“IZM2013: Zine Crush” by Magical Mugz Studios on Flickr
Two years ago I traveled to the eclectic little town of Asheville, North Carolina with my mother and my best friend to attend an open house at my dream school, located right outside the city. After the open house, we walked the streets of Downtown Asheville in order to get a feel for what might be my new home, and stumbled upon a little used book shop called Downtown Books and News. We followed the maze of tall bookcases filled with used books that carried that old book smell until I found a little display of zines, both familiar and ones that I had never heard of before. A somewhat thick zine neatly sewn together with bright orange thread caught my attention, and in that moment my relationship with zines was renewed due to my newly developed zine crush on Morgan Inez Smith and her zine Letters I Will Never Send To You.
Why I’m Totally Zine Crushing On Letters I Will Never Send To You:
- The Title
If you don’t have a stack of letters filled with your most honest emotions of love and bitter heart ache sitting in a box somewhere in your room, then you’re either lying or you haven’t had an experience that ripped your heart out and left you with a feeling quite similar to gasping for air while drowning in the middle of the ocean. Every person could interpret this title differently, which is another appealing element. As soon as I read the title, I felt an instant connection and just had to pick up this zine.
- The Design
- I’m such a sucker for handwritten zines, and especially when the author’s handwriting is as cute and neat as Morgan’s. There’re big blocks of handwritten text. There’re big blocks of type writer text. There’re random photographs of some one elses family vacations. There’s cut and paste and random color pages and little fortune cookie inserts and they are all sewn together with different color thread. Come on, does it get any better than that? Each page is completely filled with texts, graphics, and other little tidbits of amazing zine-y goodness, to the point that time must be taken to really read each word and absorb all of the different elements. You have to spend time with these zines, taking everything in and digesting it all before moving on to the next one.
- The Content
- With a title like Letters I Will Never Send To You, you might assume that the zine would contain tales of failed relationships and emotions too raw and honest to actually share with that person, but instead you are met with something more like letters written from your best friend that she just forgot to send in the middle of her big adventures across the states and her smaller adventures in her own backyard. There’s funny little stories, drink and food recipes, and personal musings sprinkled throughout her zines, and they are such a delight to read.
- The Mountains
- It’s always nice to randomly see a slice of home while traveling, even if the place you’re visiting is only two hours away. It’s especially nice when the place you’re traveling to just so happens to have a little bookstore that sells zines. And you know what’s even nicer? Finding your new favorite zine in that bookstore, and opening the pages to see a slice of your home through the eyes of your new favorite zine author. I cannot describe the surprise I felt when I turned the page to find a section devoted to Cheerwine, a regional soft drink that is pretty much a staple of the local diet. This deepened my connection to the zine because I can relate to many of the regional products or features that Morgan mentions throughout her zine.
- The Connections
- So there are a few random connections between Morgan and I, which really peaked my interest to her zines as well. First of all, I was in Asheville that weekend to tour a college that I had found out about through someone with which I attended elementary and middle schoo, but had not spoke to in over four years. It turns out that Morgan was a student of the same college! If that wasn’t weird enough, when I got home and searched online to see if I could find an address to write to her, she had mentioned she would be moving to a school less than an hour away from my house, which I had also considered attending! After reading her zines, I’ve found tons of other things we have in common, which further strengthens my connection to this zine.
So this weekend I spent some time re-reading these zines in celebration of International Zine Month and remembering why I loved them so much, and why I loved zines in general. I know not everyone is so lucky to be able to find numerous personal connections to a zine and/or zine maker, but that’s one of the best things about zines – you never know what you will find until you flip the cover open and start to read.