Zine making workshop provides insight into niche communities
‘90s realness. A time when skateboarders were glorified and off-kilter music was cool. So was wearing flannels and not showering. But beyond stereotypes, the most rad part of the ‘90s was that the internet hadn’t dictated humanity yet. Paper publications reigned, and in niche communities, so did zines.
Zines, popularized by subcultures, are basically super saturated magazines that are produced on photocopiers in the basement of record stores, at FedEx Kinkos, or in friends’ daytime job offices. They are leaflets filled with humorous cartoons, poems, short narratives, reviews, and photographs. Most zines stay faithful to a theme–satirical or otherwise.
When it surfaced that Dead Media, a record store in the Seward community of Minneapolis, was hosting a zine-making event, those filled with nostalgia came to indulge in this quirky outlet of expression.
The creative process of zine-making was spread out across three November sessions in the depths of Dead Media, amongst piles of records and old books. The first event was held to act as a catalyst for zine inspiration. Members of “Deep Fried”, a zine dedicated to punk music and fast food, came to offer formative advice.
The whole night was a sort of avant-garde nod to the ‘90s. Imagine a world where a small platinum blonde female and an edgy male with choppy hair and skinny jeans lead a discussion on zine-making. The best part? Their names remained a secret. They introduced themselves by their pen names: the fast food rude dude and Lana Del Taco.
“We had a wizard party, where we dressed up like wizards, and every time you drank a beer, you’d tape it to the last beer, so you’d have a big wizard staff. At the end of the night, the wisest wizard is the one with the biggest staff.”
The two explained their lust for zines, their purpose in creating them–which was simply for themselves. What was interesting about the group of people present, was the fact that they were all ex-90s kids who grew up and now have graphic design day jobs and are married to fellow ex-skate park enthusiasts. The creation of zines is merely a byproduct of their evolution and connection with one another.
“We had a wizard party, where we dressed up like wizards, and every time you drank a beer, you’d tape it to the last beer, so you’d have a big wizard staff. At the end of the night, the wisest wizard is the one with the biggest staff,” Lana Del Taco said. “Before the party, we had people draw wizards and send them to us, and at the party we had a zine that was called Wizard Sleeves, where we put all the wizard drawings. Everyone who came and partied got a zine.”
The two even brought a special guest named Colonel Slanderz, a fellow contributing writer for Deep Fried. Colonel Slanderz’s spirit radiated via webcam, and he watched the event whilst consuming a super-sized McDonalds meal. At times it was challenging for us to watch his meal consumption, as a very rotund and authoritative black cat paced back and forth in front of the camera. I got major Adult Swim vibes. Like, major.
The evening ended how any mentor/mentoree discussion should: by addressing fan mail. Lana Del Taco decided to share letters and artwork of praise and criticism with the group. Interestingly enough, every response to their work was either inmate art, or letters sent from insane asylums.
One candid letter was generous in praise. She even attached some original work of her own, asking to be featured in the next issue. Her desired byline? Snuggles Hussein. At the end of the letter, the inmate offered up why she was in prison. She had sent somebody–who was deathly allergic to peanuts—a jar of Skippy peanut butter, but disguised in a very specific jar of soy-nut butter. Inevitably, the receiving end made a sandwich, and promptly died.
Fast food rude dude and Lana Del Taco were present, and we all got in a discussion about the Kardashians. Well, conspiracy theories about the Kardashians.
The second event was for all attendees of the first meeting to come and work on their own zines. A much more relaxed setting, those in attendance sat around a makeshift table in the back of the record store, cutting out images from 1966 issues of National Geographic and 1970 issues of Playboy. Conversation was flowing, and so was alcoholic ginger beer.
Fast food rude dude and Lana Del Taco were present, and we all got in a discussion about the Kardashians. Well, conspiracy theories about the Kardashians. “Cherry Bomb” by the Runaways was playing, and those sitting around the table quickly changed the topic of discussion from the Kardashians to black holes. A natural progression, really.
The last event in the series is a potluck and swap of the zines created by those who attended the workshops–so that these niche, record store lurkers have the chance to link together again and hangout for another week. Go meet them yourself! Go to Dead Media on Dec 3 at 8 p.m.!