A Brief History of Zines

  • 1930: “The Comet,” believed to be the first science fiction fanzine, published.
  • 1930-1960: Mimeograph duplicating machine available.
  • 1944: Xerography invented.
  • 1961: IBM Selectric Typewriter introduced.
  • 1960s/1970s: Zines characterized by a synergy between outspoken political commentary, literary experimentation, heartfelt critiques of rock and roll music, influence of drugs on visual communication, and revolution in layout and design.
  • Mid 1960s: Inexpensive offset printing used to create alternative newspapers and underground comics.
  • 1967: The Underground Press Syndicate (UPS) is founded. Founding members include the Los Angeles Free Press, the East Village Other, the Berkeley Barb, San Francisco’s Oracle, Detroit’s Fifth Estate, Chicago’s Seed, and Austin’s Rag.
  • Mid-1970s: Punk rock zines begin to emerge
  • Late 1970s: Birth of the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) movement and the indie music scene.
  • 1980s: Copy machines become an increasingly popular way to publish zines, especially as Kinko’s copy shops begin to proliferate.
  • Early 1980s: Mike Gunderloy publishes first mimeographed “Factsheet Five” zine review list.
  • 1990: Bikini Kill, written by members of the Riot Grrrl band of the same name, inspires other early Riot Grrrl zines Summer Star, Jig Saw, and Girl Germs.
  • Early 1990s: Riot Grrrls movement, with zines like Queenie, Heck, Yummi Hussi, Literal Bitch, Conscious Clit, Mad Planet, and Kikizine (the last two by Sarah Dyer) are featured in Seventeen. Zines begin to be created with desk top publishing programs; e-zines are distributed via the Internet. Rebecca Walker writes an article for Ms. Magazine called “Becoming the Third Wave,” marking the emergence of the third wave feminist movement.
  • 1992: “Revolution, Girl Style,” an article by Farai Chideya and Melissa Rossi about Riot Grrrl feminism, published in Newsweek. Although Riot Grrrls across the country lamented the nationwide portrayal of their underground movement as just another cute girl fad, the article sparked a boom in the production of zines by teenage girls and young women.
  • 1993: Debbie Stoller and Marcelle Karp publish the first issue of BUST as a photocopied zine.
  • 1996: Bitch magazine first published by Lisa Jervis and Andi Zeisler.
  • 1997: Zined!, a video documentary by Marc Moscato, is released. A Girl’s Guide to Taking over the World: Writings from the Girl Zine Revolution edited by Karen Green and Tristan Taormino is published.
  • 1998: Independent Publishing Resource Center (IPRC) is founded in Portland, OR. The center is “dedicated to encouraging the growth of a visual and literary publishing community by offering a space to gather and exchange information and ideas, as well as to produce work.”
  • 2001: The Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture acquires collection of 1500 zines from Sarah Dyer, creator of Action Girl Newsletter, a zine review publication focusing on zines by women and girls. Grrrlyshow, a documentary by Kara Herold featuring women zine creators, is released.
  • 2002: Bingham Center acquires zine collection from Sarah Wood, who ran GERLL Press, a zine “distro” (distributor) based in Chicago, Ill., in the early- to mid-1990s. The first issue of Zine Librarian Zine by Greg Meins is published in Portland, OR, marking the first attempt to document the creation, mission, and organization of zine libraries nationally.
  • 2003: The Bingham Center acquires zine collections from Ailecia Ruscin, author of Alabama Grrrl, and Arielle Greenberg, editor of William Wants a Doll.

Adapted and expanded from a timeline by Doug Blandy

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