Zines

In 2008 Portland-based zinester Alex Wrekk established International Zine Month during the month of July. In honor of International Zine Month, ComicsVerse is featuring a Zine of the Week for the month of July to help you learn about zines, find new zines, and explore zine events. This week is QUEERS READ THIS.

Zine Politics:

Although zines existed prior to the late 1970s, the emerging punk subculture saw a soaring popularity in zine-making and distribution. Partially as a result of the growing accessibility of xerox machines, as well as the DIY works characteristic of the punk culture. The typically music-related fanzines began a renaissance of zine production in the 80s. Even now, zines maintain a punk underground aesthetic.

Like punk culture, zines are also non-conforming, politically charged, and often anti-authoritarian.

QUEERS READ THIS
QUEERS READ THIS

Indeed, zines are not only occasionally grungy but also edgy. Nevertheless, zines can be powerful tools to reach a large number of people. A perfect example of this is the 1990 zine QUEERS READ THIS published anonymously by queers and distributed at a New York Pride march. The extreme piece of militant queer writing acted as a call to arms within the queer community following the AIDS crisis in the 1980s.

In 2009, more anonymous queers reprinted QUEERS READ THIS. The zine also often features in gender studies classes for its particular view on LGBTQ+ rights and liberation.

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QUEERS READ THIS!

QUEERS READ THIS is not light reading. The manifesto deserves critique for its militancy as well as, in retrospect, its potentially inflammatory aspects. However, the zine addresses the anger felt by many queer people at the rejection, oppression, and violence LGBTQ+ people regularly face. As the 2009 edition observes, “the cultural references in this leaflet are, at times, outdated, but the rage is timeless.”

QUEERS READ THIS!
QUEERS READ THIS reprint.

QUEERS READ THIS features images from demonstrations by the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACTUP). The organization, founded in 1987 to draw awareness to the AIDS epidemic, scrutinizes the anti-gay prejudices associated with AIDS as well as the lack of national efforts to prioritize the development of medical treatments. QUEERS READ THIS takes a sharp tone against the national discrimination against queer people during the same time period.

Importantly, although the zine originated at a time when L and G were privileged categories within LGBTQ+, the zine chooses to use the term Queer to identify those it addresses. Queer is a term used politically to describe the identities of those who do not conform to socially prescribed norms of gender or sexuality. QUEERS READ THIS tells people outside of the norm to be proud and to fight for their rights.

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Part of the Queer Archive:

QUEERS READ THIS Has left an important mark in literary history. For example, the zine recently lent its name to a collection of essays about the transformation of queer literature. The zine’s emotional expression of the queer experience and detailed list of ways to queer personal and political action added to Gay and Lesbian studies, which has since evolved into Queer Theory. With its particular perspective, the zine serves as a cornerstone in the world of queer zines and queer literary history.

For readers interested in QUEERS READ THIS and similar zines, the Queer Zine Archive Project (QZAP) provides an extensive collection of zines. Zine enthusiasts, historians, and queer punks can peruse the zine archive, donate zines, and help with the archival process.

READ QUEER ZINES
READ QUEER ZINES published by the Queer Zine Archive Project (QZAP). Image from Interference Archive.

QUEERS READ THIS! is available on the Queer Zine Archive Project’s database here

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