There are various ways to put a zine together, but I’m going to simply the decision-making task for you and we are going to do 16-page folio-style (half-page) zines. This is a little shorter than a standard picture book length which would usually be 24 pages, but I want you to do this without too much over-thinking.
Take four sheets of paper, stack them together, and fold them in half.
Bingo! You have a blank 16-page zine.
Just to complete the process you can staple them together using a stapler.
If you’re handy with a needle and thread, then you can stitch them together. If you choose this method, then will be a bookbinder.
Also, before you do anything else, number the pages. The front cover should be page one. This will help when you get to the publishing stage.
There are almost unlimited styles of zine, but for the purpose of this class we’re going to do cut-and paste.
This is a technique where the content is extracted from different sources and combined onto the master zine to later be copied and reproduced. For example, cutting words out from newspapers and images from magazines and rearranging them on a page to create a collage, put together a message, or create any other desired composition.
Your text can be either hand-written, or you can print out your own computer-generated text, and paste it down.
Some people like to use the typeface, COURIER, to echo the classic zines of the punk-era, where the text was produced on a typewriter.
Everything in this zine should be pasted in, even if you’re hand-writing, or hand-drawing the content, that way you can put the whole thing together first without glue and see how it works.
Do you you want to work with someone else? Or do you prefer to work alone? There won’t be many opportunities to team up with someone else in this class, so you might choose to do it now.
I don’t recommend teams of more than two (or less than one).
You can probably draw some things quite well, most people can, but unless you’re a trained artist you probably have limits on what you can depict effectively. Here are some options.
Have someone else draw. This seems facetious, but I’ve seen it done often in classes. Remember the artist retains the copyright.
A better/easier option is to visit a Goodwill and pick through the books and magazines. If you have your own source of old books, out-of-date magazines, and newspapers, then so much the better. Cutting up pages and rearranging the parts is called Photomontage. Remember the DADAists? They were masters of photomontage. An artist who uses photomontage is called a photomonteur.
Don’t steal them from your dentist’s office––although having said that, creating a zine entirely from magazines stolen from dentist’s offices would be very ‘punk’
You might also merely ask for them from the dental receptionist. They will probably give you some.
Your original might use color photos, but the finished result is going to be gray-scale if you are going to print it. Printing full-color zines can be an expensive procedure, and it feels to me that zines should be cheap.
Added to that, you range of grays is probably going to be limited by the quality of your printer or copier, and how much ink is left in the cartridge, so avoid subtle shifts in value, and try to stick to black on white (or white on black).
You have another wide array of choices here.
Do you want to write one poem, story or memoir?
Do you want to include several shorter pieces?
Do you want to mix all the categories from this class (and perhaps some that aren’t part of this class)?
You’re going to have 15 pages. You probably want to use page one as a cover/ title page.
If you’re putting images on every page, then a couple of sentences per page is plenty.
Let’s say that the word length for the entire zine is going to be between 120 and 800 words.
I say 120 words as a minimum, as that’s approximately the average length of a traditional 14-line sonnet, so one sonnet would be enough for the entire zine. I’m not suggesting you write a sonnet necessarily, but you could have one line per page, then leave the back cover blank.
If you want to use longer form poetry, a sestina will weigh in at around 300-400 words (plus the envoi).
If you are really very wordy, then I still don’t recommend more than 1200 words.
If you know what you want to write, then great.
If you’re stuck, then let the found pictures tell the story.
Find a series of images, and let them suggest the story to you.
Okay, so now you have everything in place.
You have the blank zine stapled together and the pages numbered.
But what are you going to put in it?
This is a good place to take a step back and think about the creative side of creative writing.
In fact I would like you to take two steps back, because I’m going to ask you to begin by writing in your comp book.
Open up the book, probably at the first page, place your pen next to the book, and then take your hands away for a moment.
Your first instruction is to do nothing––at least physically.
You are literally the writer staring at the blank page. This is a moment that you will experience time and again throughout your life, just as painters stare at blank canvases and sculptors at smooth blocks of marble.
The temptation is to plunge in, and ‘plunging in’ is a good metaphor. You might feel like the ocean swimmer staring at the gray waves, dreading the shock of cold water, and perhaps apprehensive abut the mysteries of the deep. You might think that ocean swimmers don’t think about the cold and sharks but, trust me. We do. We just tend to thrust them to the back of our minds in order that we can get into the water.
It is different for the creative writer. The last thing you want to do is thrust the mysteries of the deep to the back of your mind. If you were writing about a swim in the ocean––as opposed to actually swimming––then you would certainly want to have something mysterious swim up from the depths to encounter your swimmer.
And that is exactly what we want when we are writing. We absolutely want something mysterious to swim up from the depths, but now that we want it to, it’s just our luck that there seems to be nothing there.
Contemplate that blank page in your journal.
Meditate, pray, maybe even light a candle.
Just try to silence the noise in your head, and see if the duende will move you to write something.
Don’t touch the pen until the urge to do so becomes irresistible.
Pick up the pen, and write from the depths.
You don’t need to write a lot––as I mentioned earlier a sonnet’s worth is plenty––but try to write with intensity.
Write something from the soles of your feet.
Write something that makes the chills run up your spine.