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Zines are huge in Melbourne. There are zine festivals, zine shops and libraries full of zines. They’re also popular in Canada, United Kingdom, Germany and America. This is a way of sending your message straight to the streets, especially if you’re trying to get through to a younger audience.

What exactly is a zine?

A zine is a self-publication made by an individual or a small group of people. They can be one-off or regular publications.

A zine can be:

  • hard copy, like a newsletter or pamphlet
  • electronic, and sent via email called an ‘e-zine’

The 1980s were a popular time for zines, when punk publications took off. In the 1990s, zines were often about music. Today, zines are more personal and let you express your views freely and frankly.

You’ll often find that contemporary zines are produced anonymously or under pseudonyms. People who create zines are called zinesters.

What’s in a zine?

Easy to produce and distribute, zines can be about absolutely anything. You could write a zine to spread social awareness about an issue you’re passionate about, devote a zine to a band you love or use your zine to share your unique view on life.

While zines can be about anything, they generally fall into broad categories:

  • Perzines: personal zines about the zine makers experiences in life.
  • Fanzines: zines dedicated to a band, celebrity, TV show or musician.
  • Political zines: often published by minor parties who are not represented or misrepresented in mainstream media.
  • Issue based zines: zines about an issue that the zine maker is passionate about.

There is no fixed template for a zine, but they’re usually a mix of graphics and text and are often in black and white. A typical zine could include articles, interviews, quotes, pictures, jokes, poems, photos, cartoons and comics.

When would a zine work?

Zines and newsletter are usually read to be enjoyed, but they’re also used to share strong opinions on society and politicians.

Zines are great for:

  • Showing off your knowledge and passion
  • Getting through to people who are unconventional, creative or alternative
  • Exploring artistic ways to express your opinion
  • Sharing ideas with a small group, such as family and friends
  • Building writing experience
  • Adding to a folio for writing, photography or graphic design

Zines are not so great for:

  • Promoting events where lots of changes are happening (it’s hard to update a zine once it’s been made)
  • Getting through to people who are conservative or mainstream (zines tend to be distributed in eclectic places like small shops, cafes or by hand)
  • Convincing the masses (some zines may reach a diverse crowd, but they tend to have a small and loyal following)

How long, tall and wide is a zine?

Zines can range from a simple two pages to a comprehensive 50 page extravaganza. They can be small enough to fit in a person’s wallet or large enough to act as a shield from unwanted attention on public transport.

Planning a zine

Creating a zine is totally in your control, and that’s part of the appeal. They can be about anything you want, any size and any shape. But it does help to have some plan for the structure of your zine. Ask yourself:

  • What do you want the zine to be about?
  • Do you want to be anonymous or recognised as the author?
  • How many pages?
  • What size?
  • What paper (texture, colour, weight)?
  • Black and white or colour?
  • Paper or electronic or both?
  • Will you ask people to submit to your zine?

Copying and putting it all together

After you’ve planned, designed and written your zine, you need to print or photocopy it for distribution. Most zines are photocopied because it is faster and cheaper.

Cheap photocopying can be found at libraries, student unions, Centrelink, Express Media and Officeworks. Try to get your hands on a long-arm stapler. Most unis, schools and community spaces have them or you can buy one from Officeworks or a newsagency. Alternatively, you can bind or sew your zine together.

Distributing and promoting

Zines can be distributed at record stores, book stores, concerts, independent media outlets, cafes, coffee shops or publishing fairs. Think about where you’d normally find the type of person who’d read your zine, and ask if you can leave some copies there.

In Melbourne, Sticky Zine Shop located under Flinders Street Station will sell your zine and take 20 per cent commission. For example, if you sell your zine for $2, you will get $1.60 per copy and sticky will get 40 cents.

Zines can also be sold at Polyester Books located at 330 Brunswick Street Fitzroy and the Missing Link Records at Basement 405 Bourke Street Melbourne.

You may also want to collect a list of ‘subscribers’ or people who are dedicated followers of your zine. You can then email them about new issues, or (if you have the budget) send them copies in the mail.

Zine fairs

Zines fairs are excellent ways to meet people who make zines and to trade zines. Major annual zine fairs in Melbourne are:

  • Festival of the Photocopier by the Sticky Institute in Melbourne February 6, 12-5pm Degraves Subway under Flinders Street Station.
  • Make It Up Zine Fair during the Emerging Writers Festival in Melbourne in May.

Where to go

Sticky Zine Shop
Open 11am-6pm Wednesday to Friday and 12-5pm on Saturdays.
Degraves Subway
Under Flinders Street Station, Shop 10
03 9654 8559
PO Box 310 Flinders Lane
VIC 8009
www.stickyinstitute.com/

Melbourne City Library
03 9664 0800
www.citylibrary.org.au

State Library of Victoria
03 8664 7000
www.slv.vic.gov.au