What's a Zine?


zine noun

Definition of zine
especially : a noncommercial often homemade or online publication usually devoted to specialized and often unconventional subject matter
// a feminist zine

Magazine vs. zine

For the above, the emphasis is on everything after “especially.” While a zine is technically a magazine, you shouldn’t use the same noun to describe a zine and an issue of Rolling Stone.

So, what is a zine? What gives zines their unique identity separate from general magazine publications? Zines, at their foundation, are non-commercial products. This instills each one with a sense of unique authenticity and the ability to address topics that are otherwise unrepresented. The end product is a genuine window into a world unfound in other mediums. Generally, they are constructed by creating a master copy through cutting and pasting, and then they are photocopied for distribution.

So, zines have a proud history. One of the first examples dates back to 1776 in Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, which illustrates the power zines give to radical, under-represented thinking. The value of zines is in their unique ability to spread messages throughout communities that otherwise wouldn't be possible through traditional commercial means, thus giving a voice to the voiceless.