When we discovered that the RiNo neighborhood in Denver is home to the Denver Zine Library, a nonprofit repository of over 15,000 zines, we couldn’t wait to partner with them! The Denver Zine Library houses one of the largest zine collections in the country and has been entirely volunteer run since 2003. Visitors can come in, flip through the zine stacks, and hang out while they read. It’s a truly special place, cozy and brimming with countless little labors of love.
So, what is a zine?
Everyone’s answer differs slightly, but here are the big picture characteristics of a zine. A zine is an independently produced, small-run physical booklet. They’re often Xeroxed, put together on the cheap, and very non-commercial in nature. The best part is a zine can be about anything!
Poetry. Biography. Comics. Short stories. Politics. Food. Activism. Science. Visual art. An idea. A feeling.
Your zine can be about anything you want and anyone can make one! In this sense, zines are completely democratic. You can make one and give it to a friend. You can make 100 copies and give them away. You can have a voice.
A Little From the Hip Photo Story
When From the Hip Photo’s co-founder, Danny, was getting ready to start high school, he and his friend decided to start a zine together, one devoted to a specific music subculture scene of the era. They wound up publishing a half-dozen issues during a two-year stretch with some installments running nearly 50 pages. They were lovingly laid out, filled with album reviews and band interviews, and were tediously photocopied and assembled by hand.
“At first,” Danny remembers, “I viewed the zine as a sneaky way of getting to interview bands I loved and for getting my favorite record labels to send me music for free.” However, it soon became clear that the two of them had stumbled onto a new passion.
In the years ahead, they would both find professional opportunities and accolades within music journalism. Danny wrote and edited music content for several publications and his own site was named Denver’s best music blog by the staff at Westword.
More importantly, their zine provided them with access and a sense of community. It connected them to new friends within the subculture to which they catered. As kids barely into their teens, the budding zinesters suddenly found themselves in conversation with people across the country who were running record labels out of their garages, members of touring bands, and fellow enthusiasts. It was magical cultivating those bonds in an era before social media made it the norm.
More About the Denver Zine Library
It was such a cool opportunity to get to stalk the zine stacks and take photos for the Denver Zine Library and we hope you’ll visit them soon! Like a traditional lending library, there is also the option to check out copies. On Saturdays and Sundays, they have open drop-in hours from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM at 2400 Curtis St., Denver, CO 80205. Plus, they put on some fantastic events, like their upcoming 13th birthday party at Infinite Monkey Theorem on Monday, December 5th at 6:00 PM. Stay tuned for those fun photos!