Founded as a concept by my friend Alex Wrekk, she describes coming up with the idea in the following way:
During conversations with friends I found myself saying “Wouldn’t it be rad if there was an International Zine Month?” Which led to the question: “How do we make it official?” This was actually a silly question since zines are inherently DIY there was no one who could make it official, but I could Do It Myself. I decided to propose the idea on the We Mazine Zines forum and people seemed really excited about it. I figured to pair it with the 24 hour Zine thing would be a good idea and since that takes place in the month of July…. JULY IS INTERNATIONAL ZINE MONTH!Though 24 hour Zine Thing looks to be dead (nothing new on its website, nothing new on Twitter since December), the idea is a great way to either connect with the DIY nature of zines or to re-connect yourself if you've found that you haven't been reading those zines you picked up or stopped going to zine gatherings awhile back.
Alex has a list of suggested things to do across the month of July, including ordering from a Distro on July 3rd (I'll just link you to one I recommend here), re-reading your favorite zines, writing a fan letter to a zinester, sending your zine to a library, and contributing to a compilation zine. Not everyone can do every option, but it makes for a great list of suggestions and ideas. For my part, I'll be trying to read a zine a day across July, and review several of them here.
She also lists a few upcoming zine fests, including Portland Zine Symposium, which I cannot wait to attend for the first time (look for a show preview next week).
Zines are a wonderful way for people who might not otherwise get an opportunity to express themselves. It's not the same when you blog. There are times when you do need to share something by trading a tangible, physical object, especially when it relates to personal matters. I am of course a digital advocate, but that doesn't make me anti-paper. Digital is a convenience that allows me to live in a small apartment and still have all the things I'd like to re-read at my fingertips.
Some of the best comics and personal essays I've read are via the zine/mini-comic format. If you've never tried them before, July is a perfect time to do so!
You can see a nice, high-resolution list of International Zine Month suggestions here.