It makes sense that zines became a big part of the punk-rock movement in the late 1970s, because like punk rock, zines are tough to define. The definition given by Wikipedia to explain zines is even a bit murky: “most commonly a small circulation self-published work of original and/or appropriated texts and images usually reproduced via photocopier.”
But even before punks in leather jackets were roaming the Bowery, Ed Sanders (of the band The Fugs) was editing Fuck You. Morrissey used to write fanzines. Sheila Heti had a zine. Zines were a big part of the riot grrrl movement, and a large portion of today’s media landscape — from Vice to the growing artisanal magazine movement, and the new school of literary magazines — owes a much of its attitude and ideas to zine culture.
So with zines getting the respect they deserve over the last decade (museum retrospectives, anthologies for the likes of Cometbus and Al Burian’s Burn Collector), and writers wanting to see their work on paper instead of on a laptop screen, zines are having a renaissance. That’s why the Brooklyn Zine Festival is such a can’t-miss event this weekend in NYC. Taking place at Public Assembly again this year, the event is sure to be even bigger than last year’s 60 tables and over 1500 attendees, because people know that sometimes the best writers, artists, and information in print aren’t always that easy to find.