Behind the ‘zines

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.

The cover
The cover

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.

Ricardo Juarez and Javier Andres, New Papers
Ricardo Juarez and Javier Andres, New Papers

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.

Nieves by Benjamin Sommerhalder
Nieves by Benjamin Sommerhalder

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.

Stephanie Homa Cakezine
Stephanie Homa, Cakezine

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
Muff Magazine

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.

Dirk Konig Geozid
Dirk Konig Geozid

Behind the Zines: Self Publishing Culture is edited by Robert Klanted, Adeline Mollard and Matthias Hubner; with text written by Sonja Commentz. It was out on 30 April, published by Die Gestalten Verlag, priced £37.50.

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