When American academic Stephen Duncombe discovered zines he was awestruck. "Somehow these little smudged pamphlets carried within them the honesty, kindness, anger, the beautiful inarticulate articulateness … the uncompromising life that I had discovered (and lost) in music, then later radical politics, years ago." While mainstream magazines would morph into anything to appeal to their demographic, zines seemed authentic:
In zines, everyday oddballs were speaking about themselves and our society with an honest sincerity, a revealing intimacy, and a healthy "fuck you" to sanctioned authority — for no money and no recognition, writing for an audience of like-minded misfits.
But sometimes a carefully moderated weirdness and a "fuck you" attitude is just what the demographic is after. So sometimes the advertisers like to see a bit of bacteria. The Sydney Morning Herald‘s Radar lift out supports its help wanted adverts with articles reminiscent of 90s zines like Beer Frame and Temp Slave. Naturally it’s all pretty tame. You aren’t going to see Mike Diana style art work appearing in the Fin anytime soon.
Today the action has moved to the web. Zines needed to be physically copied, taken down to the local alternative music shop, or stuffed in envelopes and mailed. Even if if hundreds of thousands of people potentially identified with your feelings of alienated weirdness they weren’t going to read your zine unless you printed it and sent it to them. Blogs are different. While most are read by a few like minded friends some can experience explosions of popularity. Bloggers don’t have to secretly use up their employer’s toner cartridges or waste a lot of time down at the photocopy shop. Bandwidth is relatively cheap. Best of all, blogs let readers post comments.
So here are a few questions for you all:
1. Some misfits still prefer the feel of the scalpel and the smell of toner. Does anyone know about any good zines still being published?
2. Are blogs the new zines or are they something different?
3. The mainstream media has lifted some good ideas from zines, what have they lifted from blogs? (besides magazines and newspapers starting their own blogs)
Note: Thanks to James Farrell for spotting a typo. It’s fixed now.