Journal : SoapBox Zines

Not available online

What is a zine? Pronounced 'zeen', the word is an abbreviation of maga-zine, from the word 'fanzine'. Started in the 1930's amongst the burgeoning science fiction community, they are handmade, DIY, scruffy pamphlets. Often created by one person, but containing submissions from multiple people with a shared interest, zines are printed, stapled & posted by that same individual. Popularised during the 1970's punk rock community, they are delightfully unique, and contain information that is as varied as life itself. Covering deeply personal subjects like sexuality & identity, to trivial topics such as washing up & desserts, zines can be anything and have no firm parameters, aside from those imposed upon them by the author. 

I first began making zines in 2020, sending them out by post to subscribers as a way of staying in touch with my community when connection was needed so urgently. The modest subscription fee also raised a little bit of income when I was totally skint, and even the very act of making them: sourcing positive news & designing the layout, kept me busy when activities were so very limited. I owe a huge 'thank you' to everyone who subscribed during those dark times, I hope you know how much your support (still) means to me. Prior to the pandemic, I had worked full-time in live events, so when the world stopped and I found I wasn't eligible for any sort of government support (like so many others) I got creative, and came up with 'BoxSub' (SoapBox Subscription). It was a magnificent project, and I couldn't have imagined that the impact & legacy would be so profound. 

As a self-confessed bibliophile, many of my occupations and interests have been accidentally ignited by a very good book, and my passion for zines was no different. It was Stephen Duncombe's 'Notes from Underground: Zines and the Politics of Alternative Culture' that really got me hooked on zines. This book was the first academic study on zines, and it puts them in a social, political, and deeply personal context. I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who wants an interesting and accessible introduction to the vibrant world of zines. 

After producing 4 editions of BoxSub (2020-21), the world opened up again, and I got a 'job job' so found my time depleted and my energy absorbed into work. It was in early 2023 that I found a fantastic & affordable printer that made it possible to produce zines again, on a tight budget, so printing commenced. I made 8 zines in 2023, containing art & original poetry by myself, & from those lovely folks who attend my regular spoken word open mic night 'Words & Verses'. I made an arbitrary rule that I would only accept submissions from people 'in' the room at my events, to both thank those who make such an effort to attend my gigs, and as a way to limit what I recieved, to keep it manageable. This also ensured that I got submissions that were handwritten, which is another of my personal passions. I love people's handwriting. Its just such a beautiful thing.

None of my zines are available online, and they won't ever be. No, this is not because I don't know how to make that happen. This is a deliberate choice. In a world were everything is digital, I am priveleging the tangible. Something you can hold in your hands. We all spend so much of our time online, for work & pleasure, so I wanted to create a project that can only be found in-person. I also ask that people do not post them online either (front covers are cool). I don't police this, as its probably impossible to do so anyway, but most people have respected this wish, and for that I am very grateful. Upon reflection, I do wonder if this was a response to the lack of physicality during the pandemic years. I have always treasured the presence of people in a room together, hence why I have run events for 18 years, and my zines feel like a bunch of folks gathering together (albeit on paper). 

Throughout 2024 I am making a zine a month (at least). They will not be available online - as usual - but can be obtained by joining my new community project 'SoapBox People'. All members of this will receive a zine a month in the post, along with other services & benefits. Read more about that >>>HERE<<< I will, however, continue to distribute a limited number of zines (for free) across East Anglia, and will share a blog about where they can be found when the next zine is ready to greet the world.

In December 2023, for the very first-time, the complete collection of SoapBox Zines can be purchased for £15 at Dial Lane Books in Ipswich, a stunningly beautiful independent bookshop run by the best bookseller in the world ever. In each pack you get 15 zines, plus a handmade badge, notebook, and mini 'Make Your Own Zine' kit. I checked-in with Andrew (from Dial Lane) recently, and there are only 4 boxsets left. So if you'd like to get your hands on all of my zines - including the 4 editions of BoxSub, and my illustrated poetry zine - then you'd better get a shift on. I will only release a complete boxset collection once a year, in the run up towards Christmas, so this really is a very limited offer. 

I do plan on running some 'Make Your Own Zine' workshops in 2024, so keep your eyes peeled, and do follow my facebook and instagram to be the first person to find out when and where they will be taking place. (SoapBox People members will get an email, free entry, and advance booking).

For International Women's Day (March 8th) I am making a special feminist zine, so if you have something you'd like to submit please drop me an email as soon as possible, at the very latest Sunday 18th February please. Happy to publish anonymously too.

Thanks for reading and I hope this may inspire you to check out zines, love & boxes, Amy xxx