My librarian colleague Charlotte Price showed me her completed 2015 Book Riot Read Harder worksheet, and I was like, we should do that for zines! The zine librarians posse was like, we should do that for zines! So we flung stuff around, checked with Book Riot to see if they minded (they didn't), and adapted their list to zines. We're still working on getting distros and stores to offer discounts for completed #ZineHarder worksheets.
You can find the worksheet on the Zine Harder website. Along with other zine librarians, I've put together a list of recommendations. My recs are all held at the Barnard Zine Library, and the titles will link to BZL catalog records. Descriptions are from the BZL catalog.
All of the zines are available to read in person if are affiliated with Barnard/Columbia or if you get in touch, and many are available via interlibrary loan. Ask WorldCat and the internet if you can borrow the zine from another library or buy it from the creator, a zine distro, or independent bookshop.
There are specific items requiring a zine by a person of color, transgender person, or a feminist, but zine culture being what it is (or should be/aspires to be), I'm recommending zines by people in one or more categories of "otherness" for many of the categories. There are two recs for each because it's so hard to decide.
Read a horror zine
Ax wound by Hannah D. Forman
This fanzine explores gender roles and feminism in horror movies, a genre often characterized as misogynistic. There are quizzes and a short history of early "slasher" films, and thoughts on pornography, body image, eating, and hair, and criticism of I Spit on Your Grave.
A terrible, horrible, no good, very bad life by Kisha Hope
The initial issue of this zine was made during Novel Writing Month 2007. Kisha, now in her late twenties, writes about growing up on welfare, skipping a grade, childhood illnesses, being bullied, sexual harassment, and body image issues in elementary school and junior high.
Read a science zine
On Being Jealous of Invertebrates by Jess S.
Jess, a zinester from Pittsburgh, compares her experiences to the qualities of various invertebrates in this handwritten/comics personal zine. Each issue focuses on a different creature, such as brine shrimp (also known as sea monkeys) and honey bees.
Ladyscientist by Susan P. Bustos
Bustos, a married Spanish-American doctoral student, writes about her trip to Europe to check out different postdoc programs in four different countries, the lack of scientist heroines she has found, and her experiences with "Imposter Phenomenon (IP)" as a scientist, where one believes their work is not up to standard despite objective proof that it is. She also includes a knitting pattern for a ribosome.
Read a compilation zine
Evolution of a race riot edited by Mimi Thi Nguyen
Nguyen's huge compilation zine features writers of color who are affiliated with the punk and riot grrrl scenes. The essays, comics, art works, and poems analyze racism, and privilege in the largely white populations of activist, feminist, punk and zine communities, and discuss isolation and homogeneity. There are contributions by American Indians, Asian Americans, African Americans, Filipinos, and Latinos.
LIS microaggressions edited by Cynthia Mari Orozco and Simone Fujita
Editors collect sticky notes librarians mail them, sharing their experiences with race, gender, sexuality, etc. slights they experience in librarianship--from administrators, colleagues, and patrons.
Read a zine out loud to someone else
Must Love Cats by Cheryl Gladstone
Cheryl's minicomic relates the difficulty a Brooklyn lesbian has finding a partner that shares her dislike of cats.
That's Our Girl by LaMesha Melton
LaMesha, an African-American woman living in Minnesota and author of Cocoa Puss zine, addresses topics of her short and unsexy hair, her love of nachos, her high sex drive, and the sexual partner that she refers to as "daddy" in this color, one-page folding zine. The zine also includes a “dear you” letter and magazine text.
Read a zine by a kid
Hatch! mister sister II : Help Asher get to skool! by Asher Doyle
Asher, a fourteen-yearold transgender kid living in Gainesville, Florida, writes about childhood and his difficulty fitting in at his current school. He maintains a positive attitude on life and has started an indiegogo.com project to help him raise money to go to a Quaker private school called the Arthur Morgan school in South Carolina.
