Zines have always been a part of the subculture scene. Though dating for the 1930’s and 1940’s when early sci-fi fans created “comics “ their appropriation by punks in the formative years of that movement, produced the iteration that we associate to Zines.
Handmade and self-published the zine was, and is, a D.I.Y. alternative to the mainstream press. In the late 1970’s Punk already faced strong opposition from the established music press and industry and the zine provided the Punk movement with the opportunity to pass around those barriers. Drawing on lo-tech, low cost, expert knowledge, and high determination they were able to bypass the “gatekeepers “ of the industry. The “imperfect, rough around the edge look “ that they created was part down to technical restrictions and an aesthetic that echoed the punk movements mantra that “we don’t care “. Sniffin Glue, Ripped and Tron, Situation Vacant, London’s Burning and 48 Thrills were among the titles that disseminated news on the new movement, the bands, gigs, and political activism.
There were no rules for the zine, the content could be varied, they could be available just locally or nationally and the limitation in circulation numbers was part down to cashflow and part an ideological decision.
The Zine thrived in the formative years of Punk and then saw a second resurgence in the 1990’s as it was embraced by the riot grrrl generation producing a new wave of titles including Bikini Kill, Girl Germs and Gunk
Of course, the rise of the Internet and the publishing on blogs and other platforms should have consigned the zine to the recycling bin. No doubt that the opportunity and ease of publishing digitally has given many more movements, causes and musicians a place to publish and be seen. But the very essence of the printed zine is its defiance of the mainstream and in some cases, despite the zine being the instrument to publicise a cause, there is an unspoken desire to keep that cause restricted to those “in the know,” and to keep it underground.
Zines are thriving as print has become more accessible and democratic. To an extent, there is a risk of “gentrification “ as high-end department stores stage “zine markets “ but no publicity as bad publicity and zine creators are skilful enough to navigate those waters and use the publicity to press their cause
We are always on the look our for new zines from the “ underground universe “, so we are happy to come across Punks and Goths.
Created and Published by Birmingham Small Zines, it is a photo account of the contemporary Punk and Goth Scene in Birmingham. It captures the participants in the scene and captions the photos with a short account of the view of the scene from the perspective of the photo subject.
Birmingham Small Zines is the work of Rizwan Ali Dar a photographer from Birmingham. Rizwan has been documenting Birmingham’s Punks and Goth subculture since around 2018.
As Rizwan explains “my initial interest came about after working with an Old school Punk from Birmingham who used to speak to me about the history of the scene in Brum and I thought as a photographer it would amazing to capture the modern scene. For me as someone who did not know the people or communities it was very daunting but as a photographer it posed a great challenge and made me come out of my comfort zone and grow by doing this. For many years both Punks and Goth have always garnered a “reputation,” and this was a chance for me show that they are just like us, ordinary people that have their own identities which they thrive in, and they are people like who flourish in society.”
The zine encapsulates all that we like about zines, independent, limited numbers, self-published, a sharp focused perspective, local. It is available from our online store or from Birmingham Small Zines.
True to the cause it is limited to a print run of 50.