FAQ"alt.zines FAQ??? Good luck. The only rule seems to be that there are no rules. . . . too many damn anarchists hanging around here trying to act cute . . . (Karl Thomsen)
What's alt.zines all about?
What exactly is a zine anyway?
Are there any important points of alt.zines netiquette I should know?
"It's important to remember that people who do zines generally have strong passions or quite a bit of "personality" . . . and when you get a lot of strong personalities and passions in one place together, sparks fly. Alt.zines is often home to strong statements and the occasional bout of flame-throwing, but the newcomer to alt.zines would do well to remember that on the internet (as in life), all things come to an end." (Kris)
". . . keep in mind that this is a newsgroup revolving around writing, self-publishing, and free speech. I think if it's important to you to point out words and ideas that offend you, then by all means do . . . But realize the free speech that protects your right to voice your opinion is the same free speech that allows someone to say something that may be offensive to you." (Dan Halligan)
"Words are the only issue here. Zines are a medium of expression. Zines are distinct from other print media by virtue of a certain unaccountability to either commercial or community standards. The problem is that too many people want zinedom to become some utopian community of mutual esteem. They presume that certain codes and laws ought to prevail, and that anyone publishing a zine or writing to the newsgroup ought to conform. I say the only thing binding zinesters into a community is a mutual committment to 1) always agree to disagree and 2) take it and dish it out in equal portions. Hurt feelings cannot set the boundaries of discourse here. If they do, zinedom becomes as tame as any other medium." (Vozhd)
Can I post my ezine to alt.zines?
"Posting e-zines? Definitely don't! Post them to alt.ezines. If everyone posted their ezines here, the clutter would be overwhelming. Always remember, Tim Brown is a bad example." (Brenda N.)
Are there any indispensable zine websites, newsgroups, or mail-lists?
"Check out the Factsheet Five web site:" (Karl Thomsen) www.factsheet5.com
"The Ezine and Zine Resource Guide has been updated..." (Chip Rowe) http://thetransom.com/chip/zines/resource
"The Amusing Yourself to Death web site is now up and running at http://www.aznet.net/~lorax/aytd/index.html. It basically just recaps info from the print zine, with hot links to zine resources. In the future we will be adding some zine reviews, as well." (Rick Westbrock)
"OBSCURE PUBLICATIONS and THE OBSCURE STORE: www.obscurestore.com" (Jim Romenesko)
"I'm happy to report that the little Zine Publishers Index I casually started a week ago has already mushroomed to fifty entries without me even getting a chance to open up my own address book and add names from there. Which is quite cool, I think. Thanks to everybody who sent in their info, and everyone who sent info for other people who may not have seen any of my posts. "So check it out at http://members.xoom.com/rumpusroom/zines and feel free to contribute any information you might have for zines you like which aren't represented yet. At this rate, it shouldn't take long for it to blossom into a legitimately useful resource for everybody." (Dan Rhatigan)
"i run an e-mail list devoted to the discussion of zines, and more subscribers/participants are always welcome! here's what it's like: i will forward all posts in a digest that goes out once (or sometimes twice) a day. no requirements to join, just an interest in zines written by girls. we discuss topics like the production of zines, certain topics that people feel are relevant to either articles in zines or politics surrounding zines, the purpose of zines, the way people who don't do zines view them, and other things that might come up in discussion. the list IS open to males! still, there's a lot of things (like this newsgroup) that are mostly guys, and certain topics just don't get broached. so i think it would be nice to keep it at least mostly girls so that open discussion can take place." (Rowlf272) email@example.com
"The www.killzine.com site is alright, but most of the stuff there comes from higher end zine publishers, almost getting into the magazine realm. It would be nice to see a wider variety of contributors, ranging from someone who does a one page b&w photocopied zine, right up to someone who does something like factsheet 5. More people should go there and have a look, maybe email in some of your own advice. That would definitely help." (James)
"The Comics.Mini Newsgroup is a private news forum devoted to comics. Specifically the hidden end of the spectrum, the place where you find the DIY comics known affectionately as minis. First we'll talk about how to get you there, then we'll go into what we talk about. Comics.Mini is one of many intelligent discussion groups found on Obscuran newsgroups. Using any standard news client (such as Netscape 3.0 News, Netscape Collabra, Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.0 News, Microsoft Outlook Express) you can access the Obscuran newsgroups. This news server is special because it works in isolation - it does not connect to other news servers and therefore it is SPAM FREE! Discussions range from how to find, make, sell, buy mini comics to their quality and function in the comics world and as an art form. We also talk about similar things like zines, APAs, internet-based comic sites, reviews, etc. Just a bunch of fun. You can read more information about it at http://www.ithinkican.com." (Toby)
Where can I find out about zines I might want to read? Where can I
send my zine for review?
