The Zine Revolution: The Making of ‘Tepid Mess’
The revolution of self-publication isn’t a new one.
If you feel out of the zine loop, no worries. I only JUST did my research and learned some brief zine origin history.
This here, is merely a pin dot on the history and subculture of zines.
Long before RiotGrrls, Sci-Fi fan zines, and punk zines, historical and revolutionary self-publication took precedent.
The first ever “zine” could be dated to the invention of the Gutenberg printing press around 1517. Martin Luther published a small collection called Ninety-five Theses, which expresses his concern with the Catholic church’s repentance doctrine of indulgences as compared to focusing on the importance of the testament and doing good works. It’s not exactly a light read, but if you are so inclined to indulge in some theological pandering, check it out here.
Centuries later, after heavy revolutionary wartime publications, came “fanzines”. The first ever fanzine documented was called The Comet, a Chicago based publication in 1930. The term “fanzine” was coined by Russ Chauvenet in 1940. A term which distinguished “fanzines” from “prozines”, which are simply professional magazines.
Sci-fi fanzines branched off into a myriad of subjects including general media, comics, horror films, rock and roll, sports, and punk.
The DIY culture and punk scene in the 1970s gave way to a massive influx of rustic photocopied media.
Some early punk zines like Punk and the UK publication Sniffin’ Glue, charged each subgenre of punk and experimental music to craft their own publications.
When RiotGrrl subculture and the feminist movement began, even more zines emerged with passionate angst and vocal distinction. This genre allowed artistic expression without ridicule or binary judgement.
(For more information on the history, current and past publications of zines, media festivals, and archived issues, I encourage you to check out GrrrlZines.)
Then behold! THE INTERNET WAS BORN. This beast gave birth to a library catalog of zines published online, called E-Zines. This technological growth allowed all zines that were hand printed and distributed, the freedom to be scanned, posted, and archived online.
Now with the ability to network with people all over the globe, the possibilities are endless and the reasons not to create are moot.
The internet has great collaborative potential that is often overlooked and forgotten, lost in scrolling culture.
My first experience with zines was five years ago when vending at the first Scranton ZineFest, organized by now comrade, Jess Meoni. At that time I strictly made jewelry from CDs, painted plates, and sewed aprons from mens dress shirts. Zinefest was incredible. People drove from out of state to Scranton, PA to set up a table and showcase their zines and network with other zinesters. Stickers, patches, and buttons were free flowing. I collected some zines and stashed the idea for later.
I began Tepid Mess Zines last year when I needed tangible evidence of sleepless nights, calloused hands, and exasperated minds.
Originally, the plan was to put out a single issue featuring meals you eat alone and a brief expose of your day.
“Today I went to work and old fryer oil leaked all over the kitchen floor. I spent an hour and two mops heads cleaning it up. When I got home, I took a shower and microwaved 10 tater tots and ate them with cold salsa verde.” Insert meal photo here.
The project took a short turn due to impatience and convenience, so I put out an art call and collected whatever art and writing that people were willing to send my way.
I designed the first cover and placed a public call on Facebook for work. People sent poems, rants, hand-illustrated comics, photos, short stories, and drawings.
I hauled ass to Staples after editing and creating a standard page layout for the cover size.
After printing and binding 20 copies to start, I began distributing. After one night of distributing, I needed to make more copies. Those who submitted work wanted to pass them along and show everyone that their printed work. I received more requests from people who wanted to submit and design future cover art.
The internet has been an extremely valuable networking tool for accepting and creating calls. I’ve been given anonymous contributions from secret e-mail addresses, handmade work submitted in person, and texted media.
Currently, four issues of Tepid Mess collaboratives are available, one issue of six word memoirs, and an issue I wrote called Myriad Dad.
The future of Tepid Mess is full of special themed issues, (including the original sad meal idea), limited editions using handmade paper, limited prints of poems and literature, and more collaboratives.
This subculture spun from the Gutenberg Press and funneled through the pens of passionate modern punks has created an open circle of creative minds that are open to sharing and collaborating.
It’s an intoxicating collaborative, and I can’t wait to do and learn more about it.
Here are some links to some of my zine friend’s work.
(I highly recommend you indulge yourself in a little creative media scrolling.)
Check out The Philly Soapbox for zine resources and workshops.
Contribute to Tepid Mess!
Send work to: firstname.lastname@example.org