HUBRIS: The Journal of Cultural Horror was as a zine project by Berin Kinsman which tackled political and cultural issues from the perspective of an American living in Finland. Hubris was released on a monthly basis, and while it was slated for an experimental six-issue run, only five issues were released. Hubris was excellent, insightful, at times quite raw. Berin poured his frustration and anger into the page holding very little back, fitting for a zine exploring the darkness we somehow have accepted as normal in modern society.
Hubris was published digitally in PDF, Kindle, and epub format primarily through the author’s Patreon, with issues being sold wide via Amazon a week after patron copies were delivered. The zine covers, a white page with bold black and blocky letters featuring photographs of serene natural vistas shot by the author, created a stark contrast to the surreptitious (and not so surreptitious) darkness of the content inside. It was a simple design that spoke volumes about the project with but a glance.
Hubris was a zine that I waited for with baited breath, and read the same weekend it was released. It always made me think about the world, about my own place in the struggle for social justice and equality. It made me realize what I had missed (because let’s face it, there’s so much darkness that some of it creeps by), what I hadn’t considered, and what I could do. I don’t know that Hubris was conceived as a call-to-action manifesto, but after reading each issue, how could you, or I, not act and do something, even if was just feeling indignant about our own complicity?
Hubris took its toll on the author. When you stare into the abyss, sometimes the abyss not only stares back, it engulfs you. The lack of a sixth and final issue bears witness to the cost of shining a light into the darkness. In a painfully poetic way, it is fitting that Hubris never had its proper denouement, that the cultural horror it sought to illuminate claimed its final issue for itself. Those who slay monsters eventually are slayed by monsters themselves.
Hubris is no longer available, but you can still read some of the essays by following the Hubris tag on the author’s website. Part of me wishes the zine was still available if not still produced, but there’s also something poignant about it having existed only at a particular point in time.
Hubris introduced me to the fact that zines are still very much alive, showed me that zines are a fantastic format to communicate a variety of ideas for a very low production cost, and ignited the idea of making my own zine. For this I will always be grateful.