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The zine format finds new life in the hands of Orlando's writers and artists 

Print, despite what you may have read online recently, is not completely dead yet. In particular, the DIY zine format is becoming a standard-bearer for print's vibrancy, enjoying an unprecedented third (fourth? fifth?) act.

Zines (pronounced "zeens" and short for "fanzine") have a long and proud history in self publishing. Zines are self-published pamphlets or magazines that reflect the individual viewpoints or obsessions of their authors and creators. Because there are no publishers to be beholden to, zines go a long way in representing and disseminating voices that might otherwise be overlooked or go unheard in the mainstream. 

Arguably dating back to Benjamin Franklin's pamphleteering using his eponymous press, the term "zine" and the format grew out of the science fiction and comics fan press of the late 1950s, before finding its full flower as underground music's bulletin of choice. With the advent as punk in the late '70s, fans and musicians alike took to this medium as a way to circumvent the mainstream music press and document their subculture on their own terms. Zines have endured through the successive decades, reaching a peak in the '90s with the explosion of so-called alternative music. Then the internet happened, and with it was supposed to come the death of the printed word.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the funeral. A new generation, tired of the ephemerality of the internet, discovered the zine format. Desiring physical permanence and the sense of community found among other zine makers, they've ensured the zine medium is as robust as ever – and more thematically and creatively diverse than ever. There are zines on every possible subject: music, comics, arts, politics, feminism, literature, cooking, film, how-to guides, bikes, crafts. And a majority of the newer creators are young, new entrants to the field, bringing fresh perspectives and voices.

We can't help but be impressed by the active zine community in Orlando. The commitment to creativity and expression is full-throated, and many local zines have an activist slant that is sorely needed. Production styles vary from glossy and near "professional" to hand-drawn and hand-bound. Creators are aware of one another's work and supportive of each other. There are well-attended and sometimes wild zine release parties and even an Orlando Zine Fest reportedly in the works for later this year. For art, music and literature fans, it is well worth the time to seek these publications out and support them.

We have gathered creators from 10 Orlando zines to talk about their creations and motivations, in an attempt to survey the state of Central Florida zines in 2016. Included in the following 10 pages are interviews with Tittie-Thyme, Pomegranate Press, the Vinyl Warhol, Is It Over Yet?, Phosphene Girl, Agencies, Girl Pop, Laura Margaret, Adam Lavigne, and ReForm.
click to enlarge PHOTO BY LIV JONSE
  • Photo by Liv Jonse

Tittie-Thyme

Tittie-Thyme is a collective anthology zine, known as much for their raucous release events as the wide-ranging creativity expressed within the pages.

Who are your main contributors?

We are an open-submission zine, so each release we have a variety of people submit. There are a few people that submit to every release, including Erin Hennessy, Sarah Janfeshan, Sabra Starr and Alexis Bea.

What themes does this zine cover?

As a whole our "theme" is to encourage and empower others to help our creative community grow – to grow as individuals and therefore grow as a community. We are an outlet for anybody that wishes to express themselves, and the subjects included in our zines have a huge dynamic range, including playlists, recipes, informational articles, interviews, opinion pieces, narratives and visual art of every kind.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY LIV JONSE
  • Photo by Liv Jonse

How did Tittie-Thyme begin?

Tittie-Thyme's first release was in August 2014, so we are officially almost 2 years old! The idea initially started as just a neutral place that people of all genders, sexualities, races and cultures [could] meet up with each other and just ... be themselves. Be able to have a conversation about anything without the fear of being judged or ridiculed.

Why did the zine medium appeal to you?

Making a zine seemed like an afterthought at that time, but it just made so much sense. Zines are convenient because it's an affordable way to get information out to the public. There is a lot of freedom with it. Having something in print is like holding a memory, a part of the community, something real. It's something you can't scroll through.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY LIV JONSE
  • Photo by Liv Jonse

Pomegranate Press

Pomegranate Press is a split Philadelphia/Orlando operation run by Jesse Feinman (here) and Alexander Rotondo (there). Pomegranate issues beautiful limited-run photo zines and books, each showcasing a single photographer, and has been active for about one year.

What sort of titles have you released thus far?

As of now we've released strictly photography-based works – with the exception of a split monograph between Alex and I, which featured about a dozen of my poems. I'd say that each Pomegranate release, as of now, deals with youth in some capacity – whether that be through depictions of love, angst, anxiety, fear, elation – the things that make up youth (both good and bad), you know, are present in each body of work.

Why zines?

