A collection of zine reviews from London College of Communication’s Year 3 students on the Critical Practitioner unit of the BA in Contemporary Media Cultures 2019-20, after visiting the university’s huge zine collection. Reviews by Lydia Jackson, Rosie Clack-Walsh, Louise Garfield, Rebeca Peláez, Hannah Sinyor, Alberto Bernardini, Katie Horan, Hannah Sinyor, Yves Vanenburg

Practiced during the zine reviews:

  1. Always write for an intended audience, so you use the right voice.
  2. Make sure you collect and include facts (2nd para is a good place).
  3. Include a link so readers can find out more.
  4. Edit the first draft.

REVIEW 1: THIS IS A ZINE. NOT A GLOSSY!

A glance into the zine collection at London College of Communication. Review by Lydia Jackson

Terry Thompson talks through LCC’s zine collection – here with the famous punk zine, Sniffing Glue. (c) NB
  • This review is intended for the LCC blog, with the readership being students.

London College of Communication is home to a zine archive collection of more than 4000 self-produced fan zines that vary in design, style, and format: and are primarily handmade and hand-printed with some dating back to the 1970s. Residing in the library at LCC, the zine collection is open to view by appointment only, fortunately as a student of LCC I was able to participate in a private viewing which included an introduction to the archive, hosted by one of the zine collectors.

As the collector opened the door to the private viewing room, something immediately caught my eye. Placed amongst the zines was a bright pink, A5 publication yelling “Bast”. To the left was a black and white handwritten piece and to the right, a photograph stuck to paper with floral decorative tape. As one title put it, “THIS IS A ZINE. NOT A GLOSSY!”. The first thing I noticed, before being introduced was the differing designs, there was no set layout that the publishers had to adhere to, it was complete creative freedom.

The introduction was hosted by Terry Thompson, one of the zine collectors who gave insight as to why zines became popular in alternative culture. The main reason being that zines are essentially “vehicles for alternative cultures to express the voices that are not heard”. This can be seen through the history of zines. Zines appeared in the UK, during the punk movement in the 1970s, and they were a way to engage in an alternative culture that’s literature was uncensored. It was then picked up by football fans in the 1980s, in which the zine collection is home to a well-known popular football fan zine, “When Saturday Comes”. Then it became significant within the youth sub-culture in the 1990’s and carried on through to the present day.

After being introduced and of course, using the antibacterial wipe kindly given by Terry; naturally, I picked up the bright pink zine, “Bast”. Spending time flicking through the zines displayed on the table I came to another personal favourite, “Shocking Ping” which became engaging as it was mocking the ‘glossy’ by acting as a feminist zine and mocking the features of a glossy/corporate magazine. Then I found “No!”, and on the back page there was a mirror followed by the words, “Take a look at yourself, you are f****** beautiful!”.

The most interesting feature of zines was the language, and the tone of writing used; it was uncensored and personal enabling the reader to understand and relate to the passion of the chosen subject. More importantly, as the zines are focused on a particular subject, made for those who are fans within that subject, it encouraged greater engagement as the literature became a relatable and personalised experience. Moreover, the overall experience was fun, interesting and insightful.

REVIEW 2: OFF TIMETABLE

As a student, you sometimes get so caught up with your studies you forget to explore the other opportunities University offers outside of academic studies. The Zine collection is an assortment of alternative and individual pieces housed at London College of Communications and is just one example of the unique collections that can be explored here. By Rosie Clack-Walsh

Pix from LCC’s zine collection (c) Rosie Clack-Walsh

Zines originated as a form of expression for subcultures to circulate their work, developing popularity from the ‘70s onwards. The zine collection can be found within the library at LCC and can be viewed upon request. It holds a variety of genres for a multiple of interests, from feminism, music to football fanzines. Upon holding the Zines, you really do get to feel the time and originality of each homemade piece. As you flick through each delicate page that has been carefully preserved within plastic folders and through visitors being encouraged to wash their hands with sanitized wipes prior to handling the work. As a result of this each piece has a personal feel, unlike any magazine you could purchase from your local shop. Instead you can imagine the author sat at home creating this publication with the intention of getting their own personal style and opinion across without censorship.

There is an astounding variety of styles amongst the collection, some are bold with neon colours and letters printed across the front while others have exquisite drawings spread over each page. The zine collection has over 4000 pieces that have been collected over the past 10 years and is continuously growing. Terry Thompson, an assistant academic support librarian in the information skills team at LCC, explains the zines are “all unique, not replaceable”. For example, there are multiple pieces published by feminist punk movement Riot Grrrl, which were donated to the collection. These zines were published in the height of zine popularity, as from the 1970s onwards zine production grew along with the growth of alternative movements as it gave space for self-published and non-profit publications that diverted the rules of mainstream media.

