Sean Stewart is a Baltimore, MD-based librarian and zine writer/editor. In 1996 he began publishing his perzine Thoughtworm (which continues today), and also started collecting and trading zines at that time. In addition to writing and collecting, he is also active as a zine reviewer. He has written reviews for Zine World, Best Zine Ever, and Zine Guide. He served as the monthly review columnist for the NewPages Zine Rack on NewPages.com (which is still accessible) from 2002-2007. Currently he reviews zines and books for Razorcake Magazine.
Zines (originally called fanzines) are amateur, DIY (Do-It-Yourself) publications produced non-commercially, designed to circulate among a small number of people sharing similar cultural or social interests. Generally speaking, zines are produced by a single individual - in a cut-and-paste fashion and photocopied - and distributed informally by hand or at concerts, zine fests, bookstores, music stores and other locations, or sent through the mail at low cost.
Zines are important methods of communication among members of distinct subcultures or social communities traditionally underrepresented by the societal mainstream. In the modern era, zines became popular during the emergence of science fiction fandom starting in the 1930s. SF fans created zines, which evolved out of the letter columns from SF literary magazines such as Astounding Stories, in order to communicate with each other and provide forums in which fans could express their own personal opinions about the genre and its media products. Zines fairly quickly became a distinct feature of SF fandom and remain so to this day.
Zines were taken up by other distinct cultural movements, including beat literature in the 1950s, underground comics in the 1960, punk music
in the 1970s, and the feminist riot grrl movement in the 1990s. As methods of cheap photocopying and, later, the personal computer, became more widely available in the 1980s and 1990s the number and variations of zines exploded. With the advent of the Internet and the introduction of blogging as a tool of personal and creative expression, the number of print zines began declining, although the zine remains popular among particular subcultures as a tool of personal and creative expression and as a way of exchanging thoughts, ideas and opinions.