Before there was LiveJournal or Myspace, before there was a Tumblr full of desperate cats or even emoticons, there was the zine. A rudimentary form of self-expression that involved little more that scissors, tape and a little imagination. Inevitably wiped off the crafts table by blogs, iPads and modern technology, it seems that the old-school publishing tool is having a bit of a renaissance. And we think we know why.
"There aren't a lot of rules to making a zine," says Maya Taylor, Business Manager for Booklyn Artists Alliance in Greepoint. "It typically refers to anything printed and bound cheaply, whether by xeroxing and stapling or gluing, etc." But recently zines have started moving away from just the messy cut-and-paste madness of our teenage angst-riddled youth (we weren't the only ones, right?) and into a high art form, incorporating media such as silk-screened images, original photography and high-quality drawings, and tackling issues both personal and political. "They're becoming more like the printed, more artistic version of a blog, if you will," says Maya. And we will.
With a dedicated newsstand recently opening inside the Lorimer subway stop in Williamsburg, the annual Brooklyn Zine Fest this past spring and National Zine Month, which ended with a bang just last week with a 24-hr Zine Spree sponsored by Booklyn, it's no secret that going back to basics has become a hot new trend.
"It's funny how primal it seems all of a sudden," says Jordan Kim, a Park Slope resident, recent ziner, and participant in the Spree. "Blogging and the digital thing is fun, but there's something about putting your hands on paper and actually creating something physical that's appealing to me."
Kim's zine "Park Sloop" chronicles "life's general ups and downs" in NYC through photography, pencil sketches and occasional poetry, and is loosely based on his own experiences. "Nothing my parents wouldn't want to see," he laughs. He starts working on an issue "basically whenever I have a rough day."
More on the regularly scheduled side, a favorite publication of ours as of late has been the humor zine "Whim Quarterly," that not only features essays and stories by writers from "The Daily Show," "Cash Cab," and "I Love the 1880s," but also hosts a monthly trivia show and comedy showcase at local venues around town.
To keep tabs on the zine world, check out the various exhibits put on by the Booklyn Artists Alliance, as well as the annual Brooklyn Zine Fest, which, outside of its yearly bash, fosters a community of artistic folk year round.