It was first used by US sci fi enthusiast Louis Russell Chauvenet in 1940 and by 1949 was in common use.

‘Fanzine’ was abbreviated to ‘zine’ in 1970s.  The rise of fanzines  was part of the punk subcultural response to mainstream society – in this case, mainstream print.

  • Distribution: Zines were hand-made publications produced in small quantities on an irregular basis.They were usually small enough to easily fit in the hand although sometimes they were oversized broadsheets. They were distributed by hand and word of mouth or via independent music or book stores or through zine fairs and symposia.
  • Readership were super-niche interest groups and cultural underground.
  • Production: Created by a single producer as both author and designer. Unencumbered by censorship or corporate strategy. Producers were often readers and/or fans sharing same interests.
  • Subject matter As ‘Genuine voices outside of all mass manipulation’  they  explored a wide variety of themes political, humorous, poetic, underground music not necessarily represented in more conventional print.  They were also a forum for personal experimentation ‘perzines’ as unique auto/biographical snapshots.’practice of self-making though zine-making is particularly momentary,’Sometimes a testing ground to ideas which then move to the mainstream. Eg Giant Robot and Bust Magazine.
  • Style Lively Do it yourself style uninhibited by design conventions. Often chaotically lively layout.
  • Cheap and designed to be ephemeral They were often printed using photocopiers, stencil and other ‘hands-on’ processes. Sometimes they were more 3-dimensional and incorporated recycled objects or materials.
  • Materials different coloured papers, crayons, felt-tip markers, Ribbons, stickers. Collages photos hand-drawn illustrations. often made with very basic tools: scissors, glue.
  • Typography handwritten or typewritten or using rub-down lettering.

Feminist zines use provocative language, sexual imagery, a mix of styles aiming to shock. Guerilla Girls, a feminist group fighting sexism in arts practice produced many fanzines. Formed in New York in 1985, the group maintain their anonymity by wearing gorilla masks and using the names of dead female artists as pseudonyms, e.g. Frida Kahlo and Hannah HÖch. They put pressure on organisations such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York by uncovering statistics that reveal the extent of patriarchy in the art world past and present. The original group disbanded in 2001 but several Guerrilla Girl spin-offs still exist. Recent campaigns include ‘Unchain female directors’ targeted at the male-dominated world of the Hollywood film studio.

In the 1990s faux fanzines started to be produced by multinational companies. Dirt by Warner Brothers, Full Voice by Body Shop etc.

There are now also online and digital forms.