How to Use “The PIC Is…” Zine

A brief list of suggestions:

“The PIC Is…” ‘zine is designed to be an accessible introduction to the prison-industrial complex for youth and adults. We hope that people will use it not just as a document to read and look at, but as a living document to interact with, integrating your own stories and ideas. In light of that, we put together a brief list of ideas we have for how you might used “The PIC Is…” in a workshop or classroom. Or take it to the streets!

  • Share copies of the ‘zine and have people read it individually or in pairs. Allow time for people to respond by writing or by drawing pictures; share the responses in the large group or in pairs. We recommend doing this activity after some sort of general introduction of the term “PIC”; please see our PIC 101 Curriculum for ideas about how to do this.
  • Project or show a large photocopy of only the image side of each page, cutting out the text on the opposite page. Have participants write captions for each image beginning with the prompt “The PIC is…” After you share some of the captions aloud, reveal the original caption from the ‘zine and discuss.
  • Project or show a large photocopy of only the image side of each page, cutting out the text on the opposite page. Do a close image analysis: what do you see? What details do you observe? How does the image make you feel? What does it make you think about in your own life or stories you have heard before? Write down all these responses on big paper and then use them to compose a caption for the picture as a group.
  • Distribute photocopies of each of the images without the text. Have participants write stories to go with each page based on their knowledge of prison issues. The story can be about their own experience or about the character depicted in the picture. Share the stories in a group; you might also share the text from the original ‘zine at this point.
  • Distribute photocopies of 3-5 images from the ‘zine to small groups; do not include the adjoining text. Have the small groups put the images in order and come up with a story that they think helps explain what the prison-industrial complex is. They can lay out the pictures on big paper or poster board, and write a few sentences for each if it is helpful to write it down. Come together as a large group and allow each small group to share their story. Depending on how large of a group you are working with, it can be interesting if some groups have some of the same images.
  • Distribute photocopies of only the text side of each page; omit the adjoining image. Have participants take the statements and draw pictures responding to each statement. If it seems like people are getting stuck, have them pair up and discuss their respective captions with each other in order to brainstorm ideas about what to draw. Show the original pictures from the ‘zine at the end, making sure to let people know that it’s not a competition; it’s wonderful that different people have different ideas and ways of seeing and drawing.
  • Create a large mind map about the PIC (see the PIC 101 Curriculum for instructions on making a mind map). Then distribute small-size photocopies of each of the images in the ‘zine evenly among the group. Have each person (or pairs if there are too many people) place the image somewhere on the mind map; they should put it next to whatever player or word they feel it illustrates best. The result will be a large mind map with words and visuals explaining the PIC.
  • Be creative! We’d love to hear from you about how you’ve used the ‘zine or its contents to teach and learn about PIC issues, drawing on the experience and wisdom of the people you work with. Email us at and let us know how you used it!