Dublin Zine Fair Participant Interview #15

Interview #15 is from DZF team member and The Forgotten Zine Archivist Tom Maher!

The Forgotten Zine Archive

FZA is located in Seomra Spraoi. We house Irish & international independent publications.
Seomra Spraoi has amassed a collection of zines from Ireland and abroad that span decades have been classified and catalogued into and organised collection by seven UCD librarian students. We are working towards the preservation and digitization of the Forgotten Zine Archive, as well as its expansion and its access to the public.


1.What are zines to you?

Zines, to me, are snapshots. They’re paper windows into the lives and thoughts of their creators, and they hold a tremendous wealth as a result. Even if an author isn’t credited and no words are used, you still know that someone somewhere had to sit down and put together what you’re holding in your hands. What they choose to include and leave out speaks volumes about who they are or were, and when that mixes with you, The Reader, a unique and valuable interaction is created.

2. Favourite zine?

Sure do, it’s called Dear Deer Wolf Bear Shark. Cryptozoology meets those Agony Aunt segments you used to see in glossy magazines (or maybe you still do, it’s been too long). The titular Deer Wold Bear Shark is the chimeric invention of a Chicagoan named Brayton J. Cameron and the zine is filled with the beast’s many correspondances. We have one or two of them in the archive!

3. First memory of zines?

When we were about 12, a friend and I put together something we called “Rob and Tom’s Book O’ Fun”, in which we catalogued the funny and strange events of our summers and schooldays each year – clip art and all. It was great to read back on, mainly for nostalgia’s sake, but I haven’t seen a copy in years. We only ever had one or two floating around, but maybe the floppy disk with the copy on it will turn up some day!

4. What got you started with the Forgotten Zine Archive?

Myself, Mick Ó Duibhir and five other students in UCD were all studying for our MLIS (Masters in Library and Information Science) and instead of a thesis we had to publish a report on a project we had worked on during the year. One of the group came up with the idea to start our own pop culture archive, but when we found out that a zine archive already existed in Dublin and that it needed some refurbishing we scrapped the original idea and offered our services. The rest, as they say, is history.

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5. Best and worst thing about working in zine library/archive?

Best thing is the sheer number and variety of zines you come across while cataloguing. You end up lost in a sea of fascinating zines to flick through in the name of work and end up actually getting very little of it done (or at least I do).

6. Favourite zine library/archive?

Anchor Archive Zine Library in Halifax, Nova Scotia are a really great crew who we’ve cribbed a lot of notes from since we started. Likewise, Salford Zine Library have their shit together in a major way too. Michigan State University have a great Special Collection Department in their library who’ve we’ve also gotten invaluable donations and general support from while since we’ve been working on the FZA – don’t let their academic facade make you think their staff don’t really love zines!

7. Got a zine you’re working on?

Yup! I was hoping to have the first issue of the first volume done for the zine fair, but it’s looking less and less likely as the weekend approaches. It’s a series of zines designed to showcase the variety of ways in which a word or idea can be looked at, and the power each has to influence us – whether physically, emotionally, historically, intellectually or linguistically. The complex multiplicity of interpretation and how important context is to understanding the world are both notions that really fascinate me. The first volume is entitled “Fahrenheit 4-5-TOM” and focuses, perhaps unsurprisingly, on fire and combustion. The first issue of that series focuses on the etymology of the word “fire” across history and cultures and the variety of ways it’s been represented. Future issues in the volume will include zines on pyromania, firefighting, the ecology of fire and who-knows-what-else. It’s probably a bit ambitious for my first time out of the gate, zine-wise, but sure: nothing ventured nothing gained.