Red Letter Distro Organisation / Collective / Group


NameRed Letter Distro
Decades Active2000s, 2010s, 2020s


Red Letter Distro is an international “punk rock” catalogue and distributor of zines, comics, and artist publications from Aotearoa. Founded in 2001 by artist, designer and researcher Kerry Ann Lee, the distro features a range of notable Asian-New Zealand zines, including work by Migrant Zine Collective. Though Red Letter Distro is not centred solely on Asian publications, Lee acknowledges the space that zinemaking provides for “so many more voices and more stories” and clearly advocates for underrepresented narratives through her distribution choices.

Lee has been an active member of the zinemaking community since 1997 with the release of her zine, Help, My Snowman’s Burning. Her interest in zines stemmed from a self-described “steady diet of underground comics, punk records and anarchist and counterculture writing”, and zinemaking became a way for Lee to connect with the creative scene: “I began making friends – through writing letters, swapping zines and records – some whom I still have to this day”.

In 2001, Lee began organising hardcore punk shows and supporting grassroots activities in Pōneke Wellington – her involvement in the underground punk scene led to the creation of Red Letter Distro and solidified the purpose of the distro as a place that “brought together like-minded folks around a DIY punk ethos, alternative economics and value systems…and centre people’s lives and stories in print”.

Red Letter Distro was one of three original zine distros established in Aotearoa in the 2000s, the others being Moira Clunie's Moonrocket and Melissa Steiner and Tui Gordon's Cherry Bomb Comics. In the first four years of its inception, Red Letter ran as a mail-order catalogue of both local and international zines, comics and music. Initially tabling at local punk shows and independent stores, Red Letter Distro is now present at many well-known international publishing fairs such as Rrreplica! Printed Matter Virtual Art Book Fair, BOOKED: Hong Kong Art Book Fair, Printed Matter Virtual Art Book Fair, and Sprint Milano: Independent Publishers and Artists’ Book Salon in Milan. Red Letter’s distribution networks span across Mexico, USA, Australia, Ukraine, The Philippines, Taiwan and Hong Kong, and they are known to collaborate with international zine spaces Compulsive Archive in Milan and Zine Coop in Hong Kong.

Lee has presented multiple talks and workshops under Red Letter Distro, often focussing on zinemaking as a way to explore identity and build community. In 2021, Red Letter presented CALL & RESPONSE at the Printed Matter Virtual Art Book Fair: “a conversation between international publishers exploring how independent publishing facilitates community-building through punk, protest, and zine-making”.

From 2001-2005, Red Letter stocked zines from hundreds of independent publishers from New Zealand and around the world that focused on hardcore punk, politics, personal writing, art and comics. Noteworthy publications included zines from The Philippines, China and Singapore, Bamboo Girl, early Toby Morris comics and Disasteradio CDs, and Dharma Punks by Ant Sang. There is a noticeable breadth of zinemaking styles and aesthetics in Red Letter Distro - from experimental design works to illustrated poetry collections. Lee mentions that she often considers the peoples and communities who are not being represented in design, publishing, and arts spaces: “who is missing from the picture?…Which communities are not getting access to this and why and what else could be done? I think for me I'm always looking out for things that are really unexpected in terms of publishing and who the materials are reaching out for”. This ethos is clear in the varied catalogue of work distributed by Red Letter. Cultural and linguistic diversity is also a staple of Red Letter with a range of languages and stories being featured.

Red Letter Distro currently runs more sporadically and now identifies as an “occasional distro”. In the two decades of its existence, Red Letter Distro has crucially “supported the growth of zines and independent publishing in Aotearoa and overseas”.


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Last updated: 25 February 2024 Suggest an Edit


A close up image of various zines arranged on a table.

Red Letter Distro zines at Booked: Hong Kong Art Book Fair, 2019

Photo sourced from Red Letter Distro Instagram

A black and white poster with a retro illustration of people looking at vinyls and the words "Zine Geeks of the world, Unite and take over!".

Red Letter Distro poster, date unknown

Photo sourced from Red Letter Distro Instagram

Various zines and posters.

Various Red Letter Distro zines and posters, date unknown

Photo sourced from Red Letter Distro Instagram

A black envelope with red accents and "Red Letter Distro" written in red on a yellow background

Instagram Screenshot summarising Red Letter Distro, 2021

Photo sourced from Red Letter Distro Instagram

An embroidered bird with the words "Red Letter" stitched below and a text banner above announcing the Printed Matter Virtual Art Book Fair

Red Letter Distro at Printed Matter Virtual Art Book Fair, 2021

Photo sourced from Red Letter Distro Instagram

An emoji envelope on a purple and pink background with text announcing Red Letter Distro at Wellington Zinefest 2022

Red Letter Distro at Wellington Zinefest, 2022

Photo sourced from Red Letter Distro Instagram

A zine table with multiple colourful zines on display and a banner above with the words "Red Letter Distro" on red glossy paper.

Red Letter Distro zine table at Booked: Hong Kong Art Book Fair, 2019

Photo courtesy of Kerry Ann Lee

Three people smiling while manning a zine table and customer browsers the zines.

Red Letter Distro at Wellington Zinefest, 2022

Photo by Kerry Ann Lee

A table spread of various zines and posters.

Red Letter Distro at Wellington Zinefest, 2022

Photo by Kerry Ann Lee