Posts Tagged 'new technologies'

Is running a paper fanzine still relevant nowadays?

If Kick and Run would have the possibility to exist physically speaking, I would have liked it to be a proper fanzine. You know those amateur publication, photocopied in emergency and distributed via underground networks. Fanzines are really cool because you can at a glance figure out the whole universe of the mag. Those who run fanzines definitely put a lot of themselves into it creating therefore a unique object.
As a commonplace definition, a fanzine is 1) a free publication (or just to cover the photocopy expenses) 2) representing a sub culture 3) with no commercial interest whatsoever. The big burst of fanzines occurred with the Punk years (with titles like the emblematic Sniffin’ Glue) and is usually related to that period even though you had some Sci-Fi fanzines in the early 20th century.

But now we have blog platforms and we can still create our publication just for the sake of it. But do blogs offer the same possibilities (can you really make it look like yourself?) or do they narrow it to make more affordable (but limited at the same time)? Did technologies and CMS change the deal?

By the way, as a physical magazine, Kick and Run would more likely be called a perzine (contraction for personal magazine – written by 4 hands in this case). Fanzines carry more the image a sub culture press organ investing a place left empty by more professional and commercial oriented people. Though, our common point with fanzines is that publishers, editors and contributors are a really small team of impassioned.

Sniffin' Glue. Fanzines explosion in the UK during the punk years.

Sniffin

By weighting the pros and the cons of blogs possibilities compared to fanzines, the final result is crystal clear.

1) It is easier to figure out the existence of your publication thanks to blog search engines and a good work on your keywords.

2) You can virtually gather your community and make of your blog a ‘virtual meeting point’ by filling up your blog roll, allowing comments to your entries, creating a profile of your publication in social networks…

3) You can turn your publication into a living and interactive title with the help of loads of media (hi quality pictures, videos, slideshows, online music player…); links to other articles; RSS feeds…

And this last point is by far the most interesting as it has completely changed the relationship between the writer and the reader. They can both interfere, exchange, contest and create a forum (a place to discuss freely).
Plus, fanzines claimed to be immediate and done in emergency but in a two horses race, who would nowadays bet on a photocopier rather than a PC+Internet connexion?

So even if fanzines were a piece of paper you could build from A to Z giving it your own personal touch with all the romanticism around it, it is obvious the new technologies offer a better deal.
Back in the days in the 1970’s, the competition between titles was not the same. Let say that existing was already a major point. It was then a question of buzz and to find the good underground network.
And now, what about the multiplication of digital titles ? How to do to face geographical barriers and enlarge your audience?

Blogs offer tons of possibilities that fanzines don’t. And even if the virtual world looks a lot busy right now, it is certainly less saturated than paper magazines.
The strongest is certainly the fact that now you and your readers can be on the same level and it allows you to reinforce the link amongst your ‘community’. Something that despite all the romanticism of a paper publication a fanzine can’t compete with.

If you like this subject, I can recommend you ‘Copyright Volume! 2006-1 – ‘La presse musicale alternative’ (Mélanie Séteun éditions)

Below are some fanzines with the ones Kim Gordon contributed. Pictures were taken at the exhibition Sensational Fix- Sonic Youth in Saint-Nazaire, France.

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