A few weeks ago on one of the Facebook zine groups, someone asked people to answer the question what they liked/disliked the most about the zine community…
The things that I like and dislike about the over-arching zine community are, I feel, two sides of one coin.
One of the most beautiful things about the scene, the community, and the essence of zines is that anyone can make them. You don’t have to meet any particular biological standard, you don’t have to be of this profession or income, you don’t have to have a certain level of education… There is an inclusivity within the zine world that I have never experienced at any other time in my life.
Unfortunately, there is also a level of disrespect that, while I have been fortunate enough not to see often, I have come across. I hate to see anyone who makes zines as being deemed ‘not worthy’ on one level or another by any other zine maker or group.
(Certainly there is room to be made for distros who have certain visions and need to at least try to have a successful business model to survive. I hesitate to comment on distros or models because I have very limited experience with them in general – and none of my experiences have been outside Australia.)
Zines are of such an undefined nature that it allows more people to embrace them in a number of creative ways. It seems to me that some seem to forget that the very nature of zine creation is a condition under which they will almost be guaranteed to find something that they don’t like. That’s part of life.
To judge someone’s zine and say that it’s not ___ enough to be a zine is a step too far. I have my own lines as to what is a zine and what’s not, but I fully expect people to have differing views. There is a strange sort of quality spectrum in which anything ‘too nice’ is considered no longer a zine by some, and yet there is the other end where creations have been ‘too simple’ to be a ‘real’ zine. ‘Not enough cut and paste’ and the like. A zine is a zine is a zine. We creators are the ones who are becoming self-appointed gatekeepers – even unto ourselves.
I have seen those who have been judged by others and judged themselves by comparison. They think a zine ‘should be’ something and working toward that rather than finding joy in the act of creation itself.
I see people who feel negative about themselves and what they create, and I feel like that is, in part, a side-effect of people trying to proclaim what is zine and what is not. Opinions are welcome. Deciding an opinion is the definition is another matter entirely.
Yet even the very day I am writing this, I am reminded that the positive can outweigh the negative. That even though there is often this ‘we’re all broke’ kind of camaraderie, there is also a level of being willing to give your spare dollar, piece of art, or words to help someone in need. Yes, there is disrespect and fighting, but there are also beautiful moments of ‘let’s do this thing’.