the 10 most wild and wonderful zines of 2016
With news of layoffs and major restructuring coming from some of the country's biggest publications, 2016 was a frightening year for the magazine industry. But amidst all the chaos and uncertainty, the zine format flourished. New zines on everything from female soccer fans to the cultural importance of The Gap appeared on the scene. Heck, even Frank Ocean threw his hat in the ring and released Boys Don't Cry, getting superstar friends like Kanye West, Wolfgang Tillmans, and Tyler the Creator to contribute to the highly sought-after one-off publication.
The zine's passion-filled DIY nature has long made it the perfect outlet and refuge for young creatives. When all that's required is a pair of scissors and a xerox machine, you don't need to obey conventions or make a substantial profit (although, money is always nice). We've rounded up the freshest zines of 2016 to keep an eye on in 2017.
Genda is an independent bilingual publication from China, seeking to explore Western and Eastern cultures and the frequent misunderstandings that occur between the two. Genda's first two issues are photograph-heavy, filled with soft and tender illustrations of the East. Despite the overwhelmingly positive reception that the zine has received — as one of the few independent Chinese zines to cross-pollinate the West — being a new zine on the scene is hard. "The worst problem is running out of money," Amedeo Martegani, one of Genda's editors-in-chief says. "Each new issue is a blind challenge."
Fanpages may be a brand new zine, but there was a clamor of buzz even before its release. That's because the hardback zine comes from Kira Joliette and Bay Garnett, the founders of the insanely popular 90s zine Cheap Date. With this comeback, Kira and Bay celebrate unrestrained fandom. There are dreamy collages of teenage heartthrobs, as well as art from Nick Knight and Chloë Sevigny.
Girls like soccer too! SEASON concerns itself entirely with spotlighting this overlooked, underrepresented fact. Whether it's through a powerful essay about the lower cut of women's soccer shirts or through gorgeous editorial spreads of soccer garb, the zine gives a powerful, engaging voice to an overlooked fan sector. "Women like me who are into fashion and [soccer] are more common than you'd think but we are often overlooked or sexualized in the [soccer] landscape," Felicia Pennant, creator of SEASON,told i-D earlier this year. "I wanted to change that."
Artist and feminist Molly Soda first grabbed the world's attention with her Twitter account, which she treats like a piece of performance art. On her feed she talks about emotionality, discusses navigating relationships as a feminist, and takes ownership of her body through "leaking" her own nudes. She expands on this bold, unapologetic persona in her zine Like, Like, which features 20 tender, punchy pages of thoughts on love that go way over her usual 140 characters.
Flipping through an issue of London-based Sort will leave you feeling dirty, in a good way. That's because the grungy biannual zine's chief concerns appear to be: 1. Smut and 2. Good times. It's the rebel's ultimate middle finger to the glossy perfection of conventional magazines.
Homocats: Modern Problems
Brooklyn-based artist J. Morrison has discovered a way to combine conversations about queer culture with adorable cat pictures. Homocats is a quirky series of zines that places the heads of cats over the chiseled male bodies that are so frequently (and perhaps too frequently) idolized in the gay world. The newest zine in the ever-growing series, Modern Problems, seeks to create some fun out of our tumultuous political climate. Because cats make everything better. Right?
Getting your work featured in a magazine usually takes hard graft or connections. Zines, however, can be great spaces for encouraging and supporting emerging artists and writers. One beautiful example of this is Biracial Bandit, a zine "by and for multiracial individuals." The zine has an open submissions policy, breaking down the door for multiracial people to share their experiences through art, poetry, and storytelling. And the zine's selling price of $5 opens that door even wider, making it an affordable experience for everyone.
While The Gap may be struggling to survive in the fast-changing retail environment, this one-off publication immortalizes the minimalist brand. Acting as a piece of fashion anthropology, traces the importance and legacy of one of America's biggest and most successful mega-retailers. Included in the mix are fashion critic Tim Blanks (read an excerpt from his story here) and designer Christopher Raeburn, who discusses how The Gap's Field Jacket influenced his military-inspired aesthetic.
Kazoo is a feminist quarterly publication geared toward girls in grade school — because empowerment can never start too young. The publication was created through a Kickstarter campaign (raising over $150,000) when a mother became frustrated by the multitude of books about girls being princesses, and the lack of books about girls working in STEM fields. Read it for the stellar profiles of kick-ass women-in-charge.
Newcomer is a perfect example of zines' egalitarian nature. Izel Villarba, a recent NYU graduate, pooled his friends' talents to create photography, art, and writings that explore the rocky, intersecting roads of being young and grappling with identity. "I wanted to create a space in which we could all address these issues together," Villarba explains. With few resources available to him, Izel used his NYU printing grant to make copies of the first issue and land it in the iconic NYC bookstore Printed Matter. "I know so many people from different backgrounds and ethnicities," he explains of the zine's theme: roots. "This particular zine was about how despite our differences, culture is the thread that ties us all together."
Text André-Naquian Wheeler