Tutorial videos uploaded at 4pm Fridays, group support and zine-making zoom sessions at 6.30 on the following Monday. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to join in.
Go Volunteer project worker Mike Duckett is also a practising artist and prolific zine maker. Zines are a grassroots way of producing physical and often beautiful publications, with no middleman and no editorial interference. They are an outlet for personal expression, and often allow underrepresented views to get expressed. In different periods of history zines have been a flourishing place for science fiction, for underground comics, for experimental art and poetry, lgbt+ and personal testimonies to be voiced. In most years, zine makers would gather at zine fairs and festivals across the UK and the world, to swap and chat and sell their zines, but of course in 2020 this is all off, or just existing online.
Mike’s current zine output is based on simple illustrations (he has produced 4 zines so far in 2020). By signing up to these tutorials you will get one of his zines through the post, along with some useful ingredients for making your own. But then you are welcome to ignore his style and focus purely on your own. The 9 tutorials will give you quick access to methods that can aid you in your own expression and experimentation.
The 9 tutorials themselves are simple, focussed, and suitable for all ages and interests (some adult themes will be referred to). Each filmed tutorial will be followed by an optional zoom drop-in session to compare experiences, share work and hopefully help to build a bit of a supportive zine community here in Newcastle. Please bear in mind that other participants may be coming from quite different standpoints and experiences than your own: as facilitator for these get-togethers Mike will make sure sharing is done in a friendly and safe way. This is important because as well as being fun and educational to share, a personal zine can be a quite vulnerable thing where people reveal personal hurts and concerns.
1. The Classic 8 Page Mini Zine https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3E_NRSBGAo
All you need is a blank A4 piece of paper to begin. Scissors are optional, but they do make it neater.
From one piece of paper you can create an 8-page mini book and this is where so many good (and bad) ideas begin. Examples will be shared of mini zines made by various participants in festival workshops and during ‘Mini comic day’ events of recent years (Mini Comic day is in March).
2. Collage Your Day https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teEJ4IqJ20M&t=49s
Some people don’t like the look of their own drawing style or handwriting, and this deters them from expressing themselves with art. But EVERYONE can look like a hunky Gregory Peck if you just cut out the face of Gregory Peck and stick it on a hunky body. Collage is democratic and available to everyone, and it can be a constant surprise what results you come up with.
All you need is a range of mass-printed materials such as magazines, newspapers, flyers, graph paper or other patterns. Scissors are recommended (though some people like to rip), and pritt stick or PVA are the usual glues to recommend.
Whether you make one page or many, use the mini comic as a base or just build up a single unified image, you too can make an interesting piece of art to help weird out your day. Examples of collage zines will be shared, some of which are aimed at humour, others at a descent into the deep weird, and others still take us into quite beautiful realms of elegance and art.
3. Photocopier Art Tones
You may not have a photocopier in your bedroom, but traditionally zine-makers could get access to one in the local library or in the office after hours. This is how the classic zine of the 1980s and beyond got its look. The technological capabilities of a photocopier have thus helped inform the stylistics and aesthetic experiments that zines represent, and so an introduction to zines would not be complete without a play around with photocopier shades and contrasts (and before photocopiers there were even cheaper duplicators and even the hand-copied samizdat underground press that circulated thousands of forbidden books, poetry and thoughts across the Soviet Union).
We will look at some examples of classic photocopier imagery and experiment with abstracting and rendering ‘zine-like’ the patterns, backgrounds and art shapes of our own zines.
Participants without a photocopier of their own can get a delivery of suitably enlarged, reduced, repeated and abstracted photocopier tones. And Mike will happily take delivery of your own originals to render into photocopied copies (this will need to be arranged in advance).
4. Tippex versus the Stars
It is amazing how you can make a newspaper celebrity grin when you apply tippex to extend their toothy smile (other white-out correction-fluid products work as well). It may be childish and rather unkind, but we will enjoy ourselves anyway by deconstructing and extending the faces we discover in old and free newspapers. Eyepatches and Frankenstein scars WILL appear.
All you need is some pictures from magazines or newspapers, some correction fluid and a black or bold pen. Scissors make it easier and some plain paper for the background can be helpful if you wish to ‘frame’ your art. For true joy, try and get your hands on some ‘googly eyes’.
Past examples will be shared, and with the addition of titles, speech bubbles and captioned thoughts we will endeavour to create a (probably nonsensical) dialogue between our different newspaper-print celebrities. Apologies if this becomes a childish habit that you keep going back to : in this tutorial we will endeavour to remain within the bounds of good humour but good taste does usually fall by the wayside. Within zine culture it is seen as a legitimate way to ‘talk back’ to the famous visages so relentlessly inflicted upon us: a disruption of advertorial mores and a method by which we can paint in some cracks in the mass media that otherwise is a solely one-way & down-talking form of communication.
