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What exactly is a zine?

A zine is any publication put together and distributed by the creator (or creators), for love and not profit. They can be xeroxed or printed; small or big; written, typed, typeset or drawn; and on any subject the creator cares about. Zines have been around as long as printing presses have been. For most of this century, zines have usually been "fanzines" (a zine about one subject that the creator is a big fan of -- say, Hello Kitty, or Green Day, or Star Trek, or old cars...). But over the last ten years, more and more zines have appeared that are not "fanzines" any more. Most of the zines you'll read about these days are more like mini-magazines, but with a personal touch.

How do you pronounce "zine"?

Zine sounds like "zeen" -- and there is no apostrophe. "Zine" was originally short for "fanzine", which was short for "fan magazine". (Which is why zine sounds like "zeen" -- it's short for "magazine".) At first, people wrote it with an apostrophe ('zine) to indicate that "fan" had been left off, but as zines evolved and became something different from fanzines, the apostrophe was dropped. Now it's just "zine".

Why do people make zines?

Usually because they want to express themselves in a personal, cheap and quick format. If you do a zine, you're the editor and you can do whatever you want. A lot of people that do zines have some theme or subject they want to deal with that they don't think is already being written about in regular magazines.

How can I do a zine?

If you think you'd like to do a zine yourself, first get your hands on several different zines and see what you think YOU'D like to do. You can copy the format of a zine you like, or think of something entirely different. Keep in mind that doing a zine does take time (and your spending money), and is a responsibility. If you aren't sure you have the time and/or dedication to do a zine, consider contributing to the zines you like, or doing a zine together with some friends. If you think you're ready to give it a try, read my "how to do your own zine" article.

What if I don't get the zines I order?

Sometimes, letters do get lost. If an order doesn't show up, write again. It's a good idea to keep a list of what you've ordered and when you sent the order, so you can keep track of exactly what's out there. A lot of times, if a zine is getting reviewed a lot, the person doing it will get further and futher behind as they get more and more orders. This is what happened to me, and I've been behind on my mail and orders for years now. Be patient. Unfortunately, zines do sometimes vanish. People can't afford to do them anymore, they get tired of doing them, or they may move and forget to have their mail forwarded properly. Usually, you will get your money returned to you. But every once in a while someone will act irresponsibly and just not answer any of their mail. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen. You should never have this problem if you order zines I've listed in my monthly update, but if you begin to order zines on a regular basis from other sources, someday it will happen to you. (And when it does happen to you, take a deep breath, remember that the people who do zines are just ordinary people who might have some real reason they had to quit taking care of things, and think of it as part of the cost of ordering zines).

How can I find about more zines?

The most common way to find out about more zines is by reading about them in other zines. Most zine editors will list their own favorite zines along with ordering infomation. If you just order two of the zines listed in each zine you get, it'll be no time at all before your mailbox is filling up with them!

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The character "Action Girl" and her likeness are TM Sarah Dyer.