July is International Zine Month: What Zines Are & How To Celebrate

You might be asking, “What is a zine?” Don’t worry. I asked that same question when I first heard about zines. Zines are handmade, self-published little magazines, made for passion, not profit. So, think of them like a homemade comic book that you can put together without much hassle. All you really need are some pencils, markers, or pens, some writing material, and possibly a printer if you hope to make copies of your zine for others to enjoy.

July is the perfect time to talk about the amazing zine movement. July is International Zine Month, “a celebration of independently published and underground magazines and fanzines—a medium that is growing more and more popular in libraries. Zine culture has spanned science fiction, the riot grrrl movement of the 1990s, and the efforts of people of color and those in the LGBTQ+ community, tackling large-scale personal and political matters in small circulations.” International Zine Month is celebrating its tenth year. It was created in 2009 by Alex Wrekk, creator of Brainscan Zine. 

Libraries across the country are now jumping on the zine craze. According to Barnard College Zine Library in New York City, 138 libraries in the United States have zine collections as of 2019. Libraries are eager to serve the underserved teen to 20-year-old market, and zines can make the library a cool place to hang out. Zines and alternative press materials provide a unique bridge to appeal to disenfranchised youth, alienated by current collections. And did you know that zines have been around for almost 100 years? In 1930, the first science fiction zine, titled The Comet, was published by the Science Correspondence Club in Chicago.

The Comet Zine Cover

Zines foster community. They are a great way for community members who have a desire to express rather than to profit to come together. And amazingly, 76% of zines by people of color discuss issues of race and racism, according to a 2017 study from University College London. As the zine movement grows, it is only a matter of time before most libraries across the country will have zine collections on their shelves. If you wish to look at zines by the numbers, you can. If you wish to learn more about what zines are and how they compare to blogs and other DIY projects, you can do so here.

Have you read any good zines lately? If so, let us know!