Long answer: I've been besotted with zines and printed works since I was about 15 years old, and I know Alex has also had a fascination with them for quite some time. Something about holding a physical copy of, like, I don't know, a collection of photos or poems or interviews or whatever ... it's an irreplaceable feeling (for me, at least). I'm a total, complete nerd about the whole world of zines and photobooks. The different kinds of paper, the different printing methods ...

click to enlarge PHOTO BY LIV JONSE
  • Photo by Liv Jonse

How do you discover the people whose work you release?

Alex and I aren't entirely new to this world, and the community of people involved in it is somewhat small and tight-knit. I guess just from making zines and art for a while now we've met a lot of really talented people who are geographically pretty far from us. That being said, every person we've worked with, up until this point, has been someone we've known personally. I especially like (and honestly insist upon) working with my friends over strangers just because, to be frank, I'm not good at running a "business" or something super serious.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY LIV JONSE
  • Photo by Liv Jonse

The Vinyl Warhol

Since the late '90s, print publications large and small went to a web-only format; in 2015 local music blog the Vinyl Warhol did the complete opposite, beginning a regular release campaign of group zines and tour diary zines by founder Matthew Weller.

Who creates the Vinyl Warhol zines?

The number of contributors changes depending on the type of zine. Two of the three tour zines are completely my words and photos (the Me Chinese zine features photography by Karina Curto) and then there are the broader, submission-based art zines where my work is alongside others. The latter is much less stressful. With the anthology zines, I collaborate with my best friend, Katt Mabe (co-curator). She's based in Savannah – we started the zine to give us a reason to keep in touch – so we Facetime to come up with a theme, brainstorm possible ideas of material and get a vague idea of what we see the final zine looking like. 

How long have you been making zines?

The Vinyl Warhol has existed as a music blog since 2013. But it wasn't until summer 2015 that the TVW zine debuted at Orlando Zine Fest. It was really my first introduction to the whole community.

Why make zines?

There's a different kind of payoff when you can hold your writing or photography or whatever in your hands. Having something tangible to give people is a great feeling.

What zines do you enjoy personally?

Big fan of the local zines, especially Is It Over Yet?, Tittie-Thyme, Agencies and Phosphene Girl. IIOY and TT were the inspirations before our zine even started.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY LIV JONSE
  • Photo by Liv Jonse

Is It Over Yet?

Is It Over Yet? has been a longtime linchpin of Central Florida's zine community. The collective, submissions-based zine emphasizes how the whole is greater than the sum of its individual parts ("curators" Daniel Harris, Cody Ziegler and Alex Thomas even answered these questions as one).

Who is behind Is It Over Yet?

Is It Over Yet? has always been a submission-based zine, so the "main" contributors are those who have consistently sent work over the years, which include Brandon Geurts, Emmanuel Malchiodi, Tyler and Jesse Cooley, Cassidy Jones, Adam Wade Lavigne ... we could go on and on, but the thing is that even those who've only submitted once are still a vital part of the zine, so it's difficult to consider some contributors "main" and others not. But, if you're asking who curates, produces and distributes it, that would be Daniel Harris, Cody Zeigler and as of late, Alex Thomas.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY LIV JONSE
  • Photo by Liv Jonse

What sort of titles have you released thus far?

Is It Over Yet? has primarily released zines over the course of its time. We also have ventured into putting out physical media releases, the first being the Neat Freak/Forms split, the second being the CHEW (Chicago) self-titled cassette, and the third was Vivian K.'s Vivisections EP. The first year of IIOY has been bound into multiple compendiums by Cody and Daniel, but we're not too sure of their existence at this point. The first year of issues will be available online, once we move them over onto the new website, but for the most part it's been zines.

How long have you been doing this?

The first Is It Over Yet? was assembled and printed by Cody and Daniel on the 15th of March 2013 for an Ides of March art show. They printed one every month for a year, then cut back to one every couple of months until Daniel moved to Chicago. Alex started working with us once Daniel left, and we've put out a few zines sporadically. Alex has been helping whip things together for about a year now. Currently, we are sort of in a lull, planning on some new stuff this year.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY LIV JONSE
  • Photo by Liv Jonse

Phosphene Girl

Phosphene Girl began as a collective zine, but the second issue dramatically shifted, becoming a solo vehicle for Alexia Clarke. Unflinchingly honest personal writings and photographs are bound up in two deceptively sweet black bows.

What themes has Phosphene Girl covered?

