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The history of ZINE
by the ZINE editorial team

The history of ZINE is quite a complex one. And we're taking you to all the details Brainstorm's child is hiding in its cupboard.


Let's start with its name. To find a name for a magazine isn't so easy, and when we originally thought about it, a certain hint came to mind. MagaZINE - yours truly.

ZINE was originally a plan of Brainstorm and another Swiss group back in 1989 - Setrox. The coop plans died fairly soon and the coder named The Accused joined Brainstorm to finish the project which then saw the light of day in 1989. The name was ZINE (pronounced like "scene", not "sign").

The ominous 11th issue of ZINE was released in November 1991, after many heralded the end of the magazine due to the new competitor R.A.W., created in the Spaceballs camp. If ZINE's mind isn't completely messed up, R.A.W. stood for Revolutionary Article Writing back in the days, and was destined to steal some readers of the old dinosaur ZINE. For further information about the relationship between ZINE and R.A.W., read our exclusive little column by R.A.W.'s founder and editor-in-chief, Lord Helmet, in this very issue - ZINE #12.

The Rise of ZINE

After the first edition was released in October 1989, the magazine's popularity rose to unexpected proportions. "I remember that Chester had a P.O.Box in a tiny little village named Pfeffingen", explains Axel, musician and co-editor of the original ZINE, and editor-in-chief of the resurrected ZINE. "I also remember that at some point, Chester went on vacation and gave me the key to the P.O.Box. I took my bike, drove there, and the amount of letters we had in that box simply blew me away." He says that it was fairly normal to receive like ten envelopes/letters a day with advertisements, articles, wedding proposals to Patsy, and so on.

For those of you who don't know the Patsy story: Brainstorm once "invented" a female member, as a joke. While half of the scene thought it was a great joke, the other half didn't think so.

"The whole Patsy-phenomenon was actually pretty scary", explains Axel. "Fact is, that she WAS getting wedding proposals, and also obscene letters. We originally wanted to present Patsy at The Party in Denmark, but it would have been absoutely irresponsible. The scene wasn't ready yet to accept women in the scene, and that clearly showed."

Another interesting aspect was that during the ongoing growth and increasing popularity of ZINE, everyone expected the mag to have a total revamp with the anniversary edition, issue 10. "I remember we played a game back then, even though it backfired", remembers Axel. "We thought it would be fun to absolutely do NOTHING with the 10th edition, so everyone would be disappointed, and then strike with the 11th edition having a completely new design and code. The idea backfired for several reasons to some extent, since our competitor R.A.W. was asking people whether they want a new design of ZINE etc, and whether ZINE has grown "out of date". They concluded with a "yes", although we already knew at the time that Chaos of Sanity (now Farbrausch) was already at work on issue 11 which would have revolutionary features and turn many aspects of the the diskmag scene upside down.

"Our problem was that the public perception was that the feedback given in R.A.W. actually forced us to revamp the design", elaborates Axel. "So in the end everyone thought that we didn't have any plan to change the design (because we were the leading mag and were arrogant enough not to care), and that now we've suddenly awoken, redesigning ZINE in a hurry. Truth was, it wasn't like that, but we couldn't prove it."

ZINE #11, coded by Chaos, launched in November 1991 and was the last issue of ZINE since. Now, ZINE is back and it intends to do a lot of the stuff differently it did back then.

ZINE reborn

"I have to be completely honest here", explains Axel. "It bugged me a lot that ZINE ended the way it did, with arrogant statements by Orlando and Chester who simply wanted to burn all the bridges before they quit the scene. They did, but the remaining Brainstorm members (Tin, Peace, Rob Rose and myself), didn't. In any case, it was the end of the road."

So when did the idea to make "Zine #12" come up? "Frankly, it came up fairly early", says Axel. "The fact that today's diskmags like Hugi, Jurassic Pack or Pain didn't bring any added value but just continued the formula we (kind of) already ran in 1991 kind of scared me. People think that diskmags have to morph into online mags, and I would imagine that the whole crew of ZINE #12 severely disagrees. It's not about transferring content from executables to websites, but to bring added value to the reader. There have been a lot of discussions about the future of the so-called "diskmags" recently, and while I participated in some at the beginning, I thought I should actually keep my mouth shut at some point", laughs Axel. "The thing is, you need to reinvent yourself. And we actually believe we did just that with ZINE #12. People will surely disagree, but we're used to that."

The idea for a resurrection of ZINE actually came up regularly, when most of the new Brainstorm fellas originally met on the demoscene radio station Nectarine. Axel always wished he could resurrect ZINE one day, he admits. "The thing is, I actually became a freelance journalist in 1998 after I finished an education in marketing communication, and at the end of the day I always wondered: what would be possible today with ZINE?"

It turns out - funnily enough - you're seeing the end result on your screen this very minute. And considering the amount of work that has gone into this issue - trying to reinvent the wheel - we're admittedly proud the way this issue turned out. And rest assured, ZINE has more surprises in store for you as we go along. We do hope - in the words of veteran group Phenomena's words - that you will indeed join our joyride.

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