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


Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Seven Year Rant

Years ago there was this alarmed debate about the future of zines, (printed matter.) One end thought the Internet would make zines irrelevant. The other side insisted zines would not die out, and were outrage at the suggestion that a blog was equal to a zine.

People started calling blogs e-zines, and there was a furious backlash that zines were zines, and all that other shit was not! Period. (Never mind that zine makers were forever monkeying around with mail art, recordings, stickers, buttons, and god knows what else. [I myself once did an audio cassette issue of my print zine, angelz & rebelz.])

I did my best to avoided that whole quagmire. It appeared to me that paper zines were not going away anytime soon, but the Internet was definitely going to have an impact on zines and the zine community. My intention was to ride that particular wave.

But now that topic has come around to bite me on the ass. The misuse of the word zine has made my job here harder and harder. My in box is filled daily with alerts on anything and everything zine related. I do my best to filter out the most obvious misleads, but still the process has become more and more bogged down and time consuming. Additionally there are a lot of people out there doing very dumb things that slow me down even more.

A perfect example of this, (and this is not unique to the internet, folks used to do the same thing to Factsheet 5, and Zine World,) is posting a picture of one's zine on line along with a lovely description of its contents while opting out of leaving any contact or ordering info. Seriously, some people out there are making you jump through hoops trying to get a zine. I run into many examples of having to click through several pages or sites to find a persons contact info, and then on top of that, sometimes you're left with one of those forms to fill out to "request" pricing information.


In addition to making it harder to order stuff, people are in-correctly naming one's product. In more cases than not, the term e-zine is being replaced simply by zine. It's much hipper to say zine. In fact it has become the norm to call anything you do on line a zine. Blogs are now zines. Flip books are zines. Collections of photos on Instagram are zines. Tumblrs are now zines. Zine is a both a common first name, middle name, and last name in Arabic. There is now a fashion line named Zine. Products and events are now being accompanied by a coordinated "Zine Launch!" Often these are only available at events like art exhibits and band gigs. My personal favorite are booklets a person makes that they want to tell you about but are not available to the public. This is often done by people in art and design classes. "I made this zine to impress my teachers and friends with my design skills. I only made one copy."

Believe me, I have not one shred of snobbery toward anyone wanting to call anything a zine. You can do a silent poetry reading and call that a zine, or shoot a rocket into space and call that a zine. I don't care. My only concern is for the practical. For those of us who rely on the web for our connection to the outside world, it's becoming harder and harder for us to find, and network with of each other.

I fear this is my punishment for being smug about the whole zine vs Internet thing. When I started doing this I thought the fuss was silly. Whatever was going to happen was going to happen, and we should just make the best of it. Now I wish there were some way to distinguish zines from all the other stuff. We can't stop the rest of the world from appropriating the word zine, but what if we could re-brand ourselves?

I've thought of adding a "p" (for "print) but pronouncing it the same: pzine. I've had other ideas too, most of them quite lame.

Of course there's no way to make something like that happen. We're too fractured a demographic. And it's lame. But wouldn't it be cool if we could regain our autonomy and identity?

Jack Cheiky
Syndicated Zine Reviews

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