Kirsten Anderberg LOVES ZINES! Blog

(This is the back of one of my Christmas zines from approx. 2005)

I adore zine culture. It is fabulous. I wrote an article almost a decade ago about zines: "Zine Culture: Brilliance Under the Radar" and it is reprinted below on this webpage. I just adore how DIY, and independent of outside *anything* they are! Since quitting the time drain of Facebook, I am doing more constructive things with my time, like looking back into zine culture to see what's been going on there! Some of my previous zine creds: I am mentioned in the 2004 publication entitled, "Zines!:feminist do-it-yourself publishing" and my past zines are in collections at the Toronto Zine Library and the Richard Huge House Zine Archives and Publishing Project (ZAPP) in Seattle (I was in a "mamazine spectacular" on 4/23/2004 where I presented and met other zinesters who wrote about parenting topics!) I was interviewed in 2006 (and am in the footnotes) for an article entitled, The Personal, Political, and a Little Bit of Everything Else: Girls, Grrrls and Perzines" by Annelise Sklar, and am also cited in the footnotes of Chris Bobel's "Our Revolution Has Style: Contemporary Menstrual Product Activists "Doing Feminism" in the Third Wave." One of my zines is also cited in the 2014 article, "Anarchism and Sexuality." I used to do zine trades with Sticky's in Australia and their website is a great resource for zinesters too: I would send them a bunch of my zines and they would send me a white elephant bag full of the craziest shit ever. I loved those bags of zines. I also used to do zine trades bi-coastally (sending zines between Seattle and NYC) with Daniel McGowan, before he was put through hell during the Green Scare roundups in 2005 and sent to prison for many years (and not allowed to receive communications freely). If you are looking for zines, I recommend the back shelves of Left Bank Books and Bulldog News in Seattle, but you can see lists of zine libraries, zine distros and stores that carry zines online at Stolen Sharpie Revolution. There is also a Wiki Page with a list of distros. I have had my articles published in a lot of zines as well. I have had articles published regularly in the Slingshot zine out of Berkeley, CA. You can see some of her articles in Slingshot zine here: "How a War Draft Works in the U.S.", "A Room of One's Own: Re Homelessness", "Interview with Navy War Resistor Pablo Paredes", "Nettles, Nettles, Everywhere", "Busking Without Boundaries", "WhirlMart Revisited". I have also been published in Susun Weeds' zines ( "Rogue Midwifery", "Tree People"), as well as many other zines. I want to give a shout out to David Lasky, who led a mini-zine workshop at the Bumbershoot Festival that I attended in 2003, about making "mini-zines." Although I had already been making zines for years, and reading/collecting them as well, he got me thinking about zines as a "movement" - a "revolution" in self-publishing. He got me to think of the whole genre a bit differently and I have made a million of those mini-zines since too!

The Urban Dictionary defines "Zine" as ""Zine" is short for fanzine. For all intensive purposes, a zine is a cheaply-made, cheaply-priced publication, often in black and white, which is mass-produced via photocopier and bound with staples. Most zines revolve around a music scene of some sort, but others are dedicated to artwork, poetry, cartoons, editorials and short stories. Because zines do not have any sort of corporate backing, they are very rugged, individualized, and much more charismatic than larger, more popular magazines whose content is often dictated by their advertisers." Wikipedia defines "zine" as "most commonly a small circulation self-published work of original or appropriated texts and images usually reproduced via photocopier. A popular definition includes that circulation must be 1,000 or fewer, although in practice the majority are produced in editions of less than 100, and profit is not the primary intent of publication. They are informed by anarchopunk and DIY ethos. Zines are written in a variety of formats, from desktop published text to comics to handwritten text (an example being the hardcore punk zine Cometbus). Print remains the most popular zine format, usually photocopied with a small circulation. Topics covered are broad, including fanfiction, politics, art and design, ephemera, personal journals, social theory, riot grrrl and intersectional feminism, single topic obsession, or sexual content far enough outside of the mainstream to be prohibitive of inclusion in more traditional media. The time and materials necessary to create a zine are seldom matched by revenue from sale of zines. Small circulation zines are often not explicitly copyrighted and there is a strong belief among many zine creators that the material within should be freely distributed. In recent years a number of photocopied zines have risen to prominence or professional status and have found wide bookstore and online distribution."


