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If you’re wondering how you can track down copies of my zines, you can see what’s available in my Etsy Shop.  In general the only zines I have available are ones from the last few years. Once all the copies are gone I usually don’t reprint them.

The following history lesson takes the form of descriptions of my past zines. Also see the I am a Camera and Disposable Camera links above.

I have been reading zines since the early 1990s, when I discovered them in record stores such as Waterfront, Half a Cow, Phantom and Red Eye. I read them for quite a few years before I felt brave enough to make my own in 1996, but once I did I found a world opened up for me, and I joined a DIY creative community that has sustained and encouraged my work every since.

What follows is a short history of the zines I have made, from 1996 to the present. My current zines, I am a Camera and Disposable Camera, have their own pages so detailed information about them is to be found there.

For now, let’s go back to a time before when no one had mobile phones, or blogs, and no one much used the internet. Cameras had film in them. Cassettes weren’t retro.


20 issues, 1996 – 1998

Psychobabble was the first zine I made. I wanted to make it a net for random thoughts and reactions to everyday things around me. I would take a notebook with me at all times and record any frivolous idea that came into my head.

A page of a notebook could read:
” phobia of paddle pop sticks, tongue against wet wood gross.
What is the best boy in movie credits?
When you’re bored you count things. For about two years I’ve been trying to work out how many fluorescent lights are between Town Hall and Wynyard.
Laboratories on cleaning powder ads – pristine women in white coats.”

I would enlarge on these musings in the zine, but only enough so they could be understood. I liked the ideas to remain kernels so I could cram in as many as possible; it was like an encyclopedia of the trivial. I would hand write my thoughts in between a variety of cuts outs I had saved from newspapers, magazines and books. I chose cut outs which I believed displayed the most nonsensical and petty aspects of the modern life.

I made twenty Psychobabbles, all in a similar style, although my handwriting became a bit neater as the issues progressed and I would started to devote whole pages to themes like the mystery of deep sea fish, or people who make houses out of bottles.

I haven’t read through an old copy for a long time, but I still think about them fondly. I think about the tin I had full of clippings from newspapers, the hours I would spend searching through books and magazines for strange, interesting things, and all the trivial, raw thoughts I managed to capture.

Laughter and the Sound of Teacups

1997 – 2002, 68 issues.

Laughter and the Sound of Teacups was a monthly zine I made from 1997- 2002.

In it, I would write about my thoughts and actions every 23rd of the month in a detailed, eidetic style. I tried to explain my days exactly how they occurred, including all the important tiny things that make up everyday life. The events on the 23rd were random, I rarely premeditated them, therefore days could be fairly sedentary, or involve complicated excursions, celebrations and weird coincidences.

Each issue felt like a miniature epic, although its subject matter was my everyday life. It was satisfying to note the everyday occurrences of my life in such detail – on those days I felt as if I was on a mission not to forget anything that happened, no matter how minor. I felt as if I could press pause on any moment and examine it, etching into my memory, and into the stories of the 23rds.


1 issue, 1999

This zine commemorates all that is good about op shopping, and secondhand goods. During February and March 1999 I was busily following hand drawn maps, catching trains and increasing my collections of strange ornaments, offbeat clothes and books with funny little pictures in them. It was the case then, and continues to be so now: op shops are one of my greatest passions. I worried for a while that the interesting things would eventually dry up, but it hasn’t yet proved to be the case, although of course the plentiful vintage and retro objects I found in 1999 are rarely encountered readily now.

It has been long enough since I wrote Vinnies for stores to have been relocated, renovated and the kinds of things you find changed. Despite this, I go to op shops for the same reasons. I like to be among such a random collection of objects, I enjoy treasure hunting and finding interesting things or things that might have a story: second hand objects have already had a life before I came across them, and I’ve long found this compelling, as well as the thrill of chance discoveries.

