What makes a zine different from a magazine? Magazines are commercial, while zines are, well, quite the opposite. Despite the slow death of print lingering over so many legacy publications, right now, zine culture is surprisingly thriving.
In popular culture, though, zines are sometimes disparaged for their lack of quality content. They are pretty books with pretty images. But that’s not always the case. Certain zines voice a narration that is incredibly unique and relevant, all while providing meaningful and beautiful imagery. It’s the perfect marriage of what people want – and need – to consume in 2018.
Below, get to know just a few of the zines that are doing it all right.
A bi-cultural photo publication, Genda acts as a mediator between Western and Eastern cultures: It’s published in both Chinese and English, and has staff and contributors in China and Italy. Genda is comprised of photo and story pairings that features artists from Liu Shuwei to the late Ren Hang.
After decades of female empowerment and feminism, the world has come very far. But it hasn’t reached the finish line yet. Started by Erin Bried, Kazoo is a zine targeted at girls ages 5-12 highlighting strong, successful, and powerful women in a variety of professions, giving confidence to little girls who don’t see role models in the men who, for now, dominate so many industries. “The less girls see themselves in positions of power, the less likely they’ll be to believe they can achieve such power,” Bried writes on the site. “Kazoo is the antidote to this invisibility.”
Released in conjunction with his critically-acclaimed album Blonde, Boys Don’t Cry is musician Frank Ocean’s first foray into publishing. The debut issue boasts of an all-star cast of contributors, from Wolfgang Tillmans to Tyler the Creator. It’s a modest look into the fragility of traditionally masculine and feminine concepts with images of Ocean’s friends, party-goers, lovers, and cars (lots of them), all shot in moody lighting.
Each issue of Consented covers a specific personal or societal issue (past topics include “class & capitalism,” “love & desire,” “resistance,” and “science & surveillance”) that’s meant to generate intense discussion. The quarterly publication is comprised of personal essays, poems, academic essays, and artwork that are meant to, as co-founder Amit Singh told gal-dem in January 2017, incite conversation “about the world we live in and the world we want to create.”
Centered around Ghanaian art and culture, Signatures magazine is comprised of essays, photographs, and more that document music, culture, and fashion and provide practical advice for aspiring artists. The first issue, Issue #0, spotlights talent like Chicago-based photographer Lawrence Agyei and Nigerian fashion designer Bubu Ogisi.