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Calvin's Dialogue Produces 'Zine
October 25, 2007

Beth Oliver and the Dialogue 'ZineFor the first time in its history, Dialogue , the journal of arts and letters at Calvin, has published a 'zine. Lest that sound like a case of redundant publication-a magazine publishing a magazine- Dialogue editor Beth Oliver supplies the definition of the 'zine genre:

"A 'zine is a small, inexpensive, generally self-published magazine," Oliver said. "Usually it can be the work of one person or a small group. Artists do it to self-publicize."

The new 14-page 'zine measures a mere 4¼ by 5½ inches and contains a series of collage-like images, many of them overwritten with hand-lettered captions. One spread juxtaposes an image of fruit with a screen capture of actress Janet Leigh from the movie Psycho, screaming the words "I am not a womb!" Another page features the image of Aung San Suu Kyi ( the democratically elected leader of Burma who has been under house arrest for 12 of the last 18 years) and the words "there are many ways to talk." Yet another features a red-haired young woman with her mouth taped shut and the word "speak."

"The idea isn't to have one coherent vision. The images are very fragmentary," said Dialogue advisor Lisa Van Arragon about the 'zine, "but as you see them together, it creates this bigger picture." Van Arragon sees recurrent ideas in the 'zine. "I think there's a theme of empowerment. I think there's a theme of women finding a voice."

The thematic unity of the 'zine was not accomplished intentionally, said Oliver. "If there's a theme, it arose as it was being put together. When it started out that certain ideas were developing, I pointed those out as I saw them so that others could choose to develop them or not."

Indeed, she said, the production process for the tiny publication was less a layout session than a crafting party: "I set up two different times of two different days where people could just come and make. I think that's why it's so fun-because you're with other people and communicating and making, and it's just that sort of mental outpouring."

The 'zine production sessions also served to welcome people other than Dialogue staff to contribute to the publication, said Oliver, and that's the invitation she's like to extend on behalf of the established publication as well. " Dialogue has an image for being above the average student, an image of being selective, of being snobby, exclusive," she said. "I think too few people realize that they are a part of that or have the potential to be a part of that. So this 'zine, among other things that we're doing this year, is aimed at getting people involved."

The creators of the zine published only 200 copies of the publication and handed them out one by one across campus. The feedback, so far, has been positive, said Oliver. "I've had e-mails and people have told me they liked it. Some people know what a 'zine is, and so they have an understanding of what this format is and what it's trying to be. Others have never heard of it. But both camps seem to like the idea, which is great."

~written by Calvin staff writer Myrna Anderson

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