OK, so perhaps the idea of the zine, at least in the traditional sense, runs inherently counter to that of a top ten list. Small-circulation independent magazines thriving at the local level, distributed by word of mouth and happenstance – ranking them seems a bit ruthless, not to mention impossible.
And in an age when great swathes of humanity can be summarized in a hashtag, it’s unclear what even counts as a zine anymore. Where the Doc Marten-wearing enthusiast of yesteryear depended on chance discoveries in their local independent bookstore, coffee shop or illegal underground roller disco/feminist artist collective, her contemporary counterpart can do a little Googling and have myriad beautiful independent magazines delivered directly to their door – or just scroll through their Tumblr feed for a few hours. Here are ten that caught our eye recently.
The Archives by Claudio Pogo
Pogo’s Berlin-based small-run publishing operation ‘believes in a future printed on paper’. Published in August, his ‘Archives’ series – five Risograph issues each printed in a batch of 100 – juxtaposes history with history to construct a visual narrative that is itself reminiscent of a past in print.
Reading someone else’s email – not that we would ever – is at once both heart-racingly illicit and surprisingly boring. Like Miranda July’s We Think Alone project, Post Comment Below’s Kelli Miller and Kendra Eash curate others’ virtual interactions to create a striking, funny and very real picture of communication in the Internet age. Issue #3, Sex, Drugs and Robots, came out in July.
Rigorous research, design and editorial vision – doesn’t sound that sexy, but human details peek through the crisp layout. Although production is Tokyo-based, editors Yoshi Tsujimura and Cameron Allan McKean deny Too Much is anything but international. Bonus: their tagline, ‘Romantic geography’, looks great on a t-shirt.
Some literary journals look like shit; this one doesn’t. Issue 6, due out between the end of September and the beginning of October, comes in seven different versions, each edited by a pair of editors who were strangers until they united over themes like endlessness and the ‘shapes of words’.
If something can be ‘made with love’ and not make you want to punch something, 1/2, an art zine (photography, illustration and collage, mostly) curated by four friends living in different cities in Europe, is. Issue 9 was printed and produced in Tbilisi, Georgia, as a travel diary, and the others are just as thoughtful.
Arty photos grapple with aesthetic issues, but sometimes you want 'jokes and blokes' alongside your socio-historical cultural critique. Pink Mince is the best kind of DIY – the kind that looks really good – and each issue consistently balances the sassy with the serious to examine its theme from all angles.
This might not be a zine—its editors don’t know either. The full-colour, large format free-for-all is packing big names (from Chloe Sevigny to Joan Crawford) and does whatever it feels like, calling itself an ‘object’ and maintaining a commitment to ownership and materiality.
Illustration without intention can sometimes seem cutesy. The bi-annual Limner Journal and its publisher Studio Operative want to change this. Since we last saw them at the South East London Zine Fest, the editors at Limner have been busy fostering discourse on illustration theory, practice and education.
A feminist zine that manages to harken to its riot grrl roots while maintaining a twenty-first-century vision (and social media presence), IGG publishes art and writing and aims to act as an oasis in the dick-desert that is publishing today. There’s a reason we’ve mentioned them before.
The Pentaprism series from zine-turned-publisher Hamburger Eyes collects work from 18 photographers and ‘image makers’ to push the limits of both the zine and the black-and-white photo, ideally making the viewer question both the image itself and how to interact with it.
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