*Factsheet Five ($6), PO Box 170099, San Francisco, Ca. 94117-0099 "Hey, the new Factsheet Five is out and it's really an improvement. Great cover, and they've added a news section that's pretty good. Buy it, man." (Mark Ritter)
*10 Things Zine, 8315 Lake City Way NE #192, Seattle, Wa. 98115 "If anyone cares or are looking for more places for review, each issue of my zine we review at least 70 or 80 zines and I always send each zine a copy (which BTW, is getting totally expensive). We are open to all kinds of zines except poetry zines and music zines that cover other genres of music besides punk. Personal, political, fiction, punk, etc. zines are all up our alley..." (Dan Halligan)
*Zine Guide ($4), PO Box 5467, Evanston, Il. 60204 "I finally got a copy (of Zine Guide #1) in the mail the other day. An impressive first issue, as it does seem to be quite thorough, But I'm sure it's missing a good number of zines. It seems to have gone by word of mouth, so the zines that are better known are bound to be in there, while those that are just starting out, or from other countries may not be. I say that because it seems to be an American orientated publication, although there are some Canadian ones at least. So,.... there is another issue coming up very soon, so if you're looking to see mention of your zines in there then write to them or get people you know to write to them. They don't review zines, but do mention other people's review of zines (when you get the issue, it's full of cards to send to mention your favorite five zines and enough room to give a brief review of them). Oddly enough, I found it interesting to notice that Tail Spins, a sister publication to this zine guide, has numerous reviews under it's name." (Karl Thomsen)
*Zine World ($3), 537 Jones St. #2386, San Francisco, Ca. 94102 "I just got my copy of ZW#6, and the 9-page (!) news section alone is enough to blow me away, with stories I haven't read in Obscure, Factsheet 5, or anywhere else. I haven't even gotten to the review section, and I feel I've gotten my money's worth already. There's an incredible story about what See Hear does with people's mail orders, an interview with a kid who got expelled for doing an underground newspaper in his Tennessee high school, zine publisher Bill Brown gets arrested in New York, kids in Florida are sent to fucking JAIL for doing a zine that made fun of their high school principal, a big article on the FCC's crackdown on pirate radio and what it means to free speech, and lots more." (Scott Bartholomew)
(Several other zines that review zines are listed in "Zine Review Zines," an updated list posted around the first of every month by Karl Thomsen.)
How do I produce a zine? Where do I start?
"Use materials at hand. Stay passionate. Start small." (Jerod Pore)
"If you're not sure where to start, get your hands on a bunch of zines and study them. Figure out what you like and don't like about them. It always helps to have a vision of what you want your zine to be. Try to make sure you have something to say, and aren't just zeening for the sake of zeening. (Is that a word?)" (James)
"Hmmm, I guess you write zines like you would write a letter, or an essay, or a lost pet notice. You just figure out what you want to say, and write it. If you think that one piece of writing is enough, then you put it into the format of a zine: 8.5" x 11" sheets of paper folded to 8.5" x 5.5" usually, with writing photocopied on 'em and stapled together at the spine. If there isn't enough in that one piece of writing, you write about something else, or add some pictures or artwork or recipes or reviews of other zines or comix or books or records or whatever you're into. Then, once you've reproduced a few copies of an issue, you go 'round to local alternative music and comix shops and ask the nice managers if they'll give up some shelf space for your creation, and give them away for you or sell 'em on consignment [they take the money and give it all to you] or sell 'em for a percentage of your cover price [20% to 40% they keep]. You also post a message in zines sigs like this one, so that people from all over can find out about your zine and maybe trade their zines for yours. Then you write about something else, and create your second zine . . . That, in a nutshell, is how you write a zine. Good Luck with it!" (Stephen Bourne)
"Don't listen to what anyone else says. It's *your* zine and you can do whatever you want with it. If you want to xerox *your butt* and put it on the cover, do it!" (R. Seth Friedman)
"Or, if you'd rather have a helping and helpful hand every step of the way, I recommend Make A Zine, the self-published guide to self-publishing. It's $12 post-paid from Black Books, PO Box 31155, San Francisco CA 94131." (Peggy Swanson)
I want to buy some software to make my zine. Any recommendations?
