Friday, June 14, 2013

Musing: The Zine Explorers Notebook #4

The Zine Explorer’s Notebook #4
PO Box 5291
Richmond VA 23220
(a few dollars, trade, letter, stamps)

What struck me as I was reading this issue of The Zine Explorer’s Notebook is … how insular the world of paper publishing is becoming. And that scares me. I’ve read 80% or more of the zines reviewed in this issue. I’ve corresponded with most of the writers included in the letters section (hell, I’m one of them!). I also just finished reading Xerography Debt and had the same claustrophobic feeling dawn as I turned the pages. Where are the new zines and writers? Have they all migrated to the virtual non-reality known as the internet?

As much as I hold publications like The Zine Explorer’s Notebook in veneration, it feels like something is missing in this issue. Content? Doug Harrison opens the issue with a well written essay, and then there are reviews and letters. And that’s about it. Yet regardless of my ambivalence today --- The Zine Explorer’s Notebook is a vital and indispensable publication.

All of this musing makes me reconsider my own zine activities. Maybe my reviews are becoming passé. I’m certainly not writing to the level of quality I am capable of. Sometimes I just sound like an overgrown fanboy. People rarely send for a copy of the print version of One Minute Zine Reviews, does it make a difference whether I continue to publish it or not?  Maybe there are more than enough zine review venues already. Maybe I need to shift the emphasis of what I am doing. Maybe it’s time to step away from blogging, and learn the real art of DIY printing. Maybe there are other remedies for my malaise like starting a cassette label with no money, which is something I’ve been thinking about for a few decades already.

I had too much to dream last night.  


Kell said...

I've been thinking the same... As I read the new XD, I had the last one close at hand and compared the two and found so many of the usual suspects. I see the same in the new ZEN. But I don't think this has anything to do with what Davida or Doug (or you) are doing, which is commendable and so appreciated by more people than you are probably aware of... To me, the real question is, why aren't all these people who are creating zines nowadays sending them in for review? You go to a zine fair and there are hundreds/thousands of zines on display. Why aren't they being reviewed? (I do think Davida touched on this topic in an older XD.) Could it just be that most people are afraid of criticism? Or is something else going on? Like trading, which is a thing of the past. Cause, forget about it. I feel like I literally have to beg for trades. If nobody is sending their zines for review or for trade, are they just relying on etsy and zine fairs to get them out via currency or sharing them among a select few? That means that the old guard, the ones who do it for the craft and the community as a while, and who see the money spent on paper and ink and staples, etc, as a worthy investment into art and communication are left mingling among ourselves... which is essentially what's happening...

DJ Frederick said...

Thank you Kelly. These are all important thoughts and questions for the zine "community". My personal goal is just to share the zines I create with people - no profit involved, I distribute about 50% of them for free or trade & I'm lucky to break even after factoring in postage. It's sad that some people see zinemaking as a means to make $ and forgo the wonderful connections that are created through the passion for paper.