by Jordan Green
The ’zine flourished as a medium in the 1980s and ’90s, when access to copy shops in across the United States lowered the cost barrier to entry and put the tools of production at the disposal of anyone with something to say. A print run of a couple hundred copies was attainable even for someone without a budget, and was generally sufficient to reach the intended audience.
Both Eric Ginsburg and I got our starts in journalism through this DIY, highly entrepreneurial format, and we have a lot of love for anyone who decides to leap in to this scrappy undertaking.
One might expect the advent of the World Wide Web to absorb the function of ’zine-making by providing an electronic forum for isolated creative and idealistic types to reach out to a community of like-minded people. Far from it: As social media has accelerated the exchange of information and in some sense flattened culture, the need for a curated print publication has only become more palpable. Enter Amplifier: A Greensboro zine, which celebrated its one-year anniversary on April 12. More open in orientation than many ’zines, which feature highly personal writing or cover material of interest to specific subcultures, Amplifier takes an ecumenical approach. The most recent issue covers a set of topics that wouldn’t be out of place in a good altweekly, including On Pop of the World Studios, Madelyn Greco’s bodypainting, a mixtape series by Steven Biddy and Sam Martin, visual artist Jessie Perkins and arcBARKS, a nonprofit that employs individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to produce all-natural dog treats. In quality of topic selection, writing, editing and presentation, Amplifier could easily fly under the banners of either “magazine” or “journal,” but the out-of-pocket financing that sustains this publication makes it a labor of love. That’s classic ’zine-making. We love scrappy and resourceful ventures here at Triad City Beat. And we love people whose primary motivation for making culture is to add something valuable to the community rather than to earn a profit.