Fanzines

by Kiko Matsing

Currently reading Teal Triggs’ Fanzines: The DIY Revolution.

I love the large format (13.4 x 9.5 x 0.9 inches) edition. The colors and resolution of the images are sumptuous, the layout is impeccable. It reflects well on Triggs’ trade as professor of graphic design. The only drawback, her text and analysis are needlessly saddled by obtuse lit-crit phraseologies, which can turn off non-specialist readers. For example:

[Fanzines] are positioned ‘within the condition of the production of culture that constitutes an essential component of their politics’.

Huh? Fortunately, she backpedals and provides a quick journalistic translation:

The way in which fanzines are amateur productions suggests they are already situated in opposition to mainstream publishing and its convention.

Hence, my complaint about such glib phraseologies as being useless to the reader. Fortunately, she puts such gibberish in quotations–a fetish among the lit-crit ilk for distancing from meaning, which we can subversively use here as ‘roll-your-eyes-and-ignore-this’ red flags: ‘participatory cultural production and organization’, ‘urgency of resistance’, ‘urgency of personal engagement’, ‘dependent upon their independence’, ‘youth-centered and -directed clusters of interests and practices’, ‘politics of form’, etc. Ugh!

What attracted me to the fanzine format, aside from its essential role in punk, is its close affinity to the blog: its amateurish do-it-yourself production values, its slapped on together images ‘poached’ from commercial sources, its underlying motive force of fan obsession. Fanzines were for the pre-Internet 1980’s what blogs were for the wired 1990’s. The DIY revolution lives on.

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