When I wrote my post about fanzine collaboration methods I promised a future post about fanzines I've participated in.
Over the past decade fanzines have started to become a thing again, and within different communities I've participated in a few fanzine projects. They've been organized in different ways, and have all been successful enough to fulfill their ambitions.
I was the editor of the fanzine GrottZine. I published four issues a year for two years, and then made a limited edition (print on demand, but not publicly available) collection volume with a whole lot of extra content.
The way it worked was that I found volunteers, or they found me, and everyone sent me text or illustrations by email. I did the layout in libreoffice. It was printed on an office printer, in black and white, folded at the middle and stapled in the back. 20 pages in A5 format was the standard size for an issue.
Finding contributors was hard! The return of fanzines was in its early stages and people who wrote stuff generally published on their blogs. I ran the fanzine on a volunteer basis and all profits were given to my convention Grottröj. I even bought my own copies 😄️
Being an editor was fun, though. And I learned a lot about text when trying to fit everything in 20 pages.
This fanzine is/was not headed up by me. I've contributed to all but the first issue. The work has been organized through a facebook group and google docs, and the editor has typeset everything in LaTeX, compiled and published on lulu.com.
The work has been a lot more distributed than my experience with GrottZine. First of all we've been a dedicated group of writers encouraging each other to create new content. We've had a whole lot of creative freedom. For every article I've written I've proof read/edited at least one other.
What I love most about Hydra is the whimsical nature and low threshold for participating. Quality is all over the place, and crazy and weird collaborations happen all the time. My daughter painted a bunny in space, and someone else wrote very unbalanced and strange stats for it. The picture was a full spread. We've had reviews of games that have never existed, and a column to answer readers' letters. It's all written in the spirit that it's still 1989 in terms of how role playing games are written and played.
Night Yeast is an absolute masterpiece in the world of fanzines. It's a true honour to contribute to, and the work behind each issue is gargantuan. I've contributed two adventures over the two issues so far produced. Writing them (and drawing the map for the second one) was no quick task. It took quite some effort, by my standards.
They've been proof read by at least two others in the group, and almost all layout and graphic design has been conducted by the amazing Johan Nohr of MÖRK BORG and Symbaroum fame.
Our ever-patient self-proclaimed project lead works his arse off for every issue, fixing printer deals, handling distribution (poor sod; I never thought shipping to Brazil could take so long, nor that the US postal service would regularly toss mail in puddles of water), handling the finances, social media management... It truly is a massive effort, with pre orders and risograph printing and sooo many people involved.
The process goes something like this: coordination via discord, articles written in gdocs, illustrations sent to Johan by email. When all content is ready Johan locks himself in a room, lights candles and sacrifices a goat and thirteen fish sticks in a blasphemous ritual that somehow also involves his macbook, adobe illustrator, and two pugs. After some time he sends us a preliminary pdf, which looks pretty except the colours are all off and too perfectly aligned (because LED monitor is not risograph, duh).
After that point I really have no insight, other than Skander (our project lead super hero) works more than should be humanly possible and at some point later everyone has a printed copy in their hand and it looks spectacular and almost glows in the dark and I somehow fall in love with print all over again.
So, uhm, yeah. Awesome stuff.
All of the previous ones have something in common that I sought to make different with this one: they all have a unified design or feeling throughout each issue.
For this fanzine I wanted every participant to have their own unique creative expression. I set out with two co-conspirators to write some boundaries to work within. Then we posted it as a challenge on a forum we all frequent. The result is amazingly eclectic and inspiring, while also being very hard to combine into a printable format.
This is a bit of an outlier, in that it's a very general zine that released a new issue every Saturday and only over the gemini network protocol. I participated in a couple of issues, with short texts that I emailed the editor. Eight issues were released, and each one was a delightful read.
I'm hoping there's still room for me to participate in issue 3 of Night Yeast. I'm also hoping that Hydra wakes up a bit again, and I know that I have the power to assist in that. The next issue of the WRNU fanzine is on my desk (figuratively speaking) right now. There's a bit of work to do on it, and I'd like to add some bonus material too.
Some days I find myself craving another fanzine, however. I'm not sure what format it would take, how it would be produced, or what it would be about. Experimenting with the process and format is fun in itself. Maybe I'm actually yearning to write something else entirely. I'm not really sure. We'll see what the future holds.
-- CC0 Björn Wärmedal