A zine (// ZEEN; short for magazine or fanzine) is a small-circulation self-published work of original or appropriated texts and images, usually reproduced via photocopier. Zines are either the product of a single person, or of a very small group and are popularly photocopied into physical prints for circulation. A fanzine (blend of fan and magazine) is a non-professional and non-official publication produced by enthusiasts of a particular cultural phenomenon (such as a literary or musical genre) for the pleasure of others who share their interest. The term was coined in an October 1940 science fiction fanzine by Russ Chauvenet and popularized within science fiction fandom, entering the Oxford English Dictionary in 1949.
Popularly defined within a circulation of 1,000 or fewer copies, in practice many zines are produced in editions of fewer than 100. Among the various intentions for creation and publication are developing one's identity, sharing a niche-skill or art, or developing a story, as opposed to seeking profit. Zines have served as a significant medium of communication in various subcultures, and frequently draw inspiration from a "do-it-yourself" philosophy that disregard the traditional conventions of professional design and publishing houses proposing an alternative, confident and self-aware contribution. Handwrittenzines, or carbon zines are individually made, emphasizing personal connection between creator and reader, turning imagined communities into embodied ones.
Written in a variety of formats from desktop-published text to comics, collages and stories, zines cover broad topics including fanfiction, politics, poetry, art & design, ephemera, personal journals, social theory, intersectional feminism, single-topic obsession, or sexual content far outside the mainstream enough to be prohibitive of inclusion in more traditional media. (An example of the latter is Boyd McDonald's Straight to Hell, which reached a circulation of 20,000.) Although there are a few eras associated with zine-making, this "wave" narrative proposes a limited view of the vast range of topics, styles and environments zines occupied.
Dissidents and members of socially marginalized groups have published their own opinions in leaflet and pamphlet form for as long as such technology has been available. The concept of zines had an ancestor in the amateur press movement of the late 19th and early 20th century, which would in its turn cross-pollinate with the subculture of science fiction fandom in the 1930s. The popular graphic-style associated with zines is influenced artistically and politically by the subcultures of Dada, Fluxus, Surrealism and Situationism.
Many trace zine's' lineage from as far back as Thomas Paine's exceptionally popular 1775 pamphlet Common Sense, Benjamin Franklin's literary magazine for psychiatric patients at a Pennsylvania hospital and The Dial (1840-44) by Margaret Fuller and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
During and after the Great Depression, editors of "pulp" science fiction magazines became increasingly frustrated with letters detailing the impossibilities of their science fiction stories. Over time they began to publish these overly-scrutinizing letters, complete with their return addresses. Hugo Gernsback published the first science fiction magazine, Amazing Stories in 1926, and allowed for a large letter column which printed reader's addresses. By 1927 readers, often young adults, would write to each other, bypassing the magazine. This allowed these fans to begin writing to each other, now complete with a mailing list for their own science fiction fanzines that allowed them to write not only about science fiction but about fandom itself and, in self-proclaimed perzines, about themselves. Science fiction fanzines vary in content, from short stories to convention reports to fanfiction are were one of the earliest incarnations of the zine and influenced subsequent publications. "Zinesters" like Lisa Ben and Jim Kepner honed their talents in the science fiction fandom before tackling gay rights, creating zines such as "Vice Versa" and "ONE" that drew networking and distribution ideas from their SF roots. A number of leading science fiction and fantasy authors rose through the ranks of fandom, creating "pro-zines" such as Frederik Pohl and Isaac Asimov. The first science fiction fanzine, The Comet, was published in 1930 by the Science Correspondence Club in Chicago and edited by Raymond A. Palmer and Walter Dennis. The first version of Superman (a bald-headed villain) appeared in the third issue of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's 1933 fanzine Science Fiction.
The first media fanzine was a Star Trek fan publication called Spockanalia, published in September 1967 by members of the Lunarians. Some of the earliest examples of academic fandom were written on Star Trek zines, specifically K/S (Kirk/Spock) slash zines, which displayed a queer relationship between the two. Author Joanna Russ wrote in her 1985 analysis of K/S zines that slash fandom at the time consisted of around 500 core fans and was 100% female. Russ observed that while SF fans looked down on Star Trek fans, Star Trek fans looked down on K/S writers. Kirk/Spock zines contained fanfiction, artwork, and poetry created by fans. Zines were then sent to fans on a mailing list or sold at conventions. Many had high production values and some were sold at convention auctions for hundreds of dollars.