Zine (derived from the word magazine), refers to a small, self-published underground publication produced for personal rather than commercial reasons. Anyone can make a zine. The self-published, alternative, and inclusive nature of zine culture gives a voice to Australian minorities, sub-cultures and creatives who are under-represented in mainstream publishing.
The National Library is one of the few libraries in the world that collect zines, so in May 2019, Alissa and Nicole visited the annual MCA Zine Fair to acquire the latest ziney goodness for the national collection...
Hi, I’m Alissa, a zinester, zine collector and zine librarianship scholar. I realised a few years ago that I needed a hobby and thought zines would be a good fit, combining the fun and creativity of papercraft with a space to reflect and explore, away from the harsh gaze of the internet.
I loved so many zines at the MCA Zine Fair for different reasons. The zines I collected were:
- humorous (Legends of handball)
- offbeat (Affluent / effluent)
- courageous (Congruence)
- thought-provoking (School strike 4 climate)
- informative (Urban foraging: wild foods of Eora territory)
- artistic (Hoarder)
- alarming (Sweaty city)
- bleak (Stories from my cockroach-infested life in the housing commission units)
- radical (Hi ASIO)
- useful (ALDI wines: a connoisseur’s guide)
- and deeply inspiring (Pain I conquered).
Zines from MCA zine fair
Collecting and curating zines for the National Library is a great privilege. I took care to ask each zinester whether they were happy with their zine ending up in the national collection (zine culture places a high premium on respecting the wishes of zine creators). To my surprise, many zinesters were quite moved by the idea of the National Library of Australia being interested in their work. They wanted their stories to be told, and held, and saved, and they trusted us to do this. It’s a great privilege, but also a great responsibility.
My name is Nicole Lockwood and I am one of the 2019 Graduates here at the National Library of Australia. I was fortunate enough to be able to travel to Sydney to attend the MCA Zine Fair. The primary aim of the expedition was to purchase items on behalf of the National Library of Australia; though, my secondary objective was to target either specific items produced by Indigenous Australians, or items, which included Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander themes and issues. Strengthening the Indigenous contemporary collection is a top priority for the Library and I was grateful for the opportunity to contribute in achieving their goal.
Zines featuring Indigenous content
Zines are a unique and creative avenue for marginalised people to be able to express themselves using both their words and images to create an aesthetically appealing publication. Personally, the most alluring aspect in becoming a zinester is the level of agency it provides. Being able to create, produce and distribute on your own terms is a great activity of self-governance and self-expression. I was intrigued by the whole zine concept and inspired by the zine community.
Please watch this space; the creative juices are flowing, I have purchased a printer and look forward to sharing my first zine in due course!