Assignment #1: Mini-zine

This Kickstarter video, along with the examples you’ve seen in class, have shown you how to make a printed mini-zine. Now make one yourself.

What should you make your mini-zine zine about? Think about your obsessions, possessions, and digressions. If you’re stuck, “Top 5” lists are always fun:

  • Top 5 bathrooms on campus
  • Top 5 underrated locations in South Jersey
  • Top 5 movies about the college
  • Top 5 female bass players
  • Etc.

While each mini-zine includes 8 frames or panels, you should think like a book designer. There’s the front and back cover. What should go on those? There’s a centerfold, which might encourage you to think across the 2 panels. Also consider the finished product, which will not be in color when photocopied. Take care to be mindful of your margins, as most copies will not reproduce all the way to the edge of the page. Think: prototype. You should also consider your method of design. Will you cut and paste? Use your own handwriting? Draw? Arrange your mini-zine digitally, using a template?

Assignment #2: Find & copy (another mini-zine)

Assignment #3: Zines!

When making a zine, you do not have to follow a rubric, structure, or organizational pattern.
-Julianna Holshue, from “Zine Making is for The Scatterbrained” (Glassworks)

We begin our course by taking a practical look at the grassroots side of self-publishing by exploring the world of zines — photocopied and hand-assembled print publications with small print runs of 200 copies or less. You’ll get a sense of what they are on the first day, ordering zines online, making mini-zines, and developing a plan for producing your own. I’ll introduce you to some methods of production and distribution and you’ll get involved in the culture of zines by either selling yours at our table at the Collingswood Book Festival. on Saturday, October 7 or helping the Writing Arts Department establish its first zine library. 

Zines are difficult to categorize, let alone evaluate, but as many former students have shared with me, the process of making them is more valuable than anything else. In fact, as my colleague Kelly McElroy. argues, “What makes an “A” zine, and who the hell are you to decide that?” (source: Broken Pencil). Hence, grading for this unit is determined by you, with some supporting structure coming from the class and from me. The process is a bit complicated, but works like this:

  1. Pitch 2-3 zine ideas.
  2. Peer review pitches. Each member of the class will then review at least some of these pitches and provide you with feedback. 
  3. Talk with me. After or as you’ve gotten feedback, we’ll meet to discuss your ideas. At this conference we’ll discuss the work involved and I will make some suggestions or other ideas you might consider for your zine, especially based on the creative efforts of the class.
  4. Make your zine. This step is the messy part, but you’ll basically try to do the thing you planned. Expect failure, but also innovation and resilience.  You also have my help (and my copy access if needed).
  5. Distribute your physical zine and put it online. Anyone who wants to can distribute their zine in Glassboro and at the Collingswood Book Festival. You can also put it online somewhere so readers who encounter your zine irl can find it on the info superhighway as well.
  6. Reflect. After making and sharing your zine, you’ll reflect on that experience via an accompanying statement. Things will certainly change as you make and share your zine; the accompanying statement will help you be accountable for them. At the end of the unit — that is, after your zine has been distributed — you’ll share a copy with me along with a Google Doc statement (share link via this assignment) that considers several questions, below. Your statement will be single-spaced and formatted using a 12-point, readable font. If you are contracting for an A (or striving for one), this statement will need to be between 800-1,200 words. Here’s a good example.


  • What goals did you have for this zine and did you meet them? What might you do differently?


  • Think about yourself at the start of this unit/course. What was the extent of your experience or knowledge of zines and DIY print communities at the beginning of the unit? What did you learn about them and how did it apply to your zine?
  • Discuss how you arrived at the the idea for your zine. Was it inspired by something specific?
  • Talk about the limitations and choices you made with regard to the materials of your zine, the tools required, and social circumstances surrounding its creation? What was your vision and how was it compromised by these materials, tools, and circumstances?
  • If applicable, reflect on your experience planning and witnessing your zine in the wild. Were you inspired by where it ended up? Did you get any feedback?
  • Discuss the implications of creating your zine with regard to your future as a writer. How did zine’ing support or complicate your goals?
  • What will Issue #2 of your zine look like? How will it build from the lessons of Issue #1?