New York City, Zines and Samizdat!

Last weekend CCS went to the first-ever NYC Zine Fest. Held in the Brooklyn Lyceum, the event hosted a variety of self-publishers (including zinesters, cartoonists, poets, and book artists).

I was impressed by the quality and range of work on display. The highlight of the trip was meeting Esther K. Smith and being introduced to her fabulous book, How To Make Books.


I gave a presentation at the festival titled A Century of Self-Publishing: Zines and Mini-Comics, 1900 – Present. During my presentation I touched on a type of self-publishing I think is incredibly interesting – samizdat.

Samizdat it Russian for “self published”. It was a type of underground literature, written and distributed in secret, in the Soviet Union during the post Stalin era. Through samizdat opponents of the government where able share news and ideas. Publishing samizdat was not only dangerous but difficult, as all printing presses, copy machines and even typewriters were under government control. Some methods of reproduction included using carbon paper, typewriters or copying text by hand. Samizdat was often a single page of text, rather than a bound book. This inconspicuous format could be easily hidden.


This is my favorite example of Samizdat: a copy of The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, published in this tiny format, which could be concealed in a pocket.


– Robyn Chapman


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