Butterfly zine by Liam and Jerianne
Butterfly Zine is a mamazine collaboration by Jerianne and her five-year-old son Liam, who write about keeping a butterfly house. This zine has color photographs, illustrations, stickers and handwritten sections.
Read a fanzine about a person
Mocha chocolata momma. Volume #2, Zoe Washburne by Marya Errin Jones
A fanzine and love letter to Zoe Alleyne Washburne, a character in Joss Whedon's television series Firefly and the movie Serenity, and (the author argues) the best fictional black woman in space.
Todo sobre mi madre by Rachel Casiano Hernandez
Rachel honors her badass Puerto Rican mom who was the first person in her family to go to college, and the only woman in her family to get an M.D. She has a pilot's license, wears bright colors, and was an ally when her daughter came out as queer. The zine contains photocopies of quotes in handwritten letters exchanged between herself and her daughter and photos as well. Rachel's social media identity is Airella.
Read a DIY zine and practice a skill you learn
ScrewSmart's ZineGuide to fisting by ScrewSmart
This typewritten, stab bound zine created by ScrewSmart is an informational guide for people interested in exploring safe and consensual anal and vaginal fisting. The text accompanies photographs and diagrams. The zine also includes some general information about sexual health and exploration, along with sex-positive resources on fisting.
D.I.Y. Pet Care by Cassidy
Cassidy is a dog and cat companion and a soon-to-be veterinary student. Based on her experiences with her own pets and by working with a holistic vet, she has developed this zine as a guide for taking care of pets (cats and dogs specifically) based on herbal and other non-Western medical practices. She gives advice about vaccination, information about feeding pets on a raw food diet, and provides a list of home remedies, resources, and references.
Read a fanzine from the 1980s or earlier
Ben is dead by edited by Darby Romeo
Headed by Deborah "Darby" Romeo, Ben is Dead is a zine that focused on the LA alternative rock scene in the late 80s and early 90s. It started out on newsprint, and later issues have glossy covers. Each issue contains regular features like readers' letters; show, record, and fanzine reviews; and interviews with bands. Articles are often controversial and sarcastic, and many have an environmentally or socially conscious agenda.
Hoodoo by Mary Fleener
Hoodoo is a collection of comics adapted from Barnard alumna Zora Neale Hurston’s play Mule Bone.
Read a music zine, then assemble a play list based on the soundtrack listing in a zine
xXWBARXx by WBAR College Radio
Made to celebrate WBAR's 20th birthday, this zine is an homage to the Barnard college radio station with letters, a brief history, fun facts about past DJs (some of whom became famous), and reflections on being a part of the great WBAR family. There are haiku, comics, collages and a soundtrack listing. Contributors include zine club member Vanessa Thill.
What's her deal by Samantha Castillo
This cut-and-paste often handwritten zine by 24-year-old Samantha Castillo includes pop culture and tidbits from her daily life. On the entertainment side, she discusses her favorite music, magazines, and television shows, even including an ode to Gilmore Girls. More personal articles include dealing with anxiety, her appreciation of her boyfriend Mark, and her mom's remarriage. There are also collage elements, clip art, and a soundtrack listing.
Read a zine anthology or collection in book form
Ofrenda by Celia Perez (we don't have it at Barnard, not sure why, will follow up)
I thought I’d read all of Celia’s zines, only to discover…the early years…zines with content she deems too embarrassing to share. You get to see the covers anyway, and learn of Celia’s early celebrity crushes. (DL? Really?) You can also read in its entirety Celia’s interview with JAIME HERNANDEZ. Back in the 1990s you’d contact someone’s publisher or label about getting an interview, and the subject might just call you up the next day. Who knows? That tactic still might work. Give it a try. Read Celia’s book first to see how she organized Hernandez’s responses. She did a really good job, even if my middle-aged eyes found the text a little hard to make out. Other than a couple of tiny text spots, the book is a lovely creation, production-wise. The cover is gorgeous, and Celia’s author photo and bio are adorbs.
