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Community Spotlight: Squelch Zines on the creativity of modern zine-making

Posted 2 weeks ago Written by SINGAPORE COMMUNITY RADIO
Squelch Zines interview Singapore Community Radio
Photo credit Squelch Zines

The tradition of making and publishing zines spans decades. But even in our overwhelmingly digital, post-social media age, the zine remains an expressive medium for anyone looking to tell their own stories. Whether if it’s about punk music, film photography, obscure comics, or poetry, the art of zinemaking is resolutely DIY and accessible.

Squelch Zines was put together as a platform to showcase zines of different stripes, shapes, and interests in Singapore. Formed by enthusiasts Nicholas Loke and Janice Chua in 2013, Squelch now exists as a collective within the country’s niche and blossoming zine community.

Their Instagram page features titles from their vast repository of zines, and their ongoing show on SGCR — Squelch Zinecast, hosted by Janice — leans closer into the topics and spaces that these publications emerge from.

Get to know more about Squelch Zines through the words of Janice, who also shares a list of favourites that experiment with the medium itself.


How did Squelch Zines first come to be?

Squelch Zines was started back when Nicholas and I were still in Lasalle. We wanted to do something out of our curriculum, so we started Squelch Zines. It only started to become a zine platform after our first Singapore Art Book Fair in 2013.

Since then, Squelch Zines have evolved its platform into a library, as we see it more fitting for the local community.

Since its formation, how has the platform developed and grown into what it is now?

It first started as a project for ourselves. Since the art fair that year, we decided to use our space for people to sell their zines, which led us to have Zha Zhi Dian, which became our Squelch Zine Shop. It was short-lived as logistics and accounts got to more than we can handle.

Since then, we focused on our workshops (Zine Jams) so that more people can get exposed to the making of zines. As our collection of zines grew, we decided to turn it into a library to share with people.

Listen to the latest episode of Squelch Zinecast,
where Janice speaks with Joy Ho of Queer Zinefest,
an annual gathering of queer zine-makers from Singapore.

What draws you to zines?

The versatility of the medium and its history.

What do you look for in a zine?

Personally, I look for content that’s more controversial — something that mainstream media does not cover as much.

Otherwise, cultural stories are something I enjoy as well. I get intrigued by some of the interesting ways zinesters make their zines, where it isn’t just stories but also interaction. It’s a whole experience!

Could you share some examples of zines that take a unique approach with presentation and content?

Baby Driver
by @donutpie_mi

These are zines that explore layout and presentation — how different materials and treatments are applied, to the way content is laid out even when taken off the Internet, provided insight for me. (The photo I took of this is accompanied by another Baby Driver fanzine by Zinema)

A FriendZine
by Superandom Zine, Alif Seah @fueledbypotato

It’s a compilation of film photos of Alif’s friends, but he decided to lay them out in a uniquely shaped book that’s fit to be rolled up and stored in a regular film roll container. It’s such a cute and smart way to present a photography zine.

Letters in Arial
by Beverly Ng, @madebybeverly

Letters in Arial comprises of scanned images of envelopes, but the letter contents are neatly patched together like a collage. The little design embellishments, like the barcodes on top, add a nice relation to the experience of receiving letters. The cover piece was the fun part: it’s a little word search game on its own!

10 things you should do after you died
by Benyatip Sittiwej, @paundz

The make of the zine is nothing like a traditional zine — this one toys with the folds and layout of the paper. Benyatip uses a paper fastener as the binding tool choice. Another fun bit is that there is a page with a transparent sticker — a detachable line illustration of a ghost for you to use.

Instructions for Instructions
by Atelier HOKO, @atelierhoko

Is it still a zine? Is it just a folder of postcards? I don’t really know. But I do know it is a form of documentation and the whole content has a message to it. Atelier HOKO’s works are always something in a form of documentation.

The cover folder gives “instructions” to follow instructions. Take a postcard and you will get an instruction to do something.

There are a total of 60 postcards: each one instructs you to perform an activity in the comfort of your own home, and then to record the encounters down on the flipside of the postcard.

How would new readers find zines? Especially ones that would cater to their interests.

With the internet so available with information, we can just search with keywords! I always search for the kind of content I want and end it with a “zine”, eg. “queer” + “zine”.

Another way is to go to Instagram and search using hashtags. There are many accounts of different zine groups and initiatives post their zines and submissions! Activist zine groups are even easier to find there.

I also find artists and zines through zine fests.

Some of my go-to zine sites are:

Printed Matter
They are an online catalog — they have one of the most comprehensive databases.

Nieves
One of the oldest and most established platforms I know of. They have an online shop that sells a wide catalogue of zines.

Five O’Clock Zine
If you’re looking for a zine to get but want to know more about it, this dude here publishes zine reviews. He also has a podcast!

Broken Pencil
This is another platform that I’ve been checking out recently. They have reviews on their website and information on zine fests, with handy descriptions of each event.


Squelch Zinecast will be back with a new episode on SGCR later this January. Follow Squelch Zines on Instagram.