Return of the zines

Anecdotal evidence suggests that more and more feminist and riot grrrl zines are being produced by UK women and girls. This time, I have some really interesting ones to share with you. There are great zines here which are ‘traditional’ zine-style: photocopied, personal zines which allow the author to get their voice heard on a variety of issues. But there are others too – some attempting to do something different such as playing with the style, layout, or purpose or theme of the zine (check out ‘The Hand that Cradles the Rock’ or ‘Insomnia’). You don’t have to be part of their ‘scene’ to get involved or to read and enjoy these zines. The UK feminist zine culture appears to be thriving – and anyone can support it.

Also, check out past zines reviews here and here.

Activity Grrrl #1

£1 & A5 SAE, Activity Grrrl, c/o 2 Holmes Way, Wragby, Mkt Rasen, LN8 5PS. Website:
Email [email protected]

This is a new project; a zine edited by Holly and Leanna from Nottingham, and intended to be a zine which everyone else is welcome to contribute to: “this is their space, our space to give to those who want grrrl revolution, who feel angry today, who face discrimination…” It has a slightly different look from most hand-made photocopied zines. For starters it has a loooovely pink cover (very nice!) and most of the pages are formatted and typed (not hand-written etc.) It even has page numbers! I like the layout, it gives it more of a professional magazine look. The first issue includes articles on women in film, street harrassment, vivisection, feminism (“That’s all that ‘I hate men’ shit, isn’t it?”), sexism in the punk scene, society’s attitudes to women, selling out, the importance of ideals, and a critique of the current black music scenes. There are also poems and in-depth reviews of gigs and albums, and a section at the back called “Get Involved!” which profiles people and their projects (distros, badge-making business, etc), and gives further reading and resources to check out. I think this zine has a lot of potential – check out their website for more info.

Alien She #2 (May 2002)

50p or two stamps, Izadora, Watery Barn, Raddon, Exeter, Devon EX5 5PN. Email [email protected] or [email protected]

Izzy’s new zine is Alien She – it’s an enjoyable read, full of pictures, images and text overlapping, more on more on more of them. It suggests a sense of urgency and excitement, as does some of the hand-written articles in here. It’s a personal zine, and as such it contains personal thoughts on subjects as varied as keeping diaries, tape trading, love, the zine culture, and more. It also has interesting writing on analysis of gender roles in maagzines, sexual violence against women, and Tracey Emin. I loved “Reasons Why ‘The Sun’ Should Be Banned”! I like the way she introduces the zine: “its that time of the month again…” No cramps with this though, and I’m looking forward to the next issue: “forever GRRRL powered”.

Dead End Doll #1 & #3

40p (each) & A5 SAE, Sam, 29 Winchester Avenue, London NW6 7TT. Email [email protected]

I think these issues are a little old now(?), but I still enjoyed them. I’d heard glowing reports from other riot girls and Katherine Viner even quoted Dead End Doll in The Guardian. Issue 1 and 3 (2 is sold out) are fun reads, almost like letters from a friend. Issue 1 contains Germaine Greer, interviews with bands, and a reprinted 1955 “Good Wife’s Guide” which causes much hilarity, thoughts on the riot grrrl scene, and writing on body image. I love the back cover of this zine: photocopied knickers, superb! Issue 2 is just as varied, containing rambling thoughts on equality, recipies, cartoons, band reviews, and an explanation of the different types of feminism. I really liked the page with the poem on “unrequited teenage love” – and I’m not normally enthused by poems. It’ll be interesting to see what Sam does next.

Girls Can’t Play Guitar

£2, Helen Clarke, 20 Cleveland Avenue, Long Eaton, Nottingham, NG10 2BT. Email [email protected]

I really like this zine. Girls Can’t Play Guitar has been around for some time, and began as a way of spreading the riot grrrl scene in the UK. It’s evolved into an A4, printed, colour zine which even has it’s own soundtrack CD which you can purchase (featuring unsigned girl bands)! The layout is new for this issue, and its very nice indeed. It looks excellent, and the design and images make you feel like you’re reading a ‘proper’ mag. The articles are very well-written (why isn’t Helen a full-time music journo already?!), and interesting too. There are interviews with people from Digital Hardcore Records, Gene, Muse, Bonnie Burton of, and Riot Grrrl legend Kat Bjelland. Manda Rin of Bis writes about her US tour, and there’s an explanation of Riot Grrrl and an article on the curse of the “It Girl.” Helen tells me that this issue is a bit random (and non-feminist) due to other commitments – but the next issue will be “back to normal – full on grrrl drenched punk feminism glory!” Can’t wait!

