I have always loved the idea of zines, so I dragged my friends with me to Forest Cafe to peruse the Edinburgh Zine and Small Press Fair. The sun streamed in the tall windows onto the wooden floors and panels of a former church hall filled with little tables and small piles of printed media.
The word ‘zine comes from an abbreviation of the word magazine. They are little personal publications which can be anything from a handmade booklet to a small professional looking print run. There are fanzines, comics, art zines, political zines, personal zines (perzines), music zines, cooking zines, knitting zines, anarchist zines, feminist zines, poetry chapbooks, anything and everything. Basically, anything that someone feels inspired about can become a zine. Some are handwritten, handdrawn and handsewn, others are typed, printed and photocopied, or filled with cut and paste collages and random snapshots.
There was plenty on offer at the Zine Fair, but I tried to limit myself and just picked up the following: If Destroyed Still True is a series of personal zines chronicling a life filled with travel, adventure, queer politics, sex work activism, relationships, introspection and bereavement. Exam Zine shares the experience of being paid to mark exams and the funny, inane and heartbreaking wisdom arising from the insane pressure of the exam hall. Toastycats contains an erratic and eclectic mix of comics unleashed from the imagination of an Edinburgh based illustrator – try visualising the great battle of Tigers versus Zebras! Mallard Small Press presented self-published comics and an anthology of writing and comics from northern England. There was also the pilot issue of the forthcoming Glasgow-based lesbian zine Lock Up Your Daughters, full of cool and attitude, and taking a no holds barred attitude to the much hyped, commercial gay scene.
All in all, I am pretty pleased with my haul. What’s more, listening to these interesting and unique voices, I feel inspired to create something myself. This, to me, is what makes zines so fascinating. By experiencing and appreciating the voices of others, we can learn to appreciate our own. If you don’t like what the media is saying or what it’s not saying or if you just want to communicate your thoughts, you can create your own media to publish your own thoughts or highlight the work of others. Luckily, for those of us with the urge to write but a lack of courage or inspiration in the design field, ready-made blogs can provide a means to publish your work and make it available to everyone for free.
I might still try my hand at a good old fashioned self-published zine though, one of these days, just for that feeling of being able to hold something you’ve created and make that direct connection with your audience.