Zine Culture: Brilliance Under the Radar

By Kirsten Anderberg (
Written 2005

I love zine culture. Yet often when I say that, people ask what a "zine" is. A zine is a self-published, independent magazine, basically. Often they are odd sizes. Zines are characteristically unconcerned with a glossy presentation, often handwritten, and xeroxed. A typical zine is made by xeroxing paper and folding it in half, then stapling the middle. Very often the originals are made by cutting and pasting paper on paper, not on computers. There is a homemade charm to zines. People ask me where I get zines. I get them all over, now that I know what I am looking for. There are zinesters all over the place, leaving little pockets of creativity in the corners of the city for people to stumble upon. I find them stashed amongst announcements in book stores, at news stands, and at record stores. People mail zines to me to review, I go to zine events and collect them there, and I mail zines I find to my friends in other places and they mail zines they find to me. I have zines from all over the world in my collection now.

My favorite zine arrangement is one where I mail a stack of my own zines to an Australian radical bookstore, and they mail me back a white elephant bag full of crazy homemade media that is like a treasure chest! I will have no money and be bummed out and all of a sudden a package from Sticky's will arrive, and I have a bunch of fun things to play with, cheering me up! They have mailed me zines that range from the topics of menstrual pride to welfare rights, to anarchist bike activism, to just plain bizarre stuff like a xeroxed handwritten letter, inside a stapled little bag with Y.O.U. stamped on the front. This is a series, as I have received different letters inside these Y.O.U. packages over time! I also have a friend in New York City who sends me zines from the East Coast, while I send him zines from the West Coast. Our political tastes are very similar, thus we enjoy the packages we send back and forth. I know things about NYC and Australia while living in Seatte, for instance, that most of my friends do not.

I am absolutely floored by the depth of soul exposed in zine texts. I have sobbed my eyes out at a profound 4 page zine I found for free somewhere, sitting on a rack, unassuming in its presentation. I have learned an incredible wealth of information from zines. And there is a sort of "being in the right place at the right time" feel to zine culture, since sometimes they talk about illegal activities. I remember walking into an unnamed radical bookstore in 1980, and finding a folded piece of paper making a little booklet (now called a zine), that was offered for free, next to the cash register. It was entitled, "The Phone Bandit's Pocket Companion 1980." The cover said, "Writer's cramp has gotten you down. You're trading food stamps to pay for that last call to Colorado. You're hungry for the ones you love. You can't wait another minute! Is there an answer? You betcha! Just ride your moped to the nearest pay phone and say, "Credit Card, please." It's easy - it's free! It's the next best thing to being there! Phone Banditry!" Inside was a published list of the telephone credit card numbers from major corporations, such as General Electric and Ma Bell, as well as government offices such as the FBI! I know people who tried these credit card codes, and the numbers actually worked, and for quite some time. It is funny how the moped line, as well as the dire use of phones, rather than the internet as is normal now, date the zine.

When I stumbled on these zines, I said to the cashier, "How is this legal?" He said, "What?" I said "How is it legal for you to hand out this flier?" He said, "What flier?" I realized that someone had brought this stack of "phone banditry" zines to this store and they were going out of there fast and no one was talking about it. I was stunned to see that worked, and from then on have gotten much of my underground education from just being in the right place at the right time honestly. I quit asking dumb questions like "Hey, how can you be distributing this? Isn't this illegal?" I learned quickly how to just grab weird things people put in your hands in crowds, and to look among the cracks of society to see what is shoved in there waiting to be extracted, for those who look. Subversive artists leave hidden political messages all over the streets, all over town, if you know the language.

I have laughed harder at the contents within zines than at any other media venue. The anti-authoritarian nature and anarchist sense of humor that many zinesters hold dear lets loose some political hilarity unparalleled by mainstream media. I was on the floor laughing at a cartoon in an Australian zine called Rocketdog, where a gal works at a bar and there is always this drunk they have to kick out every night. Then she applies for welfare services and it turns out to be her welfare worker. He says she looks familiar, she keeps it quiet, freaking out. It is so very rare that I get to see good welfare comix!

I read a very small zine recently that was perhaps 3x1 inches. It was free. The booklet ( was about sitting with a friend talking on the lawn and how it was bugging the author that her friend was just ripping up flowers, thoughtlessly, as they spoke. The author writes, "I don't want to say, "why are you tearing apart that flower, you're not even saying he loves me not" because she doesn't even realize that she's pulling apart the flower and then Jenny would feel bad and it would be embarrassing and awkward, but I get more agitated with every petal and then I have to interrupt, "Jenny, why are you pulling apart the daisy," and she looks at the white petals on the grass open wide…"I don't know."" That was the end. With a nice little picture of some daisies growing in grass on the back cover. Great stuff.

I found another zine recently, for free in the back of a book store, made by a gal from Corvallis, Or. It was only two pages folded in half, and it was handwritten in felt pen, and xeroxed. The front cover has an interesting picture she found in a phone booth, of a cross dressing man, posing in a slinky dress with his purse, in a doorway. Inside was the most heartwarming story about a boy who leaves home and lives on the street working with Food Not Bombs, and a pink-haired girl she wants to be friends with, and the end has the profound message, "I read somewhere once, that in someone else's eyes you are perfect, flawless, absolute. In someone else's eyes, you're golden. People forget that just like themselves, everyone else is f*cked up." I actually cried reading this zine. It was simple, but deep.