"Depends on you budget. For someone who doesn't have money, Microsoft Publisher is decent. It is the only budget DTP program that I have seen that is any good. You can use a drawing program, but continuing an article on another page can be problematic (maybe they've fixed that. I haven't use the newest versions of any of the big drawing programs). If you have the money, go for Adobe Pagemaker. It is $120 for students. What ever you do, don't try to use a word processor for layout. It will only give you a headache. And finally, don't be afraid to use paper. I always do my rough layouts with a gluestick before laying them out on the computer." (Joshua Boyd)
"Why do people rely on their computers so heavily to do a zine! Like, an ezine, now that's a different story. That's meant to be done a computer. But a paper zine . . . why use the computer at all? If I did my zine totally on the computer, layout et al, why would I even bother printing it up if it is already in a nice little form that would look nice on a webpage? Know what I mean? I do a paper zine because I love cutting and pasting. Not spending hours on a computer trying to get the layout just right." (James)
When does a zine become a magazine?
"The way I've found to differentiate between a zine and a non-zine may be overly simple (and once the corporate posers, like Writers Digest catch on, things will change). It's easy. A zine is no longer a zine once it gets a UPC symbol (and, no, UPC is not "Underground Press Conference"). You know: Bar Codes. When a publisher decides to get a bar code he has decided that he wants to sell his goods in mass quantities. He sees his product as commercially viable and of an interest to a larger public. Not to say that glossy Puck! will ever sell as many issues as Cosmopolitan, but it has abandoned the mom-and-pop formula used by your average xeroxed mag. Getting a UPC code is not necessarily a bad thing, it's just a sign that a zine has grown too big to cater to the regular zine customer: Some guy in Dayton who hasn't gotten out in the sun for a few months. Getting a bar code is definitely a metamorphosis for a publisher, whether he admits it or not. A bar code allows a publication to be handled by the big time distributors (if the distributor chooses), who also deal with the perfume-scented supermarket glossies." (Darren Johnson)
"It's hard to know where to draw the line, but if it has liquor ads, it's definitely not a zine." (Larry-bob)
"Is it wrong to see a barcode as saying in black and white that you want to be successful, part of the mainstream, to sell your zine in much bigger quantities than other zines? I'm not saying being part of the mainstream or being successful or being a bestseller is a bad thing to be or want to be. It's not selling out. It isn't evil. But the attitude that embodies being a zine is the opposite of the attitude that buys a barcode to get broader distribution. I do not mean this as an insult, and I sure hope some of the several larger zine publishers here will respond without taking it as an insult. I just thing there's doing something for the fuck of it, and there's doing something to get it as wide an audience as possible, and those seem like two completely different motivatiuons." (P. Bronson)
"I still consider zines with 10,000 print runs and big time distribution like Cometbus, MRR, Heartattack, Punk Planet, etc. all zines. They are done by fans, not making any money, they don't pay their staff usually (well Punk Planet does and MRR gives a little money to the coordinator) and are done out of love rather than a profit motive. Hell, I remember a few years ago when MRR actually made a profit. Do you know what they did? They gave a bunch of punk zines like mine all the profit to help us out. I was sure happy to see that check in my mailbox when I had an issue to print and not enough cash to do it. Magazines don't do stuff like that, they are profit oriented and pay their contributors, the editors don't go broke putting out each issue and slave 100+ hours in front of computer screens and paste ups without getting paid a dime for it." (Dan Halligan)
"I hate drawing these lines but after years of thinking about this I decided that it comes down to intention. Is your *intent* to make money or to publish for the love and fun of it. If you started out with the intention of making money (and let me state that there's *nothing* wrong with that) then I would hesitate to call your publication a "zine." If you started out doing a publication about your collection of bottle openers and found out that there were thousands of other bottle openers collectors out there. If, after an issue or two you were suprised to find that you're actually *making money,* then in my book it's still a zine." (R. Seth Friedman)
