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Head to this New West event to craft a zine like it’s the '60s

Learn how to make a zine about anything in three hours

Have you felt passionate about a topic that you don’t see written much about? Is there a game or a movie that you think deserves an exclusive 10-pager of its own? 

Here’s your chance to do something about it: make a zine.

At an upcoming workshop at New West's Arrieta Art Studio, you not only get to make one, but also dig into the history of these booklets.

Once considered a tool to rebel or express fandom, zines have popped up at several points in history — “wherever there is a class of people who want to be heard but are not being heard,” said Ben Pilger, a multi-disciplinary artist and the session's facilitator.

What makes zines different from magazines is that they are self-published by a small group of people with a specific interest, for a limited time and in limited numbers. 

“Most of them are done by hand, and either faxed or photo-pressed so that you only have a certain amount,” said Pilger.  

As per Book Riot, zines date back to the 1930s with the launch of a popular science and science fiction zine called The Comet. This was followed by several fanzines that were created using mimeograph, an old-fashioned copy machine — until the photocopier was invented in the '50s.

“Early '60s is when we see the zine as the modern form of what I'm planning on teaching,” said Pilger. 

Zines were part of punk, rock and roll, and several women-led movements. “They were distributed household to household, hidden along with the regular magazines that were going into houses — just as part of the regular culture so that people could be who they really were with each other and not trip any of the radars,” he said.

A popular zine series is the one that launched in the ‘90s with the Riot Grrrl movement that had feminist musicians using the medium to voice their opinions against the mainstream media.

Today, there are zines about varied topics including one that features National Hockey League’s mascots as villagers from Animal Crossing, another one that’s all about tea and snacks, and yet another one that re-imagines Zoe Leonard’s 1992 poem I want a President in a new version called I want a Barbie.

What will your zine be about? — that's a question that Pilger will help participants discover at the workshop.

Make your own zine

Each participant will be provided all the materials to make a 10 to 15 pages “thin and consumable” zine, and also taught the technique to make copies of the zine and distribute them. 

They'll get to know the basics of designing a zine cover, which as per Pilger, should be “something catchy, something that tells the entire story in a series of collage images, or a single image.” 

“If you are talking about the punk scene, you might have an image from a series that you're passionate about, like that of a band that has been tearing up your local scene or your personal band.” 

And it could be “bright, punchy, and jagged and raw” to keep up the punk vibe, said Pilger, who has previously co-created a zine on “viewing objects as beings of agency even though they don’t have consciousness.” 

Agency of what?

“It’s weird and wacky,” accepted Pilger.

But that’s the beauty of zines, they can be about the weird and wacky.

The event will be held on Thursday, May 4 and Thursday, May 11 between 5:30 and 8 p.m. at Arrieta Art Studio, 707 Front St. The workshop can accommodate 10 to 15 people at a time. To register, visit Eventbrite.