The variety available within the zine world is unbelievable. I have zines written by welfare mothers, prisoners, feminists, punks, hippies, eco-defense warriors, political organizers, street artists, and more. The profound messages they bring to my world is something I value highly. I never underestimate what might be inside the covers of some small booklet I find. Recently I found the smallest zine I have yet to stumble upon. It is 1 1/2 inches by 2 inches! I found it among free alternative magazines in a book store in the university area of town. It is entitled, "Harry Higgins" and has a picture of a man in a top hat, wrapped up like a mummy on the cover. Inside, author Jay Davis ( takes us on a hilarious ride through this man's journey covered in many different costumes, and how he drove the women crazy. It was a wild story and extremely well-written. I have thought about Harry Higgins for days now since reading his little story.

I found a glossy zine called "Pocketful of Change" ( recently. It was free in a bookstore. It says it is based in Seattle, WA, and distro'd in the UK, Canada, and on the East and West Coasts in the U.S.. The zine has interesting articles about cutting edge art, punk bands, politics, and skateboarding, with in-depth reviews of live band performances in Seattle and Indianapolis, as well as music, film, book and web reviews. A cartoon in the zine called, "The Politics of Dancing" ( had me laughing hard. The scene is a punk club and the band is onstage yelling at the audience for not dancing. The audience yells back it is their fault the audience is not dancing because their music sucks. Then someone yells out "And where the hell were you guys during the opening band?" And people in the back yell, "Right on," and "Yeah!" Afterwards the band tries to recoup and figure out what went wrong as they read bad reviews in the Alternative Press. Funny stuff!

Pocketful of Change also has a free CD in the back, with cuts from 10 bands. Some of the cuts are pretty good. I particularly enjoyed a cut by MDC, called "Destroying the Planet," where we have a punk voice singing, "…destroy the planet while making the rich richer, and still manage to get to bed by nine, so go ahead and jog, and choke on your pretzel, you and your cronies are nothing but SWINNNNNE! F*ck you, God Bless America!" Another cut called "Jon," by the band "Hedist," off their "Pot in the Parking Lot" album, has a gravelly voice singing, "And even though you know, that I don't want no mutherf*ckin' war, I'd gladly start a war with a bunch of corporate whores…" I also enjoyed a classic punk cut entitled, "Dumpster Divin'", by the Eddie Haskells. The lead singer has a great sarcastic lilt in his voice as he sings, "I got no money so I'm back out on the prowl, I gotta get what I want, gotta get what I need somehow, leave it outside and it's as good as mine…" Not bad for a free CD in the back of a free zine.

In the last two days, a huge lot of zines have been laid in my lap. First, Mother Warriors Voice (, a newspaper out of WI, written solely by welfare moms, mailed me a couple of back copies yesterday (I already have the current issue), and I am very excited to read those. Then today, I received a huge packet of zines about prisoner rights, and many zines by prisoners, from the Chicago Anarchist Black Cross. I asked them for prisoner rights zines to review since I like to get information about prisoner reform and abolition in the press as much as possible. I look forward to hearing what prisoners have to say in their own zines. The feel of even the covers of these prison zines are much more serious than most of the zines I find. I value the seriousness of many of these issues, and value the first person voice zines afford prisoners, and welfare moms.

I happened to go into an anarchist bookstore in town today. This bookstore has the best selection of zines in my town, and I can trade my zines for others' zines there. Today at the anarchist bookstore, I traded my zines for a fabulous assortment of new zines I am excited as can be to read. I got a $1 quarter page zine called "Stop" ( from Chicago, IL. It is full of pictures of stop signs with stickers on them as graffiti. There is narrative on using stop signs for political protest, as well. There are the usual "Stop war" and "Stop rape," but there were a few I had not seen, and loved. Like the "driving" sticker placed under one stop sign. "Stop Driving." Another spelled out "Stop Remembering."

