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But what’s a zine re­ally? There are no hard and fast rules, but here’s the gen­eral gist: They’re typ­i­cally self­pub­lished, self-funded, hand­bound (sta­pled, em­broi­dered, lam­i­nated) works with small cir­cu­la­tions – from a sin­gle copy to a few hun­dred. They cover any num­ber of top­ics rang­ing from pol­i­tics, art, mu­sic and so­cial causes to the su­per niche – such as the as­pi­ra­tions of ev­ery­day folks (see Por­traits of Peo­ple by in­de­pen­dent pub­lisher Your Lo­cal News­stand), or cast-off fur­ni­ture in the neigh­bour­hood of Sengkang by SNGKNG (get it?) aka de­signer Tisya Wong. (Her eight-pager is a laugh-out-loud, tongue-in-cheek take on an Ikea cat­a­logue.) The most per­ti­nent as­pect though is the heav­ily DIY, any­thing-goes spirit that tends to per­me­ate each one.

As Gabbi Wenyi Ayane Virk, co-or­gan­iser of the Queer Zine­fest puts it: “(With zines), you are your own edi­tor so you re­ally shouldn’t worry about what other peo­ple find ap­peal­ing. It’s en­tirely up to you and what you want to do with your work.” In short, it’s a com­pletely demo­cratic medium, be it in style or con­tent.

One of the ear­li­est home­grown zines would have to be BigO, with its dis­tinct punk aes­thetic. Started in 1985

by broth­ers Philip and Michael Cheah as a black-and­white pho­to­copied pub­li­ca­tion (it went full colour only seven years later), it ex­ten­sively chron­i­cled Sin­ga­pore’s indie mu­sic scene, and fea­tured names such as Chris Ho, The Oddfel­lows and The Padres. (The lat­ter two went on to be fea­tured on BBC’s Mul­ti­track 3 pro­gramme.) While BigO ceased print pub­li­ca­tion af­ter a 17-year run, it still ex­ists on­line with a global (if eso­teric) fol­low­ing, and re­cently en­joyed re­newed ex­po­sure thanks to film­maker Sandi Tan’s ac­claimed doc­u­men­tary, Shirk­ers, in which Philip Cheah was a com­men­ta­tor.

Pos­si­bly the most con­cep­tual zine here: Rub­bish Famzine, the award-win­ning ex­per­i­men­tal art book cre­ated by Holy­crap – the col­lec­tive that cel­e­brated graphic de­signer Pann Lim formed with his fam­ily – that’s as good as a piece of mul­ti­me­dia art. Take is­sue #3 that touched on the topic of time and came in a “time cap­sule” (a tra­di­tional bis­cuit con­tainer) con­tain­ing ephemera such as scav­enged twigs and a cas­sette tape of Lim’s kids singing, all put to­gether by hand. Each edi­tion has be­come a sought-af­ter col­lectible since its de­but in 2013 and, at press time, the clan was get­ting ready to launch the ’80s-themed eighth is­sue.

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