"I've always liked the definition that a zine is something you do for yourself and something that you do to attract advertisers or because you want more readers crosses or approaches the line of being a magazine. F5 is an independent magazine about zines, as I think Seth would agree. Some zines take and make money from ads, which is fine, unless they start saying hey I should review more records cause that will bring in more ads. That's the mindset of a profit-making magazine and well there's nothing wrong with that if that's your goal, I think it's a stretch to call that a zine." (Chip Rowe)
"As much fun as a bicycle can be, it's not a motorcycle. No matter how great a beer is, it's not wine. No matter how much mustard and ketchup you put on a hot dog, it's not steak. Shall I go on? No matter how much someone thinks he's making a zine, if it has a barcode on the cover, it's not a zine, it's a magazine. If it's only available on a computer screen, it's not a zine, it's an e-zine. Words have meanings . . . We can discuss what's a good zine, e-zine, or magazine, and what's a bad zine, e-zine, or magazine, but there is just no way that something with a barcode is a zine." (Scott Bartholomew)
"I feel that a zine becomes a magazine when the design and content are driven by business considerations, rather than personal feelings, thoughts, and opinions. A zine, no matter how large or small, rough or glossy, is a piece of personal expression. A magazine is a product produced with the intent of turning a profit." (Seth Robson)
"Of course a zine doesn't have a UPC . . . You don't need a UPC if you're sending your zine by mail, trading, etc. The only reason to get a UPC is to get wide-scale chain store distribution, which means your zine isn't a zine any more. It's merchandise." (Marcia Manson)
" . . . maybe zines are something that can't be defined, you just know one when you see one. I think that's the closest you're going to get to any consensus here. I tend to think of "It's a zine" as a descriptive term, not really a noun. More like "it's a blast" than "it's a dog" or "it's a cat."" (Mark Ritter)
"From my understanding the only thing seperating zines, magazines, fanzines, whatever, is what the publisher decides to call them. So why don't we end this big argument about what is a "real" zine, in the agreement that we will always disagree?" (James)
Who's who here, and what else do people feel strongly about?
"All these people posting to this newsgroup begging for people to write stuff for their zine really bug me. Why are they doing a zine in the first place if they don't even have something to say? It's these people I've noticed that are usually just doing a zine because it's a "zine". Know what I mean? There friends think they are cool because they publish a zine." (James)
"I hate when people start throwing the word "fascist" around as a catch-all for everything they don't like. I can dismiss it when it's some kid saying it, because they don't know any better and probably heard the term from some Dead Kennedys record, but when so-called activists start throwing it around like A-1 sauce at a memorial day picnic, I get pissed... "There are places in the world where real fascism exists. Where people are taken away in the middle of the night, only to be found days later in a ditch with a bullet in the back of their head. There are places where freedom of speech truly does not exist, and writers are imprisoned or tortured. Comparing the occasional bit of police harassment or annoyance to these things by calling your opponents "fascist" is like comparing your hangnail to a gunshot wound, and is an insult to people around the world who are victims of true oppression. You degrade them just as much as the people who are torturing and murdering them and their family members through your kindergarten politics and childish "activism". I wish for just five minutes you could have to live under a truly authoritarian regime, to have your fingers broken, to have a red hot poker shoved up your ass until you broke out into the Horst Wessel song. Then maybe you would realize that words have meanings, and words such as fascist shouldn't be used lightly." (joel mclemore)
"As writers (zine writers and Usenet writers included), I think we ought to hold ourselves to a higher standard of precise word usage than the ordinary person, if for no other reason than pity towards our poor readers who are spending their precious time (and in some cases money) trying to figure out what the fuck we're talking about." (Paul T. Olson)
"Charade. Reversal. A night of smug pleasure and contentment. Retrenchment. Stasis. The uncool cool rather than the cool uncool. Minds slamming shut in imitation, stitched closed by the pins of body art. Lockstep. Power schmower. Turn away from the illusion that what you see is what you get." (Jeff Potter)
