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Subtext Magazine

An interview with
from Nottingham, England

by Elke Zobl and Haydeé Jiménez

March 2007


Gill, editor of Subtext

Can you tell me first of all a little bit about yourself? How old are you, where are you originally from and where do you reside now?

I’m Gill, I’m 24 and I live in Nottingham, England with my boyfriend and our two guinea pigs.

What do you do besides your zine?

Besides Subtext I work full time for local government and I also volunteer running kids clubs for a local conservation charity. I also try to get out climbing and caving/potholing when I get a chance.

Can you please tell our readers about Subtext?

Subtext is a national feminist magazine for the UK written, managed and published by volunteers. We put out three issues a year, one every four months or so. Subtext is available online to the UK and worldwide as well as in a couple of shops.

What topics do you discuss in your zine most often?

Our general topic areas are feminism politics and culture, usually in that order. We’ve published interviews with activists and artists, run features on varying topics from menstruation, beauty rituals, pornography, sexual assault and harassment, identity and popular culture.

What inspired you to create Subtext?

I suggested creating Subtext as a bit of a joke originally, and people’s responses were so positive it made me want to go ahead with the project. Since then so many people have become involved in one way or another – it’s been really amazing.

I was inspired by feminist writers and friends both on and offline, zines I had read and the idea that I might be able to give feminist women and men a platform for their voice that might otherwise go unheard.

Subtext, Issue 1

How long have you been making zines?

Subtext began in 2005/06, and before that I had been blogging for around a year. Prior to that I had been involved in small ways with zine projects that friends were working on, but nothing of my own.

How did you become introduced to the culture of zines?

I got interested in zines through punk music, as a way of learning about new bands and also as a means of people sharing their own thoughts and ideas on what was going on in our culture and society at the time.

Where/how is your zine distributed? Who are your readers? What kind of responses do you get from your zine’s audience?

Subtext is distributed mainly online – people can buy a copy via our website. We do have agreements with some shops in the UK to stock the magazine as well, and we’re hoping to make it more available in people’s own towns during 2007/08.

The majority of our readers are women, and probably in their 20s and 30s, although it’s really wonderful to know that we have a great range of readers from teenagers to people in their 50s and beyond.

What do you hope to accomplish by making and distributing your zine?

I think everyone involved in producing and contributing to Subtext hopes it will engage a more diverse and new group of people with feminist thoughts and ideas, people who aren’t studying feminism and who believe in equality but who don’t currently identify as feminists. I think I would also like for Subtext to give a sense of community to UK feminists – which is why we’re trying to get copes of it throughout stores in the UK.

What do you love and find challenging about zine making?

I love the passion and drive of working with the rest of the women involved in running Subtext, as well as that of the many contributors we have submitting articles. I also love to hear people have enjoyed reading the magazine.

I find the organisation involved challenging, coordinating the timing of each issue, working with the contributors, assistant editors and designer – it makes me so stressed out! I love it really though.

I hate keeping the accounts. They’re needed to make sure everything is running smoothly and we can afford what we’re doing but since I finished school I have developed a mental block when it comes to maths!

What do you think about zine-making today?

I find it really exciting – I love coming across new zines and looking at the artwork, reading the text. I think zines are a great way to communicate within a subculture. I only wish I had time to write for other people’s as well as Subtext!

You also organize the Subtext fund raising club nights. Can you tell us a bit about that?

We held the club night to raise funds to help us publish issue 2 of the magazine – it was about double the size of issue 1 and we struggled to afford it. I had wanted to put on a clubnight for ages, and it seemed like a great way to raise some money while giving everyone a good time.

I had never done anything like it before, and it took me and three others (Laura, Rachel and Meesh) a long time to organize – it was a good night though. We had craft stalls, two bands played, Poppy Seed from Nottingham and Fake Tan from Leeds as well as some great DJs. I’d really like to hold another night when issue 3 comes out.

Which role does Internet play for you?

The internet has played a big part in making Subtext what it is today – most of my communication with contributors and our designer takes place via email. Our website has been a great resource to get people involved and to promote what we’re about. We’ve also been really lucky to have quite a few prominent feminist blogs and bloggers promote the magazine as well. The majority of the sales of the magazine are via the website.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to start a zine?

Do it because you love it – if you don’t love it it’s going to be really hard to keep it going and find the funds to get your zine out there. Know what you want to create. Don’t break the bank by trying to do more than you can afford. Try to set yourself realistic deadlines and if you’re working with or relying on other people be as efficient and friendly as you can.

Because we sell Subtext our readers are also customers – we have to make sure we get it right for them.

What does the zine scene look like in Nottingham? Do you feel part of a (grrrl or general) zine community or network and what does it mean to you?

I don’t really know of a zine ‘scene’ in Nottingham – there are zines here, but there’s no scene or anything that I feel part of. I think Subtext is more part of a national feminist zine and magazine community.

Subtext, Issue 2

Do you consider yourself as feminist?


What are the most pressing issues you are confronted with in daily life (as a woman/feminist/…)?

Equality at work, street harassment, sexual assault and domestic violence. The culture of fear imposed on women.


What do you think about feminism today? How would you explain what feminism is to someone who has no idea what it is?

I’m happy to see a resurgence of feminism, it seems to be getting a bit cooler now to say ‘I’m a feminist’ hopefully we can turn that momentum into action. I would explain feminism to someone in quite simple terms – feminists believe men and women are equal and should be treated equally. I think I would also tell them that although that is the basic premise behind feminism, feminists interpret that in widely varying ways. I can’t think of another socio-cultural movement that exists with so many divergent views within it!

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Just to flag up that Subtext is not just the product of one person, but a team of 4 people; Charlotte our designer, Sarah and Jess our assistant editors and me, the editor. We work together to make Subtext run smoothly and generate new ideas etc. We’re also about to get two new people involved in the team, to run our distribution and advertising sales!

Many thanks for the interview, Gill!

Jess at FEM07

* * * * *

Gill at FEM07


gill [AT]


PO BOX 8881
Nottingham, England



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