Vinnies is the zine of mine that people are most interested in, and in 2010 I made a “Blue Ribbon” reprint edition, that has the original plus some reflections on op shopping then and now. Both the original and reprint are, however, long out of print.

Vinnies cover

By the velodrome/jetty I sat down and wept.

A split zine that I wrote with Tim in 1998, rather than weeping it would have been more accurately titled, I sat down and wrote, as that’s what we did. We both picked a place, in my case the Camperdown Velodrome (now demolished and replaced by a park), and for Tim, a jetty in Perth. The idea was that we would go to this place every day for a week and write something, observations, thoughts, whatever came to mind.

I liked that we were completing this project on opposite sides of the country, and our respective halves are quite different, reflective of our personalities. Tim’s is more experimental, mine is more literal. This is reflected in the different covers, mine is of boots, Tim’s is of magnified words.

The title, for those who don’t know, is a reference to the beautiful Elizabeth Smart prose poem, By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept.

Shopping List Stories

1 issue, 2000

I started collecting shopping lists without thinking too hard about what I was going to do with them, it was just one of the slightly odd things I did to amuse myself. The interesting thing about them is imagining the person who wrote it, and what their life must be like, so it didn’t take me long to come around to the idea of writing stories about each shopping list.

This was my first fiction zine and contains stories about a gum addicts, a tomato glut, cockroaches, bakeries, old. folk, young folk, pen stealers, rats behind the fridge, trying to write on greeting cards, dog obsessives, coffee, twins, the romance of shoe repair…

By the way, if you are into shopping lists, take a look at The Grocery List Collection, which is an archive of thousands of the things.

Dictionary Stories

1 issue, 2001.

After Shopping List Stories I decided to write another zine of themed fictions, this time based on an old children’s dictionary, “The Giant All Colour Dictionary”, published in 1968. I had amassed quite a number of these old children’s books from op shops and it was good to do something substantial with one of them.

Each dictionary entry included a sample sentence, showing how the word was used. I used these to begin my stories, one for each letter of the alphabet. Some of the sentences I really liked, such as (for fun) “The boys made fun of the boy riding the girl’s bicycle”. For this one I wrote a story about a boy riding in circles around a cul de sac, oblivious or uncaring that he was being taunted by other kids.

Other stories include: a mother complaining about her vegetarian daughter to the butcher, kids watching bears at the zoo, the type of people who pull all the paper towels out of the dispenser in the public toilets, greeting card designers, and taking walks at weird times.

Others of my early zines include:  A Little Bit Nice, Suggestions for a Better Name Would be Welcomed, News of the Vanessa Berry, and Adjective Stories.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. September 1, 2011 7:14 pm

    I just loved Psychobabble … so many years later and I still remember it. Reminds me of uni days, hanging out with my best friend and stopping by the music shop just to buy zines.

  2. Sophie permalink
    July 12, 2013 2:47 pm

    Hey Vanessa I think we were pen pals back in the 90s.. I did a zine called poo zine and we wrote to you I think when you were writing psychobabble! Loved your piece on Sydney’s old record stores I remember them fondly…. Cheers, Sophie PS I haven’t heard the name Brashs in 20 years!!!

    • Vanessa Berry permalink*
      July 13, 2013 10:32 pm

      Hi Sophie! Thanks for writing, and yes I think we were pen pals in the 90s – the Psychobabble days seem so long ago sometimes but it’s still remembered here and there, which is nice.
      When I hear the word “Brashs” I am transported back to 1990 immediately!

  3. Anthony Dillon permalink
    July 11, 2019 12:27 pm

    Hi Vanessa.
    I just saw/read your Zine “The time you were in Paris” in Kings Cross library.
    So, so beautiful – I just love it.

    Cheers Antbhony

    • Vanessa Berry permalink*
      July 11, 2019 12:51 pm

      Thanks Anthony! I’m so glad you enjoyed it and thank for saying so. Good to hear people are reading zines at the library – they have a good collection.


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