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The Zine Project

Article by Shannen Twomey January 20, 2017

© Shannen Twomey

At the end of last term, Milk’s Shannen Twomey had an exclusive sneak peak at the ‘fanzines’ created by first year Publishing students at Bath Spa.

As part of their core module, Publishing students at Bath Spa University were asked to produce a zine in groups of four or more. A zine, unlike a regular publication or magazine, is created and published with conviction and passion. It includes an element of storytelling and the expression of an unheard voice. The themes of the zines, or ‘fanzines’ were entirely up to the groups and it must be said, there was an array of interesting topics to choose from.

Speaking to some of the students on the project I found they were inspired by an array of topics. Some said that they found inspiration in a gap in the market, by the Christmas holidays and some by the adjustments they experienced in their first few weeks of University. As my curiosity got the better of me, I flipped through a selection of zines, reading evoking articles ranging from Christmas recipes, vegan foods and gender equality. There were things I did not even know about, content that would not be published in a regular magazine for the day to day reader.

Georgie who worked on the zine open for discussion, noted ‘the thing we liked most about creating the zines was that we got to write about what we wanted to write about. Most of us are English literature students, so we don’t often get the opportunity to do that!’

Although the process was mostly enjoyable for the students that I spoke to, it came with its challenges. ‘The hardest thing was getting it to look like a magazine’ says Lucy Potts. Lucy was was involved in making uni’d food, a zine aimed towards student living. She also found ‘getting an article up to 1,000 words proved a challenge.’

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Hard at work: A student from Bath Live working on an article © Shannen Twomey

Skimming through a stack of zines, titles which caught my eye included Protest and Mangazine. Other zines made statements of their own with bold photography; with some front-covers colourful and some more subdued, I never came across two zines which looked the same. The blend of ideas and talent really shined through! Each publication was consistent throughout, with clean, crisp finishes.

With that in mind, let’s take a preview of the magazines.

Stand Out Cover

Zine: Open for discussion

Author: Mieke, Georgie, Mary and Chloe

Curious: the cover of this zine makes people want to read on...

Curious: the cover of this zine makes people want to read on… © Shannen Twomey

For the stand out cover, I chose Open for discussion. I like the fact that this magazine has kept its authors anonymous. The title is consistent with the link between picture and text, and is a clever way in which it makes the readers want to know more. It was imaginative and finessed to a professional standard.

Most Original Theme

Zine: Society

Authors: Emily, Emma, Hannah and Rhiannan

Some powerful poetry coupled with ghostly illustrations that feature in the zine

Some powerful poetry coupled with ghostly illustrations that feature in the zine © Shannen Twomey

I found this zine an exceptionally gripping read. It tackles the ongoing and alarming issue in society that is homelessness. I chose this theme as it stayed thorough and consistent throughout, with collection of interviews, poems, illustrations and quite frightening statistics. It is informative and sensitive, regarding a topic that personally I feel is under reported, disregarded and disposed of as a moral failing.

Best Use Of Illustration 

Zine: Identity

Authors: Alysha, Rose Amy, Caitlin and Rebekah

poise: the Danish girl stares back at you from an article in identity

Poised: The Danish Girl stares back at you from an article in Identity © Shannen Twomey

The illustration of The Danish Girl on page seven of Identity is breathtaking. This is a title that prides itself on the focusing of each individual’s identity and the way that the drawings throughout this zine capture the issue of gender hits the nail on the head. The Danish Girl has acted as a pioneer of sorts for the trans community, and the way it was implemented onto the page was a smart move.

Best Use Of Photography 

Zine: Nomad

Authors: Chelsea, Honey, Chloe and Katie

Making waves: the cover of nomad radiates calm with it's picturesque landscape

Making waves: the cover of nomad radiates calm with it’s picturesque landscape © Shannen Twomey

The concept of a travel and culture magazine requires a sense of calm and serenity, which the covers of Nomad have provided. Throughout the zine, there is consistent clarity with the photography, not only of faraway lands and beaches, but of local landmarks such as the Bath Abbey. There was a good use of layout and spatial awareness. This was a zine that made me want to return to over and over because of its use of imagery on Paris and China.

Stand Out Article

Zine: Skeptic

Authors: Elizabeth, Zoe, Jemima and Harry

Skeptic took a hard hitting and political approach with writing articles

Skeptic took a hard hitting and political approach with writing articles © Shannen Twomey

One article of many that stood out to me was ‘under my skin’ written by Elizabeth Fryer, a compelling discussion of racism, prejudice and the conformities of society that have become the norm. Elizabeth draws on her own experiences of being bullied for being Indian, not just racially but having prejudiced slurs aimed towards her. She was told she could not be Asian because ‘that’s only for Chinese people’, that she must be intelligent due to her skin colour, and some even told her she looked like a doll. I chose this article because it was moving, informative and opinionated.

Overall every zine was impressive, unique and original. Some with outstanding conceptual and visual approaches and some which expressed oppressed opinions and values. This project gave students an opportunity to create something that they are passionate about, and to showcase what they can do on a creative platform. A thank you to Laura Little, and the First Year Publishing students at Bath Spa University for sharing their work with milk.

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