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Guest Post: Heath Davis

February 1, 2012 Comments off

Our second guest post is from Heath Davis, a copresenter for “Zines: Alternative Knowledge and Media Production in the Academy” during the Innovation Forum.  Heath Davis is a student in the UW Bothell Master of Arts in Cultural Studies Program. She received an MLIS and Archives and Records Management degree from Pratt Institute in 2006 and a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts with a concentration in printmaking from Bennington College in 2002.  Heath’s research interests include public history, zines, archives, marginalized communities/histories, grassroots/community archives, public art, public space, and graffiti.  She is a librarian at Lake Washington Technical College, where she teaches printmaking and information literacy. In her free time she volunteers at Zine Archives and Publishing Project (ZAPP) at Richard Hugo House.

What is a Zine?

So you might be scratching your head and wondering, “what exactly is a zine?”

Well, zine (pronounced zeen) is short for fanzine and is most easily characterized as an independently, self-published serial publication for distribution to a variety of groups. Zines have been used to provide information about other zines, bands, science fiction, sports, comics, feminism, queer politics, and a variety of other topics. Primarily, as material culture they are free of the constraints of mainstream media production and are usually produced by individuals or collaboratively created with a group of people. Zine authors (zinesters) have used zine making for various methods, including but not limited to: getting information out quickly to a group of people; recording and disseminating terminology specific to a group or subculture; sharing personal stories or life histories; fostering information for love of a particular band or musician; saying things and producing personal stories you don’t often find in mainstream media. Copyright is not a consideration in zine making, and very often you will find copyrighted material in the pages of a zine that serves as background, commentary, or is remixed with the content or overall purpose of the zine.

In terms of production, zines can be incredibly fun to make and collaborative if more than one person is involved. Tools used for making zine vary, but foundational to the process is glue sticks, scissors, collage materials, Sharpies, colored pencils, typewriter, photocopier, and long-arm stapler. Making a zine can be a chaotic experience. Loose strips of paper are flying all over the place. My fingertips are sticky and grey from using the glue stick over and over again, sometimes I get some on my shirt or there is a small piece of paper sticking to me. Glossy strands of magazine paper litter the work area. The typewritten text is in various states of assembly on the table, cut up and mixed up. Sharpies and magic markers are strewn throughout. Using a typewriter and handwriting to create the text, I am in a sense off the grid since I am not in a word processing environment that helps correct me.

Courtesy of Flickr user lola___lullaby, Out of Context #2

Once the zine is completed I can duplicate it any number of times and it can be a one-shot deal, a standalone publication, or I can publish it as part of a series. Because I have a full time job somewhere I probably won’t be as militant about sticking to the monthly or seasonal cycle of publishing, but I will apologize profusely and explain my circumstances on the inside cover.

Places zines can be found are independent bookstores, collectives, independent publishing and media centers, co-ops, archives, libraries, some one’s living room, and many other places. There are several zine resources right here in the greater Seattle area, so if you are interested in exploring zines, comics, and independent publishing check out your local library, collective, independent bookstore, or zine archive.

  1. Elliott Bay Book Company
  2. Fantagraphics
  3. Left Bank Books
  4. Seattle Public Library, Central Library
  5. Seattle Public Library, University Branch
  6. Singles Going Steady
  7. University of Washington, Archives and Special Collections
  8. Vera Project
  9. Zine Archive and Publishing Project (ZAPP)

“Zines: Alternative Knowledge and Media Production” will be occurring Wednesday February 15 4:00-5:30pm in the Truly House.

Ari Roy and Heath Davis will discuss their experience using zines as an alternative and supplement to traditional written papers in an academic setting. In addition, they will also talk about their zine work and its links to possibilities for civic engagement outside of the academy. Nora Mukaihata, archives and library manager with Zine Archives and Publishing Project (ZAPP) in Seattle, will provide a community organization perspective and talk about ZAPP as a cultural site and highlight some of the work they have done.

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