Ah, the 80’s. In those days appeared the first video games, great music, and good movies, and the zine culture flourished.
Before there were social media, there were fanzines. Science fiction fans created one in the early 20th century, but other underground groups quickly took over this format.
This aesthetic of challenging mainstream ideas connected with a DIY attitude has made the zine format very popular today. Anyone could and can make their own zine, these days using their own computers.
With Publuu you can use your zine-making skills to create an online magazine that will still look cool, help you stay in touch, and will keep the spirit of independent publishing alive.
In this article, we’ll explain what is a zine, how to make your own zines, and how to make a zine using popular zine software.
What is a zine?
The word “zine” is simply short for “magazine,” or “fan magazine”. But it’s not about the format only: a zine is an unofficial publication, often distributed in stores or between clubs, run by fans. The first zine-type publications were SF fan magazines, where fans discussed books, and radio plays and published their own short stories.
A zine is now recognized as a self-published, independent print or online publication. It usually conveys a distinctive point of view on particular issues that are outside the mainstream. Fanzines are independent publications created by science-fiction fans, hackers, metal fans, queer people, and feminists. In many countries in the 1980s and 1990s, they were a tool of the opposition to criticize totalitarian governments outside the mainstream media.
For the most part of the twentieth century you needed a mimeograph template for making zines. The designer had to design their own zine and create it on a typewriter and draw the illustrations themselves. Often the first zines consisted of usually only one single-sided sheet of printer paper, so as to save yourself work – these were the so-called accordion zines.
Mimeographs were found in offices and schools, so teenagers often had to beg their teachers to let them publish a magazine or a zine in, say, a hundred copies. Then these zine makers would ride their bikes around town and sell or leave the zine in clubs and stores. A poetry zine would be displayed in libraries, music zine in record stores, and so on.
However, in the 80s, the photocopy machine appeared. Instead of hundreds of copies, you could create a thousand of them! And then came home computers – not personal computers like IBM, but they made DTP easier. If you were lucky and had a Commodore 64 with the GEOS program you could create your zine, print all the pages on a dot-matrix printer (which took hours), draw the cover, and drop it onto a photocopier. More savvy zine makers didn’t have to use the printer paper folded three times, now they could create a huge 16-page zine!
When personal computers supplanted home computers, the international zine fashion moved to the Internet. But zines never went away for good – and today the zine aesthetic has returned in the form of self-publishing. In fact, independent content now has a wider audience than ever.
Publuu – best online zine maker
As most of the zine world has moved online, Publuu may be the best solution for publishing independent content, like zines, online. Self-publishing with Publuu has never been easier – all it takes is to upload the PDF and Publuu will transform it into a great digital zine.
There’s no need to stand in line in the copy store. Viewing a realistic zine or magazine from Publuu feels like you’re interacting with a real publication – and it’s easy to share and distribute online. You can start distributing your online zine in seconds.
Publuu allows users to quickly transform a zine from a PDF file or even a scanned paper version into a digital publication that can be shared on social media, websites and email. Working digitally has never been so much fun!
Publuu’s online zine example
View more online zine examples
In addition, you can incorporate audio and video files into your content to combine the classic form with new forms of independent content. It’s also easy to add links to relevant content, interesting products or new albums of your favorite band.
Publuu is the best option for independent publishers, since it’s very affordable. All the issues of your zines can be safely stored in an digital newsstand, for your friends to read.
How to make a zine PDF?
The first step you need to take if you want to publish your zine is to determine what you want to write about. And you can write about anything you want. Zines are generally not made for money. A good zine is made out of passion and ideas. If you love cooking, poetry, or TV series, it’s worth writing about.
However, don’t write a zine alone, ask your buddies to help you. Zine-making can be a great group activity – the more ideas you have, the bigger your target audience. And if your zine becomes more recognizable online, ask others to submit poetry, drawings, essays, and collages. There are plenty of great creators you can connect with, as long as you move in the same direction.
When you know what the zine will be about, think about the content of the first issue. You only have a few pages at your disposal. Think about what will be in the first issue and choose a topic for one or two articles.
You now need to choose a format: do you want to create accordion zines, or maybe a 16-page A5-sized notebook? You can also use Publuu to publish digital zine online. Below we will present zine templates for programs such as Canva and Microsoft Word, but you can always construct your zine from paper and glue, write it by hand or print it on an old-school printer.
Think carefully about the overall color scheme, font selection, and other design aspects that will help the zine make a certain impression. You can use a monotype font like Courier New to give the text a typewritten feel.
Many classic zines were created on an A3 piece of paper, printed one-sided. As a result, the zine was just one page of content, spread on 6 A6 pages plus the front and back cover. This gives you more or less 1500 words to work with – minus the illustrations. Even if you’re making zines on the computer, your master copy should stick to the A5 or A6 size – to keep with the tradition.
Online zine examples
Many zines are culturally significant – for example, the first character named Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster debuted in a self-published short story in a SF zine. Only later they reused the name and some of the concepts for the iconic superhero. Others showcased marginalized voices and promoted diversity. You can find more zines in various galleries online.
This digital zine gallery showcases zines from all over the world. Many of them describe contemporary events, like a life with neurodiversity during the Covid-19 pandemic. This is a real zine fest for the indie culture mavens.
Speaking of zine fests, the Library of Congress archives many independent, non-commercial zines for the benefit of society. If you love zines, you’ll spend hours here browsing the collections, including the groundbreaking feminist electronic zines.
Many of the zines in this collection refer to political events like climate change, Black Lives Matter protests and feminism. Some of them share ideas with readers, others showcase independent comics and opinions on the left and right sides of the political spectrum.
How to make a zine on Canva?
Now you know how to make a zine and have seen samples of zine pages. You can easily create a zine PDF in Canva – if you keep to the templates below.
Look for templates that are reminiscent of stitch-binding accordion zines – fit on one sheet of paper, with the number of pages reflecting the eight rectangles on the paper – 8. 16. 24 (including the covers).
Resize the paper to 5.5 × 8.5 inches – this will help you design magazines that reflect the zines’ attitude and tradition.
Online zine template gallery – Canva
This independent music festival poster will look awesome as the cover of your mini-zine.
You can use decorations and paper texture in this template to ensure that your zine is a work of art.
Rock and music imagery is crucial to music zine pages. You can use these elements to place on your piece of paper zine.
This zine template will help you give a voice during political protests.
This beautiful blue zine master copy must be customized to showcase your art projects on a single sheet of paper.
This lovely collage art zine project can look great whether as Publuu’s online magazine or on a piece of paper.
Anyone can create their own zine and showcase their own social issues – especially people who are still discriminated against like the LGBTQ community.
We hope that this article helped you to understand the independent spirit of paper and online zines. Everyone has passion in their hearts and can transfer their thoughts to paper: art, photography or social attitude. Finding a zine in a bus used to be an interesting experience in the 80s and 90s – and with Publuu you can now grant other people this feeling in the Internet.
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