Past and current issues have covered all things feminine and feminist. Eating disorders, heartbreak and falling in love with yourself are some of the topics we've had the honor to discuss in Phosphene Girl so far.

What prompted the change from a group zine to just you writing Issue 2?

I felt like I was kind of a mystery. I felt like to many people, I was just a face with a boyfriend and an alright sense of style. I wanted to prove that there was more to me, even if all there was left was the bad parts. I love hearing what other creators have to contribute in terms of a group zine, but I think it was just time for me to be open about myself and not just hide behind the words of other people. I've been doing this since November 2015.

Tell me about putting the second issue together.

The binding and the different covers was such a random, but perfect, idea. I think the bows add such a feminine touch, and I've never seen anyone else do it before. As for the cover of the second issue, I have five different colors and two different cover photos, so it's fun when different bows are also mixed in. I like when the customer has kind of a choice in the vibe they want the zine to have – even if they're just different shades of pink!

click to enlarge PHOTO BY LIV JONSE
  • Photo by Liv Jonse

Agencies

Agencies is both a themed biannual art exhibition and a zine-style catalog of the art featured. Jointly curated by Moriah Russo and Samantha Stribling, Agencies has featured work from an international cast of contributors.

How does an issue of Agencies come together?

For every issue of the Agencies zine (each corresponding with a biannual exhibit) an open call for submissions is distributed to as much of the internet as we can reach. At first, contributors were almost entirely Orlando-based, but as the project expanded, friends of friends and friends of those friends began to submit work. Included in the most recent issue is work by artists and writers based in not only Orlando but also Chicago, Brooklyn and L.A., as well as London and Hong Kong. Though our base has grown, a few artists (namely Anna Cruz) have contributed to every issue. Contributions to the zine and the show are welcome from trans and cis women as well as non-binary folk, as we understand that women/female-identifying persons are not the only people under-represented and -supported in the art world.

Each exhibit and zine is based around a central theme?

Each call for submissions is focused around a theme established by the co-creators of the project (me and Samantha Stribling) and interpreted by the contributors. The themes come from questions, problems and interests in our everyday and interior lives that we feel are common and in need of collective processing. We encourage contributors to process the prompt in relation to their identities of sex/gender and also of race, age and ability. Main themes so far specifically explored are physical and emotional agency, race and (Southern) regional identity and, most recently, bodies/embodiment. Agencies is a feminist organization and aims to compile and distribute feminist interpretations of these subject fields.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY LIV JONSE
  • Photo by Liv Jonse

How did Agencies begin?

Concurrent with community-wide conversations about gender/sex-based violence and physical/sexual/psychological abuse of women in Orlando following a local assault incident, Sam and I started the Agencies project in February of 2015. Around the same time, a private social media women's space was taking shape and conceiving of plans for activist response, and much of our momentum is owed to that movement. We've since published three zines and hung three exhibits of the visual artwork alongside printed excerpts of written contributions in alternative gallery spaces throughout Orlando.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY LIV JONSE
  • Photo by Liv Jonse

Girl Pop

If you listen to WPRK on Thursday nights, you've likely heard Madeleine Scott and Keara Spicer hosting the Girl Pop radio show. Less known but every bit as enjoyable is their cut-and-paste zine of the same name, which combines music and personal writings.

Who are the main authors of Girl Pop? 

Keara: Half of Girl Pop is Keara Spicer. I'm an advertising and public relations student at UCF! 

Madeleine: My name is Madeleine Scott, and I'm the other half of Girl Pop. I'm an economics and religion double major (with a Spanish minor) at Rollins College, and Thursday nights I DJ the Girl Pop radio show on WPRK.

What has Girl Pop centered around?

Keara: Our past issues have covered topics such as gender, being straight edge and being a woman in a male-dominated scene – also putting yourself out there and not being afraid of judgment.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY LIV JONSE
  • Photo by Liv Jonse

Madeleine: Girl Pop lends itself to a huge variety of topics and formats. ... I think, though, the thread that connects all of this is an idea of encouragement and inclusivity. It's hard to put your voice out there, but the more people that do, the more people that will, you know?

How long have you been doing this zine?

Madeleine: Keara and I became friends October of last year, and soon after started working on the zine together. We released our first issue in December 2015, our second in February, and our most recent a little less than a week ago.

Why do you make zines?

