Zines versus APAs

The Same, But Different

Jeffrey Allan Boman
3 min readJun 22, 2022
Photo by Ksenia Chernaya: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-people-woman-creative-7695289/

An APA (Amateur Press Association) is a compilation of zines put together on a fixed schedule. ‘zine’ is the short form of ‘magazine. However, a zine isn’t always what is put in an APA, though.

Let me explain

APAs Dry Stuff Before Fandom Took Over

(I’m paraphrasing what I learned here).

It started as amateur printers coming together in informal groups. That changed on February 19, 1876, with the creation of NAPA (National Amateur Press Association). As of 2018, it was still running. I hope someone could tell me if it still exists now in 2022

It led to the creation of the UAPA, the BAPA (Britain), and the AAPA (American. Members who split from UAPA). I don’t know if these still exist.

One of the members of NAPA was H.P. Lovecraft. No Cthulu or Yog Soggoth here. These were journalists, sharing newspapers turned down. Unless you were/are a news junkie, these would be a snoozefest.

Then came science fiction fandom to the rescue! Comicbook fandom too… both of them created APAs. Some of them even created stars. Fred Hembeck and Wendy Pini came from the comicbook APA CAPA Alpha Tom and Mary Bierbaum from Interlac, one of many for the Legion of Superheroes.

An APA can have a wide focus (eg. all science fiction, all comicbooks — like my Comicopia was), or a narrow focus (the works of Isaac Asimov, many for the Legion, at least one for the Teen Titans). Name a subject now and you’re likely to find an APA for it.

In the early years, contributions were written on typewriters (what we used before computers, kids!) or mimeographs. The ink was at a premium, so we created a shorthand for many things, some of which made it into wider use today.

Sideways text emotions [:), :/, :S, etc.]? APAs. ROTFL, HHOK, etc.? APAs.

Mailing Comments (MCs we can’t take credit for. Letters existed for centuries. APAs use a form commenting on the contributions of others, and comments on comments… these too APAs can’t take credit for. These were used on BBSes (the pre-Internet), and in zines (more later).

Some in the ElectronicAge are PDF only (e-APAs. In my experience only APAs that start this way last. If they start on paper, they don’t (2 I’ve seen personally didn’t). Shame… electronic are better for the environment.

My history: In September 1990 I created Comicopia. Under me, it ran for 17 years. Under another guy, it ran 14 more. It went PDF and died (see above)


Many Faces, Many Styles

Zines started with fandom in the 1930s Mimeographed or typeset (if you were rich), they were a way to connect with your favorite media.

Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster bonded through one, ultimately creating Superman. Roy Thomas launched his career through Alter Ego.

Flash forward to the late 1970s, when punk rock and other music passions led to the DIY start of the small 8-page products of my opening image. These are handmade, with poems, tour dates, song lyrics, and maybe a review of a local show.

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Jeffrey Allan Boman

Hi. I’m Jeffrey A. Boman. I help other writers improve their prose, and be more prolific. Join my list here: https://www.subscribepage.com/f8l0u8