Back in the late twentieth century or early twenty-first, I discovered zines. Zines were self-published booklets with art, poetry, fiction and nonfiction, and comics. I remember flipping through one that was only 4”x 3” at most, and  was jam-packed with words, images, and graphics. I was still teaching at this time, and modified the concept a bit to use with my high school students. They created their own versions of zines, filled with their likes, dislikes, favorite ideas, and preferred images. We didn’t photocopy or sell them, but the zines were still a collection of their creative minds. 

Turns out, zines have been around much longer than the twenty years since I learned about them. In the 1930s, zines appeared to showcase the works of science fiction creators, a genre on the rise with a growing fandom. Some people might say the first zine in the United States was in the form of a pamphlet. Thomas Paine’s Common Sense was distributed in 1775. The published collection of critical and creative thinking as written words was instrumental to creating the “new” experimental government I live in today.

With the rise of digital text, zines, though still relevant, have yielded to an online version that is easily shared, quickly and frugally created, and largely enjoyed. The e-zine is as ubiquitous in the second decade of the twenty-first century as the political pamphlets in the late eighteenth century. 

If you do a search for e-zine on Google, you will find numerous definitions, examples, and builders and guides. A favorite of independent publishers, the formatting of these online anthologies of art and writing are an easy way to share content and build a reader base. In addition, they can be read anywhere and on any device. Purchasing and downloading an e-zine ensures you have texts and visuals to persuade, inform, enlighten, and entertain available at the swipe of a finger. These digital zines meet so many needs of human society in the twenty-first century, most not so different from when Thomas Paine was printing his political pamphlets in the eighteenth century. 

Lost Boys Press, the house built for stories, is excited about the release of the first issue of its e-zine, Straight on Till Morning. The collection of images and text, titled “Bloom,” highlights new beginnings. Spring arrived this week, and with it, not only will the Earth turn green, refreshed and dewy, but the human race will emerge, hopeful, renewed, and brave. 

The twenty-one pieces in “Bloom” are both creative and critical, showcasing multiple points of view on new beginnings. Highlights of the issue include:

Brett Mann’s “Irises”: Flowers are the main character in this short fiction, a glimpse at one woman’s new beginning with sinister origins.

  • Dewi Hargreaves’ “The Tree on the Old Hill”: Some beginnings aren’t happy. Sometimes new growth means that something else has to die.
  • Dina S.’ “Something Special”: Love can begin again, even after it’s been psychically blocked.
  • Seoti Bhattacharyya’s “Tanka”: Few words, big images of a new day.
  • Chad Ryan’s “The Magic of Having Space”: A beautiful short story about endings that lead to beginnings. 

There are so many great reads in “Bloom,” including Dina S.’ interview with author Ian V. Conrey, author of Haelend’s Ballad, and Dina and Ashley Hutchison’s critical analysis of romance. “The Story-eater” is the first in a series, the first of which was written by Dewi Hargreaves with contributions from Ashley Hutchison. 

I read it in one sitting, but I keep going back, re-reading and wondering about beginnings. That’s the great thing about e-zines. Quick and easy to read, but packed with meaning and theme. You can get your own copy of Bloom, the newest e-zine in the evolution of the written word.