Page 1

Written and compiled by Madeline Happold

Issue #1: The Print&Digital Scene

This project was inspired by DePaul University’s Special Collections Zine Archives, of which features collections from the Underground Press Conference held on-campus from 1994-1996. Somewhat of a meta-zine, this booklet will highlight zines featured at the conference, while comparing them to current e-zines that have become popular with the advent of technology and easy distribution through web formats. The zine was then published on Issu to fully illustrate the process of digital zine creation and dissemination. Design-wise, I tried to balance the project between the traditional DIY ethose of print zines— the handmade illustrations, cutand-copy images, Xeroxed photographs — with the multimedia abilities of online zines — embedding videos, hyperlinks to outside sources, and gifs. The project is by no means extensive. DePaul’s own Special Archives catalogue over 300 print zines, with print still a flourishing medium. Not to mention the expanse of those that can be found on the Internet. Their obscurity is part of zines’ beauty, originality, and mystique. For the sake of specificity and time, this project will focus on four that best illustrate the transition from print to digital, spanning from the ‘80s to currentl publishing zines.

Zines: The Print & Digital Scene

Zines have long reigned a symbol of alternative press, embodying the counterculture ethos of punk-listening teenagers, artsy activists, and underground artist communities. Yet what makes a zine, a zine? The classification is muddled as the publication’s amorphous design and content expands across creators. A zine is a “self-published, non-commercial publication done by a variety of individuals... zines are among the most democratic of media, requiring not much more than having some ideas or something to say” according to Batya Goldman in her “What’s a Zine?” poster distributed at DePaul’s Underground Press Conference. The Underground Press Conference was held between 1994 and 1996 to “highlight the inde-

pendent and small press efforts in Chicago and the Great Lakes region of US” (Goldman). Contrasted to print mediums like books or magazines, a zines are less formal — a mismatch compilation of text, illustrations, cut-outs and photographs, either hand-produced, printed at home, libraries, or school computers or outsourced to local presses. My research on zines featured in the Underground Press Conference, I will be focusing on four zines with publication dates ranging from 1982 to current production: Tomorrow Magazine, FuckTooth, GlobalMail, and e-zine Woman Zine. Tomorrow, publishing its first issue in 1982 by editor Tim W. Brown, will be the oldest zine discussed, which focuses on Chicago-based creative writing submissions from varying writers. FuckTooth, first published in 1994 by editor Jen Angels, includes personal entries, artwork, music reviews and interviews, some outsourced but most by Angels. Global Mail is a “cross-cultural, cross-media listing of all kinds of art projects, collaborations, and mail art events” (GlobalMail). Woman Zine, an e-zine started in 2016, publishes online issues, including creative writing, videos, illustrations, and gifs. relating to women’s issues. Though zine categories and compositions are endlessly shapeshifting, my research will focus on the difference in medium, design, and read-

ership community in relation to traditional print zines and the emergence of digital zines. The modern conception of zines can be traced to science fiction fanzines from the ‘60s, in which creators would publicize their favorite movies and writers of the subgenre. Yet alternative publishing began with the advent of the printing press, taking the power to disseminate information from the hands of few to that of many. Alternative presses range from underground Hebrew printing during the Spanish Inquisition to the mimeo revolution of literature in the ‘50s with Dada publications like Transition. The theme of alternative publishing moved from intellectuals to punks in the ‘70s, with the surplus of short-lived zines promoting local and reviewing local bands. While zines can vary in context and design, there is a typically through line to the broader ethos of zine creation. Zines are grounded in the counterculture, their production stemming from a need of self-expression or hyper-specific coverage separate from the mainstream media. According to Vale, the ease of production “provide[s] pure inspiration and encouragement to create one’s own radical culture and ideas” by means of “flaunting off-beat interests, extreme personal revelations and social activism” (5). Zines contain a common thread from creators to readers, centering on themes such as punk and DIY, anti-establishment or communist politics, LGBTQ rights, and feminism. by means of “flaunting off-beat interests, extreme personal revelations and social activism” (Vale 5). For zine-makers, creation is rooted in self-salvation, self-cultivation, and self-publication (Ordway 155). Yet the focus on the self is a call to connect outward, taking these ideas and sharing them with likeminded readers who also consider themselves members of these counterculture communities. Now turning to the four issues — Tomorrow, FuckTooth, GlobalMail, and e-zine Woman Zine — the most common difference is their mediums of distribution, whether online or print. It is tempting to clump Tomorrowland, FuckTooth,

