Zines have existed since at least the 1930s, when they became popular among science fiction fans who came together through shared fanzines ("fan magazines"). The form has been replicated in thousands of obscure zines across every subject matter imaginable, many of which are now lost to the sands of time.
But the New York Public Library's Schomburg Center has two copies of one particularly interesting zine that briefly existed in Brooklyn in the mid-1950s: Tick: Brooklyn Community News, which published its first issue on May 25th, 1955.
"Tick was a short-lived zine published by African Americans in Brooklyn looking to tell and share their stories which were not being covered in other publications; both Brooklyn and African Americans were under-reported by the Manhattan-centric news media," said Maira Liriano, Associate Chief Librarian at the NYPL's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. "It’s one of several examples of independent Black magazines published in the 1950’s looking to report local news and most likely influenced by the popularity of Jet magazine, which had come out in 1951 by Johnson Publishing Company."
The first issue, which sold for 15 cents, contained 50 pages filled with news, ads and many photos, as well as sections such as “People Here and There,” “Guest Pastor,” “Trends in Style and Fashion,” “Teen Topics,” “Sports” and “Chitter Chatter.”
According to the zine's intro, "Tick is a pocket-sized magazine, filled from cover to cover with lots of pictures and news stories about what is happening in Brooklyn. It is a Brooklyn publication about Brooklyn activity – stories on society happenings, education, sports, arts and sciences, employment, etc."
“Truth, beauty, goodness – if the search for these three is not at the heart of its reason for being, the periodical is doomed from the start” wrote the guest editor Walter English.
In addition to that first issue, NYPL also has a copy of the July 20, 1955 issue.
As part of our month-long Dear NYC series, we're looking at New York City gems hidden away at the New York Public Library. The NYPL’s four research centers offer the public access to over 55 million items, including rare books, manuscripts, letters, diaries, photographs, prints, maps, ephemera, and more. Integral to these robust collections is the Library’s extensive material related to New York City, and as NY works to come together, cope, heal and recover from the 2020 pandemic, economic uncertainty, and the many issues that divide us, it is important to look at that history and remember: New York is resilient. New York is strong. New York has seen its share of hard times. And, as always, with Patience and Fortitude (the names given to the Library’s beloved lions in 1933 by Mayor LaGuardia for the virtues New Yorkers needed to get through the Great Depression) we will get through it, together.