Encyclopedia of Doris by Cindy Crabb (we don't have it at Barnard, not sure why, will follow up)
The Encyclopedia of Doris is more than the sum of its Dorises. I'm often not crazy about zine collections because zines read better individually. They're complete unto themselves and are particular to the moment they're published. With the Encyclopedia Cindy edited together nine years of Doris content, plus articles and interviews from other zines and magazines, and so it reads like a complete work, rather than awkwardly connected episodes.
Read a one-page folding zine then make your own
An exploration of heart-wrenching soul music lyrics by Sy
This color copied cut and paste one-page folding zine includes lyrics from popular soul songs collaged with printed images and drawings.
How liberal are you? : Prove it!!! by Poorna Swami
This sarcastic zine, put together by students at Mount Holyoke College, consists of a list of questions designed to weed out the liberals among us. Questions include "How many 'eat more kale' stickers do you have?" "Do you believed keeping your cat indoors is imperialist oppression?" and "What are your thoughts on undercuts?" The zine is handwritten and small drawings are included throughout.
Read a trans* zine
Just so you know by Joey Alison Sayers
Comics about a trans woman as she transitions from male to female, including stories about "passing" in society, taking female hormones, getting a new i.d., and maintaining her relationship with her girlfriend.
Gendercide : v. 3, part 1 the chemical warfare issue by Ashley Altadonna
Issue 3 of Gendercide focuses on the idea of chemical warfare as it relates to gender transition. Ashley Altadonna, a trans female activist, filmmaker, and singer/songwriter in her 20s, writes about her experiences with hormone replacement therapy and how she felt better in a more feminine body. This is a one page folding zine illustrated with clip art.
Read a zine by someone of Middle Eastern descent
We won't be silent : Palestinian young women and girls speak by edited by Shireen AbuKhiran, Lubna Alzaroo and Hannah Mermelstein
This zine contains poignant letters written in English and Arabic by Palestinian women and girls ranging from 10-26 years old and photographs of their day to day lives. They discuss the difficulties of the Israeli occupation: the loss their homes, interruption of academic classes, and the deaths of family members and friends. Their future aspirations range from the grand-scale, a peaceful country, to the more personal, college and higher education. One of the editors is a 28 year old Jewish American.
No snow here by Nadia Abou-Karr
Nadia, a half-Palestinian woman in her early 20s writes about being discriminated against as an Arab-American as well as feeling disconnected from her Middle Eastern roots due to paternal estrangement. She also discusses gender oppression, including a racially and physically abusive relationship. She wrote the second issue when she was a senior in high school. She discusses a break-up and friends with poetry, drawings, and journal entries. Issue 7 includes personal writing about taking a vow of abstinence, her difficulties with romantic relationships, and her feelings of "being a bad person." It is a mini cut-and-paste collaged "my name is" sticker filled zine. Issue 11 is similarly themed cut-and-paste mini
Read a zine by someone of Southeast Asian descent
Bamboo Girl by Sabrina Margarita Sandata
This compilation zine features articles, art, and interviews, by and about Asians, Asian-Americans, and Pacific Islanders. Editor Sandata addresses issues including, but not limited to, feminism, being queer, being a person of color, Asian history, and life in New York City. In every issue, Sabrina includes reviews, letters, Tagalog words, Filipino mythology, and stereotypes, and her rant and angst columns
Framing Historical Theft by Athena Tan
In issue 1, of Athena's political perzine, she writes about her relationship to race and white people, having gone to an international school in the Philippines. She includes journal entries about being a Chinese-Filipina and a bad trip to Rome. In issue 2, she discusses questioning people power, poverty, diet and weight, and her Filipino identity, as she thinks about attending college in the US. Each issue includes a recommended reading list and zine reviews.
