A fanzine (also called a zine) is an amateur publication created by fans of a particular cultural phenomena (such as a literary genre or type of music) to address or correspond with others who share their interest. Fanzines are not funded or subsidized by commercial interests; contributors are not paid, and the 'zines are traditionally circulated for a nominal cost (to defray postage or production expenses) or free of charge. Some fanzines have evolved into professional publications, and many professional writers were first published in fanzines.
Fanzines emerged from science fiction fandom; the first fanzine was published in 1930 (The Comet by the Science Correspondence Club in Chicago). The term "fanzine" was coined in October 1940 by Russ Chauvenet—"fanzines" were distinguished from "prozines." Prior to that, the fan publications were known as "fanmags" or "letterzines."
Early fanzines were hand-drafted or typed on a manual typewriter and printed using primitive reproduction techniques (e.g., the spirit duplicator or even the hectograph). Only a very small number of copies could be made at a time, so circulation was extremely limited. The use of mimeograph machines enabled higher press runs, and the photocopier increased the speed and ease of publishing once more. Today, thanks to the advent of desktop publishing and self-publication, there is often little difference between the appearance of a fanzine and a professionally produced magazine.
Science fiction fanzines
As mentioned above, fanzines originated in science fiction fandom. Never commercial enterprises, most science fiction fanzines were (and many still are) available for "the usual," meaning that a sample issue will be mailed on request; to receive further issues, a reader sends a "letter of comment" (LoC) about the fanzine to the editor. The LoC might be published in the next issue: some fanzines consisted almost exclusively of letter columns, where discussions were conducted in much the same way as they are in internet newsgroups and mailing lists today, though at a relatively glacial pace.
For several decades, science fiction fans have formed amateur press associations (APAs)—the members contribute to a collective assemblage or bundle called an apazine which contains contributions from all of them. Some APAs are still active, and some are published as virtual "ezines," distributed on the internet.
Comics and Graphic Arts fanzines
By the mid-1960s, several fans active in SF or Comic fandom recognized a shared interest in rock music, and the rock fanzine was born. Paul Williams and Greg Shaw were two such SF-fans turned rock zine editors. Williams' Crawdaddy! (1966) and Shaw's two California-based zines, Mojo Navigator (full title, "Mojo-Navigator Rock and Roll News") (1966) and Who Put The Bomp?, (1970), are among the most important early rock fanzines. Crawdaddy! (1966) quickly moved from its fanzine roots to become one of the first rock music "prozines," with paid advertisers and newsstand distribution. Bomp remained a fanzine, featuring many writers who would later become prominent music journalists, including Lester Bangs, Greil Marcus, Ken Barnes , Ed Ward , Dave Marsh , Mike Saunders and R. Meltzer. Bomp featured cover art by Jay Kinney and Bill Rotsler, both veterans of SF and Comics fandom. "Bomp" was not alone; an August 1970 issue of Rolling Stone included an article about the explosion of rock fanzines. Other rock fanzines of this period include Flash, 1972, edited by Mark Shipper, and Bam Balam, written and published by Brian Hogg in East Lothian, Scotland, beginning in 1974, and in the mid-1970s, Back Door Man and Denim Delinquent . In the post-punk era several well-written fanzines emerged that cast an almost academic look at earlier, neglected musical forms, including Mike Stax' Ugly Things , Billy Miller & Miriam Linna's Kicks, Jake Austen's Roctober , Kim Cooper's Scram, P. Edwin Letcher's Garage & Beat , and the U.K.'s Shindig and Italy's Misty Lane .
Main article: Punk zine
The Punk explosion in the United Kingdom led to a massive upsurge of interest in fanzines as an alternative to the mainstream media that was felt to be too exploitative, capitalist, and essentially uninterested in the Punk Movement and the concerns of disaffected youth. The first and perhaps still best known UK 'punkzine' was Sniffin' Glue, produced by Deptford punk fan Mark Perry , which ran for 12 issues between 1976 to 1977. Other UK fanzines included Blam! , New Crimes , Vague fanzine , Juniper beri-beri and Coolnotes .
In the US, Flipside was an important punk fanzine for the LA scene. Maximum RocknRoll is a major punk zine, with over 250 issues published. Since the explosion of 1994 (when Green Day and Offspring made punk commercial again) a number of other punk zines have appeared, such as Punk Planet, Razorcake , Sobriquet Magazine and Slug and Lettuce.
In the UK Fracture and Reason To Believe have been the main fanzines in the recent past, but both closed their doors in late 2003. Though not technically a 'national' fanzine Rancid News has to a limited degree filled the gap left by these two zines.
Another sizable group of fanzines arose in role-playing games (RPGs) fandom, where fanzines allowed people to publish their ideas and views on specific games and their role-playing campaigns. Role-playing fanzines allowed people to communicate in the 1970s and 1980s with complete editorial control in the hands of the players, as opposed to the game publishers. These early RPG fanzines were generally typed, sold in an A5 format (in the UK) and were often illustrated with abysmal or indifferent artwork. A fanzine community developed and was based on sale to a reading public and exchanges by editor/publishers. Many of the pioneers of RPG zinedom got their start in, or remain part of, science fiction fandom. This is also true of the small but still active board game fandom scene, the most prolific subset of which is centered around play by mail Diplomacy games.
In the UK, most Premiership or Football League football clubs have one or more fanzines which supplement, oppose and compliment the club's official magazine or matchday programme. A reasonably priced 'zine has a guaranteed audience, as is the culture of passion in being a football fan. An example of a UK football fanzine is TOOFIF.
In recent years the traditional paper zine has begun to give way to the webzine (or "e-zine") that is easier to produce and uses the potential of the Internet to reach an ever larger, possibly global, audience. Nonetheless, printed fanzines are still produced, either out of preference or to reach people who don't have convenient Web access. One example of a zine is The Inner Swine. Online versions of approximately 200 science fiction fanzines will be found at the eFanzines site, along with links to other SF fanzine sites.