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Virtual Gonzo Zine Library, Spring 2020: Resistance Under A Pandemic

Posted in Zines

Welcome to the Virtual Gonzo Zine Library. The VGZL is a quarterly zine reading list and miniature zine distro. A few times per year, I curate some of my favorite zines — zines that I think everyone should be reading, including myself. 

This is the very first edition. I tried to pick zines which felt topical to this moment of pandemic, and could help inspire, comfort, and give us new perspectives. I selected a mixture of the very practical and the theoretical, but I tried to focus on zines written in an accessible way that wasn’t overly academic.

Wherever possible, I’ve reached out to the authors to let them know I’m including them in this collection.

I’m dividing this edition of the Zine Library into a main selection and bonus content. The main selection is my reading list for the quarter, while the rest are other zines I think you might find interesting.

The zines here are free to download, print, and share (but please reach out to the authors to get permission to redistribute wherever possible). I’ve also included some recommendations for zines you should to pay for, from great creators that deserve your financial support.

Most zines below are available both in a reading version (for online reading) and a printing version, if you want to make them into actual folded zines at home. Each printer’s settings are a bit different for this, but typically you want to print on both sides, and flip on the short edge. 

Virtual Gonzo Zine Library, Spring 2020 Edition

Support the Virtual Gonzo Zine Library

Assembling this reading list takes time. If you’d like to support my work producing the Virtual Gonzo Zine Library as well as writing new zines, please consider joining my Patreon. Donate $10 or more and you’ll get zines in the mail from me.

Table of Contents: Virtual Gonzo Zine Library, Spring Edition

Banner Drops, Stencils, & Wheatpastes

This zine by ACTIVATE Grand Rapids is wonderful introduction to the art of street propaganda. I especially love the idea of reclaiming objects in public spaces and turning them into info booths. An old newspaper kiosk can become a zine library or a place to leave food and other supplies.

Sadly, ACTIVATE seems to be gone, but their great little zine lives on.

Download Banner Drops, Stencils, & Wheatpastes: 

Creating Fabric Masks

Mutual Aid Disaster Relief is a national network of radicals providing volunteer relief in the wake of disasters, whether it’s flooding or a pandemic. They’ve created a stack of fabulous resources for people trying to help their neighbors during this crisis. For the main Zine Library selection, I picked this great zine on creating and using masks. It includes some simple plans for making your own fabric masks.

I’ve included several other zines in the Bonus Materials for this edition of the Library. Be sure to help out MADRelief if you can, with your time or money. Or use their work as a model to create mutual aid in your community.

Download “All We Have Is Each Other,” Creating Fabric Masks:

Mutual Aid, Trauma & Resiliency

The Jane Addams Collective is an anarchist collective of social workers, psychologists, and others working out of New York. I think this zine is a vital resource for coping with trauma, especially because it looks at trauma from both the individual and community perspective. 

Download Mutual Aid, Trauma & Resiliency:

Our Grief Is A Starting Point In The Fight Against Fascism

“It isn’t simply that time and the news cycle have sped up due to so-called communication technologies. It’s that we’re in the crosshairs of history. 

That history is being written on bodies—bodies that are piling up; sometimes our bodies, or those of people we love.”

This zine began as a short essay by Cindy Milstein, published by Truthout. Eff Charm turned it into this lovely, moving little brochure. The essay is copyright truthout.org, and reprinted in the Zine Library with permission.   

Milstein wrote this essay in response to brutal white supremacist violence, and I feel like its themes have sadly only grown more relevant as we grapple with a pandemic under a white supremacist president. As I write this, we’re seeing increasing mobilizations of fascists in the streets demanding an end to social distancing, and they’re clearly turning into a dangerous death cult amid our suffering. This zine is about harnessing our grief to fight back.

Truthout does amazing journalism regularly. Support them and share their work widely

Download Our Grief Is A Starting Point In The Fight Against Fascism:

Stop the Sweeps

Austin has an incredible history of activism and self-advocacy by homeless people. At one point, a community of people without homes actually occupied a barge on town lake, the main waterway through Austin, to force 24/7 awareness of their need for housing. Decades later, Stop the Sweeps continues that tradition. 

