The Possibilities of Zines Are Endless 

I’ve been making zines since 2016, currently under the moniker Milky Breath. I live and work in Naarm (Melbourne, Australia) on unceded Wurundjeri land. Upon reflection, I’ve been making zines since I was around 10, I just didn’t know it. They helped me to express myself. I value accessibility and as someone who has never had much money to buy art supplies or be involved in exhibitions, I appreciate zines for their accessibility and possibility.

As a non-binary zine maker and a mental health advocate, I try to use my zines and my media platform to speak candidly about my mental illness to encourage others who are struggling to reach out when they need help and to show them that they’re not alone. I use my art as a way to overcome the stigma that surrounds mental illness.

I began my creative journey in 2016 when my psychologist suggested that I start drawing pictures and comics as a form of mindfulness. I always enjoyed drawing, I just didn’t think I was any good. When I had enough drawings, I turned them into my first issue of Fully Sick, Chronically Sad, my ongoing comic series about living with Borderline Personality Disorder.

My friend Ziggy (@ziggyfilth on Instagram) was my inspiration to begin making zines, she gave me the idea and encouraged me to put my drawings into a zine in the first place. I can’t thank her enough. Zines are such a huge part of my life. I’m grateful to have met so many new creative and kind people. My boyfriend, Michael, also inspires me, I wouldn’t be able to create without his constant love and support.

The possibilities of zines are endless. They can be in any format, about any subject – no matter how niche. My mum thought she couldn’t make a zine because she doesn’t draw, but we just made a zine together this year. Zines don’t have to ‘be’ anything, which is the greatest part about them.

AJ Dance is a chronically ill zinester and writer living on unceded Wurundjeri land.

How to Start Your Own Zine Fest By Maira McDermott

I started making zines in late 2013, after visiting a handful of zine fests (the first I ever went to was Portland Zine Symposium) and realizing that I could definitely make my own. I was intimidated at first, but soon fell into an exciting new world of self-publishing my thoughts and feelings. After making my first perzine, I was smitten. I tabled my first zine fest in December 2014 at the East Bay Alternative Book and Zine Fest, which I would later start helping organize two years later. In August of 2016, I saw a Facebook post calling for organizing help for EBABZ, which was across the bridge from me and I loved attending/tabling at. When I signed up to help, I had no idea the course of my life was about to change.

EBABZ 2016 was a very special and strange experience for me. A week before the fest, our lead organizer tragically passed away in a disaster that rocked the entire Bay Area. At this time, the organizing team found out that our venue had not been secured. We had to pivot incredibly last minute, all while grieving this huge loss to our community. Thanks to another organizer’s work hookup, we secured a beautiful venue a few days before the fest was scheduled to occur. Now it was time to get the word out, and fast! A handful of folks still showed up to the venue that had been previously advertised, but we had so many people come through to the new event space that we actually had to limit capacity and we had a line out the door (unfortunately it was also pouring rain – belated thank you to everyone who waited)!

A few weeks later, I sat in my bedroom in San Francisco and thought, “What if we took EBABZ but made it queer?” This was the first spark of what would quickly become Bay Area Queer Zine Fest. I was amazed that the Bay Area didn’t have its own queer zine fest, given its rich queer history. So, I took to social media and started to recruit a team. While it’s absolutely imperative that you have a good idea of what kind of event you’d like to put on, a good organizing committee is also essential – you don’t want to end up doing all the work yourself!

At the beginning of January, I felt impulsive and created an Instagram account for the fest – @baqzf. And I started posting that it was “coming soon.” Putting things out into the world is my favorite way to motivate myself, because once people know about it, I feel bad going back on my ideas. And so, the seed for BAQZF was sown. Our team came together, and we started meeting, scheming, and dreaming up what this first fest would look like.

