Included among the 31 ways that the Stolen Sharpie Revolution’s website names for celebrating International Zine month is visiting a zine library. Did you know that you can do this right here at the DePaul University Library? Special Collections and Archives currently serves as the repository for fifteen different collections of zines. With titles like Antimatter, Love Songs for Psychopaths, Space Monkey Vertigo, and Snackbar Confidential, who wouldn’t be enticed to take a peak?
Named for the individuals who donated the materials, each of the zine collections at DePaul are comprised of a mixture of genres that were acquired through creation, purchase, swap, or gift. Short for magazine or fanzine, these do-it-yourself publications boldly engage the reader in comics, music, literature, personal interests, and social issues. By most accounts, the term “zine” acquired wide usage by the 1970s. Others, however, point to the evolution of zine culture from the science fiction fans who wanted a forum to express their thoughts and communicate with each other and began to develop this medium in the 1930s.
While the fanzine tradition endures, the zine concept has expanded greatly. In fact, no topic is too outrageous or off-bounds for most zinesters. This is just one aspect that makes zines such a rich resource for anyone who wants to gauge opinions on subjects outside of what is chosen to be published by established or mainstream media. As a primarily self-produced venture, zines provide rich primary source territory for scholars to mine attitudes about popular culture, women and gender relations, social and political stances, or methods of alternative communication. From the 1970s onward, photocopiers and other technologies have made the creation of zines readily accessible and added more voices to the conversation. With such a large range of titles to choose from, reader’s guides of zine reviews (produced in zine form by zine peers) such as Xerography Debt or Media Diet, can help guide new initiates into the different zine scenes.
In addition to DePaul’s bounty of paper zine publications, Heath Row’s handwritten journals and correspondence offer a rare behind the scenes glimpse at the world of zine authors and reviewers.
To learn more about the zine collections at DePaul, you can browse our Zine Collections or stop by Special Collections and Archives in Room 314.