The Mariposa Zine Flutters in its Second Issue

Zines — the lo-fi, do-it-yourself, self-published magazines that have been an avenue of creative expression for years — are increasingly moving away from print and toward social media. Now in 2021, a quick search for the word “zine” on Instagram brings up dozens of accounts, all branded with similar aesthetics and content, touting sunny, 90s-inspired photoshoots and angsty poetry submitted by readers.

Pali junior Ellia Torkian, however, has managed to carve out a niche in the ever-saturated market with Mariposa, a bilingual zine dedicated to celebrating Spanish culture.

“I wanted something to differentiate my zine from everybody else’s,” she explained, “and I’ve always been in love with the Spanish language and culture, so I decided to do a bilingual magazine.”

The zine publishes a mix of Spanish and English language work, ranging from English articles about the video game Among Us to Spanish articles about the opioid epidemic. Mariposa’s physical zine is comprised mostly of reader submissions, including writing and visual art.

“We get submissions from all over the world, from Spanish-speaking countries and the US mostly, and some from Europe,” Torkian said. “But our team in Argentina writes articles and our web designer and graphic designer are here [in Los Angeles].”

Torkian said the team typically leaves submissions open for two months before devoting about a month toward putting the content together. After that, Torkian spends two weeks working with her graphic designer to construct the zine, which is then shipped to her house. Finally, prospective readers can purchase the zine from Mariposa’s website.

“It’s difficult to translate everything, so we have different things that are catered to different demographics,” Torkian said. “There’s something for everyone to enjoy.”

The staff also puts together Spotify playlists showcasing their favorite English and Spanish tunes, which they post on the zine’s dedicated website and Instagram page.

“I think my favorite [content we published] are the playlists,” Torkian said. “It’s a very diverse selection of music because all six of us have different tastes.”

Torkian published Mariposa’s second issue earlier this year, but she said it took time to hone her craft.

“The first one, I kind of didn’t know what I was doing, but I looked at other little zines. I had a ton in my bookshelf and so I based a lot of it on other zines,” she said. “But then in the second issue, I started to branch out and kind of think of my own style with my graphic designer who goes to a different school.”

Currently, Torkian is in the process of assembling Mariposa’s third issue and is focusing on improvement rather than perfection.

“I don’t think that I’ll ever fully master the process because… it’s such a huge deal to put one of these together,” she said. “And since my style is constantly evolving and my demographic is constantly evolving, I think each issue kind of takes on its own process.”

Pali Spanish teacher Laura Bachrach said she thinks Torkian’s work is important for the community.

“I love that [Torkian] is using language and art as a way to connect with a larger community,” Bacharach said. “When you speak and write and publish in another language, you are opening doors to connect with such a wider audience.”

Looking forward, Torkian said she’s still eager to learn and improve.

“I still don’t know what I’m doing. I kind of just do what makes me happy,” she said. “For the issues [of the magazine], nothing is going to be the same. We’re going to keep growing and evolving.”