Due to popular[1] demand about Zinegeist, a very meta[2] and sparkly regular (we hope) segment profiling some of the greatest zines that ever zine’d, Vertigo’s resident zine-nerd ANDY HUANG attempts to answer that all important question: just what exactly are zines?

Zines (pronounced “zeens”, and not, as it would seem, “zy-nes.” If you’re confused about this, think about how you’d say “maga-zeen” and not, “maga-zynes”… unless, that’s how you do say “magazines”) are small-run self-published pieces of work.
Basically, they look something like this:

Zines for Rizzeria Workshop

Courtesy of Vanessa Berry

Zines can be about any topic: cats with identity crises, the life of a potato chip, how to be alone (um, actually, that’s a real zine). They are the blogs and Tumblrs and Pinterests in a time before the internet existed.

And (using the example of I am a Camera, which you can find out all about it if you pick up a copy of Vertigo today! It’s free!), this is what a zine looks like inside:

I am a camera 1

i am a camera 2

Scans of I am a Camera, Issue 13. (Used with the permission of Vanessa Berry)

For an in-depth history lesson in zines, there is this excellent (and very, very expensive) book: Behind The Zines: Self-Publishing Culture.
Otherwise, see: Wikipedia.

Zine Distros are places that stock zines. Replace ‘distro’ with ‘shop’ and that’s pretty much what it is. If you have the misfortune of hanging around with a certain maddening zine-nerd, “Sticky” is a catchword you’re likely to hear a lot of. Located in Melbourne, Sticky [Institute] is the closest thing to zine heaven. It’s the greatest. There’s a photocopier and even a table in the middle of the room, for your zinemaking convenience. As you would expect, it is underground (literally), tucked away in Flinders Street Station.

Take Care (91 Railway Parade, Marrickville) is a zine distro in Sydney. They’ve just had their open day (your chance to browse their catalogue in person sans postage!), which was held near the end of January, and there might be one in March, so that’s something to keep an eye on.

The Rizzeria Pop-Up on The Rocks is not so much a distro, but more a creative studio with facilities to make all your zinemaking dreams come true. It also provides a space for zine launches and workshops.

Officeworks, especially the Lewisham branch, is the little-known local hangout/haunt for zinemakers. If you see someone surrounded by bits of paper, with glue-y hands and carrying scissors, chances are, they are zinemakers. They might also be someone who’s not a zinemaker, so be aware of that, and try not to go through their bin to verify whether this cool stranger at Officeworks is a zinemaker or not (as bin-rifling is  generally seen as a social faux pas/frowned upon).

Record stores such as Red Eye on York St or Repressed in Newtown sell zines too, but stock may be limited. That said there are other ways of obtaining zines that don’t involve trekking it out there on public transport (ugh). If you prefer the indoors, allergic to sunlight and/or humans, don’t fret. Some zinemakers (like Vanessa Berry) have an Etsy shop, or you can always buy direct from the zinemakers themselves as they usually have blogs.

Zine Fairs these are events that pack together all your favourite zinemakers into one great big (or small) hall, and they’re often run as part of festivals. Recently, Sticky hosted The Festival of The Photocopier. But if you missed out, there are a few events throughout the year:

mca 1

Zinemakers Lee Tran Lam and The Tilted Page’s Jonathan Valenzuela at the MCA Zine Fair 2013

–          CanberraZine Emporium is coming up in March (roadtrip, yay!).

–          The MCA Zine Fair on May 25, as part of Sydney Writers’ Festival. This is possibly the highlight of the year for a lot of enthusiasts, creatives and even the makers themselves (I have this on good authority).

–          National Young Writers Festival, which is part of the This Is Not Art Festival (which also includes mini-festivals Electrofringe and Cracked Theatre Festival) puts on a zine fair too. That’s usually around late September/early October in Newcastle.

At zine fairs, you can expect lots of free stuff (postcards, comics etc.), cheap stuff and really beautiful stuff too (by “stuff” I mean “zines”). Another little-known fact: zinemakers are the nicest – and coolest – people you will ever meet, and zine fairs provide that opportunity for you to fangirl/boy out; so definitely take advantage of that.


[1] Alright one person posted on our Facebook page.

[2] A Vertigo first, in the first issue themed Firsts.