- April 5, 2019
- By Alec Villareal
The Zine Scene
Mythos creator Alec Villareal shares the passion and how-to of zine making.
“ZINE: magazine; especially: a noncommercial, often homemade or online publication usually devoted to specialized and often unconventional subject matter.” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary
When HERE asked me to write about zines—how to make one, what to do with it once you’ve made it, etc.—I struggled at first to get going. Writer’s block really kicked me into the passenger seat and took the wheel for a while. Then, I decided to start with the reason I began making zines in the first place.
The main character of the short story I’m about to tell is a guy named Jonathan, whose wife just died of cancer. I’m at her visitation, waiting in a long line to talk with Jonathan. He’s standing not too far from the open casket, next to an easel that’s holding a large piece of poster board with pictures of him and his wife plastered all over it. The guests scan the pictures on the board, point to whichever one catches their eye, and Jonathan proceeds to tell the story behind that particular photo.
ZINE: magazine; especially: a noncommercial, often homemade or online publication usually devoted to specialized and often unconventional subject matter.
One sympathetic remark after another, after another, after another, ensues until I’m standing in front of Jonathan. The man has held his composure until he sees me, and his voice begins to tremble because he knows I see through him. I look past his courageous strength and find a pain beyond pain. Before I know it, I’m giving Jonathan a hug and then I’m standing in front of the casket. I’m looking at the remains of a woman who suffered terribly, who left a husband and two kids behind. Jonathan and his wife met when they were 40, and in less than 15 years they’d have to say goodbye to each another.
Damn it, life.
Why heap the sad on you? Because I was reminded that good men like Jonathan, who has to sleep in a bed apart from his wife forever, are the reason I created the zine Mythos. They encouraged me to be a lifelong learner, to kill my ego and truly pursue what I love. I give you a sad story in hopes that you’ll sober up and hear what I’ve got to say next.
Let me be your Jonathan. I’ll tell you what you need to hear. If you’re passionate about anything, you can make a zine.
The story behind how Mythos began isn’t interesting. In fact, I find it completely unimportant to share. Instead, I’ll tell you how you can make your own zine. That’s why you’re reading this article, after all. It’s not about me.
Take old magazines, cut them up, and paste various words and images onto seven or eight folded, white 8.5” x 11” paper. Any copyrighted images you use, distort them beyond recognition. This will help prevent legal disputes. If you can write, throw some writing in your zine. If you can draw, toss some drawings in it. Once everything is pasted down, take that hard-copy of your zine, scan it, print copies, fold the copies and staple them. There you have it. Your zine is made.
Let what you love be the driving force behind the creation of your zine, because if you’re not passionate (I mean, really passionate) about what your zine is about, you’ll likely give up in a few short months.
I’m passionate about meeting new people and bringing them together. So I created a zine that allows art to rub shoulders with art. It’s a collaborative zine that showcases work from creatives all across the country.
If you’re passionate about politics, then make a zine explaining your political opinions. If you’re passionate about wrestling, then make a zine about wrestlers. If you’re passionate about flash fiction, you know what to do.
Want to get your zine out and into the world? Leave copies of them at the places you frequent. You’ll be surprised at the following you’ll glean. If you’re local to Northwest Indiana, Green Door Books in Hobart will house your zines for a small cut. Green Door is a great supporter of the arts. They have publications by some of my favorite local zinesters: Bearhead, Gloomworld, Harvey Woodlawn, Perennial Magick, Casey King, Skeleri, and Appendix Z.
So how should I end this? I know. How about this?
I’m wrapped in the cold sheets of my bed, listening to the droning of a box-fan that serves as a lulling, white noise to me and my family through the night. I’m lying in darkness, drifting to sleep, thinking about you.
You might never know me and that’s fine. I’m lying here alone, and you’re wherever you are. You’re reading your nice, new copy of HERE. Wherever you are, you’re reading these words— Let me be your Jonathan. Let me tell you what you need to hear: if you’re passionate about anything, you can make a zine.
Alec Villarreal is the founder of Mythos Publications. He works at WeCreate Media in Valparaiso and enjoys reading literary fiction in his spare time. He lives in Northwest Indiana with his wife and daughter. Follow Mythos on Instagram at @mythospublications.