In 2008, I worked with my buddy Evan Hayden to creat my first “real” zine I was actually proud of— a amateurish and fun book chock full of weird ideas, articles, and art & comics by friends.
Giant Robot’s Eric Nakamura contributed a list of “ZINE WISDOM”. I printed out Eric’s gems on my Dymo label maker and stuck them onto Evan’s hand-drawn pattern, and we featured this list as the inside back cover of the zine. I was a total n00b at everything zine-related, and I will always appreciate how sweet and generous Eric was to us… Years later, I consider him a friend… (<3 zine culture)
I revisit this list all the time, strangely, and it still makes me laugh— and rings deadly true. Here for your pleasure is….
Zine wisdom from ERIC NAKAMURA
Don’t expect anyone to care about your zine, read your zine or even remember it. You most likely won’t get free shit from your crappy zine. Zines might make you a friend, but that’s about it.
Even though zines are thin & sparse, they take a long time to make. Why? Because you don’t know what you’re doing. Your page 4 will end up upside down on another page. The photos will look like shit too.
Zines look junky & cheap, but they actually cost a lot to print. The idea is to get copies free. If not, expect to pay. Copies aren’t cheap.
Chapbooks are almost like zines, but they’re called chapbooks. You can charge more for a chapbook. But you also have to tell people that you made a chapbook. Chapbooks are like rollerblades, zines are like skateboards. You pick.
Zines are not art. I don’t care what people say, zines don’t go up in price and shouldn’t ever be on walls. A zine is cheap unless you’re famous or phony.
Zines can be as crappy as you want it to be. They can also be great. But they are most often not both. Most likely, your zine will be crappy. It’s the law of averages.
At some point you’ll deny participation in your own zine. Or you’ll say it sucks. You will be embarrassed of yourself. You’ll say, “I did that , and it was bad.”
Selling your zine is nearly impossible. Don’t expect anyone to want to buy it or stores to want to sell it. If someone does buy it from you direct, they’re feeling sorry for you. Take their money.
Most zines die after Issue 1. Why? Because it’s hard to make a zine that someone aside from you cares about.