5. Narration like a comic book
How to tell a story with your zine? The narrative progression from page to page is aided by the simple tricks and tropes of the comic book. So whether you revisit the 8page mini-comic format for this, or prefer to ‘draw’ purely by collage and tippex layering, in this session you will be provided with the prompts and classic ‘standards’ that help develop a suitable narrative for a zine. Very few zines reach a length that would require chapter headings : most can be read in 15 minutes flat and many of the best (examples will be shared) can be finished with in 2 minutes, leaving just the laughter and the visual joy to linger in your brain. Whether we achieve such heights is unimportant: but by following simple prompts we organise our zine into a recognisable story for the reader.
6. Fonts and Lettering
Typewriters and sticky lettersets help, but in general a zine involves us looking much more closely and quizzically at the font in which our words are cast. This can make you really hate (or love) Times New Roman, get tired of computer styles like Arial and, worst of all, learn to spot all the flaws and confusion of your own handwriting style. Some zines raise lettering to the status of art (examples will be shared where no separate ‘images’ are necessary: the letters ARE the illustration). Others (and some of my own are included in this list) are frankly illegible. There is nowhere you will get to spot so many flaws, typos and idiosyncratic attempts at expression as a zine. Which makes it worth looking at lettering in particular : what style do you usually use, which do you prefer, and how can you make it more consciously effective? Are zines even accessible - legible - to the readers you wish for?
In this session Mike will certainly not tell YOU how to do YOUR lettering, but will demonstrate problems and solutions, fine examples and foul, and encourage you to experiment and contrast the way you typically write your words.
7. Transform Your Face
It is arguable that every zine is already a self portrait. There is more individualism and honesty in your average zine than you would ever read in an autobiography, newspaper or celebrity interview. Zines are written not FOR ‘them’ (the moneymakers and the style authorities), they are written BY ‘us’. So while we’ll look at the personal side of this in tutorial 9, in this one we’ll take it easier and get reflective on what sort of face we can present.
How do you see your face? Two dots and a smile is not enough, but it IS ALMOST enough. Sometimes just a snaggle tooth or a wisp of hair will make that icon recognisably your own. Sometimes you might want to present yourself as upbeat and dashing, but more often than not zinesters and small press comic artists bring out their flaws and depict themselves as lost, confused and worn out. Present yourself in different cut-up varieties and pit them against each other (yourself). In a zine there is no need to show-off or have your final version, so have a bit of fun testing out some varieties of you.
All you will need is some spare pictures of yourself and then it’s useful to have the usual scissors, pens, glue and correction fluid. If arranged in advance, some self portraits can be printed and sent to you in advance.
8. Flip it Out and Reverse It
I’m old enough to remember those ‘choose your own’ adventure stories. And zines can be an amazing place in which to throw in choice, puzzle, and 3-dimensional surprise. The reader loves to colour in, to cut out, to fold as the page instructs. Examples will be shown of intriguing different ways to use and abuse the page : it does not just need to be turned from left to right.
All you need is glue, paper, scissors and a pen. With these you can make a pop-up book and a hands-on activity for your reader. Some examples of how zines have brought experimentation into life will be shared.
9. Your Testimony
A key driving force behind zine making is the need to share personal stories. A chance to express yourself. When this is linked to marginalised identities and repressed thoughts then forums for social change are created and zines have again and again helped sustain momentum toward key and radical shifts in society. Examples will be shared.
And the personal zine (aka ‘perzine’) is one of the most important forms current today. Most zine makers share secrets, display their wounds, beg for help, and make themselves vulnerable in various different ways. This makes respect and compassion an essential ingredient in zine communities and this means it is very rare for zines to really get nasty or vindictive, bigoted or boastful. Because the audience for zines is not interested in that. Some examples of perzines will be shared, and suggestions for further reading and tips for reflecting upon your own experience will be shared.
10. There is no number 10
However if there is interest, a second series of zine tutorials may be created in 2021, with an intended focus on accessing a risograph machine and producing a ‘proper’ collaborative zine.
- The Classic 8 Page Mini Zine Video from 4pm Friday 23rd October, Zoom session 6.30pm Monday 26th
- Collage Your Day from 4pm Friday 30th, Zoom session 6.30pm Monday 2nd November
- Photocopier Art Tones from 4pm Friday 6th, Zoom session 6.30pm Monday 9th
- Tippex versus the Stars from 4pm Friday 13th, Zoom session 6.30pm Monday 16th
- Narration like a comic book from 4pm Friday 20th, Zoom session 6.30pm Monday 23rd
- Fonts and Lettering from 4pm Friday 27th, Zoom session 6.30pm Monday 30th
- Transform Your Face from 4pm Friday 4th, Zoom session 6.30pm Monday 7th
- Flip it Out and Reverse It from 4pm Friday 11th, Zoom session 6.30pm Monday 14th
- Your Testimony from 4pm Friday 18th, Zoom session 6.30pm Monday 21st