Blog No. 56
Adventure Worlds is moving forward (with a lot of hard work from my fellow writers). I’m going to have a post that looks back on the progress we made this year at the end of the month, but for now I just want to talk about one idea we are going to be exploring in the New Year. We hope to make a series of local zines to promote our stories and to really build a fan base in our city. We have a whole series planned (or at least hoped for) and I for one could not be more excited. Not only do I think it is going to be a great way for us to build readers but I think it is going to be really cool and a lot of fun to make them and spread them around the city (and maybe even further). I have always been a fan of the concept of zines. It’s similar to an independent newspaper (which I have also always really liked) but it is even more direct and free of structural conformity. While independent newspapers tend to have a sense of exploration and enthusiasm ziens have even more freedom.
Since ziens are usually more focused on art (and are often made by people who are “against the system”) there are even fewer rules. There were a couple of zines floating around at my high school. I knew the creators of one of the more consistent publications and got to feel like I was on the inside. They would put them in a locker and pass the lock combination around to a few people who could go and get the newest issues. The whole thing was really high school, but so was I back then and I thought it was really cool. Even looking back on it now I think it was pretty neat. The content may not have stood up to maturing (believe it or not I am actually more mature than I was in high school), but the idea is still really charming.
I was inspired by those xeroxed copies that floated around my school (I dug around and found a couple I had kept) and I tried to convince my friends to make one of our own. If I remember correctly we go as far as going to Staples to get supplies and we may have made a rough copy with tape and glue. I’m a little disappointed we didn’t get any further along in the process, but it is probably like the writing I did (and mostly didn’t do) in high school. I’m disappointed I didn’t do more writing, but the stuff I did do wasn’t very good. Still, the idea stuck with me and eventually I went to school for journalism (not that zines had any influence on that – or did they?).
While in journalism (which on a side not what a really great time in my life and as it happens was where I men Justin from Adventure Worlds – and how long has it been since I directed people there?) I learned a lot about writing and layout and I even got to put to put together a couple small publications of my own. I did use some of the old material (like the cover image drawn by a friend) for one of the projects, and it actually turned out alright. I tried to use some of the old ideas and interest but with my new found writing and layout skills. A classmate made a couple test issues of a really cool zine that he intended to put out. It was really high quality from the cover to the articles, but it suffered from one of the most common downfalls (in my opinion) that zines face.
The big problem is always content. Some zines are simply cool artistic impressions and are designed as little more than a public sketch book (with the odd ambiguous quote thrown in). Others are cool but don’t have enough in them and we have that in the bag. Now we have to build the hyper textual stuff to fit around the text itself. I think we’re going to need some help. We have a couple of people in our group who are visually artistic and I have a grand vision of what I think it can be but we’ll need more help in that department.
Our concept may not imbue the spirit of a real zine, but I think the term will most fit what we are trying to create. It will definitely be local and will be bursting at the seams with art. And come to think of it, going it alone the way we are is still kind of antiestablishment-(ary) in the publishing world. For us it’s all about fans. Not necessarily that we need a way to boost our ego (though I am always up for that) but in the way that we are going to need a group of people who will be already interested in buying our books when we publish them. What better way than to provide readers with content in a cool way and build that fan base locally along with on the web? Now that I think about it, maybe I was hasty in saying it’s all about the fans. In a way it is, and I believe in the statement enough to not go delete it, but even if we didn’t have anyone but our group reading our stories, we would all probably still be writing them. And I’m not going to lie; I’m pretty excited to get a zine of my own out in the ether.