When you’re assembling a team, make sure you get at least one person who is good at PR and communications. We got a lot of really great media hits our first year and people were really, really excited about what was to come. Getting people stoked about your idea is CRUCIAL, because if no one is excited, no one will show up or apply to table. We ended up getting way more applications than we could feasibly handle and had to turn some people away. We also learned the very, very valuable lesson of always bcc’ing when communicating with tablers. The team also started fundraising – we threw a benefit show at a local queer bar and did a few zine readings to raise money for the fest – and soon we had money to secure a venue.

Choosing the right venue is an important part of any event planning process. You want to make sure it’s accessible: is it close to public transportation? Is it wheelchair accessible? Are service animals allowed? Have you considered other access needs, like being scent-free? Does it have enough room to move comfortably in? The venue we held our first fest in touted itself as wheelchair accessible but ended up not being ADA-compliant once we got there on the actual day of the fest, which was a huge bummer! No one using a wheelchair came to the fest, but we still wanted the option to be available.

Day-of operations can feel really stressful as an event host. Make sure you’re drinking water, taking breaks, and stretching, and advise everyone tabling to do the same! It’s a great idea to periodically check in with all the vendors to make sure they’re doing okay and not encountering any issues. Step outside if you can and get some fresh air!

After the fest is over for the day, thank everyone profusely, clean up, go home and maybe (probably) cry because you did it! Rest up after what I’m sure was an exhausting few months of planning. In a few days, follow up with everyone via email and ask for feedback. First year fests are hard, but there’s nowhere to go but up, so it’s important to get any feedback you can to make your fest better.

To this day, Bay Area Queer Zine Fest has not had the bandwidth to host panels or workshops, but we’re hoping that we can eventually. Our organizing team numbers have dwindled significantly and it’s really hard to find committed individuals during such uncertain times. I feel incredibly lucky to have two friends that I’ve been working with since the beginning still with me on this weird and wild journey. We’ve had to pivot to virtual festivities due to the pandemic, which has lowered our participation numbers significantly, because a lot of people simply don’t have the capacity to be online all the time, which I totally understand.

TL;DR – love zines, go to other fests and get inspired, pull what you like from them, round up some homies, start planning, and do the damn thing! Make sure you’re having fun, too, because if it’s not fun, it’s not worth it.

Maira McDermott is a zinester living in the Bay Area, CA. They make zines and produce a podcast about zines under the name Long Arm Stapler. You can find more of their work on Instagram (@lngrmstplr), on their linktree (, and their podcast is available most places you can find podcasts. They used to organize the East Bay Alternative Book and Zine Fest (, founded and currently organize the Bay Area Queer Zine Fest (, and help out the Rock Paper Scissors Collective Zine Committee (

Creating Community: Amy Burek & Awkward Ladies Club By Natalie Windt

As in-person zinefests slowly (and safely) resume, I can’t wait to get back into the thick of zinethings. One of the most magical aspects of the zine community is the ways in which it connects people. 

In February of 2020 (shortly before the pandemic) I tabled at Dear Diary Zinefest in Berkeley, Calif. where I shared a spot with zinester Amy Burek (@awkwardladies). Burek is a printmaker and book artist whose zines dive into Reddit threads, Craigslist emails, and death project management, as well as perzines,  which cover illness, change and  personal transformation. Burek self-publishes her work under the imprint Awkward Ladies Club and is currently connected with the collaborative riso space located in the East Bay area of California, Chute Studio.  

“…That night I ordered myself a pizza. The pizza you eat the night you quit your job tastes pretty good.” ~Amy Burek, Quit Your Job and Eat Pizza: Issue 1

Burek and I traded zines that day; one of which was issue one of “Quit Your Job and Eat Pizza.” This perzine details Amy’s issues with migraines and what it was like working in a pharmaceutical research lab, of which she eventually decides to quit. Amy supports her story much like a scientist would, providing the reader with cited information on topics varying from zines, prescriptions, migraines, motherhood, printmaking, etc. Weaving her narrative with facts gives support to a personal struggle, creating this beautiful balance of logic and emotion, in such a small space as a ¼ zine. 