Keara: Zines are sacred to the DIY community. Everything nowadays is online or downloadable. We decided on a zine versus a blog because the feeling of a printed page is more real than looking at a computer screen. In addition, we do everything by hand – no Photoshop! We strictly collage and scan for printing. It feels more put together and made with love than something you can read online. Also I personally love the turn of a page in any good piece of print. 

click to enlarge PHOTO BY LIV JONSE
  • Photo by Liv Jonse

Laura Margaret

Laura Margaret self-releases zines of her own (often stunning) photography as the mood hits her. Themes and formats change often, with her eye being the one constant.

What are the titles of your zines?

There's a New Sheriff in Town, GARBAGE, #HASHTAG, Darling Darling.

Tell me about what themes your zines cover.

Photography is a major "theme" in my life. Some zines theme around film photographs strictly. Or like #HASHTAG is channeled by a mood, playful with a little more provocative attitude to the photos. GARBAGE was just a series I accumulated after traveling and photographing good friends. With creating the zines, though, there is something specific I like to do, which is all of my covers have a diffused, ambiguous self-portrait but I will not (even if it's good) put materials of myself elsewhere in the zine. Because it's not about that, it's about the extension of perspective.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY LIV JONSE
  • Photo by Liv Jonse

How long have you been making them?

I was first introduced to making zines when there was Orlando's Zine Fest going on last year. A lot of things I make are shit but the point is to keep making shitty things until they're good. So I pursued to create the most "professionally" crafted zine for it. The funny part was that this first photography zine, which is There's a New Sheriff in Town, didn't even get to be placed out for view.

Why a zine? Why print, for that matter?

What a zine represents to me is to give voice to the underground trope. It's to the creative that is not adulterated by conglomerates but embodies the genuineness of the human condition. The tangible prints that make up a zine come to represent not only what are in those pages, but in a small way, a symbol of immortality.

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Adam Lavigne

Lavigne, both solo and in tandem with Anna Cruz, has released a myriad of art-based zines, varied in both theme and format. In addition, both recently taught a class for OMA on techniques for making zines and minicomics. He is a staunch booster of local zines.

Do you make any zines yourself?

I've made a handful of zines myself. The first was So Evolved with my friend Bjørn Parramoure. ... Other zines I've made solo usually are confessional and pretty cryptic. I collaborate often with my girlfriend, Anna Cruz. Most recently we made a zine called Art Historical Survey, a romanticized book of symbols with bits of art history we like.

Tell me about some of the efforts you have undertaken to raise awareness of zines?

Recently Anna and I taught a workshop at OMA called "Exercises in Alternative Comics and Zines." We talked about the current state of zine culture and alternative comics, and conducted exercises in drawing, collaborative zine-making and self-publishing. Together with Justin Luper, Anna and I set up and sold zines at the first Milk District Market.

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What are your impressions of the Orlando zine community?

Orlando is ripe for zines; there is a growing community here. There are quite a few Orlando creators making work. There's local titles that come out consistently, like Is it Over Yet?, Tittie-Thyme, Agencies, The Vinyl Warhol, Vanessa Barros Andrade's Bad Anime, Brandon Geurts' Showing Skins. Some other books by creators I love are Justin Luper's Hair Bones and Blobs, Anna Cruz's Imaginary Boyfriend, Nico Sinnott's Don't Beat Yourself Up and Bjørn Parramoure's Do You Want to Know More? These are all Orlando locals. I've seen the community grow quite a bit over the past couple of years.

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ReForm

ReForm is a newer entrant to the Orlando field. An anthology-style group zine that melds direct activism with art and writing, the first issue came out this spring with another in the works. We spoke to editor Sharli Ward.

Who are the main contributors to ReForm? What is your mission?

Our contributors are self-identifying feminists of all walks of life who have shared various forms of content (images, reviews, writings) aligning with their ideals of feminism and self-expression. Our ultimate goal or theme is to make feminism accessible and inclusive.

What made a zine the ideal outlet?

A zine made sense to us because it embodies that sense of accessibility, and it’s much easier to produce on a smaller budget with limited resources. This is also because our secondary goal is to raise donations for local and nationwide nonprofit organizations that we feel align with our ethics and those of our contributors. The donations that we accepted for our debut zine went to the organization ENDTHEBACKLOG, which is an organization that is fighting to eliminate the backlog of untested rape kits in the United States.

How did ReForm begin?

ReForm is in its infancy. Our first issue came out in the spring (April 10, in conjunction with Uncomfortable Brunch) and we are releasing Volume II at the end of August for the summer edition. We are very excited to be able to raise funds for the Hispanic Family Counseling of Orlando in the wake of the Pulse tragedy.

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