The rule of making zines is simple: there are no rules! It could act as a comic book, a scrapbook, a diary, or even a love letter. Throughout the years, these booklet-like publications that are often self-made, self-published, and self-distributed have been great outlets for creatives to explore art with no bounds. 

Queer Asian artists over time have utilized zines as projects to communicate their intersectional experiences and serve as historical logs of their journeys. Each page captures their innovation, passion, and creativity as they dip their feet into literary work that can be easily reproduced. Here, we shine a light on seven zines by, for, or about queer Asian communities that have stories, narratives, and themes that capture the essence of their intersectional identities.

To All the White Girls I’ve Loved Before

Sarula Bao, a Chinese American illustrator and graphic novelist based in Brooklyn came out with her comic zine, To All the White Girls I’ve Loved Before, in 2021. This illustrated story navigates the complexities of queerness and race with raw, honest, and witty storytelling. With the text written as if it was her teenage self narrating it, the comic pokes fun at Bao’s awkward, messy adolescent experience and having crushes on girls whom she had put on a pedestal. 


Throughout the zine, Bao exhibits a cartoonish style to tell her story. She offers a unique perspective on the pervasive influence of white supremacy on queer Asian girls growing up, especially as a minority in her area.

You can read the zine here and find yourself relating to her story.

Queering Friendship Zine (QFZ)

Based in Oakland, J Wu, also known as MixedRiceZines online, is known for their Queering Friendship Zine (QFZ), an anthology that celebrates the bonds of queer friendship among Queer and Trans Black, Indigenous and People of Color (QTBIPOC) individuals. The zine series, now with a total of three installations, features love letters, comics, photos, poetry, playlists, postcards, writing, and even music that could be accessed through the online version – all submitted by their queer friends from the Bay Area, California, to queer communities from all over the internet.

For the latest installation, Queering Friendships Zine #3, Wu and those who submitted their pieces share their intersectional stories. They also uplift voices in and out of their community, as a portion of the sales are donated to support the bail funds in the Bay Area and mutual aid efforts in Palestine.

Read and find the contributors of Queering Friendships Zine for free here, or purchase a physical copy here.

Queer Teen Films

Another zine created by J Wu, Queer Teen Films sheds light on exactly what the title suggests. This movie-centric zine, released in 2024, includes reviews and drawings of queer films they’ve loved watching as a teenager, such as Saving Face (2004), D.E.B.S (2004), Show Me Love (1998), the anime Ouran High School Host Club (2006), But I’m A Cheerleader (1999), and more. Wu curates this zine by inserting their personal stories into their memories of these movies.

As a zine creator, Wu also regularly attends markets to promote their work, and was recently at UC Berkeley’s Ethnic Studies Library for an event, titled “Stapling Histories: The Power of Our Perspectives in Asian American Zines,” that aimed to empower Asian zine makers.

Read their zine here and discover queer films you may not have seen before!

Your Heart is an Apple

Niv Sekar, a comic artist and writer based in New York, delves into the realms of love and loss with Your Heart is an Apple. This comic explores the aftermath of a breakup through realism and introspection, as we follow the remnants of the main character’s ex-lover in her everyday life. Sekar’s work, whether in animation, comics, or writing, emphasizes narratives of queer Brown girls navigating the unfamiliar intersections of queerness, culture, and growth. Sekar also shares colorful illustrations on her social media.

As the main character starts dating again, the story uses an apple as a metaphor for her heart. This metaphor is presented to readers as a tangible item that her lovers take a bite out of. Read the zine here.

Family

Rachel Lau’s Family is a zine about a queer chosen family and the liberation that comes with choosing our kin. A poignant writing in the zine reads: “I think the world is unkind because it doesn’t always understand how much love could be embodied by queer and trans people. They are angry that We have remained tender despite it all. They are angry we exist with rich softness and strength.”

Read the zine here or purchase here.

In A Town By The Sea

Amanda Castillo, a Filipina Mexican cartoonist and illustrator from California, brings warmth and humor to everyday life with In A Town By The Sea. This is a collection of short comics about a group of four queer Asian teens and their everyday lives in their seaside hometown. Castillo’s dedication to crafting memorable tales about identity, coming of age, and interpersonal relationships shines through their heartfelt storytelling and vibrant artwork. They also share their recent works, character sketches, and comics on social media for fellow queer folk to enjoy.

Read and purchase the comic zine here!

The Queers

Jenny Lin, a visual artist based in Montréal, created the zine-comic, The Queers, which contains a narrative tale set in Venice that intertwines queerness with traditional Gothic horror tropes. Lin’s experimental narrative style explores the themes of queerness as “overt, named and repeated,” while the horror and hauntedness of its setting are suggested.

Across 40 pages, the saddle-stitched book contains monochromatic watercolor art on one page of the spread and text narration and dialogue on the other, making for a more haunting storytelling. You can read or order here.

As you explore the pages of the zines above, you’ll notice the distinct ways queer Asian artists and writers elevate marginalized voices through their art and narratives. Their intersectional perspectives inspire young creators and their communities, encouraging them to embrace individuality and share their authentic stories with pride.

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