What is a fanzine?

Fanzines (often called “zines”) are do-it-yourself publications created by fans of a particular cultural phenomenon. These publications often revolve around artistic or social movements such as science fiction or alternative music. The world of fanzines is incredibly diverse, making it difficult to discuss them as a genre. The subject matter, format, and quality of production vary greatly. For example, fanzines can be very glib or intensely personal, or anywhere in between. In the first phases, especially, the Austin Fanzine Project is focusing on a very specific time and place, and does not claim to address the entirety of the fanzine spectrum.

How did this project start?

The Austin Fanzine Project is the brainchild of Jennifer “LaSuprema” Hecker. As a fan of Austin’s 1990s alternative music scene, publisher of Geek Weekly fanzine, and a professional archivist, Jennifer recognized the need to document this subculture through its fanzines. In the summer of 2012, she attended a THATCamp and was inspired by the motto, “Less yack, more hack.” Having long dreamed of some kind of archival fanzine project, but hesitant to proceed given the uncertainty surrounding digitization issues (and her own technical skills) she decided to proceed immediately with an access-only version of her vision, driven by her version of the motto: “Less plan, more scan!” Soon after, she developed AFP as a project in phases, which gives it the ability to scale up gradually.

Why preserve fanzines?

Fanzines are often one of the few documents of geographically- or chronologically-specific subcultures. Many are made with low-quality materials, vary in distribution and readership, and, in many cases, only a few copies of a fanzine are extant.

What are AFP’s goals?

AFP has many goals! Primarily, we aim to preserve and make accessible Austin’s fanzine output, beginning with a specific tranche of zines produced during the heyday of Austin’s 1990s “alternative music” scene. AFP also exists as a learning lab where a range of archival and technological issues may be explored, including creator-driven archival description, crowd-sourced collection development, and low-cost, low-barrier digital preservation.

Does AFP remove documents on request?

Yes, AFP hopes that most fanzine creators will be delighted to have their work preserved and accessible, but we certainly understand that this may not always be the case. AFP does not care to profit by or injure anyone associated with any fanzine, and endeavors to secure the permission of the creator whenever possible. To that end, as stated on the site’s Copyrights & Permissions page: “The Austin Fanzine Project … is eager to hear from any copyright owners who believe we have not properly attributed their work or have used it without authorization. Please contact us at afdtip @ gmail.com so that we may make the necessary corrections.”

What technology powers the Project?

The transcription portion of this project is powered by Ben Brumfield’s FromThePage software. The website and blog were built with WordPress. Scanning is accomplished using consumer-level machinery.

Can anyone participate?

Everyone who works on the Austin Fanzine Project is unpaid, so volunteers of any kind are welcomed and celebrated. AFP is particularly interested in recruiting fanzine creators since, when it comes to indexing, they have the greatest amount of relevant information.

I have a question not addressed above…

Email us! We’d love to hear from you!


*Shout-out to AFP’s fantastic spring 2013 Capstone student, Kevin Powell, who wrote much of this FAQ!