Article categories: Issue 71
September 18th, 2009

“….Where did the watch-maker go?”. For newly established Bird In The Hand Zine Shop founder Susy Pow, this is quickly becoming a tired question. Nerdily bespectacled and accompanied by her black and white cat Patrick, you can find Susy in a converted watch-maker’s shop at 100A King Street, Newcastle. Aside from the odd blow-in wanting their watch fixed, Bird In The Hand is a den for geeks and radicals who all have a common, seemingly anachronistic love: zines.


The Fetus Mural

In an exponentially exploding digital age, using paper stock for expression seems curiously needless. Zines are small-run, independent vehicles to communicate thoughts, opinions and ideas – on any topic from craft, sci-fi and fetish to the details of a very messy breakup. With the Internet providing forums, social networking tools and niche communities – how, in the new democratised world of digital media, are zines still relevant?

“Zines are a kind of revolt against the internet,” Susy explains. Relaxing into a set of chairs she nabbed from the side of the road, she adjusts her thick black glasses and thinks. Often quiet and reflective, when speaking about zines, Susy evokes barely concealed passion and authority.

“Zines are ‘moment’ based. They’re an experience that slow media down and allow us to connect with the person who wrote the zine and what they’re saying.”

“I think there is a perception about our generation, the younger generation, that we don’t have any patience. Most zine-makers are between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five. But zines…they make you slow down, have patience and focus on the quality of the experience.”

“There’s the tangible experience, too. Turning the pages as a reader and holding something in your hands is an experience of form, not just content, and there’s the feeling of making a zine, and collating it. A friend of mine has this application on his phone where you can ‘turn’ the pages of a virtual book, but really…what’s the point?”


Susy behind the glass of her Zine shop

Susy pauses to think and shuffles some papers on the large wooden table we sit at. She’s making me a package of back editions of pieces from the zine library by well-established Australian zinester The Fetus (a graphic artist, mini-comix and perzine writer). The shop is stacked to the gills with imported and local publications, some bursting with colour and design and others pared back to simple text. Many are type-written or covered in collage and Sharpie scrawl before they are photocopied, collated and distributed – or “distro’d”.

Each year on the October long weekend, Newcastle hosts the vibrant This Is Not Art Festival (TINA), which brings the National Young Writers’ Festival Zine Fair and the This Is Not Art Artists’ Market together, attracting audiences and Zinesters who market and trade their publications. Rated by Susy as one of the best zine fairs in the country, it is a place for those with this slow-media obsession to catch-up, trade skills and share in their community.

The appeal and relevance of zines seems to be in the sum total experience. People who read, buy, make, trade or sell them are part of a global and local community and develop skills and relationships as they dig deeper and deeper into this world. With zine shops like the Sticky Institute in Melbourne and Bird In The Hand in Newcastle springing up in the last decade, there’s a hint that our modern world still has a taste for the slow, the democratic and the finite.

This Is Not Art runs from the 1st to the 5th of October and the Sunday Fair is on the 4th of October. For TINA updates please check You can keep in touch with Bird In The Hand Zine Shop news by visiting

Sarah Langston-Lally
Sarah Langston-Lally is a  zinester, freelance writer, blogger and co-founder of an emerging ethical goods company. She lives and works in Newcastle, New South Wales and is a prolific writer. Sarah admits she spends more time making zines than doing work, and happily believes the world of paperstock, photocopying and collation has overtaken her life.

Susy Pow
Susy Pow is a zinester living and working Newcastle, New South Wales. Susy became involved in zinemaking when she was thirteen, selling small booklets of her writing to her friends. At age seventeen she discovered the Sunday Zine Fair and soon became immersed in the world of zines. A few years later she founded her own zine distribution business, Bird In The Hand Zine Distro. Through the Renew Newcastle project that aims to inject new life into Newcastle’s CBD, Susy turned her distro into a shopfront on King St. Bird In The Hand Zine Shop is open from Thursday to Saturday, 12 midday to four pm.

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One Response to “ZINES – The fascination of the finite”

  1. admin says:

    ABC radio talks to Susy Pow about all things Zines –