Timothy van Sas
Timothy van Sas

Sunday, 16 June 2013

The Evolution of Fanzines

A look at the history of fanzines reveals more about their writers than the music

The first time I encountered a real fanzine was at a festival. I hadn’t slept for 24 hours, was covered head to toe in what I hoped was mud and feeling the satisfying effects of a large amount of gin. Called Applecore, the small, photocopied ‘zine was thrust into my hands by an ordinary looking guy called Henry, cost me £1 and could easily have been mistaken for a school project. I shoved it in my bag, forgot it existed and three months passed before I finally took a closer look at a form of publishing that has become an obsession.

Within its rough A5 pages I found a new form of writing that I had never considered, which paired music opinion and travel in intelligent diary entries, written with a delicate touch. As I read from cover to cover, questions began to reverberate around my mind; what motivated Henry to write about music? At what point between pressing play and the end of a song did he become compelled to commit his thoughts to the page? The subject spiralled out of control and began to broaden. After all, Henry isn’t the only ordinary listener writing about music, heck, all critics start off their career as amateurs.  So I decided to take a look at the history of fanzines and their offspring – blogs and webzines – to figure out what inspires ordinary listeners like Henry to pick up a pen in the first place.