It was interesting to hear the story right from her prior to reading her work (a unique facet of being a traveling zinester). Later in the pandemic and through social media, Burek and I once again traded some zines via snail mail, including “Never Date Dudes From the Internet,” “Half of My Head,” and “I am Trying to Hold You.”

Beyond Amy Burek’s capacity to create and expand on interesting topics, I’ve always admired and aspired to her zine’s overall presentation, which can be appreciated throughout and especially in the beautifully printed “Half of My Head” –a fold out zine featuring images of her actual brain from CT scans. Burek sent me this after I shared a social media post of pics of my own brain after finding 10 year old brain scans in my parents closet during the pandemic. 

Burek, among others, has also taught me the value of trading work with other zinesters. Having been a zine-community newb at the time, I didn’t know this was something folks even did. Since tabling at Dear Diary it’s been a great way to connect and share work with others outside of my immediate social circle.

Be sure to check out and support Burek’s work! If you’re down to trade zines with me sometime, connect with me at my Instagram; OverMyDeadCopy.

Natalie Windt is a writer, zinester, artist, public relations professional, and former radio show co-host. She enjoys all things communications; written, verbal or visual.


Zine Challenges – The Highs, the Lows, and How to Structure One for Your Success By Natalie Windt

Zine challenges are a fantastic way to build your confidence as a zinester, produce a large body of work over a short period of time, and increase skills. Following prompts or set guidelines can  reign in your creativity while allowing you to express yourself consistently.

While zine challenges can be wonderful, that’s only the bright side of the story. Identifying and anticipating the potential roadblocks to meeting your goals as a zinester can help you finish what you start.

Diving In – Understanding Your Motivations and Setting Your Constraints

“Constraints aren’t the boundaries of creativity, but the foundation of it…” –Brandon Rodriguez

Using myself as an example, I completed #Zinetober last October. The challenge was to complete a zine based on a prompt for every day in October, sharing those creations to social media. 

Perusing selections of prompts I couldn’t really see myself willingly following them. As insecure as I can be, I also recognized that sharing on social media would only get in the way of me completing it. Overthinking about an audience can be my achilles heel. The reasons why I wanted to participate in the first place didn’t quite align with what others were doing with this challenge, and that was okay. 

What I wanted was a blank slate everyday to create something, anything, to completion in order to get back into the habit of regular zine work. Mainly, I was doing this for me. Therefore my initial constraints were as simple as “complete one mini-zine a day for the entire month of October, and on anything you want; that’s it.”

My Why – What’s yours?

I’d been neglecting personal creativity in favor of working two jobs, both of which required me to be creative on behalf of others. Zinetober became a chance for me to once again make something for the simple joy of the experience. Going in with this knowledge was important because it helped me to realize I didn’t want or need prompts.

What’s your ‘why?’ Recognizing your motivations behind participating in any challenge is the most important step. It helps you to choose the best fit for your artistic goals. Maybe your goal is to increase your following on social media, or connect with like-minded artists? Challenges which allow you to consistently hashtag can assist this. Or perhaps focusing on one redundant theme could help you to learn how to approach the same subject with the task of creating something new and exciting each time. That’s a great creative muscle to build!

It all depends on why you are embarking on this journey in the first place, so knowing why is essential to choosing the challenge that’s right for you.

To Share or Not to Share? – This is the Question

I’m not a fan of “likes” or algorithms. It’s not because I’m too cool to seek approval. It’s actually because I tend to sometimes care too much about what others think. 

Armed with this knowledge I chose not to share right away and deactivated my Instagram account for the first two weeks, solely focusing on creating. When I reached a point of comfort and assuredness that I was really going to finish what I started, I shared some highlights from the experience with friends, so they could see what I was up to and hopefully take away some joy or inspiration from it.

This is an important question to consider. Will sharing to social media hold you accountable to completing? Awesome! If you think it will help, go for it! If sharing what you’re making causes creative paralysis due to considering too much of your audience, it’s probably good to forgo sharing every single thing, or sharing right away.


