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Zines and Queer Appalachian Dreams

Posted by Mary Alvarez.
January 15th, 2024

Written by Dee Elliott

For this post, the WVRHC is looking at some of our zine and LGBTQ+ holdings that have been processed to be included within the Center.  Within historical collections, the queer community is often underrepresented in their holdings, and even more so when it comes to transgender individuals being represented.  In the state of West Virginia, there are more and more transgender people that are constantly looking for representation in both media and history.  Elliott Stewart of Huntington, WV, provides this representation for not only teens, but anyone who lives or has grown up queer in Appalachia, an area notoriously difficult to identify as LGBTQ+ in.  Stewart runs Porch Beers Press, a zine-focused publication group that focuses on various topics like fandom, food culture, and growing up queer in Appalachia.  The WVRHC recently picked up a selection of publications from Porch Beers Press, providing a fascinating insight into what it’s like to grow up queer in Appalachia.  Stewart even provides an “unapologetically queer” transmasculine perspective within the zines, which is an underrepresented group of people within the LGBTQ+ community itself. 

The Mascot of Porch Beers Press 

Zines in general have been a popular way for people to create and distribute their thoughts on various topics or display their art in a non-traditional printed form.  The very first Zine dates to May of 1930, when fans discussed science and science fiction in a publication known as The Comet, created by the Science Correspondence Club.  Originally called “fanzines,” a combination of the words “fan magazine,” zines were used for this purpose, to talk about popular culture and early fandom.  In fact, some of this included some of these publications included the earliest fanfiction in popular culture, which was primarily about Star Trek: The Original Series (1966) through original adventures of the crew of the USS Enterprise created by fans of the show.  Later, as it became easier for people to print and distribute their own zines through various means, more publications concerning activism for feminism and LGBTQ+ rights and lives came about, the latter of which Elliott Stewart now often writes about today. 

Stewart’s collection isn’t the only set of zines within the holdings of the WVRHC.  In fact, there are zines being processed to be included in the collections, as well as existing collections of zines that had been donated to the library before Stewart’s collection.  Donated to the WVRHC by Bryan Richards in 2017, the Collection of West Virginia Zines (A&M 4283) reflects a set of West Virginia-based zines detailing art, poetry, music, and more.  Authors and artists like Liz Pavlovic, whose art can be seen on and across several businesses and public works across not just Morgantown, but the whole state of West Virginia and beyond, are featured within this collection.  In fact, the West Virginia Zine Collection has several digitized inclusions for perusal at the West Virginia and Regional History Center.  Also included within the collection is an article on the Morgantown Zine Festival from October of 2017.  There is also a collection of zines/underground press publications from Morgantown from 1991 to 1993, providing a fascinating look into the opinions of local authors on alternative music, movies, poetry, and more in the early 1990s. 

Various Zines from Porch Beers Press 

Elliott Stewart continues to make zines today, recently covering topics in Porch Beers Issue 6 like his personal history with mental illness, deep diving into maladaptive daydreams, domestic violence, and schizophrenia.  Zines like Stewarts allow a more personal, in-depth look into the feelings and thoughts of the author without having a publisher edit things too much.  You can find out more about Porch Beers Press and the work of Elliott Stewart at  The West Virginia and Regional History Center continues to accept and process zine collections and hopes to expand their holdings for patron perusal and enjoyment! 

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