zine, [zeen] noun. 1. abbr. of fanzine; 2. any amateurly-published periodical. Oxford Reference


Friday, March 25, 2011

What is a zine?

Well? How do you define it? (Please comment and let me know!) I barely have any idea except that sometimes I think something is "zine-y" and sometimes I don't.

Today I'm reviewing three short photocopied things that I've somehow managed to attain. Where did they come from? How did I get them? Are they any good? Are they even zines? Can you tell that these are some of the things from my almost empty box of zines that I mentioned?

Each of these is a single photocopied piece of paper folded in half, and that's my first major stumbling block. It seems too small, too inconsequential, to count as anything. Yet, I've seen things (like Peach Melba) made from one piece of paper which I definitely think of as zines. It seems that "thickness" is a major factor in how I define what is and isn't a zine. Fold a single piece of paper in half once and it doesn't count, fold it twice (or more!) and it does. Why is this? I think it must be because I generally assume you could just shrink these pages down and have them fill half the space. But surely you could do that with any zine?

Well, enough pointless thinking, it's time to actualy look at these individually and decide whether or not they count as zines.

Goodbye Midlothian Hello Greater Edinburgh

This provides information regarding a proposed expansion of roads in some area of the UK that I'm guessing is Scotland, but other than the title I have never heard of a single place name included here. The writer wants there to be less cars and more public transit (yay!) instead of whatever the government has planned. If you're from the area that it's about it could provide you with some useful information about the proposal.

I'm going to say that this isn't a zine; it's a flyer, a leaflet, an informational publication, or something else that is about important stuff, but really needed to be edited (it misspelled "council" on the first line) and reformated (type written and hand written text?). This leads to two further questions: why do I care so much about format and where they hell did I even get this?

Strange Biros

This one is a preview for three different things. Two pages of a comic about a paranormal investigator in the 1940s which features a giant snail, one page of a prose story about the same character, and a single page comic that is clearly part of a longer piece and tells you almost nothing about the comic (a Nazi robot demon is mentioned but not shown, and that's not a good enough pull for me).

Maybe I'd read more of these stories, but the previews haven't attracted me in any real way.

By the Brothers McLeod

Okay, now this one has almost enough content to get its own review, but I'm just going to do it here. It's a collection of drawings that I think can be best described as character possibilities. It seems like the McLeods drew a bunch of different people and doodles and maybe something will happen with them and maybe not. My favourite was Mr Tweed, a stereotypical university looking man who carries around a bag full of lobsters and books he's never read. I wouldn't mind reading some more stuff by these guys, maybe some day.

And that's it! So yeah, I'd really only count one of these as having enough content to be a "proper" zine, but really whether something is a zine or not is up to both the creator and the reader. I'm hardly the expert in this stuff, and something I hate could easily be someone elses favourite.

(This review was originally published on 365 Zines a Year.)


  1. Hi
    thanks for linking to http://www.wychwolf.com.
    I started the site as a holiday project with the kids, what you have was a hastily printed flyer for UK Webcomix thing 2010.
    You forgot to mention the horrible overly dark photocopying... and the fact I'd forgotten to turn off spellchecking in the text segment, which has lots of wiggly lines under words.
    Lessons learnt.
    I'd be interested to hear what would make a good flyer?

  2. Rob,

    Just in case it's not clear, this is a reprint from 365 Zines a Year.



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