Simply put, zines are self published magazines. They are usually photocopied and stapled like a little booklet or pamphlet and have a small print run.They are generally made as a hobby as there isn’t much money in zines.
What you put in a zine is entirely up to you. You could write fiction, draw comics, write recipes, print photos you have taken, write your political belief, or write about your own experiences. You could stick to one genre or you could mash it all up together. I generally write what is called a “personal zine” that means I write stuff about personal experiences and tell stories and occasionally other topics show up in my zines as well. The contents of a zine are only limited to your imagination. Zines can be any size or shape but I’m a firm believer that they must me physical. I don’t consider ezines to be zines.
Some people that make zines consider themselves to be the progeny of the likes of Thomas Pain writing Common Sense, early 20th Century Sci-fi fanzine writers, beat poets and chapbooks, 70s punk music fanzines, and the 90s zine explosion including riot grrrl zines.
All of that just tells you what zines are physically.
I’ve been reading zines since the early 90s and making my own zines since the mid-90s. I was living in Salt Lake City, Utah on the cusp of the internet. I would trade zines with penpals through the mail and write letter and really get to to know the people behind the paper. This is where I get to the cultural aspect of zines. These connections could take you on a greyhound ride across the country to meet someone where you know their handwriting better than their face. There are conventions for zines called zine fests where people get together to trade, sell and display their creations and attend workshops and skill shares. Most of my friends are people that I have met through zines and the only thing I can really think that we have in common is that we all appreciate the written word. We celebrate the tangible and sometimes the ephemeral.
Some people talk about zines dying out after the internet and blogs became popular, but I don’t think that is true. There is still a very active and vibrant community of people creating zines and reading zines. the internet has just added a new dimension to zines and zine culture. it makes it easier to find other people that are interested in zines and easier to spread to word about new zines, zine fest, and distros (a hobby sort of business that sells a bunch of different zines)
In the context of this being my witchy blog I’d say that zines are a big part of my life and that blends into my witchy life because it is just another facet of me. I’ve also been kicking around the idea of writing a zine about witchcraft but I can’t seem to find the time to write my own zines these days let along sit down to do editing and reprint the book I wrote about zines.
Also, my day job, Portland Button Works, is running a business that makes custom buttons and sells our own buttons designs. I also run a zine distro and sell lots of zines in my brick and mortar shop. When I travel, like when I was in Chicago and LA a few months ago, it is probably for a zine fest. I have friends all over the US and Canada and even some in other countries and it is all because of zines.