About the Zine
This is a series of five zines I wrote as my thesis for RMIT’s Media and Communications Honours Program. I focus on some themes in the perzines that I was reading – about political action, about the body, and about how zines are places of catharsis for people to write about really horrible things that have happened to them. (The other two are an introduction and conclusion). I only came to this idea six months into my year of study, which means that I had three to four months of writing. While I’m proud of these zines, there were many subjects I wish I’d gone deeper into, and some parts that I’m a little embarrassed that I skipped over. My feminism has deepened and expanded since these zines, but I still think they’re important, if only to me to see where I was and where I still need to grow.
Jo is a writer, zine maker, musician and artist living in Berlin.
They studied novel writing in Melbourne, Australia, at RMIT. After a year of travel around Europe, they returned to Melbourne to complete an Honours course where they received a distinction for their creative project, “From Which Women Deviate”, which was a series of zines which investigated how zines can act as platforms for different kinds of feminist explorations.
They moved to Berlin in 2015 and finished their first novel, A New Tense, in 2017.
Why did you start making zines?
I got into zines pretty late, I guess, when I was twenty or so. The first zine I read – or at least the first that really stuck with me – was a split zine of “Licking Stars off Ceilings” and “Watch him Bleed”. The people in this zine were so honest and unapologetic about themselves, and I thought from reading it that there was a kind of catharsis in writing it, which I found to be true when I started making my own a few years later. As a writer, I often feel that I express myself better through writing, so some zines I wrote just as a way to explain myself. I gave my zine, “So Lonely Was the Ballad” to friends when I was really mentally unwell, as a way of reaching out without the pressure of needing to talk about my illness over and over.
What is your experience of the community?
I’m live in Berlin now, but in Melbourne it was great – I can’t say that I really had zinester friends, but I would go to Sticky a lot and they even launched my “From Which Women Deviate” series. They taught me how to use a photocopier properly, and were just always endlessly supportive and kind. I miss Sticky a lot. Since I’ve been in Berlin, I’ve been so focused on finishing my own book that I haven’t really gotten into the zine community here – even though I have made two since I’ve been here. I’ve been to a few workshops as well, but it’s my goal since I’ve finished my project to get into the scene again, because generally it’s open minded and queer and beautiful.
What advice would you give?
Do it! Don’t overthink it. I found zines were a great way of practicing how to get over the imposters syndrome – because I know that I’m interested in reading about anything in zine form. Pick something you’re interested in and talk about it, or something that pisses you off, or something that makes you happy. There’s this real mix of personal and public that makes writing in zines so important – it’s a way of clarifying your thoughts. There are no “bad” zines – draw even if you think you can’t, write a poem even if you think you’re no good, just express yourself! Even if you just give it to one friend, you’ve written a zine.