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Your guide to learning about, making, locating, reading and citing zines at MSMU!

What's a zine, anyway?

​ZINE (pronounced ZEEN)

Think "magaZINE"


"Short for magazine or fanzine, zines are self-publications, motivated by a desire for self-expression, not for profit" - About Zines | Barnard College

People who make zines!

Zine Distros 
Short for zine distribution, Distros are people and places who sell, or give away zines. There are many independent book sellers in Los Angeles who keep a small zine section in their stores.

Zine Genres 
For a comprehensive list of the kinds of zines people traditionally make, see the list from Barnard below:

Image: Zine reading room at the LA Zine Fest, Pasadena, 2018

"The Spirit of the Zine"

What do you find in a zine?


  • Poetry
  • Short Stories
  • Essays and Commentary
  • Points of View
  • Word Art
  • Lists 
  • Manifestos
  • Opinions
  • OR maybe no text at all!

Visual Art / Images

  • Drawings
  • Photographs
  • Paintings
  • Collage Art
  • OR maybe no images at all!

What else? (traditionally)

  • Collaborative Work
  • Marginalized Voices
  • Edgy Styles
  • Comic Styles - Mini Comics
  • Handmade / Homemade Feel
  • 80s-90s "old school" cut and paste aesthetic
  • Photocopier look
  • Notebook look
  • Collage
  • Edgy Topics
  • Political Topics
  • Personal Narratives
  • Anything really!

The Bottom Line?

A zine may include anything artistic or otherwise that you may wish to express! The idea behind a zine is that you express your intentions in some sort of "pamphlet-esque" or "book-like" form, replicate that creation, then share!


A Brief History of Zines in the US

  • 1930s - Science fiction fanzines get their start and are "published" for the first time
  • 1930s-1960s - ZInes are produced with mimeographs - ink is pushed through a stencil - not ideal for large editions - more pulp sci-fi magazines circulate
  • 1970s - Further developments in printing technology (photocopiers and copy shops) make zine fabrication and distribution easier, indie music scene emerges, DIY ethic and culture develops
  • 1970s-1980s - Punk subculture scene, music world, zine culture hub - grungy DIY aesthetic emerges; international political movements and underground presses print zines as a method of communication
  • 1980s - Photocopiers and risographs are more readily available to artists
  • 1990s - Riot Grrrl movement - underground feminist punk movement - began as a zine scene based around the women and their music, but transitioned to a political movement of third-wave-feminism and zine-making and zine communications
  • 1990s-2000s - Rise of the internet and desktop publishing sees blogs* and e-zines or Webzines.
  • 2000s-2010s - Rise of zine fests, online zines, and zine artist collectives; libraries collect zines; more bookstores begin selling zines; zines are sold, traded, or given as gifts; diverse communities embrace zine-making (POC Zine Project, QZAP – Queer Zine Archive Project, Latinx zines – both online and physical); ZineWiki is established 

*Blogs are not zines, although may be considered closely related to digital zines

Zines are not Blogs, Blogs are not Zines

Are you unclear about the difference between a zine and a blog?

This article by Jenna Freedman may help you distinguish between the two more easily.