author Alex Wrekk
publication year: 2002
publisher: Microcosm Publishing
Hi out there in cybernetland! I borrowed Stolen Sharpie Revolution: A DIY Zine Handbook from the Toronto Zine Library.
Alex Wrekk is a long time zinester who has been deeply entrenched in the zine culture for many years now. She has personally involved herself a number of ongoing projects that have maintained the relevance of the zine scene during the era of the Internet. Her work includes organizing the Portland Zine Symposium, a major yearly zine conference/convention. For a number of years Wrekk, with her ex-husband Joe Biel, had also been instrumental in the the management of Microcosm Publishing, possibly the best known zine publisher and distributor. Recently she began producing a podcast that covers the issues that concern zine culture, titled No One Cares About Your Stupid Zine, and has been giving readings of recent written works at zine libraries across North America. Most significantly she has written 24 issues of her zine, Brainscan, a personal zine in which she expounds on the details of her life.
Stolen Sharpie Revolution is an instructional guide on how to make a zine. A zine is a homemade publication, often produced by a single individual who wishes to write about his or her interests or experiences. When I was 10 years old I had first heard of zines from Video Games and Computer Entertainment, a video game magazine that had a small section profiling zines which often focused on a single game. Zines and xerox-based self-publishing have a long and profound history that stretches back to the 1950s, when science fiction fans published fan fiction and wild speculations on their own. During the 1970s zines became an aspect of the DIY punk culture by way of an associated mail-art scene and filtered through the 1960s radical underground press. In the 1980s and 90s, zines became a mode of personal expression for many writers who chose to affirm their racial and gender identities through zines, their professional choices, and simply to express their thoughts and emotions. In the current era when the Internet provides a wide array of outlets for personal expression, there are still many people who enjoy the creative possibilities of zine production, and thus continues a thriving community of zine publishers.
The instructions provided by Wrekk in Stolen Sharpie Revolution are comprehensive and detailed. Wrekk instructs the reader on how to produce a zine, and provides tips on how to create zine content (assuring the reader that a readership probably exists for even the most seemingly irrelevant interest), but also on how to effectively become involved in the zine scene. Furthermore, while most zines are productions made by photocopier technology, Wrekk provides useful pricing information pertaining to having a zine professionally printed and collated. While most zines continue to be photocopied publications (often photocopied for free), the range of printing possibilities outlined by Wrekk must be assuring to a resourceful zinester. Additionally, Wrekk explains proper zine culture etiquette, explaining how a self-publisher may make friends and trade zines effectively within the scene. Such tips detail the dynamics of a richly networked subculture of subcultures, as zines are produced by members of the various local punk, activist, vegan, queer, art, geek scenes who use the medium to interact with members of scenes elsewhere through trading.
Stolen Sharpie Revolution is a small book, formatted like a zine. Wrekk in fact transposed the aesthetic and layout of Brainscan to this book. Like Brainscan the text appears cut into separate paragraphs pasted over a field of black and white abstract forms or patterns. Stolen Sharpie Revolution is a how-to guide and it therefore contains sections on different aspects of zine construction and distribution. It also features information on tabling zines at events, and even on aspects of zine culture Wrekk pioneered, such as the zine tour. It’s final section is a worldwide listing of zine distributors, circa 2002, which is probably severely outdated by 2011. Overall this book may provide an interesting entry-point into zine culture from a technical perspective, and may provide a glimpse into the community that supports the medium.