Guerrieri Academic Commons arial view from front entrance.

Special Collections: Zines and Comics

Collection of zines and comics created by authors and artists in Latin America and Hispanics in the United StatesSpecial collections—manuscripts, photographs, audio and video recordings, graphics of various types, rare books—increasingly are what distinguish one academic library from another. In the last issue of Library Matters, we highlighted several unusual collection items in the Nabb Research Center, the special collections division of the Salisbury University Libraries. Today we will highlight our collections of zines and comics created by authors and artists in Latin America and Hispanics in the United States.

A zine, short for magazine or fanzine, typically is a small, do-it-yourself publication reproduced in limited quantities, often on a photocopier or desktop printer and bound by hand with staples. The text and images are sometimes original, sometimes appropriated from others, and often a mix of the two. They often are in pamphlet form, but their structures can vary wildly. They may be fanfiction, they may explore personal experiences, they often deal with aspects of the creator’s subculture, or just about any other topic imaginable. While anyone can create a zine, it is a format that gives voice to the marginalized or the underrepresented in ways that mainstream, commercial publications do not. And libraries have started to collect them.

The SU Libraries have several collections of Latin American zines that we have purchased from Libros Latinos, a California bookstore specializing in Latin America, using private, not state, funds. Our manuscript collections tend to be United States-based and in English. To support the University’s stated commitment to diversity, for non-Anglophone cultures, we try to buy more graphically-oriented materials, so that language is not such a barrier to understanding.

Our zine collections include:

  • The Argentine Zine Collection, SC2022.014a, includes 51 zines created between 1991 and 2021 and deal with government, sexuality, the environment, addiction, and music.
  • The Chilean Zine Collection, SC2022.014b, includes 45 zines published between 2013 and 2021 on topics such as protest movements, feminism, and family life.
  • The Colombian Zine Collection, SC2022.014c, has 17 zines created from 1980 to 2015.
  • The Latin American Zine Collection, SC2022.014d, has 9 zines created from 2014 to 2019 in several different countries.
  • The Latinos in the U.S. Zine Collection, SC2022.015, has 151 zines created by Hispanics living in the United States. Published from 2012 to 2021, they challenge stereotypes, showing the day-to-day experiences of Hispanics. They cover a wide range of topics from poetry, personal stories, and history to body positivity, the Black Lives Matter movement, migration, LGBTQ+ rights, and politics.

Our newest collection, not yet processed, is a Latino comics collection. It features 96 comics ranging from a few pages to full-blown graphic novels. As the Libros Latino catalog explains, "While comics and other types of image-based stories often explore intriguing other-worldly and fantastical elements, they also provide valuable insights into the cultures and subcultures in which they were written."