Skip to Main Content

OHSU Health Zine Library

A resource for finding and using zines at OHSU

What is a zine?


A zine (ZEEN) is an original, self-published publication with a limited print-run. They often resemble small booklets or pamphlets and are DIY (do-it-yourself) in nature. Zines are usually created with the intent to share thoughts, feelings, experience, and/or knowledge with others rather than profit. Zines are affordable, easy to share and distribute, and provide an avenue for individuals and communities to make their voices heard.

Examples of zines:


Goldilocks and the three therapists : a thinly veiled autobiography by Rachel Rowan Olive

How to prep for your colonoscopy without it sucking that much!!! : (By a patient with Crohn's) by Bee Loris

Skin zine. #2, "Problem" by Alyssa Giannini


Zine History

Early influences

While the first official zine was created in 1930, the concept of zines arose from early self-published pamphlets, broadsides, and leaflets created by minority and under-represented persons and groups. Some examples include Martin Luther’s 1517 Ninety-Five Theses and Thomas Paine’s 1775 Common Sense.  

Cover image of Thomas Paine's Common Sense


Harlem's “little magazines” 

The Harlem Renaissance produced many “little magazines” that highlighted black literary work, radical essays, and experimental writing. Independently produced by individuals or small groups, these publications were circulated locally with some gaining national distribution. Some of the well-known examples include The Messenger (1917), Fire!! (1926), Stylus, and Harlem. 


The Comet

The Comet is cited as being the first zine. It was created in May of 1930 and edited by Raymond Palmer and Walter Dennis of the Science Fiction Correspondence Club. The zine, which featured science fiction stories, fan correspondence, and essays, allowed fans of sci-fi to share their content and connect with each other without having to go through a magazine correspondence section.  



Janus, later called Aurora, was a feminist science fiction zine created by Janice Bogstad and Jeanne Gomoll in 1975. It featured short stories, reviews and essays by celebrated authors such as Octavia Butler. It is thought to be the only science fiction zine with a feminist focus.  

Cover image of Janus zine


Punk zines  

Punk zines came into prominence in the 1970s to create spaces to explore, represent, and share punk music, culture, and style. Some of the earliest punk zines were Sniffin Glue (1976), Punk (1976), and Maximum Rock'n'roll (1982).  


Factsheet Five

Factsheet Five was a zine review periodical that connected zine makers around the country before the internet. Started by Mike Gunderloy in 1982, the zine reviewed any zine or small press publication that was mailed to them and provided info on where readers could purchase them.  


Queercore zines

The Queercore subculture was made up of queer punks who sought to combat the homophobia and misogyny they saw in the punk movement. They relied heavily on zines to express and share the work of disenfranchised punks. The first queercore zine, J.D.’s, was published in 1985.  


Riot Grrl zines 

Riot grrrl subculture used zines to focus on feminism, women in the punk music scene, and politics. The subculture started in Olympia, WA and the pacific northwest and also has roots in D.C. Notable riot grrl zines include Bikini Kill, Jigsaw, Slant, and Gunk. 

Resources about zines