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Living Zine, The Pandemic Start-Up

Stephen Levitt ’22, Editor-In-Chief

Stuck in the boredom and misery that millions of teens across the world suffered from the abrupt severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, Senior Michael Pyo ‘22 found a unique way of coping with quarantine: Living Zine.

Drawing upon his previous experiences as an editor for Prisms, The Minuteman, and The Polymnian, and even helping an NA alumna with her own digital collective, Pyo states “I was inspired to tackle my own larger [project]. Pyo explained his vision for a platform where he could “connect with the broader community of young people who have so much creativity in their lives.” Pyo goes on to say that he “wanted to give underrepresented voices a platform to share their feelings and opinions through creative means.” Living Zine was met with support from communities of artists, writers, and creators from California to Australia, as Pyo’s team quickly grew to represent the diverse community he hoped to represent. This team includes 400+ members coming from 45 different countries and 206 different colleges and universities, along with many high schoolers and graduate school students. Pyo and his team have received submissions from over 700 young artists and have released 3 issues of Living Zine titled “Retrograde,” “Migration,” and “Bloom,” cumulating into an exceptional 358 pages of art, writing, and photography.

Pyo credits Newark Academy for many of the skills he implements as leader of Living Zine. He says “Newark Academy has truly prepared me to be both an Editor-in-Chief and a Business Executive at Living Zine.” He praises the NA English department, remarking that “in terms of the literary and creative aspect, my English classes and teachers have provided me with endless opportunities to improve my writing, whether it be prose, creative writing, or poetry”. Focusing on his business skills, he says, “from being an admissions ambassador and spokesperson at NA events, my communication, marketing, and public speaking skills were already fairly developed.” He continues by pointing out how his time with Prisms, The Minuteman, and The Polymnian allowed him to learn about the intersection between different publications. He believes that this knowledge became increasingly important as, “Living Zine combines elements of a literary magazine, newspaper, yearbook, diary, journal entry, comic strip, article, gallery, and so on…From a traditional standpoint, Living Zine is definitely not your typical literary magazine.”

Looking forward, the fourth issue, “Perspective,” is coming out soon, and Pyo plans on continuing to develop Living Zine through the creation of a podcast and blog, as well as through collaboration with other digital magazines. Make sure to check out Living Zine and be on the lookout for the next edition, and if you would like to submit any writing, artwork or photography reach out to or for more information.

Photo Caption:
Living Zine 3rd Edition, “Bloom” via Living Zine
An independent school for students in grades 6-12