“Creativity is about play, and about having a work ethic with your play…” -Felicia Day

As you embark on your challenge remember it is important to enjoy what you are doing. If you do, you’ll find you treasure every moment with this challenge and rising to the occasion. By taking a few moments to jot down what it is you hope to accomplish and why, you can successfully complete an art challenge and grow as a person. Good luck and be sure to structure your zine challenge to fit your schedule. You got this!

Natalie Windt is a writer, zinester, artist, public relations professional, and former radio show co-host. She enjoys all things communications; written, verbal or visual.


Zines Without Borders By Hadass “Badass” Bar Lev

I started writing zines rather late. It was 2007 and I was 24 years old. I was in a new country (Israel), in a new city (Jerusalem) with such a different way of life and mentality than the one I knew back in Montreal. The polarized emotions and the culture shock I felt were too powerful for me to contain. Every time I wrote another issue of my zine, it was like a huge sigh of relief as I felt all of those powerful emotions drain out of me and come to life on paper.

Back then, it was all new to me and it was exciting and riveting. As I do with anything I love, I obsessed over zines. I read as much as I could about it, wrote about it, talked about it, listened to the music that accompanied the zine scene of the early 90s, dreamt about it, and wished that I knew more people who were into it. Sadly, there isn’t much of a zine scene in Israel, if at all, so I reached out to other zinesters overseas, and this was when I started trading zines.

I love trading zines! This is my main source of inspiration. Because zines, especially perzines, are so personal and intimate, it’s the next best thing to meeting the creator in person. The zine is the artistic reincarnation of its creator. Every zine is different like every person is different – the writing style, the layout technique, the art incorporated, the talent, the voice, the experience. This is what inspired me to create my own zines and keep creating them.

It went on for about nine years. During that time, I changed so drastically that I didn’t even recognize myself anymore. I had my heart broken and mended and broken again, I started and completed psychological therapy, I lost my grandmother, I had more surgeries than a person in their 20s ever should have, I experimented with different forms of art and activism, I also experimented with drugs and alcohol, I met new friends, then lost all of them one by one, I met the love of my life, I got married, travelled endlessly until the Covid crisis stole that from right under me…

But none of these experiences changed me as much as having a child and becoming a mother. In November 2016, writing zines hit the cold rock bottom of my priorities’ list with a loud resounding thud. My child became my whole world and nothing else mattered. I cared about absolutely nothing but my kid.

Still, I struggled and did my best to keep writing, in between baths, loads of laundry, diaper-changing, feeding times and bedtimes. If perzines are the papercarnations of their creator, and if the creator’s very essence is a maternal one, a zine about motherhood was definitely in order. So I wrote the zine Ima Badass about my experience with motherhood and how I try to balance that part of my life with the one I had back in my 20s.

But no matter how much I changed, trading zines is still important to me and this is what I miss most of all about the zine life. I don’t know if it’s because I don’t make as many zines anymore, but I just can’t seem to land a trade with almost anyone anymore. Sometimes I think maybe it has to do with reasons that are out of my control. I mean, I’m an Israeli zinester after all. And since all my trades are overseas, boycotts abound. I don’t know if that’s the reason – and if you ask me, that’s a fucked up one – but either way, I miss the beautiful brown envelopes in my mailbox. I find myself buying more zines than trading them because this is the only way I seem to be getting zines right now.

And though this is not the reason why I decided to contribute to this blog, Nyx from Sea Green Zines is the only zinester I can still expect to be up for trading zines. A while back, I even got a surprise package from them and it just made my day. If I actually manage to get my ass in gear and send them a couple of zines back, they always feature it on their Happy Mail Monday video cast and it makes my day as well.

