home ||| current issue ||| past stories
about The Prism ||| volunteers ||| other sites

The Power of Zines

by Brian Avery


My friend who does DWGSHT zine is going away soon for a six month long hike along the Appalachian Trail and in the meantime I've assumed the responsibility of answering all of his mail that pertains to the zine. It's been interesting to say the least. One letter in particular, though, sticks out in my mind. It was sent from a 64 year old woman living in New Mexico. The motive for her letter was the article that Alex had written on Cesar Chavez. She apparently had known him and wanted to share some thoughts about her interactions with him. She seems to be a very interesting, vibrant woman who has just recently discovered and become excited about the world of zines. She writes: "Even though I've only perused a few so far, I'm getting that feeling of panic that young people feel when they're really, really, REALLY faced with selling their one and only mortal lives to 'the Man.' That reaction is the rising up of our HUMANNESS."

I couldn't come up with a better description of what I feel when I read a really good zine than that. Zines are wonderful for many reasons. They provide an outlet for creativity, a forum for discussion and the exchange of ideas, and a way to get your voice out to, what sometimes seems like, the world. In a time when mass media is increasingly becoming concentrated into fewer and fewer hands the importance of zines becomes even clearer. Maybe I'm overstating things, I don't know. At the very least zines are truly labors of love done by oftentimes very interesting and clever people and are deserving of our attention for that.

With all of that in mind I decided to try to get more of them into the store. We already carried some very good local zines and my aim wasn't to flood what seemed to be an already weak market, but rather to provide customers with an even larger selection with the hopes of increasing interest in all of the zines we carry.

Some of the zines we stock include Constipation, which is a zine done entirely by prisoners who then smuggled the master copy to the outside so that it could be printed. It is written with the intent of giving an alternative to the popular beliefs of what it is like to be in prison. Contrascience is one of my favorites because Bryan writes articles that are well-researched and interesting to read. I recommend it based solely on the article he wrote on the credibility (or lack thereof) of high school American history textbooks. Heartattack is a wonderful resource for the world of hardcore. It always has tons of music reviews, zine reviews...but more than that, there are a number of interesting columns and thoughts in every issue. The latest issue is of particular interest to us as there are interviews with various zine editors including Bryan and Theo. Take Back Your Life is exactly what its subtitle tells you it is: "a wimmin's guide to alternative health care." This is a convenient and informative collection of articles that originally appeared in the anarcho-punk zine Profane Existence. Jen Angel, who has just recently taken over responsibilities of the long running punk zine Maximum RocknRoll, also writes Fucktooth.

I also contacted some zine writers on my own, an effort that is worthwhile in and of itself (one of the beauty's of zines is the personal contacts that can easily be made with the writers—these are not faceless, untouchable entities that some of the bigger, glossy magazines come across as). In doing so, I've already gotten responses from a few of them. As a result, we now also offer Please Don't Feed the Bears!, which is a "vegan cookzine for the colinarily impaired.

There are also some other zines that I would like to get into the store if interest seems to be high enough. Zines like Profane Existence, A.T.R. and The Match all deserve a space on our shelves and I'd be interested in putting them there as soon as I can. If anyone knows of zines that they are excited about and enjoy reading please do what you can to make them available to all of us. Thanks.


home ||| current issue ||| past stories
about The Prism ||| volunteers ||| other sites

Send comments to prism@sunsite.unc.edu.