What is a Zine?

What is a Zine?

Zines can be difficult to define. The word “zine” is a shortened form of the term fanzine, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. Fanzines emerged as early as the 1930s among fans of science fiction. Zines also have roots in the informal, underground publications that focused on social and political activism in the ’60s. By the ’70s, zines were popular on the punk rock circuit. In the ’90s, the feminist punk scene including Kathleen Hanna produced riot grrrl out of Olympia, Washington propelled the medium.  A zine is most commonly a small circulation publication of original or appropriated texts and images. More broadly, the term encompasses any self-published unique work of minority interest usually reproduced via photocopier.  A popular definition includes that circulation must be 5,000 or less, although in practice the significant majority are produced in editions of less than 1,000, and profit is not the primary intent of publication. There are so many types of zines: art and photography zines, literary zines, social and political zines, music zines, perzines (personal zines), travel zines, health zines, food zines, and the list goes on and on. 

Exploring the Zine Collection

Here are some highlights from the zine collection at the Fine Arts Library:

American Comics  American Comics (inside)

American comics. Bubenik, Cody.  [Austin, TX, 2012] 

Comixed Up  Comixed up (inside)

Comixed up. Rugg, Jim. [2010]

Exciting places for boring people

Exciting places for boring people. Rementer, Andy. [Nieves, 2010]

To view the collection in its entirety click here.

Looking for zines in library collections

Try searching in our library catalog, in other library catalogs, or in WorldCat, using the following keywords:

  • Alternative Press
  • Artist's books
  • Fan Magazines
  • Fanzines
  • Little Magazines
  • Self-Publishing
  • Underground Press
  • Zines

Zines in the News

Zine Celebrates 2 years of supporting feminism - Duluth Tribune / February 27, 2014

East Bay 'Zine Scene' - East Bay Express / February 25, 2014

Explainer: Zines - The Conversation / February 24, 2014

Come Witness the Unlikely Union of Architecture and Zines - Curbed / February 19, 2014

Zines were the scene - Harvard's recent acquistion of 20,000 zines and related material became the highlight of a student summer project / September 4, 2013

Notable Zine Collections

Collections here in Texas:

Collections around the U.S.:

Also worth checking out is Barnard College's state by state guide of zine collections.

Books about Zines

Notes from underground : zines and the politics of alternative culture / Stephen Duncombe
Much history and theory about the world of zines is uncovered in this first comprehensive study of zine publishing. From their origins in early 20th century science fiction cults, to their more proximate roots in 60s counter-culture, and their rapid proliferation in the wake of punk rock. Paying full due to the political importance of zines as a vital network of popular culture, Stephen Duncombe acknowledges the shortcomings of zines' utopian and escapist outlook in achieving fundamental social change. Packed with extracts and illustrations, Notes From Underground provides a useful overview of the contemporary underground in all its splendor and misery. (Amazon)

Fanzines : the DIY revolution / Teal Triggs
This highly visual compendium showcases the best, most thought provoking, and downright weirdest fanzines ever produced. Spanning the history of the fanzine from the early experimentation with underground presses to contemporary and electronic fanzines, this is a comprehensive and unprecedented look at a fascinating phenomenon. (Amazon)

Zine scene / by Francesca Lia Block & Hillary Carlip
For amateurs and the accomplished, even devout aficionados, "Zine Scene" offers an insider's account of the blood, sweat, and determination it takes to envision, create, and maintain a do-it-yourself publication. (Amazon)

The book of zines : readings from the fringe / edited by Chip Rowe
A major zine and ezine resource guide, The Book of Zines includes information on zine making, legal issues, and distribution, along with interviews, a zine history, directories, and articles.

The Factsheet five zine reader : the best writing from the underground world of zines / collected by R. Seth Friedman
Culled from thousands upon thousands of zines, this book features seventy of the best stories, essays, and rants. These selections are intensely personal, unconventional, and sometimes completely out of this world. (Amazon)

Below Critical Radar: Fanzines and Alternative Comics from 1976 to Present Day (not available through UT)
Twenty-five years of print (and web) anarchy from the fringe publishing culture. This is the first study on both fanzines and alternative comics, from the end of the hippie underground press to the start of the Internet publishing boom. (Amazon)

Zine soup : a collection of international zines and self-published art books / by TTC TTC's book about zines features material from over 80 self-publishing artists from around the world and includes visual presentations, 4 large interviews and 10 small interviews.

The riot grrrl collection / edited with an introduction by Lisa Darms  The Riot Grrrl Collection reproduces a sampling of the original zines, posters, and printed matter for the first time since their initial distribution in the 1980s and '90s, and includes an original essay by Johanna Fateman and an introduction by Lisa Darms.

Whatcha mean, what's a zine?: the art of making zines and minicomics / Mark Todd and Esther Pearl Watson. This book is a great resource for zine history and has a lot of useful how-to information. Great graphic design and content by many well-known comic zinesters.