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Synonyms: plain and simple, second/third edition
See also: Crudzine
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A no-frills zine is a zine without art or an edition with the art removed for a reprint.

Positives of the Format


Some publishers purposely published zines without art to keep costs down. An example of this from an ad for You & the Zine You Wrote In On which promised to be "a fiction zine devoted entirely to Hardcastle & McCormick! You won't have to pay for fancy graphics or silk-screened covers, because Rolling Thunder Press is going back to the good old days when you only paid for plain and simply good fiction!" [1]

Some no-frills zines were re-issued by the original publishers as a way to sell zines at a cheaper price than the original run, or on much rarer occasions, when they no longer had permission from the artist to use the art. No Frills editions are not to be confused with bootlegged zines or zines printed by someone other than the publisher for the sole purpose of selling them at a profit.

Lack of artists

Some fans were not interested in art, or were more interested in the fiction: One fan writes: "All I'm interested in is 'a good read" and no amount of prettifying will compensate for lack of reading material, I'm not terribly bothered if a story is printed on less than top quality paper and the staples are coming out of the zine. As long as the story is legible and the layout reasonable, that's what matters to me." [2]

Another fan writes: "I personally don't mind not having art... I think of it as butterscotch on my ice cream. I really don't need it but it's nice when I've got it." [3]

Negatives of the Format

Other fans disagreed, saying that the art, often cover art, was the reason they bought zines. For more on this, see Fanart.

One zine ed said:

Okay, going with no color cover, you've saved anywhere from 89 cents off the price of the zine. No FastBack; GBC spiral only, you save 50 cents. Removing the artwork will save you maybe 20 pages or another 80 cents off the price of the zine. So a "bare bones" zine will save you at the most $2.19 from the cost of the zine. Actually, our best selling fanzines at conventions are those with color covers and FastBack bindings. Color covers sell. Artwork is a plus. We actually offered a barebones approach to our zines for a long time. Plain black ink covers. Stapled instead of spiraled bound. Limited in page count by the stapling to 100 pages. Cost of them was around $2.00 less, of course. Unfortunately, they didn't sell as well. Our publisher at the time was Bill Hupe, and he dragged me kicking and screaming into the age of color covers, perfect binding and spiral binding, and more pages. And he was right. Sales went from 100 zines to 500 zines. Of course today, 300 is outstanding, and only a few of our titles reach that mark." [4]

Some Anecdotal Fannish Opinion

This Trek fan sensing a trend, is unhappy:

The absence of artwork in a zine is about as en
thralling as listening to "Amok Time" or "Arena" for
 the first time with the TV picture turned off, pos
sibly because descriptive material in Treklit is
 usually so scanty and inadequate. Many scenes are so
loosely described that they leave me wondering for hours afterward just who was doing what to whom ... and where. [5]

A fan writes about the difference between the impact of bad art and bad fiction

: I agree wholeheartedly with everyone who says that no artwork is better than bad artwork. When we begin to read a story, we can usually tell after the first few paragraphs if it's going to be a stinker or not, and, if so, can set it aside without any serious mental trauma. But a poorly-drawn illustration can stay with us for days - perhaps even longer if, like me, you have a vivid memory - simply because we can't stop looking at a bad illustration in the middle. In fact, if you're anywhere near as demented as me, you're probably drawn to stare at it even more, studying every nuance like an obsessed scientist, all the while thinking, "Ewwww..." A really bad illustration *can* be traumatic in ways that a bad story cannot. [6]



  1. ^ from Pop Stand Express #3
  2. ^ from The Hatstand Express #14 (1987)
  3. ^ from Treklink #10
  4. ^ Randall Lander's post in the alt.startrek.creative thread Fanzines and the Internet or Economy Outside dated 8 November 1998, accessed 17 June 2012
  5. ^ from reviewing the zines Out of Bounds and Cheap Thrills in Universal Translator #12
  6. ^ Laura’s post in the alt.startrek.creative thread Fanzines and the Internet or Economy Outside dated 8 November 1998, accessed 17 June 2012