In the slow evenings of his valet shifts in 2003, Las Vegas Zine Library co-founder Jeffrey Grindley spent night after night cutting and pasting blocks of text and images together. He’d been a collector of zines for a few years, but this was his first time creating his own from scratch.
“I love the look, the collaging, the black and white,” Grindley says about his initial fascination with zines—DIY pamphlets created and distributed by activists, poets, musicians and other creative types on the fringe. “I was blown away by this realization that there were all these DIY punk rockers and political activists who took it upon themselves to publish their own stuff and not go through more conventional channels.”
If you were a teenager growing up in the ’80s or ’90s, chances are you came across a zine at some point. Like baseball card or stamp collections for poets and punks, zines exploded across subcultures throughout the ’80s and continued through the early 2000s—a tangible web of communication that brought communities and artists together.
They were especially crucial for kids who felt like they didn’t belong. From the feminist Bust (now a magazine) to monthly punk manifesto Maximum Rocknroll, zines were what the blogosphere was to the early aughts—a real-life, pre-Internet era Tumblr before the idea for Tumblr ever was born.
Since 2010, Grindley and his wife, Stephanie Seiler, have been aiming to bring zine culture back with their Zine Library, first located inside Emergency Arts, and now, at UNLV’s Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art. “We’re just excited that it gets to get back out there,” says Grindley, who will host a zine workshop at the Barrick on February 23. In 2016, the library shuttered when Emergency Arts closed for renovations, but Grindley hopes that the museum’s connections to the community will help bring zine culture to a wider audience.
“It just feels like this culmination of a bunch of different things that I’ve been doing throughout the last 10 years have all come to fruition,” Grindley beams.
A decade ago, “It all seemed so big and overwhelming,” Grindley says. He’d been talking about starting a zine library for years before he finally developed a plan, for which he credits his wife. “She got tired of it and was like, ‘It’s a great idea. You need to make it happen.’”
Thanks to community donations—one guy handed over 150 copies of Maximum Rocknroll—the library grew from 20 or 30 zines in the first year to somewhere in the thousands. “People were like, “I’m so glad you’re here,” Grindley says. “We’ve always had this bigger vision for the collection, so it’s been extra rewarding, this feeling of completion.”
Las Vegas Zine Library Workshop: Zines 101 February 23, 2 p.m., free. UNLV’s Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art, 702-895-3381.