Haven’t you heard? Zines are back. Whether they’re in classrooms or online through social media platforms, zines have reentered the mainstream — and their cultural impact is absolutely necessary for our generation.
Zines, short for “magazines,” are small, self-published works made up of collages of images and texts. Zines usually come in print form, but they have recently taken on an online presence. Zine culture began around the 1930s. They sprang to popularity in the late 1970s and into the 1980s — typically within punk rock communities. They emerged again in the 1990s with the “riot grrrl” and third-wave feminist movements.
Zines have notoriously acted as methods of expression and communication for socially-outcasted or marginalized communities. Today, zines are working their way back into the mainstream with Generation Z creating their own online communities with zine origins. These communities use zines to discuss various topics ranging from social justice to poetry.
Throughout history, zines have allowed niche communities to express themselves through art and writing. Communities have also utilized zines to share their complex identities and opinions, taking advantage of the small, short printed creation.
Many libraries and locally-owned bookstores have their own collections of zines, often originating from local artists in the community. Whether this is your first time hearing of zines or if you’re already an avid fanatic, zine culture is significant in its impact on local communities, and there’s a lot our generation can learn from them.
With Generation Z’s notoriety for activism, zines align with the generation’s values. Zines promote arts and the humanities, allowing communities to express themselves through a creative outlet. Zines also have roots in social justice and feminism — issues with which our generation typically associates itself.
Zines provide a sense of community and belonging for teens longing to fit in online, especially given the popularity of social media among our generation. Generation Z is known for bringing back elements of the past and adapting it to our values and styles. Zines are just another way we can do that.
Zines aren’t solely used in the social and political spheres. With zines sprouting up online on social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok, many of them focus on arts, writing, fashion, music and photography. For those in our generation who aren’t well-versed in politics or social justice, there is the possibility for creativity in your personal interests instead. There are no rules to zines; only a do-it-yourself attitude and a craving for creativity is necessary to begin.
There are many ways to get involved in the zine community. Participate in zine culture by starting your own zine, either by yourself or with friends. Create an Instagram account like these. Or design your own website to display your artistic creations. You can also check out zine collections at many branches of the Los Angeles Public Library or the Anaheim Library, known as the hub of the OC zine community. These libraries often have zine-making programs, so look out for those! You can also simply support artists who create zines at locally-owned bookstores in Orange County, Los Angeles and San Diego.
Zines have held so much cultural significance throughout history, and our generation is using this creative outlet to express our own interests and values. Generation Z is revolutionizing zine culture and incorporating it into our everyday lives — will you join in?
Camelia Heins is an Opinion Staff Writer. She can be reached at email@example.com.