Ever looked for some reading material on a niche topic in a bookstore, but came away disappointed? Or felt that even Google can be unhelpful at times? Enter zines.

The non-commercial, self-published works with a DIY ethic, zines are all about specialised, often unconventional, subject matter. They may not have the finish of a hardbound book, but that’s the charm. Often produced with a photocopier, or simply pen and paper, they blend the roles of a writer, publisher and cover designer into one.

Himanshu S

Bombay Underground, a city-based initiative for art, expression and creative social exchange, organised its first Bombay Zine Fest in January this year with over 120 works from around the world, and India. "The response we received was encouraging, where over 600 people attended the fest at a Bandra venue that wasn’t easy to locate," shares Himanshu S, who co-founded Bombay Underground with Aqui Thami.

The zine project was also part of the ongoing Kochi Biennale for a week, where volunteers of the international exhibition are now planning to host a zine fest in the city themselves. But Mumbai has a special connect for Himanshu, and this weekend the duo will be hosting a pop-up, where works from the zine fest will feature alongside the new additions to the collection that now boasts about 200 zines with 60 contributors.

"We have a zine from a UK-based women artistes’ and writers’ collective, and there are works from USA, Spain, the Netherlands and Australia. Contributions have also come in from Kochi and Bengaluru, along with those from Mumbai," shares Himanshu, adding, "The topics covered range from the very personal to the very political." Readers can expect zines on counter-culture movements, Bhagat Singh, Bhopal gas tragedy, Ambedkar’s stance on caste and Brahminism as well as zines for children.
After Kochi, the co-founders will be taking the zine fest to Pune during the first weekend of March, while Bengaluru and Delhi are also on the cards.