english essay about zines - culture values of zine

72Fall 2015 Broken Pencil

Zine Philosophy

As a somewhat lost punk delinquent in the re- gional town of Toowoomba, in Queensland, Australia, I grew up listening to punk bands, then progressed on to researching and reading about these bands. Out of nowhere, I stumbled upon these raw, crudely produced publications: Zines! I started making my own fanzines short- ly after that. I was just doing my own thing with a group of friends who wanted to support the local music and art community. None of us had skills in design, layout or journalism. We did it together and it was completely DIY. The DIY process, complete freedom and lack of rules is what got me into zines and why I keep coming back to them.

My first zine Bizoo was a music and arts zine that grew from the regional town of Toowoomba, borne from a lack of live music in the area in 2001. Over 25 issues, Bizoo became a lot more than a little black and white zine. Each issue was free and featured over 60 con- tributors from across the country and we print- ed every submission we received. Its final re- lease was titled Bizoo: The Best, The Worst & The Trash that Never Made It. It’s a retrospective book that documents and revisits the bands and the community it grew from, as well as the tales behind the fights and legal cases, including a defamation case…but that’s another story!

History defines us, inspires us to create, which builds culture and provides a sense of place and/or purpose. This is one of the many things I love about these raw publications: they capture a time period that might otherwise be lost to the ages. Without this history being shared, do we have a cultural identity?

This was one of my main motivations in producing Copier Jam!, an exhibition which highlights zinemakers, independent comic cre- ators, collectives and distributors from across

Puke Dongs & Copier Jams: Zine Culture Down Under

by Jeremy Staples

IN ONE WAY OR ANOTHER, ZINES have slowly taken over my life since the early 2000’s. I’ve gone from creating zines to running workshops, co-founding the Zine and Indie Comic Symposium in Brisbane, Aus- tralia and curating a zine exhibition. Upon reflection, it might seem strange that I’ve stuck so closely to self-publishing and the printed word, as I failed English at school and continue to battle with dyslexia. With all that said, zines have made me a bet- ter person and I’ve become a strong advocate of zines and independent publishing.

Australia. The zine creators featured in this exhibition are some of the most pro- lific, talented and creative in Australia. Some have been publishing for close to three decades while others are full-time artists in their own right, and still others are washing your dirty dishes to put food, paper and pens on the table. A lot of them are constantly hitchhiking, squatting and protesting the front lines for a better world. The seventeen creators, publishers and distributors at the fair share a common passion for the printed word and image.

Some of the Copier Jam participants included: Outsider artist Philip Dearest — an artist who knows how to shock even the most seasoned fan of underground art. The titles of his zines alone would raise a few eyebrows, ranging from Puke Dong, a zine about vomiting on the male ap- pendage to Crust Punks with Tummy Troubles, an art zine covering all the joys of diarrhoea. One of Dearest’s most renowned releases to date is the aptly titled Off My Meds, in which he undertakes a study of creativity during a month-long break from his regular medication.

Ashley Ronning is an illustrator, risograph printer and zine creator based in Melbourne. Ronning’s work was recently plastered throughout Melbourne as part of the promotion for the annual Festival of the Photocopier hosted by Australia’s largest dedicated zine shop, Sticky Institute.

Vanessa Berry is one of Australia’s most respected zine creators, and she has been publishing since the mid-nineties. She is best known for her I am a Camera series, which began in 1999 and covers personal tales, travel stories and reflections.

Iain McIntyre is an author, musician and one half of the notorious Woozy zine that ran from 1992 to 2001 which produced twenty-two issues in a variety of formats that ranges from mini zines to cassette tapes. Woozy brought together politics, DIY art, comics and alterative views that rounded up over 100 contribu- tors, laid out prominently by hand.

It’s impossible to list every Copier Jam participant, but I hope the ones I’ve men- tioned will pique your interest and encourage you to learn more about Australia’s zine culture. And if you’re a creator yourself, I implore you — dream with your eyes open, step away from the TV, put your dreams down on paper and start writing and scribbling your own revolution!

Jeremy Staples is a Scorpio who enjoys documenting, questioning, community engagement, providing a voice to the voiceless and skill-sharing. Turn-ons include: reading, writing and making people think. Learn more at copierjam.com.

Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.