Do It Yourself – Do a zine
When I started to work on the first issue of my zine I contacted some people with questions about what would be the best way to do “x” or how i could get “y” done. I figured other people would have the same questions, not only with zines, but with all other D.I.Y. aspects, that pretty much gave me the idea to do this D.I.Y. special. But since issue #1 is sold out and I still see people asking these questions, it’s probably a good idea to put it on here. Just sharing the knowledge. The most important thing though is to do it by heart and enjoy what you’re doing. Make some mistakes, learn from it.
The more tips the better, so put your own tips in the comments!
Clocked In / Ignorance Is Strength
Just start a fanzine
A lot of people don’t start their own fanzine, just cause they think it’s too much work. Although is prety time-consuming, when you just do it bit by bit you’ll have something finished in the end. Most problems you’ll face are easily solved and it’s so satisfying to have the final result in your hands! Don’t think too much about it, just do it!
Try to keep coming up with good questions
A lot of the times, fanzines contain almost the same questions. Try to do your own thing and ask question you would wanna know. Dig deeper into lyrics, into the past of the person you’re interviewing or just ask questions based upon answers you got back!
Choose bands you like
You can go for bands you don’t really like or know, but just interview them because they’re popular or you can pick bands you really like. If you go fo this last option the interviews will probably be a lot cooler and the line-up for your zine will be different from most other fanzines. You see a lot of the same bands in the fanzines in a certain period, so to be diverse will set your zine apart and will avoid people having to read the same answers over again.
Add some columns
Okay, I also slacked in this department with my first zine but I really think a zine with some personal input is way more interesting than others. Just try and write something up, I sometimes have troubles with this, but just give it a try and something good will eventually come out of it. How cool are most older fanzines, which are almost based upon columns it seems. If you’re just no good at it, ask some friends to help you out!
Go for it the oldschool way
This is more of a personal opinion, but I appreciate cut ‘n paste fanzines way more than most computer zines. Although if you have the skills it can be real cool (Send in the clones or Reflections magazine for instance), some cool old-school looking fanzine has lots more value to me. But that’s just my opinion!
Do not think it is easy to make a good zine. It takes a lot of effort and issues to deal with. It is also bad for your social life and consumes all your time which you could also have spent on making out with hot girls or petty boys.
Do your research! Whether you interview a a band, write a column, review or article. Dive into the background of your topic and come up with something original. We can find a band’s discography and their tour plans on their myspace and no one is interested in singer X of band Y’s favourite tattoo.
Make it look nice! I don’t care if you are a lay out talent or not. But at least do a decent job and take care of print and copy quality, use sharp contrasted pics (dark and greyish won’t work under a xerox machine, pre test if neccessary!). Well, I think you get the message. It may sound discouraging, but it is ment to help you make something nice. There are not many zines anymore in this internet era. So if you make one against the grain, all the glory to you. But if you want it to get some attention, it better be good!
Just fucking DO it! Hardcore needs more people who are willing to contribute to this ‘scene’. This is the most important thing I can say. The most, and in my opinion, really important bonus you get with doing a zine, is that you’re getting to know people. Knowing other people is inspirational, and you might learn a thing or two as well. I know that it’s a lot of work, at least to do something good. But think about it: Most of the population on this planet are wasting their lives away.. hard work never killed someone, and on top of it: it is FUN! But as said, the most rewarding aspect I’ve got from doing Reflections Magazine was all the great people I got to know… which brings me to tip number 2:
Try to interview in person. Email and AIM may work fine, it never beats talking with someone in real life. I seriously had conversations with people (Rob Fish, Brian Dingledine, Rob Pennington, Greg Bennick, Ray Cappo) that we somehow build a friendship in those 60 minutes we talked. Remember we’re ALL hardcore kids, there is a certain connection. When doing an interview (and if possible, here’s another tip: try to get a little personal. It’s way more interesting to know more about WHY someone does what he/she does) make sure you know at least a little bit about the person you’re talking to. Know the lyrics, and try to figure out what they mean (or ask that!)