Today I also got a little 2x3 inch $1.50 zine called Public Illumination Magazine (, made in Italy. The theme of the little glossy zine was "hair." Again, I laughed my ass off reading this precious little booklet. There were outrageously creative haikus and poems about hair. Such as Ms. Lao Tsu's poem "Which," which asks, "Hair or no hair? Which matters more? Nose hair or leg hair: which is more precious? Gain or loss: which is more painful?" And her poem "He Who," which says, "He who is attracted to blond will suffer much. He who shaves his pubic hair will suffer heavy loss. A contented man never combs his hair. He who knows how to have a proper hair-do does not find himself in trouble. He will stay safe forever." This zine has another poem by Elvis Castillo, called "Dog For Sale." It says, "What a wonderful poodle you have. I admire fat, cross-eyed dogs. Eight thousand dollars? That sounds reasonable." The zine has odd graphics, such as a woman with her hair up in a bun, but instead of chopsticks keeping the bun together, she has knives in her hair. And again, the moving stuff is here too. In a poem entitled, "Don't Look," by Poori Vindaloo, he writes, "Don't look at yourself in the mirrah, My stepfather always said. You're not that good-looking anyway. You don't know how to comb your hair so you'll never have a girlfriend. And if you don't listen to me, your mother won't like you either 'cause you'll always be a loser like your father, and she left him for me." Wow. Heavy. That is what I am talking about. Who knew those few words in "Don't Look" were gonna make me cry. Quite a powerful punch for a $1.50 2x3 inch booklet!

Another zine I got today is called "Cut and Paint, Number One," and it is a self-published stencil art book out of Chicago, IL, that sells for $5. It contains instructions on how to do street graffiti using stencils and also tells how to make stencils out of the 8x11 inch patterns in the book. Over 50 stencil patterns are contained therein, and the subject matter varies widely. There are stencils saying things like "Dream More," "Prisons Don't Work, Two Million Americans in Cages," and "Who is Where and Why? Racism, Poverty. Media Hysteria" with a picture of a man behind bars. There is a stencil of a man playing a violin, with the words "Dancing on the ruins" and a very moving stencil of several women in Middle Eastern veiled dress with guns pulled and aimed. There are stencils of bikes, and a flower with the A for anarchy in the middle, and also a stencil of a picture of carrots and the words, "This could be a garden." There is a stencil of a person in a raincoat with an umbrella with a bomb headed right for them, and another stencil that says "Palestinians are People." There is a stencil of a dancing woman and the words, "Rural Women Unite! Your Hearts Are Wildfire" and another of two women with the words, "Cook Up Good Ideas." There is a stencil of the Statue of Liberty and the words "No Al Estado Policiaco" and another with a picture of a bulldozer and the words, "Lucha Por Su Hogar."

Today's zine haul also included a small 3x2 inch zine called "Gurl Scout #6," that sold for $1 and I have no idea what that will be about. I got a half page zine called "Under Oath" which was $2 and comes from Ontario, Canada. On its cover it says, ""Throughout our lives we never question what's right or wrong, instead we only ask if it's legal or the church permits it." - Alexander Berkman" The booklet talks about everything from direct action to wheelchair rights to anarchist principles, as well as cruelty free consumerism, and it even has a page of vegan recipes!

And my last score of the day is an 8x11 booklet called "Drums and Demonstrations" which was selling for $5 and was published in San Diego, Ca. ( The book is put out by the "Super Sonic Samba School," and the front cover has maps of 50 mile "bang zone" ranges. This is a wonderful booklet in the spirit of anarchist street bands such as the Infernal Noise Brigade or the Rude Mechanical Orchestra. The booklet has information about "drum etiquette," as well as instructions to make durable street instruments and costumes. It has giant puppet patterns, different percussion beats, group dynamics advice (or how to play with others), and useful educational material about how police interact with loud drumming bands at protests. Again, anarchist humor had me smiling reading this zine. In the section on "Police," it says, "Be aware of the effect drums have on different people. Police often get agitated by things they don't understand, and they are intimidated by the sonic power that drums wield."

I do not have cable TV, but I have zines and I stay mighty entertained! How many zines have you read today? If you cannot find zines in your town, perhaps you could make them and start a trend! There are zine symposiums ( to help you get going. There are zine libraries; start one today. Mine is growing daily, and I honestly value my zine library highly. It is irreplaceable, unlike most of my book library. Go online and visit one of the many zine-oriented websites to learn more. Try and to buy a wide assortment of zines online. You can trade and learn about zines at, whose motto is "just cuz it's diy doesn't mean it sucks." And can teach you how to make your own zine. Nina Packebush, editor of the zine, "Edgy-Catin' Mama" has a great article, echoing my sentiments, on zine making, at (I met Nina at a zine reading at the Hugo House for parent-oriented zinesters in 2004. You can meet other zinesters by making a zine too!). Make your own zines and trade them worldwide for others' zines! Learn about diverse cultures! Many zine distros offer the choice of just trading your zines for other zines, instead of selling them for cash. Try it! Barter is Beautiful! Zine making and distro can help you make friends all over the world, can get you in touch with others like you, can help to inspire strangers and can inspire you, and it is entertaining, all at once, through a couple of sheets of paper! Liberate your inner zinester today!


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