R. Klanten, A. Mollard, M. Hubner – Behind the Zines: Self-publishing Culture

R. Klanten

Die Gestalten Verlag, ISBN-13: 978-3899553369, 240 pages, 2011, English
If you’re stuck with the concept of zines as a product of punk, you’d better check this book and learn how “self-publishing” in print has evolved. A book about magazines has always been a kind of celebration, turning the issues of the “expiring” magazines into history in the pages of a (non-expiring) book. But even more important than the many visuals here are the inspiring interviews that have been collected. This is not a catalogue of countless design/photography-based publications, but a cutting-edge selection of small western publishers and their “products”. It is, of course, a partial selection, but one that outlines an updated scenario that now includes “limited editions” by small operations to balance the focus on more established magazines. The collection touches on most of the galaxy of genres in the zine “tradition” (personal, humorous, verbose, purely graphical and so on). The book is divided into five chapters: ‘Gallery’ – focusing on low-budget sequential zines; ‘Archive’ – embodying the obsessions of avid collectors; ‘Laboratory’ – embracing experiments on any level; ‘Kiosk’ – regular, established zines; and ‘Theater’ – those held together by a narrative. Compared to the blogosphere this is a different world, although the influence of internet design and culture is clearly perceivable. And if you were wondering how much fetishism is left in the printed medium, it seems to be still alive here in the handcrafted pages and special printing techniques. So print returns as a truly “alternative” medium.