This is the twentieth anniversary of Make a Zine, now on its third edition. The book is, theoretically, about starting “your own underground publishing revolution” (that’s the subtitle). Throughout the book author Joe Biel shares his experience of creating his first zine and coming up in that community, as well as lessons he’s learned. In addition, there are some good nuts and bolts material here: organization, layout and type, postage, distribution, et cetera. However, those foundational issues of how to create a zine are all in the second half of the book. The first half is a mishmash of random things, including the history of publishing, zines and the corporate world, libel, copyright, and zine communities. The last one really tripped me up. It came off as overly negative with zinesters airing their grievances about the community they supposedly loved so much. If I were someone just getting into zines, after reading that chapter I’m not sure I’d want to be any part of that community.
I did appreciate the range of individuals who chimed in throughout the book, however, including zinesters from wide backgrounds (and our own Todd Taylor). In addition, chapters of Make a Zine are written by a few other authors including Katie Haegele, Stephen Duncombe, and Fly. The DIY Comix chapter by Fly was especially good, as it was thorough on every aspect one might want to know on this topic. That’s generally how this book runs, though. There are some strong portions that should be essential information to those new to the zine scene. However, the material that is more about the scene and its politics don’t seem to mesh well with the sections I believe to be more important. Perhaps the next edition will correct these issues and make it more consistent. –Kurt Morris (Microcosm Publishing, 2752 N. Williams Ave., Portland, OR 97227)