Despite the internet, Twin Cities zines continue to flourish


With so much of the world staying virtual, let’s turn our attention to a lasting and tangible art form that’s been through it all: zines.

The do-it-yourself publications are still telling stories about arts, politics, culture, identity and organizing that were once exclusively shared in them.

Zines are sold in brick-and-mortar bookstores, shared at events and meetups, downloaded digitally or ordered online through subscription services. Some zinesters use Instagram, Discord or online wikis, while others still opt for trading them via their neighborhood FedEx office.

The Twin Cities zine scene was launched by influential publications like 1970s’ Little Free Press, Frank Gaard’s Art Police throughout the 1980s and 1990s works from Profane Existence Collective.

The early 2000s challenged zine culture with online blogs, but the digital limitations couldn’t meet the same interactive, experimental needs they thrived on: print formatting, typography and binding that captures the authors’ unique, independent voices.

“It’s like an analog social media in a way,” said Elysa Voshell, executive director of Minnesota Center for the Book Arts.

At Minneapolis Community and Technical College’s library, zine librarian Elissah Becknell sees communication about subcultures, movements and identities being disseminated in print, and not digitally, as synonymous with its form.

On the internet, people give up their privacy, Becknell said. With zines, people can express themselves while controlling what, how and where they share about themselves.

“Which is why you can find a rich history of different countercultures participating in zine culture because they needed to keep private,” Becknell said. “They needed to keep themselves private in order to be safe or to have some security in order to maybe most fully explore what it is to be counter to mainstream culture.”

Being such an accessible and informal medium, there are few barriers to entry for zinesters.

“It’s like writing a letter to a friend that you haven’t met yet,” said Minneapolis zinester Cam Kalra. “Just write it up and fold it and stick it in an envelope and just see what happens.”

Where to find, buy and make zinesFestivals

Autoptic Festival: Founded by Minneapolis College of Art and Design instructors and longtime print artists Zak Sally and Tom Kaczynski and others in 2012, the 2021 festival is hosting digital programming Aug. 23-27.

Autonomous Zine Festival: The festival began in September 2020 and will be held again Sept. 19.

Twin Cities Zine Fest: The annual festival is a center point for Midwest zinesters. This year it will take place Oct. 15-17 in-person and virtually.


Boneshaker Books: The volunteer-run bookstore carries zines from local and national artists, presses and publishers. “The reason why we at Boneshaker are so proud of our zine collection is I think zines are a really important way of distributing knowledge, especially in times of repression and uprising,” said Moli Liu. 2002 23rd Av. S., Mpls. 612-871-7110.

Eat My Words Bookstore: This quaint bookstore has a small collection of zines and chapbooks from local artists. 214 13th Av. NE., Mpls. 651-243-1756.

Extreme Noise Records: It has a small music-focused collection of zines. About half of them are from local artists. 407 W. Lake St., Mpls. 612-824-0100.

The Future: Longtime zinester and former collector Lacey Prpic Hedtke runs the magic-inspired store and carries and consigns zines produced by women, queer and transgender people. The store also is a workshopping space where artists in residence use its risograph to print zines. 2223 E. 35th St., Mpls. 612-470-7337.

Moon Palace Books: The store offers zines, how-to-make-zine zines and books about zines online. Check for in-person availability and hours. 3032 Minnehaha Av. S., Mpls. 612-454-0455.

Museums and libraries

Minneapolis Institute of Art: The “Fly Zine Archive” exhibition is open until April 2022 and features the institute’s acquisition of Fly NYC’s almost 2,000 works of punk, anarchist, feminist and LGBTQ artists. 2400 3rd Av. S., Mpls. 888-642-2787.

Hennepin County Library: The libraries have zine collections at three locations — Minneapolis Central, East Lake and Hosmer — that carry local and national zine artists’ works. Visitors can check out zines at those locations.

Minneapolis Community and Technical College: The collection holds more than 6,600 zines cataloged through zinecore and 2,000 uncataloged zines. 1501 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls. 612-659-6000.

University of Minnesota Twin Cities: The Francis V. Gorman Rare Art Books, Zines, and Media Collection is inside Andersen Library. People can search the zines on the library’s catalogs, view them by appointment or browse the library’s Tumblr blog.

Quatrefoil Library: This is a volunteer-run community center that is focused on LGBTQ publications. Open on weekends. The catalog is searchable online. 1220 E. Lake St., Mpls.

Groups and more

Minnesota Center for the Book Arts: The center, reopening in September, hosts virtual and in-person programming and has a consignment program. 1011Washington Av. S., Mpls.

Twin Cities Zines: Local zinesters can hang out online and in-person in a meetup group with more than 400 members.

Twin Cities Collage Collective: The collective features local zinesters and hosts events, workshops and shows around zines, collage work and portfolio building.

Uncivilized Books: Minneapolis College of Art and Design instructor Tom Kaczynski’s publishing house prints and distributes Midwest and national zinesters, cartoonists, comics artists and graphic novelists.