Zines are having a moment. With so many folks staying home and looking for new ways to keep themselves occupied, it’s no wonder that #quaranzine has been trending on social media. Zine-making is hardly a new American pastime; as its roots extend back to at least the 1920s, amongst communities of science fiction fans and aficionados. The practice was later adopted by the punk and riot grrrl movements of the 1980s and 1990s. The fruits of these makers’ labors exist in many multifaceted venues today. The same D.I.Y. ethos was carried onto the internet through blogs, and libraries have begun curating circulating and archival zine collections.
There’s still a vibrant zine-making community alive and well today. Zine fests take place annually across the country (many of which have been moved online this year) and makers continue to find new ways to innovate and share their work. There’s no gatekeeping in the zine community. Pretty much anyone can make a zine as the only requirements are a piece of paper and something to write with; and maybe a photocopier and some staples if you’re feeling extra fancy. Despite this, however, the space has been historically dominated by white voices. Like most forms of media, mainstream and underground alike, people of color have often been pushed aside in the zine community, making their works hard to find and seemingly sparse amongst the sea of white creations.
But, modern zine makers are working hard to change this. As the D.I.Y. spirit which zines were built on continues to evolve, so do the makers who engage with the medium. As a result, in the last several years we have seen a surge of zine makers from all walks of life, sharing their art and their stories. As many new zine makers pick up their Sharpies, it’s crucial for all of us to embrace the diverse voices who engage in this unique, self-made medium. In the spirit of this, I am presenting you with three different sources to support zines made by BIPOC artists.
This zine was created by the Solutions Not Punishment Collaborative, a black, trans-led collective focused on social and racial justice (especially from the criminal legal system) in Atlanta, Georgia. The Trans Futures Zine was a project illustrated and designed by Ashleigh Shackelford in order to present an artistically rendered archival object which records the history of the Solutions Not Punishment Collaborative. The zine is colorful, powerful, and best of all, fully accessible on their website. Follow the link now and enjoy! Then, check out the rest of the website and also consider making a donation.
Ulterior Zines is the creative brainchild Atlanta-based of artist and zine-maker, Alexa Lima. Lima’s zines covers a range of topics, with particular focus on issues of police violence, microaggressions, and also several volumes of poetry. Pick up Lima’s Black Lives Matter Bundle for a great introduction to the artist’s work.
A zine “distro” or distributor is a collective dedicated to selling zines made by many artists, often with either a social or geographical context. Zine distros are mostly independently run (some even run by one person) and exist all across the nation in bookstores, co-ops, and online. Brown Recluse Zine Distro is an Oakland, California-based zine distributor focused exclusively on supporting zines made by and for BIPOC. Their mission is to center zines made by queer and trans people of color, and they aim to promote visibility for these communities. You can catch Brown Recluse Distro tabling at many zine fests, and in the meantime, shop their online store!
Mary Elizabeth Allen is an MLIS student at San Jose State University. She holds a B.A. in Literature with an emphasis in Fiction Writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her professional interests include the intersections between critical librarianship and social justice, the history of information sharing, and radical feminist scholarship. Follow her on Twitter @marylizallen for a random collection of depressing thoughts and cat memes.