A zine, short for magazine, is ‘a non-commercial often homemade or online publication usually devoted to specialised and often unconventional subject matter’ (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Zines in many ways evolved out of pamphleteering culture, adopting the similar format of a small booklet, as well as cheap production methods and sale prices. The earliest zines were created in the 1930s as sci-fi fanzines that shared short sci-fi stories and comics, often with political messages.
In the 1970s, the format was adopted by punks and other alternative subcultures to circulate ideas and information about music and events. These became increasingly political and by the early 1980s were associated with radical ideas and political dissent – much like their nineteenth-century pamphlet predecessors. In the 1990s, the riot grrrl movement produced feminist zines that combined music and art with political campaigning. Zines are still produced today, dealing with a variety of unconventional topics from veganism to vaginas.
Despite the similarities between pamphlets and zines – both small DIY publications that are non- and often anti-mainstream – they deliver their political messages in different ways. Whilst pamphlets were predominantly text-based, much like a short essay, zines tend to be more visual, using eye-catching collage, illustration, slogans and poetry to present ideas through bold imagery and words.