ROCHESTER — If someone’s passion is worth putting pen to paper and then paper to copier, TL Jordan is worth reading.
Jordan, formerly of Rochester and now a graduate student at Mankato State University, is an avid supporter, distributor, and publisher of handcrafted publications known as zines.
Versatile publications can range from short folded sheets of handwritten and copied paper to bound and sewn tomes.
Jordan says the common thread is a desire to share on paper.
“It’s an easy way to spread information and post what matters to you,” Jordan said.
Anyone who makes it in southeast Minnesota is guaranteed to be a loyal reader.
“If you have something you know or are passionate about, I want to know about it,” Jordan said. “I want to know why you’re passionate about this.”
The passion that fueled Jordan’s recent “Kid Brother” zine was to give artists a forum and a voice to share their ideas.
“It was really me giving artists a place to do things,” Jordan said.
Zines have been the medium of choice for countercultures, music, and various niche interests.
Despite the presence of several social media platforms, blogs and the Internet in general as a vehicle for sharing and “publishing”, zines are experiencing a resurgence.
Young creators are finding a voice in this versatile medium, Jordan said.
“They’re making a comeback, especially among artists and the queer community,” they said.
Electronic expression options also mean people have more noise to compete with, Jordan added.
“It’s getting harder and harder to get ideas in front of people,” they said.
Some zines have helped people find other like-minded people with subculture interests. The zines helped build fanbases and community within queer culture, punk rock, dark sci-fi, and other interests.
“You feel like you’re connecting with people when you make a zine and put it out there,” Jordan said, adding that it goes both ways.
“Finding zines in your community also allows you to learn a bit more about the people around you,” Jordan said. “I think back to cultures that are passed down through oral tradition, I think zines kind of lean into that space to keep certain communities alive.”
Zines were partly responsible for keeping an obscure sci-fi show alive and growing a fan base until it became a multi-billion dollar behemoth.
Star Trek, which aired for three seasons on television, garnered a wider audience in part through fan-published zines until the franchise returned to the big screen a decade after its cancellation.
Zines like “Slingshot,” a counterculture publication from Berkley, Calif., and punk music publication “razorcake” have achieved national notoriety with their audiences, Jordan noted.
While these hits show the potential influence of zines, widespread appeal isn’t necessarily the goal of the self-publishing medium. Often the lack of broad reach often makes self-publishing necessary, Jordan said.
“There will always be information not supported by mainstream media and communication channels,” Jordan said.
Jordan is teaming up with Out Rochester and Tence Magazine to host a queer zine-making workshop on Sunday, April 10 at Artheads Emporium.
The goal is to show people different ways to create zines and create zines in a social setting. What if a new publisher emerged from the event?
“That would be my absolute dream,” Jordan said.
For people who aren’t sure if they have something worth posting, Jordan has some tips.
“We all have things to share,” they said. “We all have things that are close to our hearts.”
What about those who are nervous about succeeding?
“If you do something, it’s already a success,” they said.
What: Queer zine workshop
When: 1 p.m. on Sunday, April 10
Where: Art Heads Emporium, 317 Broadway Ave. S.
How much: $35. Tickets are available at artheadsemporium.com