Read either a history zine or a zine about zine history
Homos in Herstory (series) by Elvis B.
This hand illustrated zine surveys the culture surrounding queer women in historical periods. The heavily sourced zine contains a bibliography and quotations.
Xicanistas & Punkeristas Say It Loud! : an Anticopyright Zine Chronicling Xicana's in Punk & Beyond by Brenda Montaño
This is a compilation zine on Punk identity. It provides definitions and a history of the words Xicana and Xicanistas, a history of Mexican-American female musicians, punk playlists, and personal stories.
Read the first zine in a series by a person of color
Chronicles of an 8th Grade Mallgoth : Original Material from My Diaries Circa 2002-2003 by Suzy X
Suzy shares diary entries from when was 13 and living in Florida. She includes scanned anime-style drawings from her actual journal. Topics include dating, Girl Scouts, transferring to a new school and New Year's resolutions. Entries are accompanied by song titles.
Mad Mulatta by Brittany Couch
The zine, often light in treatment, is about serious topics and informed by extensive reading, as evidenced by quotations from heterogeneous sources like Audre Lorde, Andrea Dworkin, Henry James, Eleanor Roosevelt, Marilyn vos Savant, and Oprah Winfrey. On the last page, Brittany is at her most serious, this time drawing a self-portrait with a mass of hair on one side of her face, and a tendril peeking out on the other side, which otherwise has either very short hair, or hair aggressively tamped down. She questions her "mud blood" racial identity and poignantly asks if she can "please be enough."
Read a minicomic
A Pocket Guide to Not Harassing People by Stevie Wilson
This pink zine uses comics to illustrate suggestions for not harassing or body policing people in public.
Stonewall 1969 by Mike Funk
Mike's comic tells the story behind the Stonewall Riots and how history has whitewashed the events and left out the transgender and people of color communities who were most involved. He specifically cites Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson's participation.
Read a zine or minicomic that later became a book or graphic novel
The floundering time by Katy Weselcouch
A comic by Smith graduate Katy Weselcouch, The Floundering Time is about the love lives of a group of American friends living in Paris, all of whom identify as queer, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. While some are straight-edge, others drink heavily, and most of the narratives deal with alcohol in some way, as they drink when they attend school dances or parties. Weselcouch's style is sketchbook realistic and features several columns on one page.
Peoples by Fly
Fly draws portraits of friends and acquaintances -- many of whom are artists, punks, and zinesters living on the Lower East Side of Manhattan -- in her comics zine. The backgrounds of these pictures are comprised of the people in the portraits telling stories about their lives.
Read an explicitly feminist zine
Tomgirl by Judith Jones
This zine about body positivity features lots of artwork and an essay. In issue one, 17-year-old Judith asserts that feminist is not about hating men, writes about Frida Kahlo and shares a collage that focuses on feminism and body positivity. Issue 2's main essay is on why using the word "pimp" in a positive context (i.e. "Pimp my ride") reinforces rape culture. The author, who describes herself as "feminist, but more womanist," has a blog at SimpleButChic.blogspot.com.
Don't be afraid of feminism : an introduction for men, women, boys, ladies, girls, studs, and everyone in between by Meg Favreau
This small zine is Meg Favreau's project for her Psychology of Women class. In it, she writes a short essay with clip art dispersed throughout on women's roles in society and the dehumanization of the word feminist. There is a Works Cited page and also a place to look for further information.
Read a zine by someone who practices a religion
I am not a contradiction : reflections on being a queer Christian by Cat
"I Am Not a Contradiction" is a handwritten and typewritten 6-hour perzine written by Cat, a queer Barnard student. In issue one, she writes about the steps she is taking towards becoming an Episcopal priest. She also acknowledges Christianity's violent history and explains some theology with drawings of cats, rubber stamp prints and stick people. In issue two, Cat writes about her experiences differentiating the beliefs of her more conservative Christian classmates from her own religious beliefs while in high school.