REVIEW 3: A ZINGING ZINE COLLECTION

Elephant and Castle’s London College of Communication is home to thousands of zines. Zines go beyond the mainstream, in style and content. Terry Thompson delivers an exciting, rich history of zines, showing off all they have to offer. Zines catch the eye immediately and it soon becomes clear why they were once so popular. Written by Louise Garfield

  • Intended audience students for publication on a personal blog
Zines in the LCC collection. (C) NB

For many people, zines are unfamiliar territory. Zines originated as an underground, alternative way of circulating art, stories and subcultures. Zines take their inspiration from a ‘do-it-yourself’ philosophy and many of them have a ‘cut and paste’ appearance as they are usually produced on bedroom floors, followed with the help of a photocopier. London College of Communication (LCC) is home to over 4,000 different Zines from all genres and spanning back many decades, kept in impeccable condition. Terry Thompson, the System Academic Support Librarian from the Information Skills Team at LCC speaks with obvious excitement about the zine collection.

Hidden away in one of the back room’s in the LCC library, there’s an array of zines laid out on every available surface and folders of them in every corner to flip through. The room is almost clinical, bright white and special care must be taken to handle the zines. All hands must be squeaky clean and pens are forbidden, a single blue ink blot could tarnish an entire zine. This is a major contrast to the way zines were originally distributed and handled. Zines were sold in arts shops, music shops, thrift shops and available in pubs. There’s no doubt they weren’t kept in the best condition, with curled edges, fingerprints, food stains and perhaps the odd ring form where someone placed their pint, only for a short moment.

As someone with a keen interest in art and graphic design, I realised as soon as I laid eyes on the front covers of the zines that this wasn’t like any old magazine you could buy in the shop, this was art. The variety in style was astounding. “Zines are a unique expression of what someone wants to portray,” said Terry. Some had intricately hand-drawn illustrations on the front, others were screen-printed, some featured photography and others gave nothing away at all, only telling you the title of the zine. Some zines caught your attention immediately, using loud, neon, colours, whereas some others had a much softer appearance. They say you should never judge a book by its cover (in this case, a zine). However, when I turned the leaf, I was just as impressed with the content of the zine’s as I was their front covers.

The zines were a complete surprise. Some of them allowed for genuine laugh out loud moments, which from reading doesn’t happen too often. Zines are created with confidence, many of them comment on current events using sarcasm. Their creators aren’t afraid to be brutally honest and sometimes brash. The zine ‘Shocking’ tore apart hipster culture, whilst ‘Electraz’, a self-proclaimed, feminist zine ridiculed men with ‘big dick attitudes’. Terry explained that zines “give people a voice”, zines do not need to censor themselves, and as a result they make extremely alluring reads. It’s as if your reading all the thoughts someone has, but they’re too afraid to say aloud. The zine collection at LCC is one which everyone will soon want to venture back to and one which the University is lucky to have, featuring works from the International underground feminist movement ‘Riot Grrrl’ and many others, it’s bound to impress.

  • To check the Zine Collection information visit arts.ac.uk/library and navigate to Collections & Archives.
  • For further information about accessing the London College of Communication zine collection, or to donate zines to it, contact: libraryspeccolls@arts.ac.uk

REVIEW 4: ZINE SCENE

This Zine collection is a demonstration of the variety of possibilities and ways to go about zines. A review by Rebeca Peláez

  • Intended audience: young adults publication: Teen Vogue
Taking notes during an intro to LCC’s zine collection (NB)

“Zines are a unique expression of what someone wants to convey,” said LCC Terry Thompson, the assistant academic support librarian, showed the collection that the university holds.

Zines are self-published works and are not profitable. They are not part of mainstream culture, they are meant to be alternative and analogue pieces of work, and this collection has a variety of zines that demonstrate the different forms of expression people found through DIYs and paper. Zines are not only about the product but also about a community, a group of people sharing similar interests.

“This kind of genre gives representation and voice to voices that would otherwise not be heard,” said Terry. By the late 1990s, zines became very popular dealing with themes of sci- fi, punk music, and the riot girl movement.

At LCC there is a collection of more than 4,000 zines. This collection is a demonstration of the variety of possibilities and ways to go about zines. It shows how they are vehicles for people to express alternative views with titles like “Sniffin’ Glue” a zine from March 1977, which covers punk bands like The Clash, The Ramones, and Joy Division. The collection has zines that date back to the 1970s.

Verdict: impressive and well-preserved. Go visit.

REVIEW 5: GOT SOME SPARE TIME? GO CHECK OUT A ZINE

London College of Communication, which is located in Elephant and Castle, contains an artful collection of Zines available for observation upon request. Report by Hannah Sinyor.

