Montréal has a distinct and thriving zine culture, from the yearly Expozine to Montréal Archives’ Distroboto and extensive collections of independently published media. Independent publishing seems to pervade through the city’s activist art spaces, creating a unique accessibility to grassroots ideas, skill-share literature, collective issues, and collaborative works by marginalized artists. Zine culture gives due space to voices belonging to folks who go ignored, undervalued, and systematically excluded from mainstream media outlets, fostering community and often championing social justice initiatives.
My first experience with zines happened at the ripe age of 14, when I attended a queer feminist zine festival at the William Way LGBTQAI Community Center in Philadelphia, my home turf. After my mom dropped me off at the venue (I had conveniently sold the event to her as a “book fair”), I entered the space and was immediately given a vegan cookie and a micro-zine on how to fold that very zine. It was here that my sleepy, pseudo-punk high school self felt joy again. I began to read zines I picked up at events, ordered through the mail, and found in online forums. I made messy ones of my own, showcasing my art, feminist rage, and unfiltered connection to feeling.
Locally, you can find zines in QPIRG McGill’s library, Archive Montréal’s archival facility, Distroboto zine vending-machines, Drawn and Quarterly, for sale at Expozine and Winter Soft Market, and online on publishers’ Etsy pages, Issuu accounts, and so on. The F Word, a student-run collective that publishes biannual zine volumes containing student work related to intersectional feminism, and Folio Magazine, another student group that publishes collections of student visual art, are among my favorite local zine publishers. On March 30th at Divan Orange, the F Word and Folio are hosting a joint zine launch to welcome their newest volumes into the world. But in the meantime, why not try to make your own?
Step One: Gather your Flock
Zines are traditionally a very hands-on creative process of cutting and pasting, sewing and embellishing. A lot of contemporary zine collectives do their zine design and layout digitally, but it’s always fun to get back to the basics with a glue-stick and some scissors. Start by gathering all your material: paper, photos, newspaper and magazine clippings, scissors, writing utensils and an adhesive. The paper material you’ve gathered should reflect the theme of your zine, or can even serve as decoration if you want your creation to be writing-focused.
Step Two: Lay it Out
I suggest starting with a mini-zine made from a single A3 sheet of paper. These are eight pages of possibility (including the cover and back), plenty of space to embark on your first zine-making journey. A tutorial on how to fold this type of zine can be found here. Once you have folded your zine, open it back up and label the page numbers in pencil. This will allow you to work on a flat surface and create a layout of material all at once.
Step Three: Make It!
This is the best part- start writing your zine! Paste down images where you want them, cut out letters to form your titles, or just get to writing directly on your A3 paper.
Step Four: Fold It Back Up
Remember that zine-folding tutorial? Follow it to fold your zine with all its content back into a booklet form, and you’re done!