Looking at the burgeoning zine scene

By Danielle Wright

Danielle Wright delves into the zine sub-culture, where she discovers underground publications about everything from neighbourhood cats to the joys of the photocopier.

Auckland ZineFest organiser Tessa Stubbing with her collection of zines. Photo / Paul Estcourt
Auckland ZineFest organiser Tessa Stubbing with her collection of zines. Photo / Paul Estcourt

Before you write off zines as non-commercial, consider this: Charlotte Bronte's zine, a miniature manuscript, written when she was 14, sold at auction last year for $1.5 million. It's also regarded as important in shedding light on Bronte's literary development.

Here in New Zealand, the zine scene is thriving with everything from zines made by children to one about John "Keywi" Key, which has Key trying his luck as a hip-hop MC and attempting to close the wage gap between New Zealand and Australia with a very long piece of rope.

"It's good to read a zine for a more authentic reading experience, although there's quite a large scale and range - some are slickly edited while others have the DIY approach," says Tessa Stubbing, who tells me about the "zine police" who want to keep it small and special.

Stubbing is the organiser of Auckland ZineFest, begun four years ago to showcase these inexpensively produced, self-published, underground publications.

"We didn't know if there would be a market for it, or if people were into zines, but the response was great - there are so many people making zines we didn't know about," says Stubbing.

Zines are often created by a single person and sometimes by physically cutting and gluing text and images together on to a master flat sheet for photocopying. Some are created on a computer and they are usually folded and stapled.

Alphabet City in Mt Eden has a large zine library where people can barter zines.

I notice one called Child That Mind. It's very personal and about "insides and outsides, the world inside my head and body and how it relates to big things outside of me". This type of zine is called a "perzine".

Personal zines seem, in content at least, a precursor to blogs - often people's random thoughts online - but as Erin Fae of Alphabet City points out to me, they are actually very different.

Considering the painstaking process of making them by hand, as well as the tactile element, I can see her point.

"Creating a zine is about self-expression, you do it for the love of it," says Stubbing.

"It's a process, it's being artistic and expressing yourself.

"With a blog you have to mess around with HTML and CSS, which changes the process and makes it less exciting."

The best thing about zines is that they are limited only to people's imaginations - there will always be a new zine to discover.

Zinesters

This year, the Auckland ZineFest has teamed up with First Thursdays to hold a zine market in St Kevin's Arcade with around 30 stallholders, as well as a DIY theme with shops, galleries and creative spaces along Karangahape Rd hosting free art events including light installations, a handmade craft market, zine making and screen printing workshops, live music, fashion shows and theatre productions. Thursday August 2 from 6-9pm.

Zine libraries

Alphabet City is a supportive community for self-publishing with an extensive zine library.

Auckland Central Library has a large zine collection and if you donate a zine to the library, they will help preserve it in their collection.

ArtSpace on Karangahape Rd and The Audio Foundation both have zines in their libraries.

- NZ Herald

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