Letters forged by the daughter putting on her scarf in a Masjid parking lot by Sabeena Shah
Queer feminist Afghan-American student Sabeena writes a series of letters to her sister Meena in this cut and paste, type and handwritten perzine. She intersperses lecture notes, vehement discourses on women's reproductive rights, and a list of books she is reading, including Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. She writes about praying and tradition as a Muslim woman and the segregation and racism in her mosque and the aftermath of a bombing attack. She also includes a story about New York City Pride and a friend in drag. In addition, Shah is studying Farsi, and includes phrases and words.
Read a zine about political activism
Morgenmuffel by Isy
Many of Isy's comics are autobiographical and involve her travels, activist work in a mobile kitchen, and scuffles with authority. The Mega-muffel also includes self-defense tips, a piece on political prisoner support, and the story of the former squatter's collective buying a house together. The author is a bisexual Korean-German feminist anarchist living in England.
Coloring outside the lines: a zine made by students of color at UC Santa Cruz
Written by students of color at University of California at Santa Cruz, this compilation zine responds to the university's cuts to programs that benefit students of color and how white student activists often misrepresent people of color and perpetuate systematic oppression. The zine includes essays about tokenization of people of color, the need for ethnic studies courses, white privilege among student activists, and indifference as a political choice. The zine also contains a list of demands from POC at UCSC , diary entries from a student of color activist, and illustrations.
Read a cookzine and make one of the recipes
My body is a glorious manifestation of nature not a toxic waste dump : Easy, inexpensive, natural, quick, healthy, life-affirming, vegan recipes by Stephanie McMillan
This handwritten and illustrated zine is a collection of thirteen vegan recipes that use simple ingredients and techniques. The author has published and illustrated several books including Capitalism Must Die! A Basic Introduction to Capitalism: What It Is, Why It Sucks, and How to Crush It.
Fueled by Popcorn by W. Bucket
This zine by a popcorn aficionado contains a spectrum of information about the popular snack, including definitions and classifications, cooking methods, and creative, vegan popcorn recipes.
Read a zine that includes an ICQ, email, or chat transcript
Long distance edited by Jenna Brager
This compzine is edited by the author of Sassyfrass Circus. People (who are mostly queer) submit stories of their long distance relationships both good and bad. Issue 1 focuses on the difficulty of distance and includes stories that range from modern and technologically-assisted to the days when people had to write letters to each other. They also address break-ups, polyamory, non-romantic distance relationships. The zine includes images of telephones, photos, collages, comics and a Facebook transcript. Contributors include Khristina Acosta, Rachel L and Jenna's mother.
Wasted style. #7 : the iconography of cool by Jamillah James
Jamillah writes about her freshman year of college at Emerson--sex, boys, and Black people on television, and shares the transcript of a chat she had with Robert Schipul of Teenbeat Records. She reviews zines, 7" records, and bands. There are also lists, ads, photographs and illustrations.
Read a self-care zine
On struggling #3: Bodies edited by Monica Trinidad
"On Struggling" is a collective zine project made by people of color with the intent of sharing personal narratives of struggle with culture, identity, white supremacy, mental health in our communities, modes of self-care and more. Their third zine is the Body Issue and features poems, illustrations, art, comics and prose on subjects of passing, race, gender, intersexuality, chronic pain, fatness, and queerness all from queer and trans people of color. Some of the content is in Spanish.
Take good care : a zine about recognizing and asking for the health care that we want, need and deserve by Jude Vachon
This zine has a checklist of good practices (focused on LGBT people and sexual abuse survivors) to consider when choosing a doctor, psychiatrist, and general practitioner. There is also advice for setting boundaries with your healthcare provider and a list of resources available in the Pittsburgh, PA, area.
Zine harder! And share your recommendations or upload your reading list to the Zine Harder website! I can't wait to see which zines other people recommend and where there's overlap.