and GlobalMail as all under the category of print, yet their relation to the medium varies. Tomorrow, perhaps the most formal in composition, resembles the layout of a chapbook more than a typical zine. A chapbook is a smaller book, comparable to a pamphlet, of roughly 30 to 40 pages that highlight smaller selections of creative writing, such as poetry or prose (Wiehardt). Chapbooks also allow for greater artistic direction for the writer, similar to a zine, but are typically one-off publications as opposed to the issue release. As Tomorrow’s issues progressed into the late ‘90s, the zine began to use email and web pages that people could visit — I tried to visit one of these pages, but I’m sure as web pages began to cost money to own and create, it is no longer in service — which highlights another advantage of print, which becomes timeless after pouring in payments — yet people would pay for subscriptions or single issues of zines, perhaps helping to make up the cost or provide income to produce the next issue, while e-zines are completely free. FuckTooth most closely represents the zine format described by Goldman. Each issue is saddle stapled with single fold pages and recto-verso printing in black and white. The half-sheet folding is more associated with the handmade style of most zines. The medium then allows for more portability and easier distribution, since zines were often distributed through mail subscriptions or featured in small bookstores. This

difference in sizing is where Tomorrow and FuckTooth differ in medium; while both remain true to the self-production classification of zines, Tomorrow’s sizing harks to that of a literary magazine. Each carry the physicality of print, though, and allow the reader to hold portable copies to carry around, actively flip through pages, and in true zine style, rip or cut out clips for future zine creation. GlobalMail, while also print, takes on a middle-ground between print and online. Though the product is distributed in print format, subscribers can mail or email information to be catalogued in the zine. Started in 1994, GlobalMail was on the cusp of digital communication, yet when the team was asked about taking their listings online, their response was firm: “No, but I do think the metal frames of my glasses vibrated once when you turned on your microwave oven in Illinois” (Schupp 5). While submissions can be accepted via online formats — the editors cites that e-mail was the preferable means of contact for international submissions — the editors were adamant of remaining true to print production. GlobalMail thus takes the appearance of a weekly newspaper or magazine, per the style of Global Inquirer or even The DePaulia. Moving from the 90s to the digital

era, e-zines like Woman Zine began to populate the web. The web offered a new medium for publication, one that offered free access to readers and creators. Most obvious, e-zines remove the physicality of holding an issue and flipping through pages. E-zines can vary in digital medium, as well, whether a PDF booklet that can be downloaded or a scrollable webpage highlighting an issue’s content. Woman Zine — rather than uploading an e-book-style product that would replicate the physicality of a print zine — uses a web page platform. Selecting an issue, the page then opens to the contents of each specific e-zine, but unlike the multiple pages of an print zine, which physically contains multiple pages, the e-zine opens to a singular web page that scrolls horizontally to show the issue’s content. The medium takes away from the idea of separated content on individual pages, and displays the entire zine similar to a digital poster board. Just as print mediums vary, so doe online publishing. E-zines can appear to blend with blogs, which are “web logs” that allow for reader interactivity and are updated frequently (Duermyer). The main difference between an e-zine and a blog or website is that e-zines are updated less frequently, given the time in creating issues, and are less personal than the digital journal-esque content of a blog. As previously described, the eclectic style of zines provides a spectrum of design elements, including variety color, collages, physical layout and lettering. By these design standards, Tomorrow would not appear to neatly fit the zine category. The outside cover is typically tan with a black illustration or black and white photograph. Inside, the zine does not contain more than creative writing submissions, each garnering its own full-page without many, or in some cases even any, additional images. The opening pages include a table of contents and publisher information, with the following page including a letter to the editor or introduction by a contributing writer from the issue. Looking at typography, all computer generated text, the font is all black with titles in bold, writer names in italics. Tomorrow Magazine is much cleaner in style, which makes it appear more like an underground literary magazine than a zine. In almost complete print contrast from Tomorrow, Fuck-

