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Meantime
Photograph: Meantime/Samuel Wong

The best art zines and independent magazines in Singapore

From filtered images and kooky illustrations to opinion pieces and critical essays, here are the local zines on our reading radar

By Cam Khalid
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Print is not dead – and literary events such as Singapore Art Book Fair and Queer Zinefest clearly show that people are still willing to shell out for pocket-size magazines and innovative fanzines. It's a way for young creatives to birth ideas or put untold stories on display. Unlike your average bookstore magazine, independent zines centre on underground topics that are usually left untouched by the mainstream. Conveyed through illustrations, photographs, and texts – it's basically Tumblr in book form sans all the gifs. Here are some of Singapore’s freshest titles to add to your bookshelves.

RECOMMENDED: The best novels by local authors to read right now and essential reading list: 10 books on inequality in Singapore by local authors

Meantime
Photograph: Meantime/Samuel Wong

Meantime

The independent zine chronicles Singapore’s lesser-known tales from the private archives of locals in the form of essays, photographs, and illustrations. Recently, it has released its second issue which shines its torchlight into the city’s darker corners where the supernatural lurks – think a ghost hunter on the paranormal, a radio DJ who turns listeners’ spooky stories into self-made podcasts, and a man who discovers an ancestral connection to a reverend Chinese goddess. The final product is interactive too – the cover changes colour to reveal a set of photographs when in contact with heat from either your hands or the room it’s in. And there’s a surprise on each page too.

Mynah
Photograph: Facebook/Mynah

Mynah

This non-fiction, long-form zine is taking the world by storm – it’s even featured on an episode of The Stack radio show by UK magazine Monocle. Its pages uncover stories about Singapore that are usually swept under the rug, left forgotten or not given enough mainstream coverage, challenging the conventional narrative of the squeaky-clean city. Released on a yearly basis, Mynah’s third issue magnifies the origins of the Singapore Sling from different recipes to a bland tourist trap, what things would’ve been like if colonisation never happened, the parallels of Samsui women and modern-day migrant workers, and more.

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Quaranzine
Photograph: Quaranzine

Quaranzine

Besides it’s Akira virtual exhibition, The Unusual Network has been working on another cool project during the circuit breaker. Over 100 artists submitted their creative and innovative pieces that best encapsulate their feelings during the strange and difficult time, with some making it into the zine. Its pages spotlight some of the best thought-provoking work, and collectively it serves as a time capsule for this period in history.

Kult Magazine
Photograph: Kult

Kult Magazine

A visual treat, the quarterly zine selects its themes based on topicality, and previous issues highlight matters like trust, AIDS, and superstition. It dissects these topics using attention-grabbing images and artworks that stimulate visual conversations and prompt readers to look at the world through different lenses. Not only is it a conversation starter, but it's an ace platform for budding artists and creatives looking for inspiration. The zine took a hiatus in 2017, but it’s making a comeback later this year, exploring the theme of identity.

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Rubbish Famzine
Photograph: Holycrap.sg

Rubbish Famzine

Cue the wonderful world of Rubbish Famzine, the brainchild of art collective Holycrap which happens to be a family of four – dad Pann, mum Claire, and Singapore’s youngest creatives, Renn and Aira. A flip through the charming bi-annual zine, immediately reveals why this quirky read reached cult status in Singapore and abroad – its latest issue titled The Unfinished Chronicle of the Chair Ballad was even featured in Mag Culture Live Online in May this year. Whether it’s packed in an old biscuit tin or between a wooden flower press, its eccentric content opens up to odd chronicles, filtered photographs, and kooky illustrations based on themes not only suited for adults, but younger readers too.

Staple Magazine
Photograph: Staple Magazine

Staple Magazine

One for you curious creatures, Staple is a zine that’s laden with nuanced content that explores our social and cultural environment. Contesting mainstream ideas, the zine keeps us scanning because of its unconventional ideas that cleverly summarise our tendency to form emotion and identity. Another striking element? The stunning visuals pieced together in pages painted in specific colour schemes, accompanied by eye-catching typography that leaves your fingers itching to flip for more. While it's currently on hiatus, the previous issues are still too good not to give them a flip.

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Sand
Photograph: Sand

Sand

Entering the zine scene with its interview-based debut in 2016, Sand has featured profiles of indie creatives, craft makers and business owners in various niches, as well as opinion pieces, reviews and essays on current social and political issues. Championing individuality and creativity, the title steps outside the box by not being genre-defined as a lifestyle, art or travel magazine. It simply takes you behind-the-scenes of works born from scratch, with an in-depth look into the brains that initiated them – a perfect read if you’re thinking of starting something to call your own.

Your Local Newsstand
Photograph: Your Local Newsstand

Your Local Newsstand

Not your average zine, Your Local Newsstand is more of a picture book, but not the illustrated kind. The title was birthed to showcase readers' images and the stories that connect them. Its pages are mostly occupied with images and short captions, so giving this hard copy a read is an absolute breeze. It’s currently running a series aptly called Portraits of People where it features stunning headshots of people from all walks of life. All about elevating the zine scene, Your Local Newsstand also publishes under-the-radar zines of local solo artists, as well as those around the world.

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The Ideology
Photograph: BooksActually

The Ideology

Decked in pages of beautiful pencil illustrations, The Ideology packs a punch when it comes to conveying profound thoughts and stories onto paper. Each issue is fixated on a topic that explores life in various aspects where its debut sees the discussion on solidarity, while the second tackles on seeking comfort. Unlike other local zines out there, the minimalist aesthetics of The Ideology very well captures the narratives lined in its pages, allowing readers to focus on the texts rather than be distracted by bold visuals. The gorgeous illustrations that accompany the texts are all drawn and written by artist Eve Yeo.

Squelch Zines
Photograph: Squelch Zines

Squelch Zines

The epitome of eccentricity, Squelch Zines is not a magazine per se, but an experiential craft studio that’s managed by a team of creatives whose styles are straight-up outlandish. One for the zine community, storytelling and self-expression are delivered via visual experiments, from lo-fi to hi-fi, photocopied or hand-crafted, and more. Besides being a great outlet for discovering new titles, the team also spearheads The Zine Room at the Singapore Art Book Fair for swaps, and conducts workshops on how to create zines from scratch – great for budding zine makers.

Find them at these shelves

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