Zines provide a unique and critical platform for Latine creators who might otherwise struggle to find representation in mainstream media. They allow individuals to take control of their narratives, to tell their stories in their own words, and to challenge stereotypes and misconceptions about Latine communities.
How Did Zines Begin?
The Science Correspondence Club in Chicago, during the 1930s, is usually recognized as the originator of the first 'zine', which they called "The Comet." This initiated a durable tradition of zines focused on science fiction. Initially, these publications were known as fanzines, highlighting the fans' contribution to their creation. The term later evolved to 'zine,' encompassing a broad range of topics, extending well beyond science fiction.
The insurgent cultural waves tied to the Beat Generation spanning the 1950s and 1960s witnessed a proliferation of the underground press, becoming an instrumental force in unifying individuals throughout America. The underground press, despite frequently requiring a greater number of participants and resources for the creation of content, served a crucial purpose that later transitioned into an integral feature of zine culture during the 1980s and continued into future years. This purpose was to provide individuals with an avenue to express their thoughts and ideas beyond the confines of the dominant media narratives.
Gaining more widespread popularity during the punk and DIY movements of the 1970s and '80s, zines — small-circulation, self-published works of text and images — became a potent medium for marginalized voices to express themselves, share their stories, and build communities. For Latine communities, the zine culture developed into a vibrant platform for self-expression and activism, addressing topics ranging from immigration and social justice to gender, identity, and mental health.
In recent years, the "zine" culture in these communities has continued to flourish, spurred on by increased connectivity and the rise of intersectional dialogues. Some notable examples include:
"La Horchata," a seasonal zine celebrating Central American creatives, with a focus on those from the diaspora. Founded by Veronica Melendez, a Salvadoran-Guatemalan artist, "La Horchata" features photography, poetry, and visual arts, making it a vibrant cross-section of Central American cultural production.
"Muchacha Fanzine," based in Texas and founded by Daisy Salinas, is a self-described “radically intersectional and decolonial Native Xicana Feminist publication” that began in 2013 and explores social issues affecting the Latine community. It has covered topics like mental health, body positivity, and the LGBTQIA+ community, among others. This fanzine is a significant force in raising awareness and promoting inclusivity within the Latine community.
Black & Brown Press
"Brown and Proud Press" is a zine-making collective based in Chicago that focuses on the intersection of Latine and Chicane identities. The collective creates zines that tackle subjects such as racial justice, immigration, and gender identity, offering a platform for a variety of voices within the Latine community.
“Immigrant Made,” a zine created by United We Dream that is their first ever zine features short essays and poems written and illustrated by immigrant writers and artists. The zine declares, “Our stories hold memories, love, and power. We are the writers we have been waiting for.”
While the Latine zine culture has grown significantly in recent years, it's worth noting that it stands on the shoulders of a long tradition of self-publishing in Latin America, from handmade chapbooks to political pamphlets. Today's Latine zines are not only a continuation of this legacy but also a testament to the ongoing innovation and resilience of the Latine community.
The Latine zine culture represents a radical form of self-expression and community building, and it's clear that these handmade publications will continue to serve as a vital platform for Latine voices, empowering individuals to share their stories, challenge norms, and drive meaningful change.