this layout, the creator would have to cut clippings of these separate elements, arrange a page, then Xerox the images to create a completed, one-dimensional page. At times, the outline of the clippings can be seen with shadowed lines across the page. Print mediums allowed for this flexibility among text, and could also be multi-dimensional with layered clippings, inserted stickers or patches, and cut-out coupons. GlobalMail took on this idea of text interactivity with its design, resembling newspaper classified ads. Among listings, readers were encouraged to cut out coupons or read on zine-related news like Q&As, reviews, and personal essays from editors. Tooth’s cut-and-paste design holds equal weight to that of the included writing samples. Each issue was done in black and white with a cover generated on colored paper. FuckTooth illustrates the importance of Xeroxing with zine creation. Xerox allowed zines to combine different artistic mediums such as computer-generated text with hand-drawn illustrations, stickers, or repurposed newspaper and magazine clippings. FuckTooth features each of these design elements — on a single page, hand-written script is combined with hand-drawn images and computer-generated text, sometimes arranged in unique formats separate than left-to-right reading. To achieve

GlobalMail was also the only zine to feature color printing inside the zine. When publishing Zines! in 1996, editor V. Vale defined e-zines as “quite superficial: too ‘cleanly’ presented, and lacking in randomness and college elements” (5). Have e-zines lost the caliber of DIY aesthetics produced with print zines? Woman Zine tries to remain true to these design elements with mixture of uploaded hand-production images and modern digital elements. The website opens to a homepage containing a table of contents of past issues; even the homepage differentiates from print zines in its easy access of past and current issues. Moving to the individual issue pages, the issue’s page contains more white space than a typical zine, and the lack of differentiated pages makes the reader experience harder to navigate as a reader because the eye does not have a finite start and stop position, but rather can scroll

their the whole issue in one take; though, this can also add to more fluidity between the contents featured in the zine. E-zines to have the ability to include content that cannot be explored in print zines, though, like embedding video files, gifs, or hyperlinking to outside web pages like author links. E-zines can also allow for uploading illustrations or hand-drawn images like Xeroxing with print. In contrast, though, Woman Zine includes less variation in text formatting than the experimental design of FuckTooth or even the stanza structure of poems featured in Tomorrow. Concerning Vale’s quip about the cleanness of e-zines, the resolution quality of digital platforms allows for a clearer, perhaps cleaner, viewing, while print can be muddled by low-quality scanning, poor printing, and physical wear and tear to the paper. Whether this adds or takes away from the publication’s overall design is subjective. Zines can also foster a sense of community based on similar beliefs,

morals, and creative identity. “Zines demand the personal communication inherent in a relationship — and personal communication always requires energy, sensitivity, thought, foresight and time” (Vale 5). With print, “zine producers and other self-publishers do not necessarily seek the largest possible audience. Some aim at the ‘happy few,’ readers capable of real comprehension” (Ordway 159). Print zines, hard to track down or locate, had to be sought after by readers who were invested in the zine’s content. This created tight-knit communities among zine creators and readers, who would correspond, collaborate, and swap zines. In her article “why I do a zine,” Angels describes this bond: “There is no barrier between the zine writer and the zine reader. Participation is encouraged… There is an accessibility, freedom, and flexibility that can never happen in a magazine” (5). In a letter to Goldman, who was featured in the 1993 issue of Tomorrow, Brown noted that “I have tried to publish in Tomorrow work from a variety of sources, including so-called ‘academic’ and so-called ‘performance’ poetry,” showing a range in creative writing submissions. The open submission allowed for a melding of intellectual and community poetry, acting as a space to highlight Chicagoland’s diverse creative voices not found in official literary magazines or hyper-specific DIY zines. GlobalMail provides a platform for creators, readers and writers to connect by making information about zines available in a singular platform. Zines are catalogues by themes such as gender, health, erotic, and queer, and some entries include calls for submissions or references for bands to review. This allows readers to cultivate networks connect with these underground, often hard-to-reach publications. Print zines seem to thrive on inclusivity from exclusivity; zines represent niche communities, and readers must be proactive to locate underground publications that represent these communities. E-zines allow for a potentially larger and more diverse audience, given any web user’s ability to access the zine. This can restrict the sense of community because access is openly available, it no longer requires browsing through smallpress bookstores or reaching out to creators to find desired content. For example, when locating Woman Zine I simply searched for “popular e-zines” and found a web page of links to e-zines someone had compiled. From there I simply could click to which e-zine I wanted to peruse, limiting the searching process. In a correspondence between Underground Press Conference creators and presenter John Labovitz in 1994, he cited that e-zines can be accessed through File Transfer Protocol