Don’t worry about money and ads. It’s cool to ask labels if they want to put an ad in your zine. AND pay for it, but it’s not very realistic to do that with your first issue is it? Same goes for promo CD’s. Back when everyone was into doing zines (GOOD times! ha!) we got tons fo requests from kids saying: “hey, I’m starting to work on a zine, coming in 6 months. Can you send me promo CD’s?” That doesn’t work.. IF you however make a zine, have it done well, it doesn’t hurt sending a few to labels (at least to us!) it’s always cool to get free stuff isn’t it? However, try to save a little money so you can pay for printing them (copying is fine, quality is perfect these days) and that it doesn’t matter you might not get all that money back. The fun and the experience can’t be paid for anyway. And simply look at it: You’re CREATING something. Something (even though you it might embarass the shit out of you in ten years) you can show your kids… I’m not kidding! I’ve got all issues from Reflections neatly filed and even though they go back 10 years, I’m still proud of what we did…. As said in tip no. 1: DO IT!!!
Value Of Strength
Dedication/ will to invest time, mostly people underestimate the amount of time and energy you’ve to invest in the making of a fanzine. this is definitely the first and my foremost advise I would like to give to kids before they even start thinking about doing a zine.
Look into other zines before you start doing your own. definitely don’t think you’re going to be original and do something new that hasn’t be done before, because it simply isn’t. therefore look to other zines what direction (content & lay out wise) you want your fanzine to head into and give it your own personal touch. it’s the small things that make a huge difference. when you come to the point that you actually start interviewing people make sure that you have your questions prepared and more importantly try to be original and avoid asking the usual stuff that you can read in the majority of other zines. Invest some time looking up (on the internet f.e.) what the person or band is about that you’re going to talk to, dig into their lives and make it personal. Try to avoid questions like, when is your next record coming out.
Not the most important thing but definitely worth mentioning is that you got to inform yourself about postage costs and packaging. After releasing 10 issues of VOS this still is the one thing that I always overlook and if I didn’t forget about it I underestimated the amount of money involved in sending out packages. So make sure to be on top of this and save lots of money by figuring things out on forehand otherwise you’ve to pay the price. One very important way figuring out about postage costs, and on saving money this way, is to decide the total amount of pages of the zine before you start working on it (interviewing bands and writing reviews). All of this makes it a lot easier in case you want f.e. start taking pre orders and/or decide the price to run ads.
Wake Up And Live
A few INTERVIEWS
in depth please, not in the sense that you’re asking philosophic questions, but in the sense that we want to read what Mr X. From Band Y has to say, something interesting, something that only he could answer.. not something random everyone already knows..
A few BACKGROUNDS, if the old Bad Brains flyer file from that punk website has 4kb, it won’t look good on a full page… it will look pixelized and that’s something you don’t want for your fanzine.. cool stuff that works:
a) “noise” effect (like when your tv image has rain on it)
b) “halftone pattern” effect (it turns a picture into little dots like it’s from an old newspaper),
c) black page (looks sober, looks clean, looks classy.. don’t abuse it though cut and paste fanzines are supposed to be rough)
d) white/black stripes (zebra style)
e) wrinkled paper (looked good then, looks good now)
f) brick wall (freakin sweet)
g) crappy hand drawn flyer (can’t beat a classic)
h) a picture with a nice composition (Right Brigade 7”, x watch, a tour pass, keys, a black marker.. your friend’s little sister picture..you name it!)
A few PICTURES and these better turn out ok..it’s 2008 not 1982
a) I edit pictures on photoshop pushing a bit of contrast, not too much, just so that the picture doesn’t stay too greyish, that’s something you’ll want to avoid cause the double printing process those pictures will go through will mess up and blur everything, so you’ll want to have the black, the white and the greyscale pretty separated.
b) pictures go through two steps where they can lose a lot of quality, the first is printing it from the computer and the second is copying it from the “master” to the hundreds of copies.. that’s why I don’t use my home printer (even if I had a 3000 euro printer I wouldn’t use it..) I go to staples and pay extra to use those laser printers or something.. I want the picture to have the best quality possible, and I only print high resolution pictures, at least 300 dpi.. and then when discussing prices and details on the small shops I specifically tell them I need the black looking black and not grey (they usually don’t want to waste ink)
c) choose different pics, don’t always use the same jump pic or the singalong pic… try to be creative when taking pictures on shows and when asking photographers for pictures choose pictures with different angles.
