It was a few years ago (and a few thousand Twitter followers ago), on an old blog, that I last wrote about my teenage zines, so I’m going to write about them again. Because coming face-to-face with my teenage self never gets old.
Sharing my teenage writing 20+ years later is a special exercise in embarrassment. Maybe when I’m 60, I’ll look back at these blogs and other things I wrote recently and think, What the hell, circa 40-year-old Amanda? This is so embarrassing. But whatever. At least I’ve wised up enough to stop writing tortured poetry. The poet Billy Collins said we’re all born with 200 bad poems in us. I got all of mine out of me between 1992 and 2000. Whew!
So. If you’re asking what’s a zine, I guess my two questions are: Where have you been? Clearly we don’t know each other, so how did you find this blog? A zine is a self-published magazine, or fanzine, from and about various subcultures. Zines have been around forever. I started to read zines when I got into punk music in my teens. I would pick them up at shows or record stores. They were usually a buck or two, or sometimes free. Then I started reading larger zines, like Maximum Rocknroll, Factsheet Five, and Punk Planet, which had many reviews of zines and ads for them, so I started ordering them through the mail (again, usually a buck or two or some stamps). Even though hating high school and going to punk shows took up most my time and energy, I figured I should start a zine in my free time. I liked writing. I liked pontificating on things. I liked projects with self-imposed deadlines.
So, in December 1994 I started Paranoy zine. I wrote about my life, made lists, reviewed shows and albums, wrote shitty poetry, interviewed bands, forced my friends to contribute pieces, and more. I put out a zine every two months or so the fall of 1997. I put out 17 issues. I started out leaving them at record stores and punk shows. I mailed them to the big review journals. I traded them with a zillion other zinesters.
Eventually I was running multiple hundreds of copies of every issue, getting mail from kids all over the world. I struck up friendships with people that have lasted to this day. I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done without zines in my life at that time. I was involved in a lot of things at school and had other creative outlets, but doing a zine, this thing that was just mine, made me so happy. It connected me to people in ways I didn’t think were possible. As a surly punk teen in middle of nowhere Minnesota, it opened up a whole new world to me—one full of interesting creative weirdos who made me feel less alone.
Here, for your entertainment (and likely my embarrassment) are some bits from my zines. I’m just going to post all the scans without any commentary. Teenage Amanda would not want Adult Amanda explaining her.