Welcome to my inaugural post as a regular contributor to Shelf Respect! I’m excited about the opportunity to write and to share in this space. Originally, I asked to write zine reviews here to highlight selections in Richmond Public Library’s collection. As an organizer of Richmond Zine Fest, I always seek out opportunities to normalize zines for all readers. As someone who reads A LOT of poetry, short stories, young adult books, etc., I can’t promise that zines will be the only topic that I will cover here.
To kick this off, I’ll stick to zines for now, and we’ll see what happens.
You might be wondering, “what the heck is a zine?” (pronounced “zeen”)
A zine is an independently made publication that can take any form and be about anything the creator wants it to be about. There are no strict rules in zine-making. Most zines are 8.5 x 5.5 (the size of an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper folded in half). There are some that are smaller, some that are larger, and some that are even on newsprint and available digitally. Zines can contain art, collage, photography, political ideas, recipes, home remedies, poetry, stories, comics, travel essays, etc. The possibilities are unlimited.
The Richmond Public Library’s collection of zines are just a small sample of zines that exhibitors from the Annual Richmond Zine Fest donated. Richmond Zine Fest has invaded the Main Library every fall since 2015. The 13th Annual Richmond Zine Fest will be October 11-12, 2019. This two-day event features programs and workshops on Friday, and the actual day of selling and trading zines takes place the following Saturday. Be on the lookout for a post about zine fest “etiquette” and other pertinent information when we get closer to that date.
In the meantime, if you’re curious about zines and other alternative publications check out these books!
Whatcha mean, what’s a zine?: the art of making zines and minicomics by Mark Todd
If you want to create zines, this is the perfect book for you! It contains tips and tricks on how to put together a zine from the idea to the printing.
Richmond Independent Press: A History of the Underground Zine Scene by Dale M. Brumfield
Researched and written with care by Dale Brumfield, who’s a former editor of an alternative paper in the 1980s, this book details Richmond’s rich history of independent publishing.
Notes from the Underground: Zines and the Politics of Alternative Culture by Stephen Duncombe
This text is pretty dense in its history and theory. It was one of the earliest books of its kind that took the contribution of zines to contemporary culture seriously.
From Girls to Grrlz: A History of Women’s Comics from Teens to Zines by Trina Robbins
This book is more about comics than zines, but it’s a colorful and enjoyable read about the history of women in alternative and mainstream publishing.