5 Woke AF Zines to Snag ASAP
Self-publishing is a radical form of publishing because it says “No” to being told “No.” Images and ideas that have been turned away from the fine art world, recognized literary circles, and mainstream publications find space for expression and evolution in the economy of self-published zines. It’s easy to forget that you don’t always need permission or a contract to put something out into the world. DIY publications remind us that we can just create; they challenge us and they invite us into their world; they occupy a major space somewhere at the intersection of art, literature, and popular culture. And they’re usually borne out of youth culture with an attitude problem.
In the past two years we’ve witnessed zine culture becoming a newly re-energized facet of the DIY art world. New publications drawing from riot grrrl culture, fourth wave feminist photography, QTPOC self expression, confessional-style journal entries, body acceptance, environmentalism, and a celebration of “low brow” are being released in waves. Maybe we’re all feeling like it’s time to bridge our millennial digital escapades with IRL experiences. Maybe what needs to be said is so urgent that it can’t just stay on the internet. And if this new wave is about multiplying our spaces for self-expression, it’s also surely about supporting artists. Ordering a zine from a creative you admire equals putting your money where your mouth is. We’re on board. That said, we’ve rounded up five zines which hit all the rights spots: they’re all really pretty, politically productive, inclusive, and exist in three dimensions (so retro).
Do What You WantDo What You Want is a zine about mental health created by author and food writer Ruby Tandoh and her partner Leah Pritchard. Its 150 pages contain interviews, essays, and illustrations that tackle mental health issues, with a focus on questions of access and intersectionality. There’s also a rich inclusion of personal experience and pretty intimate and candid discussions around what mental health means and looks like for different people. Plus, all profits go to organizations that provide support for women’s health issues, domestic violence, eating disorder rehab, and sex worker’s rights and safety. They’ve just opened up a second run of the zine to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week.
Laundry Service x Tyler Mitchell ZineA collaboration between artist and designer Georgina Johnson, founder of contemporary womenswear brand Laundry Service, and NY photographer Tyler Mitchell, this zine just launched on May 5 and we’re totally stoked about it. It’s a photo essay plus writing, and it disseminates a pink-washed self-love aesthetic through the lens of black womanhood and sisterhood. The photos capture bare-faced models draped in nudes and sheers, with soft lighting and a sort of fizzy, edenic effect. Johnson has spoken about her commitment to providing alternatives to fetishized presentations of black women in mainstream media, and this zine sustains and evolves her commitment in a really kind of genius way.
Sister ZineSister Zine is a biannual feminist publication based out of London. The zine was created by Beccy Hill in her third year of university, and is now on its 6th issue. Its mandate is “all issues are women’s issues,” and it does a killer job of tackling diverse content from a feminist perspective. The latest issue is “The Strong Issue”, which looks at what women are facing specifically in the age of Trump and Brexit. It’s adversarial, smart and topical, dealing with subjects likes the burden of pregnancy prevention in our current administrations (and all things relating to the Pussy Grabs Back slogan). We are fangirl-ing over here.
The Tenth ZineThe Tenth Zine is a bi-annual publication, created by Brooklyn based creatives Khary Septh, Kyle Banks, and André Verdun Jones, that creates a space for exploring and articulating the identities of queer black men, outside of the scope of mainstream portrayals. Their slogan is “black, gay, and unbothered,” and they’ve gotten some buzz for creating a “black, gay utopia” within the pages of their mags, which fill in the seriously anemic empty space around narratives of black LGBTQ life. Their most recent volume set out to explore black/queer LA, and the result is a totally dreamy compilation of photos and prose that queer Hollywood.
Achey-Breaky Heart ZineThe Achey-Breaky Heart Zine occupies a teen-angst fueled, girl-power saturated new wave of zines that tackle crushes and tender feelings from a femme perspective. It was founded in 2015 after the founder’s particularly traumatic breakup, and has since released issues tackling breakups, heartache, and feminism, as well as how the three intersect. It’s part of the wave of post-Petra Collins re-claimed girlhood feminist ethos, and it will guide you through a big fat cry, then ask you why crying is seen as a form of weakness. You’ll be like, “yeah good point,” and you’ll probably feel much better.
Images via dowhatyouwantzine.uk, DazedDigital, ThetenthZine, Sister Magazine, and Achy Breaky Heart Zine
Stay tuned to Milk for more art of the political variety.