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Zines and Ezines

What is an ezine(pronounced e zeen)? Here is a brief history. “Zine” is short for fanzine or magazine. It came into use in the 1970’s. They were generally produced by one person or a small group of persons. They tended to be irrelevant, bizarre and/or esoteric, sometimes downright edgy. They were not commercial, they did not contain advertisements and they targeted a small audience. Early zines were cut and paste (literally) or mimeographed. One of the origins of zines were the ‘pulp’ Science Fiction Magazines starting in the 1930’s. Fans started to write lengthy letters to the editor and gradually started to write to each other with mailing lists generated by the published letters. Fanzines then became to be written by ardent fans in esoteric areas. Perzines evolved as personal letters about themselves. The more “fannish” fanzine publishers had a shared sensibility and at least as much interest in their relationships between fans as in the literature that inspired it. In the 1970’s, the punk zines emerged as part of the punk movement in the UK and the U.S.A.

During the 1980s and onwards, Factsheet Five, now defunct, catalogued and reviewed any zine or small press creation sent to it, along with their mailing addresses. In doing so, it formed a networking point for zine creators and readers. The concept of zine as an art form distinct from fanzine, and of the “zinesters” as member of their own subculture, had emerged. Zines of this era covered topics that today would be found on the web, which didn’t exist at that time. The early 1990s riot grrrl scene encouraged an explosion of zines of a more raw and explicit, more confrontational and defi nitely more gender-balanced nature. Following this, zines enjoyed a brief period of attention from conventional media and a number of zines were collected and published in book form. Zines started to fade in the late 1990s, as the internet started to explode.

Another more graphic influence were comic books of the 40’s and 50’s that proliferated in style and content. The underground comics of the 60’s took on the drugs and the hippie culture of the time. Robert Crumb started Zap Comix in 1968, with such memorable characters as Mr. Natural, Fritz the Cat, and Devil Girl.

Ezines are a more specialized term appropriately applied to small magazines and newsletters distributed by any electronic method. Some social groups may use the terms cyberzine and hyperzine when referring to electronically distributed resources. Similarly, some online magazines may refer to themselves as “electronic magazines” to refl ect their readership demographics, and more importantly to capture alternative terms and spellings in online searches. Many large print-publishers now provide digital reproduction of their print magazine titles through various online services for a fee. These service providers also refer to their collections of these digital format products as online magazines, and sometimes as digital magazines. Currently, ezines can take multiple forms. The sensibilities of the original zines lives on in personal blogs and fan blogs of all types. Many ezines are now published as small literary or academic areas of interest.

In an example of a recent trend, the New York Times reports that two former staffers of Domino, an interior design magazine, were mourning its demise and the demise of other magazines devoted to interior design. They decided to start their own on-line magazine called Lonny. The first issue was put up in October. It is small by print standards, having been read by 600,000 people. But it has caught the eye of the industry and advertisers. The two put up a $1000 of their own money and bartered for equipment and space. Lonny is published every other month using Issuu, a Web platform. On the web pages, Lonny appears with pages to turn, a table of contents and full-page ads. But it has Web-only features like zoomable and clickable images. The cost is low as Ms. Adams styles and edits, and Mr. Cline photographs everything. They hired an assistant who attends shoots, and keeps track of various items in the photographs.