Despite the whimpered assertions of hanky-wringing nonny-nonnies, the Internet and e-zines have not spelled the death of the print zine. Each year, Jen Angel and Jason Kucsma, progenitor's of the art and activism magazine, Clamor, work with a volunteer staff to cull the best of the underground press from those articles nominated for possible inclusion in The Zine Yearbook. The 2004 edition includes 52 pieces from those periodicals frequently produced on copiers or Macintosh computers. A few, such as Joshua Bernstein's "Anatomy of an Infestation," about his battle with cockroach insurgents, are entertainingly odd, which, speaking for myself, is so much the joy of zines. The bulk of this book, however, is issue-oriented, centering on relevant points of view ignored by the corporate media, such points of view being beyond number these days.
The lead article is Jennifer McLune's "Celie's Revenge: Hip-Hop Betrays Black Women" from Altar Magazine. I found myself nodding at McLune's diatribe against racial misogyny in rap music, as media attacks on Goth seem misplaced in light of such hip hop conventions as rape and murder. (Let me temper that with the admission that I like a little rap music, although you'd never guess it to look at me.)
From The Beat Within, Steve Farley's "My Experiences on Drug Addiction" is a plain-spoken account of being born to junky parents. With Farley's witness to his father's suicide by pistol when the author was a toddler as a centerpiece, this account is not the sort of thing you'll see on "Good Morning America" any time soon.
From MamaPhiles, China Martens' "Birth of a Movement: Mamazines" eloquently describes Martens' experience as a socially conscious punker who has grown up and become a mom, yet remained a socially conscious punker. The creation and circulation of personal zines by Martens and others of her tribe lends itself well to the sleep-deprived schedule of motherhood and has created its own rich subculture of probably the most concerned segment of our population: progressive moms.
From the zine Insubordination comes Hans Bennett's interview with Ramona Africa, the sole adult survivor of a house fire in Philadelphia that took the lives of 11 members of the activist group MOVE on May 13, 1985. Africa claims the fire was not an accident, to put it nicely.
There are lamentations over the war and Bush; and the case is well-made that The Lord of the Rings movies include a strong Aryan subtext, something which I thought was pretty obvious. No fiction or poetry, but there are cartoons, including an illustrated primer on how to create your own Tarot card deck.
So, please, if you or someone you know is zine curious or could become zine curious, consider this great sampler for such under-the-radar publications as Fish Piss, Kiss Machine and Secret Mystery Love Shoes. It's a whole other world.