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The Macro View of Micro-Publishing

A Team of Authors Has the Skinny on the Explosion of Homemade Special-Interest Publications


Whether you collect banana labels or Pez dispensers, are Macauley Culkin-obsessed or a hip-hop homemaker, there is a zine for you, and L.A. authors Francesca Lia Block and Hillary Carlip can help you find it in a new book, "Zine Scene: The Do It Yourself Guide to Zines" (Girl Press, $14.95).

Leader of the self-expression revolution, zines are homemade publications that combine elements of personal journals, magazines and newsletters and are being created by thousands of people of every demographic in America.

The guide takes readers on a tour through Zineland, from specifically focused literary, political and music zines, to the esoteric "Snacks" (reproductions of missing-pet posters) and Eraser Carver's Quarterly (eraser carving as an art form).

On the more serious side, the book offers excerpts of zines (often created by women) that deal with painful personal issues. These "per-zines" are what first captured the attention of the book's authors.

"I have always known about punk and fanzines," says Block, who has authored several novels, including "Weetzie Bat" and "Dangerous Angels." "But I didn't really become interested in the medium until readers of my fiction started sending me their zines. It inspired me to see how young women communicate on difficult issues."

Carlip encountered "per-zines" while doing research for an earlier book "Girl Power: Young Women Speak Out."

"There are a lot of people out there dealing with issues of self-abuse, eating disorders, rape and incest," she said. "Creating a zine about it helps them turn their experiences around so they are not victims anymore. It's about reclaiming their power through self-expression."

The women met more than a decade ago in a screenwriting workshop and had been looking for a project to collaborate on ever since. When they discovered a common interest in zines, it seemed the perfect opportunity.

The guide, with its patchwork of typefaces, photographs and sketches, is put together more like a zine than a book. In addition to excerpts from dozens of zines, the authors offer how-tos for would-be zinesters on raising money, distribution, the pros and cons of collaboration and more.

"Pick something you are excited about, something that turns you on, and explore it any way that you want," Block suggests.

Although e-zines are becoming increasingly popular, Carlip believes that "there is still something nice about a zine you can hold in your hands."

At the same time, Block urges zinesters not to be afraid to play around with format.

"There is no real guide to how to put a zine together," she said. "The main rule is to appreciate breaking the rules."

Meet "Zine Scene" authors Francesca Lia Block and Hillary Carlip at 7 p.m. Friday at Vroman's, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; (626) 449-5320.


Zine Finder

Looking for zines in L.A.? Try Tower Records, Skylight Books and Golden Apple Comics. Also, "Fact Sheet 5," a guide to zines that includes an order form, is available at most bookstores.

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