I think I first discovered zines in my later years of high school. My crash course was through two books: Pagan Kennedy's book "Zine", and then this compilation called "A Girl's Guide to Taking over the World". It would be years before I'd get my hands on an actual zine...
I don't know if it was all the Much Music I grew up watching (back when it actually had interesting content about indie music and culture!), or reading many issues of Sassy magazine (wow, I actually remember some of the spreads in these photos!), but I knew there was this parallel universe out there... A universe I was probably a bit too much of a nerd to actually fit into, but a universe where people were creative and angsty, and talked about their feelings a lot. A universe of other people who often felt like they didn't fit in where they were. Maybe a universe where there were other people like me!
I felt really isolated and frankly stir crazy the last couple years of high school. I was bored, anxious, and it was a lot like some kind of purgatory. These books reassured me that if I waited it out, there truly was something else amazing out there waiting for me.
I dreamt about writing my own zine, and even half-assedly started working on a couple, but I never really felt like I had something meaningful to say... I was too scared of being judged, and never went through with it. Having grown up in Saskatoon, I didn't know anyone else who was reading or writing zines, so they felt like something I would have been really in over my head working on.
Luckily, just knowing there was this other world out there, of cool, creative, quirky people, was enough to motivate me to just keep my blinders on and finish school, and find my way out of the box I was stuck in. I moved to Vancouver straight away the fall after graduating to attend university, and got busy with life and school and only peripherally kept up with what was going on in the zine world (mostly via LJ). For a few years, I worked on a zine (which appears to no longer exist) published by an activist group on campus, but otherwise largely got distracted by other things like surviving and getting through university.
About five years ago, I started getting back into reading zines after discovering a couple new authors I liked. For instance, Shawn Granton (zines in photo below), whose work I was obsessed with for the better part of a year after seeing it a few times in locally published cycling magazine Momentum Magazine.
And especially over the last couple years, since my health forced me to uproot my life, I've had a lot of time for things like reading and writing, and have discovered the wonderful niche of zinesters writing about things like chronic illness, mental health, and self care. Here are just a few below, and there are some more in my Chronic Illness and Mental Health zine Etsy Treasury.
In August 2012, I had the chance to stop by the Portland Zine Symposium for an hour or so - Bruno and I just happened to be driving through Portland that day, heading back home to Vancouver. I had never been to a zine fest before, and it pretty much blew my mind. An hour was nowhere near long enough to explore everything...
But I'm pretty sure that brief exposure was what finally motivated me to just DO IT and write my own zine. And I finally did - I wrote my own zine! Issue one of Chronically Yours was out by Christmas, a few months later... It only took me 16 years or so to do it, better late than never! I released a second issue of Chronically Yours earlier this year - it's a lot of work putting them together, but it's so satisfying. I have a new appreciation for people who are able to release them more frequently!
Writing my zine, contributing to Collide, and generally becoming part of the zine community has been such an amazing experience. I'm not too connected to the local scene (it's a bit sparse here), but I've become zine buddies/online friends/penpals particularly with a whole bunch of wonderfully strong, creative women, who continue to inspire me and help me feel like sharing my experience matters.
Not only that, but my zine has gone out into the world and seen places I probably never will, and it has actually made an impact and helped other people. How cool is that??? I've gotten some of the sweetest feedback, that I never really could have imagined when I nervously made those first copies.
I keep meaning to write up a more comprehensive list of my reading recommendations, but until then, here's where you can buy zines from some of my favourite zinesters and distros... and of course, you can also buy my zine from my Etsy shop!
- Kerri's Etsy
Kerri is the author of Deafula Zine about life as a deaf person, as well as a handful of other zines on various topics. I can't recommend her zines enough!
- JC's Etsy
JC writes Tributaries zine about living with Rheumatoid Arthritis, and publishes the compilation zine Collide, which is about the intersection of mental health and chronic illness (I have a piece in Issue 2!). Both super reads.
- Aurora's shop
Aurora makes amazing pop art zines, and also recently published Don't Hide Behind Your Skirt, a truly shattering and inspiring zine about her childhood and family. (Her blog and Instagram are also fricken amazing and worth following.)
- Taryn's Etsy
Taryn writes Ladyteeth zine, and also released an autobiography novella last year. Super honest writing about life, mental health, and addiction. Probably the zinester I've been reading the longest!
- NeverTwice Etsy
NeverTwice shop is where you can get When Language Runs Dry, an amazing compilation zine about chronic illness.
Happy reading friends! If you have other recommendations for zines you love, share them in comments!