Stolen Sharpie Revolution
by Alex Wrekk
There’s a strange irony to creating a guidebook for something that maintains, as its very soul and purpose, a do-it-yourself ideology. This is the world of zines — often-flimsy, inky, photocopied booklets with a cut-and-paste aesthetic and, more often than not, impassioned rantings with poor grammar. They’re the heart of the self-publishing world, a chance for people who feel voiceless to broadcast their opinions and the community they attract is fiercely protective and supportive of the medium. What, I wondered, could any self-billed “DIY zine resource” possibly add?
It turns out, a lot. This little 125-page pocket-sized book carries no pretensions, and is careful to always stress the “DIY” nature of its advice. It’s not made to read straight through, but instead to be used as a reference guide for zine beginners and zine-makers looking to expand, save some money or diversify their product. Included are some tedious tips (a diagram on how to print and fold a zine with the pages in the right order), useful advice (how to find photocopy deals, how to ask stores to carry or sell a zine), actual guidelines (the United States Post Office’s media mail rates) and resources useful for people who don’t even make zines (how to make paper, how to release a record). Admittedly, all the information is bare-bones, but it would still be a good starting point for people in the scene. And the packaging is perfect — partially hand-written and a lot of cut-out text, giving it an advice-from-a-friend feel instead of a here’s-how-it’s-done hand-down.
Ultimately, the zine community is stronger when the zines are better. Most zines are read by people who make other zines, so while a reference guide for a DIY activity may seem somewhat counterintuitive, it does make sense. Zine-making is a craft, just like anything else. It can be done on the fly, or put together with great care. The author of Stolen Sharpie Revolution clearly loves zines and considers them something worth investing in, and she’s right. Zines are a great, valuable alternative to major media. But even with something DIY, it’s always good to improve.
Microcosm Publishing: www.microcosmpublishing.com