Zines 101 with Erica Qualy

In this episode of Memphis Type History: The Podcast, Rebecca has a conversation with Erica S. Qualy to learn all about the art of zines. What are they? What is the purpose? Can anyone make their own? We answer those questions and more for your enlightenment and for the annual Memphis Zine Fest that is open for all to attend!

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If you’re familiar with our book, you may recognize Erica’s name from our chapter of the Lorraine Motel. She’s actually the one who sparked my interest in zines in the first place. The photo above is the zine she passed along during our interview for the book.

So, what is a zine?

Via State Library Victoria

A zine is a do-it-yourself publication produced in editions of less than 100. Usually it’s just an 8.5×11 piece of paper folded up and stapled with whatever content you want to tell. At first, everything was cut and paste and hand-drawn, but now people have the ability to include photoshop elements. Erica states that she herself is a purist and sticks to the cut and paste method. She also gives us more insight on what her process is which you can hear on this episode. For example, Erica uses her own typewriter.

Where did the zine start?

That’s a good question. Some people would consider tracing zines back to Martin Luther’s Ninety-five Theses written in 1517. But the fandom of science fiction works in the 1930s is what really set it off. Fans published and traded their own stories and those became known as “fanzines” the abbreviation of fan magazine and later shortened to just zine (zeen).

First two pages of the “The Reign of the Superman” short story by Jerry Siegel, illustrated by Joe Shuster. This story was self-published by Siegel in his fanzine, Science Fiction #3 in 1933.

Erica touches on some great material she researched but makes a point to call out that the zines we most commonly reference came from 70s because that was the start of newer technologies that allowed these to be easier to produce. In the 70s and 80s is when the punk scene entered influencing the voice and art of zines. Even into the 90s a lot of band used zines to produce their own voice, awareness, feminism, and empowerment.

Most importantly, visit the Memphis Zine Fest!

Thanks to Erica and Crosstown Arts, artists are able to showcase and sell their own zines each year during the Memphis Zine Fest. This year’s fest will be Friday, July 20 at the theater stairs in the central atrium of Crosstown Concourse. It’s free to attend and open to all ages from 4P–7P but bring some cash so you can buy some fun zines and support the arts.

And if you’re interested in becoming a zine maker (which you probably are now), you can apply to be a vendor at the event! Just visit

Check out these photos of a few of the zines I purchased at last year’s event. It might just spark up your own inspiration.

Lastly, for those who want to get into zine-making, Erica recommends a book called Zine Scene: The Do It Yourself Guide to Zines. It’s where she got her own first start! 

Links Mentioned:

Zine Fest IV

Mental Floss article


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By Rebecca Phillips

I am a female born in the United States though I generally fear the border patrol. Buy me an ice cream cone and maybe I'll paint you something.

2 replies on “Zines 101 with Erica Qualy”

Hey! I just came across your podcast and binged listened to all of them! I live in MS but obsessed with all things Memphis. I love the history everything from the Yellow Fever Epidemic to Elvis and beyond. I was wondering if you and Caitlin were going to do any more podcast? Maybe y’all have all mentioned something about it and I’ve overlooked… please tell me y’all are going to do more!!! ❤️❤️❤️

Thank you so much! The plan is we will dive back in it soon but needed a break with the business that life brings. Hearing from people like you surely do help motivate us to keep this project going so we really do appreciate your support!

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