God Save the Zine!

10 years of Zines and Minicomics

What are Zines?

  • Small, self published, often self printed, generally self assembled booklets.
  • Zines (zeens, not z-eye-ns, short for magazine) can be just text, text with a few illustrations, illustrations with a little text, just illustrations, comics, or a combination of all the above. 
  • Zines can be personal, political, recipes, how-to's, essays, short fiction, poetry, comics, or all of the above.
  • Zines can be the work of a single person, the contributions of a collection

Recently the term 'zine' has been co-opted to mean fandom based anthologies with multiple artists, Kickstarted and printed in a perfect bound format.  The term 'doujin' is really more fitting for that sort of project, as zines are really more of a small scale, DIY project that anyone can tackle, and is intended to be a product of the masses, for the masses.

Who are they for?

Anyone.  There are all sorts of zines, on all sorts of topics- if you search hard enough, you will find a zine that appeals to you.  And if you can't find one- you can MAKE one.  Zines can be for stay at home dads looking for easy recipes on a budget.  Zines can be for rugged outsdoorswomen who want to share their knowledge of field medicine and foraging.  Zines can share political beliefs, or the history of a particular cause.  Zines can be a how to guide for kids looking to start making their own zines, or a manifesto on the importance of voting for 20 somethings who can't get off from work on Election Day.

Who makes zines?

Anyone can make a zine- that's the beauty!  If you've got recipes you want to share, a trip you'd like to memorialize, a political viewpoint you want to disseminate, knowledge that should be preserved, short stories that need a home, mini comics that you'd like to see in print- you've got content for a zine!

What's in a zine?

While there are a variety of ways to manufacture your own zines, my favorite method is the simplest- 8"x11" sheets of paper, folded in half to make 5.5"x8" booklets.


Japanese mulberry paper cover, with block printed text, stab binding

I like to use a heavier stock for my covers- usually cardstock, but you can use almost anything- modpodged cutouts and ephemera, handmade paper, fancy scrapbooking paper, a carefully designed and printed cover- it's up to you!

You can even screenprint, risograph, or block print your covers!


One sheet of paper will generate four pages of zine.  If you wanted to print and bind an eight page comic with a wraparound cover, that's three sheets of paper.


Again, this could be almost anything.  Can't draw, but want to include art?  How about collage?  Prefer to work digitally?  Not a problem at all.  The focus on zines isn't the most polished content- it's getting the content out there, in a way that's sustainable and affordable for the creator.

This can be in black and white, color, or a combination of the two, but keep in mind that color greatly increases the price to print.

Personalization and Decoration:

Ideas to get you started:
  • Travelogue zine/minicomic that includes ticket stubs, photos from places you've visited, sketches, and journal entries.
  • Inktober illustrations collected into a themed zine
  • Mermay, Magical Girl March, March of the Robots, World Watercolor Month themed zines
  • A how to zine for a craft or hobby you enjoy (sewing, fencing, foraging)
  • A collection of family recipes to pass on to the next generation
  • Information about self care such as useful stretches for artists

How do you make zines?


You're going to want to design around the format of your page.  For our example, we're still talking about the 8"x5.5" booklet.

If you're working digitally, you can either design individual pages (8" tall by 5.5" wide) or you can design as spreads (8" tall by 11" wide).  If you're working traditionally, it can be really helpful to work on pages that are the same size as your finished book, or that work along the same ratio.


If you work digitally, your zine is already digitized!  If you work traditionally, you have a few options:

Home scanner- scanning your pages at home

Don't have a scanner?
Bring to the library and request that they scan it for you

Bring to a copy shop, pay them to scan your pages

Take photos of your pages/graphics using a smart phone- aim for clear lighting with no cast shadows- natural light outside works well!


You CAN collate zines by hand, but I prefer to use Adobe InDesign or Affinity Publisher to help with collating and printing.  I have a tutorial on laying out zines and minis using Affinity Publisher here!


Many artists print their zines at copy machines or copy shops such as Staples or Kinkos.  I hate waiting around Staples for three hours, so I purchased an inexpensive duplexing toner based printer to print minicomics at home.

Helpful Materials:
Cardstock (white)
Cardstock (Colored)
Copier Paper
Kraft Paper 




Saddle Stitch

Assembling minis using a longarm stapler in my Making Comics class 

Longarm Stapler
Saddle Stitch Stapler

What to do with zines?

Selling Minicomics and Zines at A2CAF 2019

Sell them
Indie comic cons
Library conventions
Anime cons
On Consignment
Online- physical copies
Online- PDF copies
Sell on consignment through record stores, local bookstores, gift shops, boutiques

If you have questions about selling zines and mini comics, check out How to be a Con Artist!

Zine exchange for Making Comics, Spring 2019

Give them Away
Give them to friends
Give them to family
Hand them out to strangers
Put them in Little Libraries
Host a zine exchange- in person or by mail

Leave them places
Dentist Offices'
Hair Salons
Dr's Offices
Bowling Alleys

Recommended Materials to Get Started:

Copy Paper
Colored Cardstock
Bone Folder
Long Arm Stapler

Useful Resources:
Laying Out Your Minicomics and Zines
Sea Lemon- Bookbinding
How to Make Your own Minicomics
Zines are Power-Twitter Thread
Cool Minicomic Format
Analog Self Publishing


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