Propaganda, Nazis, Punks & Zines

Dear readers,

I do live in Leipzig, a city in Saxony, Germany. Well it is not only a reason to start this posting with such a title, as the current Neo-Nazis overrun the streets of Chemnitz.

Today's topic is the Zine. By its very nature, an amateur or semi-professional periodical publishing form. Mostly a few stapled pages under an evocative coverimage. Before I was born, Punk Zines emerges and flooded the streets and shelves with fuky little booklets. There were many more times in which an easy to massproduce pamphlet was needed and used, but this marked a point of mass awareness of beeing part of a movement by creating something on your own. A call and response feedback was created.

1970s Punk Zines

Good olde swedish King Gustav Adolph already knew how to rock the house. I mean spreading printed propaganda and news in europe. These pampflets were in wide distribution and also became a kind of collectible item. Again, printing technology have motivated people to reach out by producing printworks.

A zine by its very definition is a small-circulation, self-published work, usually produced by cheap means, like photocopier, homeprinters or simply our favorite PDF mogul RPGNow or DriveThroughRPG. The term "Fanzine" was coined already in 1940 by Russ Russ Chouvenet with his Sci Fi Fanzine "Detours". Most zines never reached higher print runs than 100 items and were a vehicle to express your own point of view, promoting some niche hobby or developing your own narratives. A strong Do-It-Yourself philosophy powers up motivation and an exchange between about how to create great little things. +Paolo Greco or +Jacob Hurst, do great OSR zines, also there is a very active G+ Group about zines out there.

One of my favorite artists, Tacita Dean, discovered 36 program booklets from operas in the time of the Nazi regime. Some owner had previously cut out all swastikas from them to keep the content of the booklets without the all dominating Nazi-Symbol (its an appropriated rune, but well, thats hard to seperate now, or?)

Zines, are small tokens of creativity, culture, information and are both a comsumable object to be put into the trash bin or a personaly highly valued collectible, attached with a very personal view on it. In our digital ages, some events like the Los Angeles Zine fest have grown in 2012 with a handfull of publishers to hosting now over 200 exhibitors.

In the mid-1990 zines faded from public awareness due the rise of teh internet. Personal websites did replace them as a platform of self presentation. But what such things like MySpace, or even this blog here do not achiev is a feeling of a self contained artifact. An object distinct from the digital signal to noise out here.

I personally believe that the active scene of zine creators both in OSR and Story Games are an essetial part of the strenght of the community, bringing forth new writers and self publishers, like in the golden age of pulp magazines like Space or Weird Tales. Which as most of us know brought us good olde Lovecraft to some fame and circulation till his untimely early death.

Like in Tacita Dean's work, the zines, one page zines, free PDFs and Print on Demand productions, offer us a view into the value system of the creators, consumers or collectors of such items. What do they like to game? What is their personal take on house rules? Which system do tehy prefer and how do they interact with it?

Abi Warburg created the Mnemosyne in 1924, shortly after he was released out of the asylum, anmed ofter the goddess of memory. It was consiting of large frames full of reproductions of antique images, but also of actual contemporary events, paintings, sculptures and newspapers. It was used to demonstrate the influence of antique images into his contemporary time, shaping the world view of his peers. 

Warburg invented Pintarest 90 years abo, but well, the good olde crazeball had fun with his image clusters till he droped dead in '29. But what remains is his statement, that we are all influenced by the media we consume and am confronted with in our everyday life. Creation and recreation of images, ideas and can not happen in a vacuum.

So after my short excourse into history, I will soon write about the DIY-scene of our hobby.



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