Sunday, 25 July 2010

The First Blog Entry

Putting down your first words on a new blog isn't easy. You don't have any readers yet. Blogging is a kind of writing where you are revealing something about yourself to persons unknown. How do you know "what readers want to know?" and, does anyone care?

I am in awe of zine producers who - whether writing about their interests in digital or print form - are making their first foray into self-publishing. This is my first blogging effort, although I have published in mainstream magazines and academic journals. Writing can be nerve wracking at the best of times. But if you feel you have something to say to someone (although it may only be to a handful of like-minded individuals) it's important to find a forum for sharing your thoughts and opinions. This is what zine producers have done historically, creating their own spaces to write, design, produce and self-publish. It can be liberating to work outside the conventions of mainstream publishing: no worries about publishing schedules, fewer concerns about grammar, spelling, punctuation and the protocols of design layout, grids and typography.

Most zine producers are amateur publishers. There are exceptions, however, where professional journalists and designers have crossed over into the world of independent publishing, including science-fiction writers and a few ex-punks who are now mainstream media presenters and journalists. What I appreciate about zines is the immediacy of the message offered up by the way in which zinesters write (their tone and mode of writing) but also in the subjects that they cover. This can be anything from pez dispensers, or football to thrift shopping and animal rights. Zines can be about consumer culture, typography, politics, or very personal takes on everyday life. You have as many subjects as you do individuals. (As an aside, it is estimated that over 10,000 soccer titles exist in the UK.)

So before I continue any further with this first entry, it is worth saying what this blog is not about: it is not a zine, nor is it a meta-zine (a zine which reviews zines). Rather my intention here is to explore the do-it-yourself revolution offered up by zines through my own lens as a historian and collector. Of course, I have great plans as to how I eventually might achieve this! But, in the first instance I thought I would keep it simple by looking at a few publications and the history of the medium, maybe conducting a couple of interviews with contemporary producers. Perhaps also show a few zine covers and page interiors to indicate how the graphic language of zines tells its own visual story.

I know that by calling this blog 'Zine Weekly', I was also setting up expectations. I can just about manage an entry a week (knowing how ambitious it might be to promise something everyday). There are so many wonderful zines out there, I am not lacking in material to write about. So dear reader, I hope you are out there and have some interest in what I will be saying.