more accessible format, and moved through in your creative process.
I don't like the idea that just because something looks mainstream, that the ideas are any less valid, or interesting. Just because it looks all indie and under ground, doesn't mean it's going to be good automatically. Some people enjoy doing their zines completely digitally and not binding them. Some love to write them all out and bind them beautifully.
A zine stops being a zine when it stops being independently made by creators who have control over the contents.
What is a zine? What is art? If a person claims to be an artist, and they claim what they make is art, who are we to argue? Disagree, perhaps, but not argue.
If you feel you are a zinester or zine-maker, and you feel your creation is a zine, then there ya go. There are "rules" and "definitions" of what a zine is, but those can be pushed and bent and destroyed. I've seen zines turn into pamphlets, newspapers, or magazines, and then go back again in later issues.
I'd have to see your creation and hold it in my hand before I knew if I thought it was a zine or not. But what difference does it make in the end? It's either cool and interesting or it isn't. I LOVE zines, and read a lot of them, but I also read books and magazines and newspapers, etc...
There is no governing body of zines to make authoritative rulings. However, I get tripped up when zine anthologies get bound and assigned an ISBN # [International Standard Book Number]... it's right there in the explanation. It's a book. A zine and a book are different, right?
anyhow, I say the only people who really get a say are the author and the reader. If you make it and you call it a zine, then it's a zine. Unless I(or anyone else) read it and decide it's not a zine from my perspective. Then I get to decide if it goes in the zine box or on the bookshelf, and you can't stop me.
I mean, NWA were inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. That's not how I would describe them, yet there they are.
ISBN numbers are assigned to books, and "book-like products". There's a whole weird list of what does, and doesn't get them, here: http://www.isbn.org/faqs_isbn_eligibility .
Everything I've published on CreateSpace, whether it's a zine or a book, has been assigned an ISBN number. There's no checklist, asking whether what I'm publishing is a book, or a magazine.