This zine documents the first several weeks of Stop the Sweeps work, and includes a fascinating statement of principles which I think could guide almost any activist group in forming their own similar statement.

Despite a promise to put the homeless in shelter or homes, the city has done little to help them through the pandemic, as of this writing. Donate to help Stop the Sweeps if you can.

I’m grateful to the Stop the Sweeps collective for granting permission to include this zine in my Virtual Gonzo Zine Library.

Download Stop the Sweeps:

Tough Mind, Soft Heart

This is easily one of my favorite zines I’ve read recently, and I’m still rereading and digesting its contents. Created by an author named stinging nettles, this zine hasn’t been shared in many places before now. I’m very proud to include it in the Spring edition of the Virtual Gonzo Zine Library. 

The title comes from a quote by Sophie Scholl, a member of Germany’s White Rose group, who was executed by the nazis for distributing antifascist propaganda. stinging nettles proposes an antifascism that is both fierce and nurturing. They are reclaiming the concept of “love” as a tool in antifascist struggles, without weakening our resolve to beat back fascism, racism, patriarchy and white supremacy by any means necessary.

I asked stinging nettles to introduce themself and they wrote:

“stinging nettles is a queer disabled femme from various places in the so-called soon-to-be-former United States of America learning about and practicing justice, compassion, and rage in due measure. they don’t have an internet presence at the moment but feel free to email them at stingingnettles@riseup.net to chat!”

In lieu of receiving direct donations, stinging nettles asks that you support Antifa International. Their fund helps support legal aid for antifascist prisoners, and when you donate you can also get cool buttons and stickers. I’ve included “Destroying White Nationalism,” a zine by Antifa International, in the Bonus Materials for the Spring Edition of the Virtual Gonzo Zine Library.

Buy These Zines

While many zines are designed to freely distribute, creators put a lot of work into their zines. Some of the best zines are only available for a small fee, going directly to the maker. You should check these zines out, and support their creators:

  • “Against Time” by Estelle Ellison — for just a few bucks a month, Estelle Ellison will send you provocative zines about time, politics, and human culture. Check her out on Instagram at @abolish_time 
  • Love Without Emergency” by Clementine Morrigan — Clementine Morrigan created an important series of essays about her exploration of polyamory, from the perspective of a person dealing with trauma and mental illness. A lot of writing about polyamory neglects these topics.
  • “4 blocks from the border” by Mapache — An undocumented activist, Mapache was deported in retaliation for their involvement with the OccupyICE movement. This moving zine is a series of poems about their time in a cage before being deported to Mexico. Contact @mapachelibre1 on Twitter to buy.
Photo: A collection of zines sitting on a bed of gravel.
For the Virtual Gonzo Zine Library, Kit selected zines that were informative and accessible, focusing on writing that can inspire and give us hope during the pandemic. (Photo by Kit O’Connell, all rights reserved.)

Bonus Content

COVID19 Information for Prisoners in Texas

A zine by Austin Anarchist Black Cross, based on a zine by Blue Ridge Anarchist Black Cross. 

Our prisons and jails are death traps during a pandemic. Safety and legal information can be lifesaving at this time. #FreeThemAll

Download “Prison Is No Place For A Pandemic,” COVID19 Information for Prisoners in Texas:

Destroying White Nationalism

An adorable comic by Antifa International which reminds me a little of classic Christian propaganda from Jack Chick, but in a positive way. 

Download Destroying White Nationalism:

Mutual Aid Disaster Relief zines

I included a zine on mask making in my main selections for this edition of the Zine Library. Here are some additional zines created by MADRelief that are extremely useful in a pandemic:

Toward the Destruction of Schooling, By Anonymous

Recommended by Oh Shit! What Now? Member Antonio Buehler. It may be useful to drastically rethink schooling and how we educate children during (and after) the pandemic.

Download Toward the Destruction of Schooling:

If you enjoyed this post, please support Kit on Patreon!