UK and US fanzines from Wikimedia Commons
About the most fun you can have with paper, glue and scissors, this module shows how to create your first fanzine, and why they’re a great thing for any budding journalist or designer.
What’s a fanzine?
A fanzine – or ’zine, as they’re often called – is a non-professional, sometimes handmade, small-scale magazine.
Get a subject
You can write about everything you find interesting (music, say, and fashion and football and gadgets), or just one subject (music, perhaps) or, most commonly, a niche or sub-culture (a specific type of music, for instance).
Make a list, and make it long, of the things you’d like to write about.
Here’s a link to the Trashed fanzine gallery. Have a look at what other London people have recently made fanzines about.
Into 1980s metal? Here’s a collection of magazines and fanzines who saluted big hair and loud guitars.
Fan of Freddie Mercury? The writers of this fanzine certainly were…
Fanzines can be more than just a giggle to make – numerous famous journalists and publishers started out with fanzines.
Johnno Burgess, journalist and publisher While at university in Manchester, John Burgess edited a dance music fanzine called Jockey Slut in 1993, selling it to people queuing outside nightclubs. It went on to be a monthly glossy publication and he sold it in 1999 for a considerable sum. He launched also Dummy magazine.
James Brown, publisher Famous for starting the original lads’ mag Loaded in 1994, James Brown edited the fanzine Attack On Bzag! in the 1980s (link http://www.ayup.co.uk/turn/turn0-5x.html) and a copy sold recently on eBay for more than £60 (it originally cost 20p to buy).
Try it now!
On the biggest piece of paper you can find, brainstorm subjects and treatments you’d like to include in your fanzine.
Making your master copy
The easiest way to make a fanzine is to use A4 paper, fold in half and bind together. Each piece with make four pages of the A5 fanzine.
You’ll need to make an unstapled original for copying – these are your flats. Work out how many A4 pages you’ll need – just one piece of A4 paper for a four page fanzine, two pieces for an eight, three pieces for a 12… – and stack them horizontally. Fold them in half but do not staple.
For this How To, make a 12-page fanzine with three pieces of A4.
‘Read’ it front to back as though you would a finished magazine and number each page. The cover is page 1, the inside cover is 2… the back page is 12.
When you take this master copy apart and lay out each sheet separately, you’ll see which page needs to go next to which when photocopying. For instance, the front cover and the back cover are always the first page and the last.
When you turn over the sheets, you’ll see the page numbers on the reverse of each A4 flat.
Put the pages back into the loose fanzine and flick through making sure you’ve put the pages in the right order – 1-12 – and the numbers are the correct way up.
The easiest page to work with is 6 and 7 because they’re naturally next to each other in this master copy.
Now the fun part! Fill your fanzine!
Try it now!
Taking the subjects and treatments you listed in the previous activity, map them out on your master copy. Your master copy can be made from a single piece of A4 paper – which would, when folded in half, make a 4 page fanzine – or, as in the example above, a 12 page fanzine made from 3 pieces of A4 paper. Include: a cover, content list, masthead (a list of names of people involved in the fanzine and a contact email).
Paper, scissors, glue
So you’ve worked out what’s going where in your fanzine. What next? You need to generate the content: write the words, draw the pictures and/or find the photographs.
The easiest way is to write your articles on a computer and print them – adjusting the printing size to A5, which is A4 folded in half – before cutting them out and sticking them onto your master copy.
You can draw or write directly onto your master copy, but if you change your mind, it’s easier to just pull off the unwanted piece than it is to redo your master copy from scratch.
Once your master copy is completed, you’ll have to spend some time at a photocopier. Photocopy one side, take the photocopy and put it through again, photocopying the back. You’ll probably photocopy a couple of pages upside down. But don’t worry – practice makes perfect!
Bindings and covers
Most fanzines are simply stapled. A long-arm stapler makes this a doddle, but a regular office stapler works if you’re careful.
If you’ve got a small print-run (say 20 copies if you’re impatient, 50 copies if you don’t mind spending a day or so on it), consider a more interesting binding and cover.
Ribbons Use a hole-punch and tie a ribbon through the holes.
Sew the binding Using a needle and thread, tack stitch the binding.
Rubber bands A large rubber band in the middle of the fanzine looks cool, although isn’t the most permanent of bindings.
Masking tape Tape the binding over the top and bottom.
Buttons Sew buttons along the binding (remembering to create a wider margin in the middle of the pages to allow for the thicker binding).
Transparent paper Make the outer sheet of A4 – the one that makes the covers – out of transparent paper. You can either leave it plain so the second sheet shows through, or paint your ‘zine title and cover onto it.
Cloth You’ll need to either use thick cloth as your cover, or glue it onto very thick paper.
Wallpaper/wrapping paper Find some unusual paper and make the cover out of it.
Try it now!
Make a fanzine, either on your own or with friends. Email us jpegs of the cover and best spread. We’ll be publishing some and asking the best editors to help us publish the next printed Trashed magazine.