"A special form of communication" - Frederick Wortham 1973.
"Little publications filled with rantings of high weirdness and exploding with chaotic design" - Stephen Duncombe 1997.
Teal Triggs has written some very popular books including The Typographical Experiment and Fanzines. She came into university to give a talk about Fanzines; I am ashamed to say I did not know what the term meant so it was an interesting and insightful lecture. She began by explaining what a fanzine is but said they are so unconventional and far from mainstream that they are hard to define, so there are numerous interpretations of them.
Fanzines have been around for a long time and have long since been influential upon social trends. In the mid 80s ideas were emerging within zines about consumption, popular culture and technology. In the 1990s a feminist version of punk materialized and the zine allowed the free expression of these ideas. Fanzines began as lone voices, individuals who subtly recorded thoughts in a magazine type format. They have become collaborative pieces and are now about a community - a subculture, a publication which is only spread through word of mouth.
The lovely thing about a zine is that anybody can do one, you do not have to be a designer, it is purely an opportunity to express yourself in a totally free form. They are "intimate fan publications" which are produced by individuals and collaborative groups, and express so many personal styles, graphic languages and thoughts that they inspire commercial graphic design. They always say something about the producer and their history. They express subjects that someone is interested in and passionate about, and recording it in a visual form means it can be appreciated.
Teal Triggs asked the question, are fanzines part of a DIY revolution? I am not sure, but I think they will be a constant source of unique thinking and inspirational diverse style. Before this lecture I would not have considered these publications as design as they are so unconventional, but now I think that that is the positive about them.