"Since his victims have repeatedly been zine people, I would say publishing Bob Black in your zine is analagous to Boy's Life publishing an article by a known pedophile." (Pam Yamaguchi)
"I think what it boils down to is there are completely different opinions of what good manners are, to me it means treating people as equals and how I would want to be treated." (Dan Halligan)
"So you ask your friend to buy your 1 dollar zine, and he replies, after he sips on his 3 dollar flavored coffee, "Sorry, That's too much money for me. I just don't have it."" (Carter)
". . . ezines take the fun out of reading zines. You can either print them on you computer or you sit and get dried out eyes reading them on the computer screen. There is very little human quality to it too. No personal touch. A zine editor hasn't lived till they peeled rubber cement from their finger tips, while stoned on the fumes." (Sean Guillory)
"Ok here's my take on poetry in zines. keep it in lit and poetry zines. where the rest of us don't have to put up with it. everyones a poet and they think they know it. worst of all they think we want to read it." (George Sweetman)
"AYTD named us a zine of the month (hi guys!), and we were so happy we had to change our undies." (Kris)
"I'm not only against poetry in zines, I believe the only good poet is one that is hanging from a tree." (Sean Guillory)
"I think the Great Zine Glut pushed a lot of crap zines in front of a lot of "Hey, what's a zine?" type people, and subsequently a lot of those people now think, "Oh, a zine is a crappy thing that sucks ass." It's also kind of tough to attract the attention of your average zine buying consumer when there are a few hundred zines screaming at him/her from the shelf in the record store when there used to be, say, four zines sitting there acting cool and aloof. Especially when companies like Urban Outfitters have copped a buzz on the rest of us and are pushing zine-stylee publications. Wonder how much money they spend to look under-produced?" (Kris)
"I don't resent people of any age doing a zine, it would be lame if i did. but i do resent people putting out shitty zines that they don't put time or effort into. Or, they dont put as much time or effort as i do." (Jen Angel)
"I've had this eerie feeling lately about Factsheet 5. Does F5 merely cover "zines", or has F5 become the reason for many zines coming into existence? Is it the reporter or the arena? You see entries on alt.zines where the writer expresses his/her anxiety over whether the new F5 is on newstands in other towns because it hasn't shown up in his/hers yet... and did his/her zine get reviewed? You can imagine the poor souls driving about their burgs asking at each newstand if it's out yet, and if not, when? And what is it they are really looking for? Proof of their own existence? Maybe. While there are many great publications in this world that I eagerly look forward to reading, there also seems to be a growing class of "zine" that exists mainly to get reviewed in publications like Factsheet 5. Has a self-perpetuating creature come into existence, one that feeds only on itself? F5, an ear in the forest so the trees will not have fallen in vain? Sort of a self-esteem movement for the lost and lonely. The kind of people that would show up in a class on zine making, not because they have anything to say, but because they want to be a part of a "revolution"." (John Crawford)
"I hate it when people invoke that "I don't want people imposing their morality" crap. Face it. Society is about imposing morality; else we'd all be killing each other." (Suzanne Fortin)
"99% of this newsgroup is crap." (Sean Guillory)
"I never understood the concept of zine distros. One of the best things about the zine network is that when I send for a zine my letter goes straight to the editor. The person who wrote the zine is the person who licks the stamp and mails me the zine, and often personally answers my note at the same time. Buying through a distro means the zine publisher gets a smaller cut of my $2, and I'm adding a middleman, eliminating any direct contact with the zine's publisher. Why would anyone want to do that? A lot of the fun of reading, say, We Like Poo, is getting a note from the editor, maybe on toilet paper . . ." (Scott Bartholomew)
"If zines are to be a meaningful alternative, as a medium, to mainstream journalism and literature, then one rule must be enforced without exception or mercy: NOTHING IS FORBIDDEN. Zinedom cannot be a place where hurt feelings can force silence. Agitated majorities cannot inflict conformity in the name of consensus or solidarity. You will read the word "nigger," and words of comparable power, and you will have your turn to answer in whatever manner suits you, but you can forbid nothing, or else you are no alternative." (Vozhd)
