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Zines: A practical guide

Curious about zines? Explore this libguide to learn more about them and even get started making your own!

What is a Zine?

Zines (pronounced “zeens”) are grassroots Do-It-Yourself publications typically produced in limited runs. Zines, as described by the Milwaukee Zine Festival, can touch on a variety of topics from music and art, to politics, sexuality, humor and personal memoir.  Their content may be written, drawn, printed, collaged, or any other form of combining words and imagery—a zine’s structure may be narrative, journalistic, comic-like, or completely abstract.” Has there been something you just can't get off your mind lately? Express it in a zine! From the personal to the profound--a zine is a great way for you to get the word out on things that interest and are important to you.

Zines trace their beginnings to Chicago in the 1930s, when the Science Correspondence Club first published The Comet, a small print run focused on science fiction. They grew in popularity and reached even wider audiences with fanzines--zines about popular culture like the wildly successful Star Trek fanzine Spockanalia. Zines would reach z peak in the 80s as they were embraced by punk communities all over the world to showcase local music scenes, discuss politics, and share artwork. They have also been a major part of underground comix scenes, where artists and writers and self-publish their work, allowing them to be more experimental.

Many zines have since taken their publications online, some will even make issues available as print to order, in case you would like to have a physical copy on your shelf. Zines are often free or pay-what-you-can, as they are more about creating community and sharing ideas than anything else. Check out the links on this libguide to learn more about the history of zines, the world of zines today, and how you can get started making your own!

Curious to track down and read some zines? Check out the Chicago Zine Fest's Zinester Directory, where you can find hundreds of zines from all over the country--and a few from other parts of the world as well!

You can also come visit the Weathertech Innovation Lab and check out our zine library! We've started a collection of zines from all over and are always looking to expand--so if you have a zine to suggest we include or would like to submit one you made yourself, we want top hear about it!