  • Intended Publication: London College of Communication Blog
  • Audience: London College of Communication students

Raw, truthful and irreplaceably relatable would be the best way to describe the Zine collection displayed at LCC. Not everyone has time to explore the endless exhibitions held around London, however, if you do go see one at the university it should be the Zine collection which contains more than 4,000 zines and fanzines. The zines are varied in topic, style and format and cover art, music, photography, politics, personal stories.

A Zine is a self-published work of original or appropriated texts and images, usually reproduced via photocopier. Zines are the product of either a single person or of a small group and are popularly photocopied into physical prints for circulation. The internet is the current popular platform majority of people use to speak their mind, nevertheless, the Zines on display at London College of Communication create a strong impact on readers.

Many of the Zines contained bold lettering, images and crude writing; a unique combination not found in many mainstream contemporary magazines and media articles.  The constant use of curse words in many of the Zines is unnerving yet, somehow, liberating. They address guilty pleasures and taboo thoughts making much of the text extremely controversial but blissfully readable. For example, a Zine named ‘Electra 2’ contained a whole article on why women should call out men when they brag about their sexual history.

The authors’ passion to speak up and write is so clear and refreshing. Many of the zines contain writing which is extremely passionate and guilt-free.  Addressing the readers in a very personal manner and referring to their authors on a first name basis works well for readers. And by using informal language to express their motivational ideas the writers connect with their readers, inspiring us to take action and speak out.

The Zines vary in length. Most are only a couple of pages whereas others prove to be quite extensive. What makes the Zine collection so exciting and eye-catching is the unique presentation of each individual Zine. Not only are the covers expressive but the content layout is also creative. For example, one Zine had a word search used as a background for their text.

Many zines display considerable artistic talent; some are comic-like with beautiful sketches and animations while others have this appealing authentic vibe to them. Louise, a third-year student studying Contemporary Media Cultures at LCC, found that the collection was “artistic and enjoyable with many strong political messages”. There are no rules, boundaries or guidelines when it comes to Zines, therefore, there is no need to have any previous knowledge in order to appreciate this collection.

For more details on the collection here

REVIEW 6: ZINES, A SMALL SIZE FOR A BIG MESSAGE 

We all know our library offers an amazing variety of resources and this article aim is to introduce you to the latest I have encountered, the Zine collection, something worth considering. Report by Alberto Bernardini

  • Audience: LCC students
  • Intended publication: LCC blog

During the visit to the Zine London College of Communication archive a collection of over 4000 Zine magazines collected was presented by Terry Thompson, Assistance Academic Support Librarian in the information skill team at LCC. The Zines included copies from the ‘70s such as the iconic punk Zine Sniffin’ Glue and many others. The archive, located in the library, functions as an incredibly useful resource for any sort of research regarding movements such as feminism or sub-cultures born in England. A useful resource for students, but at the same time it can be considered, as it was for my personal experience, as an interesting way to approach to something I didn’t know about. We have all seen magazines on the streets or shops, but do we ever really think about their relevance or their history? Apparently there is a whole lot to discover and a whole lot to admire when it comes to Zines.

What surprised me the most was the gripping presence of graphics and illustrations. Many Zines tend to capture your attention by using a series of pictures or comics made by amateurs which, with their simplicity, address messages in a raw and honest way. This aspect makes them perfect when it comes to controversial topics you wouldn’t usually read about in a “normal” magazine at the time, such as the Punk Music movement, Feminism or minor political parties. This is also a second aspect of Zines that has to be considered and that I appreciated, taboo topics and the freedom to discuss them. Of the many Zines I had the pleasure to encounter one surprised me, not enough for me to remember the name of the Zine, but enough foo me to remember the article from one of its writers, Alice Cunning. The feminist Zine aimed to address sexuality and sexual tendencies, such as BDSM, as not something feminism should criticise but on the other hand something that should make women empowered and proud. That feminist anti feminist article was definitely a zine at its best.

Links: https://www.arts.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0021/15717/Zinecollection.pdf

REVIEW 7:  RETURN OF THE ZINES

Feminism, punk and football – only some of the topics covered by the zines in London College of Communication’s Zine Collection. Report by Katie Horan

  • Audience – students / potential at LCC
  • Publication – course blog

“Zines give representation and voice to voices unheard,” says Terry Thompson, an assistant academic support librarian and in the information skills team based at London College of Communication (LCC) showed students on the course around a collection of zines. There was a selection from zines on feminism to music. Some were analogue and others were digital. We were all told to be careful with them as they were fragile and could break easily as he had some that were made as early as the 1970s. All zines are self-published and not for profit.

