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Michigan State University

Zines at the MSU Libraries

A guide about zines, zine history, zine culture, and how to make zines.

Zine Timeline*

Zines are often thought of as a phenomena of the 1990s, but they have a rich history in the context of self-publishing. Laura van Leuven at UNC Chapel Hill's Rare Book Library explores their history in a blog post "A Brief History of Zines."

  • 1930: "The Comet,” believed to be the first science fiction fanzine, published.
  • 1930-1960: Mimeograph duplicating machine available. 
  • 1944: Xerography invented.
  • 1961: IBM Selectric Typewriter introduced.
  • 1960s/1970s: Zines characterized by a synergy between outspoken political commentary, literary experimentation, heartfelt critiques of rock and roll music, influence of drugs on visual communication, and revolution in layout and design.
  • Mid 1960s: Inexpensive offset printing used to create alternative newspapers and underground comics.
  • 1967: The Underground Press Syndicate (UPS) is founded. Founding members include the Los Angeles Free Press, the East Village Other, the Berkeley Barb, San Francisco’s Oracle, Detroit’s Fifth Estate, Chicago’s Seed, and Austin’s Rag.
  • Mid-1970s: Punk rock zines begin to emerge
  • Late 1970s: Birth of the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) movement and the indie music scene.
  • 1980s: Copy machines become an increasingly popular way to publish zines, especially as Kinko’s copy shops begin to proliferate.
  • Early 1980s: Mike Gunderloy publishes first mimeographed “Factsheet Five” zine review list.
  • Mid 1980's uncataloged zines enter the collections of Michigan State University Libraries (see paper by Barton)
  • 1990: Bikini Kill, written by members of the Riot Grrrl band of the same name, inspires other early Riot Grrrl zines Summer Star, Jig Saw, and Girl Germs.
  • Early 1990s: Riot Grrrls movement, with zines like QueenieHeckYummi Hussi, Literal Bitch, Conscious Clit, Mad Planet, and Kikizine (the last two by Sarah Dyer) are featured in Seventeen. Zines begin to be created with desk top publishing programs; e-zines are distributed via the Internet. Rebecca Walker writes an article for Ms. Magazine called “Becoming the Third Wave,” marking the emergence of the third wave feminist movement.
  • 1992: “Revolution, Girl Style,” an article by Farai Chideya and Melissa Rossi about Riot Grrrl feminism, published in Newsweek. Although Riot Grrrls across the country lamented the nationwide portrayal of their underground movement as just another cute girl fad, the article sparked a boom in the production of zines by teenage girls and young women.
  • 1993: Debbie Stoller and Marcelle Karp publish the first issue of BUST as a photocopied zine.
  • 1996: Bitch: a feminist response to pop culture first published by Lisa Jervis and Andi Zeisler.
  • 1997: Zined!, a video documentary by Marc Moscato, is released. A Girl's Guide to Taking over the World: Writings from the Girl Zine Revolution edited by Karen Green and Tristan Taormino is published.
  • 1998: Independent Publishing Resource Center (IPRC) is founded in Portland, OR. The center is “dedicated to encouraging the growth of a visual and literary publishing community by offering a space to gather and exchange information and ideas, as well as to produce work.”


Adapted and expanded from a timeline by Doug Blandy by Kelly Wooten;

History of Zines at MSU Libraries


"Our punk fanzines, held in our Special Collections Library, consist of titles dating from 1976 to 1983. They are nearly all from the United Kingdom, with just a couple titles from Ireland. Most are from England, with a smattering originating in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, in that order of prominence. No records exist for how and when the fanzines were acquired. This is unfortunate, but Special Collections staff are able to make some educated guesses about how we may have ended up with them. We can confirm that they have been held uncataloged since 1985, perhaps earlier. At the time, certain bibliographers were very interested in collecting British materials, though popular culture materials were not particularly desired. Therefore, it is likely that the fanzines were lumped into a package of British purchases by some enterprising book dealer. The size and condition of the collection suggests that it was obtained from a single collector. In any case, they were acquired and held unprocessed for at least 23 years, being periodically rediscovered but left uncataloged all the while..." 


from Punk’s Not Dead: Resurrecting Punk Fanzines at Michigan State University Libraries Joint Conference of the National Popular Culture and American Culture Associations, St. Louis, MO, April 2010. By Joshua Barton, Michigan State University Libraries


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