A lot of people involved in the zine community would say that digitising zines takes away something intrinsic – the kinesthetic and unique appreciation of the physical object – and that the method of consumption thereafter will be excessively altered, making it a completely different experience than was intended by the creator. They’d probably also say that people would wrongly identify such digital objects as e-zines. And, in my view, they’d be right. Zines are ephemeral objects that aren’t made to last, and in many cases were not made with the idea in mind that they’d one day leave a digital footprint (even, and sometimes especially, in terms of the zines made well into the digital age). This doesn’t completely devalue and/or undermine the importance of digital versions of zines, mind you. Provided they’re done with the creator’s consent, they can be a brilliant resource. Take, for example, the tireless efforts of the Queer Zine Archive Project in Milwaukee, which has spent many years working to ensure that such classic works of dissident queer literature such as JDs are preserved for future historians. They’d be the first to admit that a scan of such works will not transfer the experience of consumption that the creator intended, especially insomuch as the distribution would often dictate which town the zine would often be read in. But the information still has value, and so long as these compromises are acknowledged by the reader, plenty can still be made of absorbing a zine through a metaphorical telescope.
That rant now calmly leads us to some new treasures in the Arts Collection’s new ebook arrivals, this week courtesy of US-based zine and independent publication distro, Microcosm Publishing. Most of these titles are not themselves zines, though started their lives as such, and wound up somewhat immortalised in these compilations, much like was done with the world-renowned Melbourne-based zine, You, by indie publishers Breakdown Press a little under a decade ago. The first of note here is this compilation of the rather successfully minimalist punk-comic-zine, Snake Pit.
Keeping the punk theme and anecdotal approach, though (mostly) losing the comic angle, is this Burn Collector anthology. Although covering a number of themes consistent with the previous title, it’s closer lingering on difficult topics that often fall into the domain of perzine writing give it a less casually intimate feel, heightening, in many ways, the connection with the creator.
Taking a somewhat side-step to the sometimes adjacent world of comics, another new set of Microcosm titles give us insight into the RPS title Henry & Glenn Forever, which imagines the domestic dramas of Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig as a couple. Oh, and Hall and Oates get a unique re-painting, too, along with a plethora of hardcore celebrities. You can check out issues one and two in our ebook collection here and here.
The final title of this bundle comes from the pen of Microcosm founder, Joe Biel, and contains interviews with a wide selection of people about their experiences with and responses to the punk scene. Although punk doesn’t have to involve zines, and zines don’t need to involve punk, the two tend to share common ground often enough, so this books inclusion in this list isn’t too far outside the Venn I’ve been peddling here.
If you’re a bit stuck about how to access these titles, whether inside the Library or remotely, just give this guide a quick squiz, and you should be quickly back on the right path.