Insomnia zine (Jan 2002)

50p & A5 SAE, Sarah Sabotage, 3 Blandford Avenue, Whitton, Middlesex, TW2 6HS. Email [email protected].

What an interesting idea! Insomnia is a collection of emails between two women on various issues and topics. Reading this is like eavesdropping on a conversation; literally. As they were actually written as email chats and rants, the writing is very informal and immediate, but passionate and angry too (“oooooooogggggggggggrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, think i’m off on a feminist rampage!”). The zine addresses issues like sexism, the porn industry, body image, capitalism, humour, and loads more – the kind of thing you would talk about with friends in the wee small hours of the night, and I think ‘Insomnia’ is a perfect name for it. The conversations are interspersed with images and comments, and reading it is an interesting experience. I really enjoyed this – thought-provoking, and a really great concept.

Reset #2 (Summer 2001)

60p & A5 SAE (next issue will be £1), Sarah Sabotage, 3 Blandford Avenue, Whitton, Middlesex, TW2 6HS. Email [email protected].

Sarah Sab’s personal zine contains lots of “mad gubbins” – but anyone who uses the word gubbins is alright by me. It mainly takes the format of paragraphs, each with a heading, and Sarah let’s us know in no uncertain terms what she thinks of each one. I quite like the consistent style throughout the zine. There’s so many topics she covers: racist rap videos, masturbation, sci-fi, Seseame Street, prostitution, John Peel! And loads more. These short rants were great for reading on my bus journey to work. I just love the picture of Lynxana (Thundercat spin-off character!). Sarah’s not sure whether she will be able to reprint this issue – so ask first, or just ask for issue 3!

Riot Girl Essex Zine #1

£1.50, Finger Bang Distro, 29 Wellesley Road, Clacton, Essex, CO15 3PW.
Email [email protected] or [email protected]

Hot off the press and new for July 2002 is this zine, from Riot Girl Essex. The articles in this zine are not neccessarily all written by members of the group, but I think it’s more like a brief glimpse into their ethos, their ideas and their constantly questioning attitude. The zine starts with their manifesto which I think is just an excellent and well-articulated piece of writing. They describe themselves as “a loose band of experimental, radical activists.. a network of (mostly) young women and men with feminist, anti-conformist ideals who believe in creating cultures and resistances through do-it-yourself means: writing zines, forming bands, sharing resources, making clothes, C-R (consciousness-raising), making art, writing manifestos, disrupting the status quo, culture jamming, critiquing, making other ways possible.” It begins with a critique of riot grrrl and feminism – I love a movement which feels at ease criticising itself. Amongst other things, there’s a really interesting article by Kathleen Hanna on her method of performing, an interview with the creator of, poems, 8 things you can do to get active, “Race and Riot Grrrl: Discrimination in punk feminism”, and an explanation of how a 25 year old male got involved in Riot Girl!

Sister Disco #2

This zine is no longer available

A great little personal zine. Clairy is as articulate as ever and still as feminist! She talks about ageism, fanzines, resistance and politics, depression, fat phobia, love, sex, sexism, and rants back at people who claim riot grrrl is dead. There are a couple of great cartoons, and an amusing and essential guide to the Hoobs. More please!

The Hand That Cradles the Rock: a riot grrrl sex zine #1

£1, Finger Bang Distro, 29 Wellesley Road, Clacton, Essex, CO15 3PW. Email [email protected]

This is a riot grrrl/feminist zine on the theme of sex. It’s a quarter of A4 size, so it has a really intimate feel to it. I think this zine is really interesting. The aim is to provide a safe space for people to express, celebrate, question, and explore their views, their fears, their feelings, attitudes and desires. It is completely open to anyone to contribute, whatever their attitude. It contains articles, pictures, drawings and photographs. As Red Chidgey (creator) says in the introduction it is intended to help “deconstruct my own opinions of sex through a feminist agenda – not to judge but to open up the fraction lines and start thinking critically… This zine is made up of contributions and therefore the content, the representation, is up to us.” She comments, “Use this zine however you want – but get a little real. Prepared to be disturbed, educated, empathetic, intrigued, inspired, aroused, amused.” This zine looks set to become an excellent space for us to do all of those things, and more.