"I haven't seen a single person in my life spout a PC line who wasn't in fact arrogant, ignorant, and wrong about what they were talking. (And young, rich, college-processed - Immature in brain, that is, if not in body.)" (Jeff Potter)
"One thing that *pisses* me off more than anything is when people send me zines with inadequate postage. There's nothing like getting a yellow slip in your mail box, waiting in line for 10 minutes to pay 23 cents (if not 46 cents!) for some cruddy zine that isn't woth the papers it's printed on. Maybe you can get away with being a tenth or two of an ounce over, but much more than that, you're risking intense anoyance on the part of your public." (John Marr) "Unfortunately, the idea that good zines survive while bad ones die out is rather idealistic. A terrible zine about cute female celebrities will always outsell a really outstanding zine about fungus. Space-wasting trash wrapped up in a glossy colour cover will outsell black and white photocopies containing the scandalous, unauthorized biography of God. A zine publisher with a real flair for marketing, packaging, and distribution will sell a hundred times more issues than another zine publisher who is just a creative person and inspired writer." (Ninjalicious)
"I almost never read interviews in zines, unless it is with someone I already find interesting. I would rather read an interview with artists, writers, political activists than with someone in a band. Most people who play music seem to have really nothing to say. Some of the best band interviews I've read have been with politically orientated bands. they seem to always have a lot to say. But hey that's my tastes." (Sean Guillory)
"Zines have inspired those whom may have otherwise kept to themselves but have fortunately not done so, but the popularity of them has also spurred a lot of inept, limelight-wishing cretins to "make a zine!" However, I think that a lot of institutions have felt threatened by them, and rightfully so, for one no longer need accept the mainstream media's money-making deceptions and outright bias pushed as "objective journalism" (as if such a concept could actually exist!), let alone accommodate the bullshit-filled, wearisome channels that mere citizens must follow in order to get opinions or ignored facts disseminated." (Randall Tin-ear)
"I like the IDEA of a zine festival, but the reality (at least the three I've been to) is always disappointing. I like reading good zines, but that doesn't mean I'm going to like someone, even if she writes a really good zine. For me, the joy of it all is having friends that I've never really met. Really meeting them changes everything. I'd really rather not." (Len Bruster)
"Most people on this newsgroup are stupid and not even worth my time and effort." (valerie)
"hello. it me. otis. me a billy goat. me a very good billy goat. me a very smart billy goat. me a very sexy billy goat. anyway me think zines suck. why otis think zines suck? because zines stupid. zines not cool. zines phony. zines corrupt. otis used to like zines. no more. now otis only use zines for toilet paper to wipe his bum. otis use zines to wipe the poo-poo away. bad poo-poo. very bad poo-poo. stinky poo-poo too. taste good though. poo-poo good with fried chicken from famous recipe. poo-poo also good with butter on it. poo-poo better with blue bonnet on it! anyway otis no like zines no more. zines no like otis no more. otis want zines to like him. otis not like it when zines he like no like him back. otis a good billy goat. but he disappointed. he disappointed at bad bad zines. zines should like otis. otis do a lot for zine world. otis no make fun of zines. otis no use zines to wipe bum. but otis use zines to wipe bum now because zines use otis to wipe bum. zines stab otis in back. otis cry. otis cry like a baby. otis want mommy to hold him because otis sad. otis sad because zines no like otis. poor otis. otis loves you. love otis back. otis no bite. otis a good billy goat. otis no go pee-pee in kitchen sink. otis no chew up slippers. otis no eat band-aids. otis no hump refrigerator. otis no hump mommy's leg. otis no vomit in mailbox. because otis good. otis a good billy goat. oh well. otis gotta go watch playboy video now. bye." (Otis the goat)
"Just wanted to say that I'm no longer subscribed to alt.zines, and neither is Seth. If anyone needs to contact Factsheet Five they can write firstname.lastname@example.org (me) or email@example.com (Seth) or write or call." (Christopher Becker)
"I want all of you out there in Zine Land to have a SUPER day. You're beautiful, I mean that." (Paul T. Olson)
This document is always a work in progress. Suggestions are welcome. All quotes from alt.zines postings. Compiled by Peggy Swanson, July 1998. No rights reserved.
This site is maintained by the Zine Syndicate.