I guess my reason for writing this post is to show other zinesters that I’m still me. Still an artist, still a writer, still a feminist, still a metalhead, still a mother, and still lots of different things that have nothing to do with the fucked up politics of the Middle East. There is no reason to boycott me. I took part in the Boston Zine Fest in 2015 for fuck’s sake and the zinesters there sure as fuck had no problem accepting me as one of their own. The zinester community should recognize no borders. And boycotting a zinester makes no sense because rarely does a zinester make any money anyway.

I love zinesters, and I love zines, and I still take part in zine events such as International Zine Month and ZineWriMo, and I just recently joined the Monthly Zine Project community. I so wish that I could meet more zinesters who love trading zines as much as I do.

So if you are one of those awesome zinefolks, don’t be shy, come over and say hi. I’m nice and friendly, I promise. And my zines kick some major fucking ass, I promise that too!

Peace, love and back in the zineverse!

This Badass spills her guts in Fallopian Falafel (a compilation zine from 2007 to 2011), Purple Moon Spawn – A PMS Perzine (from 2010 to present), and the one-off zines: Ima Badass, International Zine Month 2018 Zine, Raise Your Horns and More than Default Male. Her words of sheer badassery are also found in her blog Riot Grrrl in Israel, Contact this lonely zinester at and make her day!

Guest Mini-Zine Reviews: Nightwalking, an incomplete guide to the cats of kingsville, Fault & Fracture #1-4, How to Properly Read Peoples Minds

Apples of The Chicken Collective is guest posting here today with my utmost thanks for even having a single thought to give to me while dealing with the chaos of a brand new baby.

Some of my favourite small zines.

I live in a hospital this week cause my wife just had a baby and the baby just had an operation. Everything is going well! It’s just that they both need a lot of medical attention so we all hang out at the hospital all the time. Last time I went home I grabbed my small box of good zines that I like to re-read, and also some new ones that just arrived! So here are a few zines that you might like to know about.

David Witteveen

nightwalking is a story about a walk taken at night. It is mostly illustrations, clear and simple with colour pencils. I really like this zine because (most of it) is so recognisable. I have many times missed the last tram home and walked through melbourne just like this. Surely I too have walked past that exact pub with sore feet and half-asleep.

I also am a sucker for A6 landscape zines with nice heavy paper covers just like this!

an incomplete guide to the cats of kingsville

Exactly what it says on the front, this is a one-sheet folded A4 zine with drawings of cats Liz met in Kingsville. The drawings are all really cute, and it comes complete with DVD extras on the other side of the sheet, inside the zine. As I’m a map nerd, I thought the background was a neat touch. And it was Liz’s first zine! But not the last.

Fault & Fracture #1-4

It’s a bit silly in the context of a review, but I don’t know if i actually can tell you why I like Fault & Fracture so much! Here are a few of the things I enjoy about it:

—sometimes Bettie writes about how writing zines is hard, and throwing away work you’re not happy with

—there’s a lot in these zines about organising zine fairs, something I’ve never done but I am super glad other people do

—other topics include excellent people the author knows, ice hockey, excellent zines and music, terrible past housemates and low-key wedding plans; all of these are favourite topics of my own

—i really like the mixture of handwriting, typewriting, and printing, and the different backgrounds and illustrations

—Bettie just seems really happy to write these zines?

Also Bettie’s handwriting is almost identical to my former housemate’s, and that just makes the zine feel extra friend-shaped to me.

I bought these all from Penfight Distro ( a while ago. I keep meaning to go check if there are any more, as all four are really enjoyable.

And a new to me and super fun zine:

How To Properly Read Other Peoples Minds
Crash Reynolds

I picked up a bunch of zines from Crash Reynolds on my way to work the day I did not actually do any work and instead drove to the hospital to surprise! meet my son. So as you imagine it took me a few days to read any of them. I loved the look of Crash’s art when I first saw it, and I was really taken by “How To Properly Read Other Peoples Minds”: a very short zine with cute illustrations and Exact Instructions. I look forward to reading the rest of the parcel soon!

Guest Mini Zine Review: Oh Shit. I Accidentally Lived to be 24. What Now??