A few EXTRAS
This is important, to me it’s what defines a fanzine, what turns a fanzine special it’s the amount of extras in it. Beware: extras aren’t filler, extras are what makes a fanzine sought after, may go from retarded rants, bogus interviews, laughable reviews, stupid drawings, articles, top 10’s, columns.. being creative doing something never made, it’s essential, but so hard to achieve…
GETTING IT DONE!
I’m a cheap bastard, I’d love to print professional fanzines but that isn’t a easy process over here so I usually print it at these local shops they have over here mainly for students to copy their books and notes, I go to the main stores kinko’s, staples and ask them how much would it be to copy 500 fanzines, I bring one with me, so they do their math and tell me how much it is, then I go to those little shops, which don’t pay taxes and stuff and tell them I got these offers from the main stores and how much would they offer me. It’s nothing professional… it’s just normal xerox printers. I you can use the professional ones look better and the paper is lighter which will become an advantage when sending it through snail mail!
Sight Beyond Sight
Erik Anarchy’s Dos and Don’ts of zinery
“Part of the scene – not just the scenery”
1) Do it yourself. D’uh… DIY or die.
2) Do it for yourself. And certainly not for the money. Chances are you’ll end up losing it. Forget external rewards. Forget fame. Forget fortune. That’s the beauty of it. Do your zine for the sake of nothing but your zine. This is your chance to express exactly what you want to express. Nothing more, nothing less.
3) Do pour your heart, mind and soul into it. No matter how you do it, it will take a lot of time and energy. Half-hearted is half-brained. You owe it to yourself to make the most of it. If not, what’s the point of all the sleepless nights with scissors and glue and all the stolen moments at the Xerox machine during work hours?
4) Do steal. If you don’t steal from your boss, you’re stealing from your family. And your friends. And the scene. Reclaim your surplus value by taking whatever you can from work. Copy machine. Computer. Printer. Pencils. Paper. Time. Anything. Also, steal ideas, pictures, logos etc. as you see fit. Property is theft, and copyright is for corporate bloodsuckers. Their rules do not apply. This is your zine, and you rule.
1) Don’t apologize. I don’t need you to tell me how much your zine sucks. I can easily figure that out for myself, thank you. “Ok, first, boring question…” “I know this zine was supposed to be out last summer, but…” “I hate writing intros….” Then fucking DON’T!
2) Don’t follow a formula. Welcome to the underground, my friend. I’ve got news for you: You are free from the straitjacket of mainstream press. The slate is clean. There is no should, no must, no standard to live up to. You don’t need a review section. Or interviews. Or pictures. Or writings. Or even paper. Anything is possible. The impossible? Demand it!
3) Don’t try to please anyone but yourself. Fuck everyone else. They can do their own zine.
4) Don’t let me tell you what to do and what not to do.
Life’s too short for emails. Write me a letter.
Believe In Yourself And What You’re Doing
You have to have faith in what you’re doing, whether it’s a zine or a band. If you don’t believe in what you’re doing, and that belief doesn’t manifest itself in your work, then whey should other people want to read your work or listen to you? Be strong, be confident, adopt a PMA and stick with it – it’ll carry you through.
Don’t Dumb Down
Never talk down to anyone. Always assume that your audience is at least as intelligent as you are and write with that in mind – think of it as writing for yourself, and if you like the finished product, then the chances are that others will too..
Plenty of people can copy something that someone else has done before, so don’t do it. Be yourself, use your ideas, be original, let your personality shine through whatever it is you’re doing. That’s what people will pick up on, your ideas, your thoughts, your musings…
Talk to People
Ask around and see if anyone has any practical advice about some of the things that don’t usually pop up in everyday conversation – printing prices, distribution, sales, trades….Most people are willing to give you as much advice as they can, so be prepared to listen and take advice.
D.I.Y All The Way Baby…
DIY doesn’t mean that something has to look terrible, it just means that you do it yourself. Use everything that you have at your disposal to the best of your ability and create something from nothing. Look at MRR, Reflections and Flipside – all DIY magazines, and all incredible, and perfect examples of what you can do if you try. Do It Yourself, all the time, every time…
Act like a scenestar, pick the right make up, dress the right way, run a label, put up a show and photograph at shows.