Before we looked through the zines, Terry explained about their history and explained the difference between fanzines and zines. Fanzines started in the 1940s and were the publishing output of the fan community. They were used for sharing views and opinions. The main example that he used for the earliest fanzines were the punk fanzines of the 1970s which were so controversial that the mainstram media was trying to steer people away from the culture. One example that Thompson had available from this era was Sniffin Gluewhose main point was to portray a message and communicate this message. Riot Grrl, a feminist punk movement had many zines in this collection. These were published when zines were at their most popular. However, one zine that caught my interest the most was called No because it had a mirror at the back followed by the words ‘Take a look at yourself, you are f****** beautiful’. I thought that this was a very interesting design.

The major connection between all of the zines was that there was no consistency. There was no set of rules for these creators to conform to. Thompson also spoke about the Hillsborough disaster where fans used a fanzine called In When Saturday Comesto get their truth out against the mainstream media. Each zine that was laid out on the tables in front of us were bound together in different ways – some were stapled together, some were sewn with wool and some were even packs of cards.

Out with the old and in with the new but sometimes the old often comes back into style which is exactly what zines are doing today.

REVIEW 8: SPARE TIME? GO CHECK OUT A ZINE

London College of Communication, which is located in Elephant and Castle, contains an artful collection of Zines available for observation upon request. Report by Hannah Sinyor

  • Intended Publication: London College of Communication Blog
  • Audience: London College of Communication students, freelance writers, lecturers

Raw, truthful and irreplaceably relatable is the best way to describe the Zine collection displayed at LCC. Not everyone has time during their day to go and explore the multiple exciting exhibitions that you hear about, however, if you do go see one it should be the Zine collection. The collection currently contains more than 3000 zines and fanzines. The zines are varied in topic, style and format and cover art, music, photography, politics, personal stories.

A Zine is a self-published work of original or appropriated texts and images, usually reproduced via photocopier. Zines are the product of either a single person or of a very small group and are popularly photocopied into physical prints for circulation. The internet is the current popular platform majority of people use to speak their mind, nevertheless, the Zines on display at London College of Communication provide, what some would say, is a  very strong impact on readers.

Many of the Zines contained bold lettering, images and crude writing; a diverse combination not found in many mainstream contemporary magazines and media articles.  The constant use of curse words is unnerving yet, somehow, liberating. They address guilty pleasures and taboo thoughts making much of the text extremely controversial but compelling. For example, a Zine named ‘Electra 2’ contained a whole article on why women should curse out men when they brag about their sexual history.

Their passion to speak up and write is so clear and refreshing. Many of the zines contain writing which is extremely passionate and guilt-free making it such an entertaining and shocking read. Addressing the readers in a very personal manner and referring to their authors on a first name basis creates an informal and relaxed relationship between an author and the reader. It is clear to see that by using informal language to express their motivational ideas they connect with their readers and inspire them to take action and speak the truth for what they believe in. For example, Electra 2 encouraged strong female behaviour along with advice on how to live a fun carefree social life.

The Zines vary in length. Most are only a couple of pages whereas others prove to be pages upon pages.  What makes the Zine collection so exciting and eye-catching is the unique presentation of each individual Zine. Not only are the covers expressive but the content layout is also creative. For example, one Zine had a word search used as a background for their text.

Many zines display boundless artistic talent; some are comic-like with beautiful sketches and animations while others have this appealing authentic vibe to them. Louise, a third-year student studying Contemporary Media Cultures at LCC, she found that the collection was “artistic and enjoyable with many strong political message” and she recommends it to every one of all ages. There are no rules, boundaries or guidelines when it comes to Zines, therefore, there is no need to have any previous knowledge to appreciate this collection.

REVIEW 9: THE ZINE SCENE

Tucked away behind library meeting rooms hides one of the London College of Communication’s (LCC) many insider secrets: the Zine Collection. Third year Contemporary Media Cultures student Yves Vanenburg reviews the wide range of zines ranging from the obscene to the clean and everything in-between

The LCC Zine Collection is home to over 4000 zines that have been collected over the course of the past decade. Librarian and graphic/ typography specialist Terry Thompson explains that the historic and cultural significance of zines lies in their ability to represent. After providing a brief history of zines, Terry notes that zines “give representation and power to voices that would otherwise not be heard.” He continues: “fans were able to get their voices out there and have their stories heard.”

Contemporary zines culture in the United Kingdom can be traced back to the punk movement of the 1970s. Amateur, fan-created zines played a significant role in keeping members of the punk subculture informed on what was happening in the scene. Zines proved to be a powerful tool of dissemination in connecting different scenes (regions or cities) and bands in a pre-internet era.

Before you’re allowed to interact with the zines, moist towelettes are passed around to ensure preservation and cleanliness of the zines. Additionally, if you’re planning on taking any notes they will have to be done in pencil (Ink and rare zines are not a good combination!).

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