(FTP), Gopher, World Wide Web (www. URLs), Usenet, e-mail, and systems like CompuServe. Most of these platforms, including current availability through modern platforms like Issu, allow creators to upload for free and readers to access for free, limiting cost for both ends. While “proponents of the e-zine extol its instant availability, easy updating, alleged ecological advantage and its cheapness as it

takes advantage of cutting-edge technology,” the web’s ease of access and creation can retract from the novelty of print zines. In her article “why I do a zine,” FuckTooth author Jen Angel says there is “a feeling of being home” when creating a zine. The sentiment has less to do with the platform than the production. Print may be considered the traditional medium for zines, yet with the advent of programs such as InDesign, Photoshop, embeddable links, and host sites such as Issu, e-zines are expanding in versatility and design. This does not take away from the satisfaction of holding a physical copy of one’s creative energy, and “books and print journals still go many places computers and moderns cannot; they don’t crash, and nobody can pull the plug on them (Ordway 159). Whether print or digital, zines still act as a creative outlet for self-ex-

pression and connection. The platform can impact how we analyze or perceive the artist’s identity and message of a publication. An e-zine may appear “cleaner” than print zines due to screen resolution or image quality, losing some of the human touch and handmade images associated with traditional zines. Print zines appeal to these low-fi, DIY ethos, yet cannot include many of the creative mediums, like video or interactive images, that e-zines incorporate. Whether print or digital, zines still act as a creative outlet for self-expression and connection. When addressing the debate at the Underground Press Conference over two decades ago, Goldman’s included an addendum in her zine definition: “A zine is done as a labor of love, and so all levels of quality are acceptable and welcome.”

Works Cited Angel, Jen, editor. FuckTooth. 1993-1995. Angel, Jen. “why I do a zine.” FuckTooth, no. 17, 1995, pp. 5. Brown, Tim W. “Re: Tomorrow Magazine.” Received by Batya Goldman, 20 April 1993. Brown, Tim W., editor. Tomorrow Magazine. Contemporary Arts Publishing, 1989 1997. Duermyer, Randy. “Blogging – What is it and Why is it Popular?” The Balance, 18 July, 2017,, Accessed 10 March 2018. Goldman, Batya, editor. “What is a Zine?” Underground Press Conference, 18-20 August 1995, DePaul University. Labovitz, John. “Re: Zines on the Internet.” Received by Anne Clark Bartlett, 12 June 1994. Ordway, Nico. “History of Zines.” Zines!, edited and published by V. Vale, 1996, pp. 4-5. Parker Owens, Ashely, Corbett, M.B., & Dr. Guy, editors. GlobalMail. 1994-1995. Schupp. “Reader Survey.” GlobalMail, no. 10, 1995, pp. 13. Vale, V. “From the Editor.” Zines!, edited and published by V. Vale, 1996, pp. 4-5. Wiehardt, Ginny. “Learn About the History and Function of Chapbooks.” The Bal ance, 15 Feb. 2018. ing-1277252, Accessed 7 March 2018. *Images of Tomorrow, FuckTooth, and GlobalMail taken from DePaul University’s Special Archives Collections. Woman Zine images screenshoted from site. Other images repurposed from magazines and Vale’s Zines! book.

UnEdited: Zines: The Print & Digital Scene  
UnEdited: Zines: The Print & Digital Scene