I’m Amber and I make zines under the name Amber is Blue. I’m writing a couple of mini zine reviews for Nyx while they’re unwell.

I’m a chronically ill artist and zine maker, most of my work focuses on my mental illnesses to show people in a relatable and accessible way what living with mental illness is really like and how specific symptoms impact everyday behaviours. Through my art I want to encourage people to look at mental illness without stigma. I’m also non-binary and so gender identity and expression also feature heavily in my work.

Oh Shit. I Accidentally Lived to be 24. What Now??

This was my favourite zine that I got at Festival of the Photocopier last month – and I got a lot of zines at Festival of the Photocopier last month.

Oh Shit. I Accidentally Lived to be 24. What Now?? consists of a personal essay about Small Baby Slug’s move to Melbourne and them coming to terms with how amazing and talented they are. It is so hard to put your art out there and expose your vulnerabilities so I really appreciate Small Baby Slug’s work.

Guest Mini Zine Review: It’s Better Than Nothing

I’m Amber and I make zines under the name Amber is Blue. I’m writing a couple of mini zine reviews for Nyx while they’re unwell.

I’m a chronically ill artist and zine maker, most of my work focuses on my mental illnesses to show people in a relatable and accessible way what living with mental illness is really like and how specific symptoms impact everyday behaviours. Through my art I want to encourage people to look at mental illness without stigma. I’m also non-binary and so gender identity and expression also feature heavily in my work.

It’s Better Than Nothing by
Baby With a Nail Gun

It’s Better Than Nothing is a full colour mini zine by Baby With a Nail Gun/Ziggy.

This is a very special zine because the original was all hand embroidered, which is incredible. When looking at the zine you can really see the time and the work it took to create. All of Ziggy’s work is incredibly personal and touching, which is why I relate to it so much. This is one of those zines that you read and it makes you think: ‘I feel the exact same way, I just couldn’t put it into words’.

Guest Mini Zine Review: Paris on Film and Amsterdam on Film

I’m Amber and I make zines under the name Amber is Blue. I’m writing a couple of mini zine reviews for Nyx while they’re unwell.

I’m a chronically ill artist and zine maker, most of my work focuses on my mental illnesses to show people in a relatable and accessible way what living with mental illness is really like and how specific symptoms impact everyday behaviours. Through my art I want to encourage people to look at mental illness without stigma. I’m also non-binary and so gender identity and expression also feature heavily in my work.

Paris on Film / Amsterdam on Film
Monica Lauren

Paris on Film and Amsterdam on Film are two full colour mini zines by Monica Lauren, which contain several 35mm photographs taken by them during their trip overseas.

Not only are both zines full of incredibly beautiful photographs, but they also give you a look at what Paris and Amsterdam are like from the view point of an artist – you discover what’s important to Monica, what things touched their heart the most about the two cities. I love both these zines. Monica is a beautiful photographer.

Guest Zine Review: Oishii Expressions (Reviewed by J.E.M. Hast)

Oishii Expressions
Creepy Cheese

Oishii Expressions is a A7 one-page folded and thrice stapled mini containing a fun selection of Japanese phrases for when things aren’t going your way.

I picked up this zine at Festival of the Photocopier in February. I love bilingual zines and have a particular soft spot for Japanese. More importantly, I couldn’t resist the cheeky smile of the soy sauce fish!

Each of the six pages has a phrase written in hiragana, Japanese script, with the romaji (or Roman characters) transliteration. I thought this was a really cool feature which makes the zine accessible and useful for people with different levels of Japanese. As someone who understands hiragana, I enjoyed being able to read the zine in the original language as well.

The English translation is beneath my favourite part: the full colour illustrations of highly expressive sushi. The faces these critters pull demonstrate the meaning of the phrase just as well as the text. These sushi pals aren’t just your standard California roll either – I was really happy to see an onigiri rice ball!

If you’re keen on languages or adorable sushi characters, nab yourself a copy of Oishii Expressions.

This has been a guest zine review by J.E.M. Hast!