I attempted to make a zine in high school. Frustrated with the lack of local music coverage there was at the time – surely it was out there, I just wasn’t digging deep enough – I decided to take it upon myself to start a zine where I could talk about how awesome bands like Woodhands, Laura Barrett, Huckleberry Friends and Ohbijou were. I took photos, I copy and pasted things and I wrote some articles. I was always a crafty person, and evidently quite old school, too. While everyone else was showing off their shiny, new iPods, I was still proudly carrying a Discman.
Alas, I made two pages of that zine and gave up. Soon after, I just started a blog like everyone else.
Four years later, I found myself making another zine, but this time with a couple of friends. Static Zine was my second shot at becoming a zinester and even though it wouldn’t focus on music, it was still a project I was passionate and excited about. In the interval years, I became increasingly obsessed with the Riot Grrrl movement and had read up on the 90’s zine culture that was associated with the scene, so when the idea of a zine came up, I thought that this would be my chance to channel my inner Riot Grrrl and participate in a creative endeavour that would pay homage to those women.
Static isn’t heavily political, though; it’s the complete opposite. It’s a fun, light-hearted collective of friends who just want to write creative, and often funny, stories about any given topic. And, honestly, I prefer this. For a project run by friends, for no other reason than for our own enjoyment, it’s best to keep things positive and leave the rioting and protesting to some other time. Also, I’m not very political to begin with. I have strong feminist beliefs, but I keep my ranting and raving to a minimum. So, yeah, this kind of zine is just perfect.
Having the ability to create a publication all on your own is an incredible feeling, especially for someone who rarely has the final word, writing for other magazines and websites. I can lay things out exactly the way I want and write about anything and everything. As much as I like having the guidance of an editor, I want to be in charge from time to time and this is my opportunity to call the shots. Well, at least sort of.
As we began to circulate our zines, it became obvious that the music and zine communities were two entirely different worlds. There was the occasional overlap of people and artists, but generally, it’s a whole new world we had to adjust to and after spending the past handful of years squeezing into the music scene, I wasn’t sure if I was up for tackling the world of zinesters.
Even with my strong interest in Riot Grrrl zines (I’m slowly but surely collecting Kathleen Hanna’s zines), I just didn’t have it in me to fully throw myself into the local zine world. Similar to arriving at a new school, mid-semester, cliques were already formed and trying to insert yourself into an already tight-knit community – especially when you deal with anxiety problems – is a tough task, and unlike my early days in the music scene, I didn’t have the guidance of anyone to navigate me through this.
The past two years have been spent making zines, which is still something I love doing and it is the reason I’ve become so close with my two best friends Aviva and Jessica, but I’m still feeling a missing link to the overall scene. And this feeling magnifies itself most at zine fairs, which is something Static has taken part in more and more. When you spend many hours sitting behind a table, you become very observant. Most recently, at the Chicago Zine Fair, I found myself thinking: I’m not twee enough for half of these people and I’m definitely not punk enough for the other half. What am I? Do I belong here?
And be it the style or just again, the close-knit feeling, I’m just missing something. I truly don’t feel like I belong in the zine community and that’s not a slight at the scene or the people I make zines with. Zine culture is something I deeply admire and wish I was more into and my zine sisters are two of my closest friends in the world, but it’s just not clicking. That doesn’t make me less of a Riot Grrrl (or at the very least a Riot Grrrl enthusiast), that doesn’t make me less of a friend (I hope not) and that doesn’t make me any less of a zine creator.
I made a post a while back, saying that I needed something other than freelance writing, but I wasn’t sure what just yet. The zine scene might not be the answer to my ongoing problems, but hey, I tried. And I will continue to make zines with my friends, but I might not necessarily deserve the title of a zinester. I’m just an old school grrrl, still trying to get out of freelancing.
So, yeah…next up: attempting to start a band. I can already tell you this is not going to end well.