Behind the Zines: Self-publishing Culture Paperback – Illustrated, 30 Apr 2011
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When new book Behind the Zines: Self Publishing Culture arrived in the Design Week mail box in all its curling, canvas glory; we got rather excited. This is it! , screamed the inner 17-year-old, this is your time to shine! Now, after all this time, you can be Kathleen Hanna, we thought, with this easy to read guidebook to riot grrrl cred. Another Bikini Kill, carefully tailored for angry, 21st century grrrrlz is just what the world needs. Full of misplaced excitement and ambition, once the book is opened it s easy to see that no, not just anyone can produce a zine worth reading. There s a lot more to these carefully constructed pages than the simple cut-and-paste, photocopy-and-fury components than we d initially thought. The pages of this hefty tome are brimming with the most exciting zines there are right now from around the world; combining style, substance, strangeness and, obviously, sex. It s so incredibly refreshing (particularly for this Luddite) to see a format in which self-expression isn t limited to a defined number of characters being celebrated. Zines are - and hopefully, will continue to be - a format defined by free expression, a DIY ethos and a fierce independence, as aptly and beautifully demonstrated in this book. Among our favourites displayed in the book are Nieves, edited and published by Benjamin Sommerhalder; which sees Swiss illustration mixed with work from Kim Gordon (yeah, the one out of Sonic Youth), David Shrigley, Ed Templeton and Daniel Johnston. We also love Stephanie Homa s Cakezine, which is angrier and more rough and ready in appearance; as well as Dirk Konig s Geozid, if (partially) for the Iggy Pop quote and picture of large breasts. Muff Magazine, from Ramon Coronado touches on subjects including mullets, David Bowie s hair, and the male predicament of whether or not to shave body hair. Watch out for a forthcoming DW poll on that topic. The book succeeds in not only providing a portfolio-like platform of current zines, but also providing a documentation of how zine creators impact on creative thinking more widely than their often bizarre pages. --Design Week Blog
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more than 100 self-published works showcased are published regularly or periodically. The mostly illustrated interior with captions for the visual matter on nearly every page and occasional backgrounds on an editor or designer or short statements expand on this improvisational and in most cases energetic, adventurous, and artful style of the "zines" as such are called, short for "magazine". The large majority are European with a number from the United States.
Although there are cultural and political implications in the zines done outside of the corporate media selection, production, and promotion, the focus of the many and varied zines in this visual anthology is contemporary, mostly postmodern art involving photography, graphics, typography, and figures and faces.
Erik Van Der Weijde, publisher of "4878ZINE", is quoted, "To me, working with photography implies that I don't make things up. I just take what is already there, scoop it out of its context, and then present it after some selection and editing." Urs Lehni, publisher of Rollo Press, remarks, "Rollo Press is all about restrictions. The device itself is limited to a certain format, color, aesthetic, etc. I try to sound out the possibilities with these given limitations."
There are no basically literary, political, minority, feminist, or gender zines, kinds Americans are most familiar with. Although there are few of these found in America these days. Nonetheless, in the U.S., part of the image of zines involves their appearance in the cultural and political turmoil of the 1960s. This historical connection has been pushed into the background however as in the U.S. as in Europe, self-publications have changed with the growth of visual culture and concomitant aestheticized mentality and interests.
Even so, the periodicals are instructive for publishers of zines in any field--for design is a priority for such publications. Standing out visually denotes standing out in content and often perspective. Early American zines were important in breaking ground for today's graphic novels, avant-garde and popular art, and visual style of many leading mass-market magazines. As publications featured here in this generation of zines will no doubt be looked back on at some time as precursors of elements of that day's media. The index gives each periodical's website for further study by interested readers.
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