Milt Stevens, fanzinelounge
These days, fanzine is a title used for a wide variety of amateur and some not-so-amateur publications. Amateur publishing has been going on in the English language since the eighteenth century. Fanzines were originally amateur publications associated with the science fiction and fantasy fields. The actual term was coined by Russ Chauvenet in 1943. Before that, they had been known as fanmags to distinguish them from promags like Amazing and Astounding.
The fanzine lounge as L.A.con has several purposes. One is to display past and present fanzines for those who have never seen one. Fanzines range from utterly simple to incredibly ornate. There are also some current fanzines for sale and some are being given away for free. The fanzine lounge also functions as a hangout for people who are actively involved in producing and reading fanzines.
In some places, you can get into a lively discussion as to the nature of a "Real Fanzine". The fanzines you can see in the fanzine lounge are part of a tradition that began in the early days of magazine science fiction. Some discuss science fiction and fantasy literature in great detail, but others don't discuss science fiction or fantasy at all. Some concentrate on the activities of fans and even publish fiction regarding those activities. Fanzines may deal with absolutely any topic whatsoever. However, they rather seldom publish amateur attempts at regular science fiction. They don't publish much poetry either. If you publish your own fanzine, you can publish anything you darned well please.
You can see examples of fanzines at eFanzines.com. Most of the publications at that site are what are called genzines. They contain articles, art work, and letters of comment and are essentially stand alone efforts. There are other fanzines which are produced for amateur press associations (apas). These apazines are sent to a central mailer who assembles bundles of all the zines produced in the last two or three months and sends them to each member. There are quite a few apas, and they range from twelve to fifty members. Apazines spend much of their space responding to each other, and they may be difficult to understand for someone who is not a member of the apa. They have the advantage of being cheaper and easier to produce than a genzine.
This has been the briefest of brief overviews of what you may find in the fanzine lounge. If you think you might be interested, drop by and find out for sure.
Milt Stevens, Fanzine Lounge