zine, [zeen] noun. 1. abbr. of fanzine; 2. any amateurly-published periodical. Oxford Reference


Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Minor Leagues #7 - 'Where?' Part Two

Minor Leagues #7: 'Where?' Part Two

By Simon Moreton

120 pages, B&W, cardboard cover with French flaps. Stapled. 22.8 cm x 21cm. 

£6 (or pay what you feel you can afford) + p&p

Minor Leagues #7 is part two of a four part series of publications in which Simon excavates and sifts layers of personal and social histories. (If you missed it, you should read my review of 'Where?' Part One). 

In short, Where? is a genre bending memoir - combining text, comics, collage, historical documents, and contemporary photographs. But it's much more than the sum of those elements - it's a brave work, richly evocative, and full of honest emotion. 

If you've experienced Simon's previous work you'll need no convincing to get hold of a copy, Simon's trademark art really works in this format, adding dimension to leaps in time. And if you're new to Minor Leagues I urge you to subscribe to all issues of 'Where?' as your starting point - it is a weighty, witty work that that genuinely pushes the boundaries of the factual graphic novel.

There has been a trend in zines over the last few years for high prices, Simon takes the opposite approach - offering a lower cost price for those who can't afford the full price. (Details of his pricing can be found here).  https://smoo.bigcartel.com/faq

Order info for Minor Leagues #7 here:  https://smoo.bigcartel.com/product/minor-leagues-7-where-part-two

All four issues of Where? can be found here:  https://smoo.bigcartel.com/category/where


Review by Nathan Penlington

Previous issues of Minor Leagues are reviewed here.

Friday, November 15, 2019

bio auto graphic #31: Hand Book

bio auto graphic #31: Hand Book

Michael C. Nicholson / ensixteen editions

Right hand - A5, 28 pages, full colour throughout.
Left Hand - A5, 12 pages, full colour throughout.

£12 for both volumes + p&p

The latest issue of Bio Auto Graphic takes a further step into expanding Michael's intriguing examination of the relationship between content and format. From the five volume set that covered the five senses, to the last issue which suddenly burst into TechnicolorThis double set of issues explores hands - how they express personality and, perhaps more crucially, how we consider our second most expressive body part. 

To do so Michael "reached out to fellow travellers whose hands are a key to their creativity or livelihood". Each interview is filtered down into Michael's poetic prose, and illustrated by a full page colour portrait of that person's hand. Devoid of the other contexts we naturally try and attach personality to, we're left to consider how the wrinkles and scars reflect those lives and livelihoods. I feel extremely honoured that one of those hands are mine. 

Collectively, these portraits form an emotive set of snapshots into a variety of lives, personal histories, and cultural backgrounds, linked through a shared desire to connect to the world with more than a wave hello. 

It's a beautifully executed, well produced, and quietly profound work. Get your copies while you can - the first edition sold out within a couple of weeks. I've been told there are a few copies remaining of the second printing.

For more information visit the Ensixteen blog: ensixteeneditions.blogspot.com

Or email Michael directly: ladnicholson(at)yahoo(dot)co(dot)uk

*** You can listen to Michael being interviewed by Robert Elms on BBC London - zines, small publishing, and the sweeping changes across London. From about 37 minutes in https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p07rkn7b) ***

Review by Nathan Penlington - you can find my reviews of previous issues of bio auto graphic here

Monday, May 20, 2019

Tappavat Kädet #1

Tappavat Kädet #1

Written and drawn By Leo Kuikka 

23cm x 17cm, black and white, colour covers.

32 pages, with A4 translation sheet. 

What happens when you're up to date with the epic Finnish comic book saga LäskimoosesHow do you manage the transition back to reality while you wait for the latest issue? With a spin off series of course. 

Tappavat Kädet (roughly Lethal Hands) is set in the same universe, but separated from it as a self contained story. The narrative centres around the thoroughly dislikable Pasi Lihavisto. We follow the trudge of his daily grind - sleeping at his office desk, drinking too much, escalating arguments with his wife, guilt ridden efforts with his children. His real life xenophobic tendencies lead to daily dreams of being a violent Chinese emperor, taken with enacting barbaric punishment to anyone that crosses him. 

The fantasy soon crosses over to real life as a mysterious heat takes over his hands - the best way to describe it is a kind of Kung Fu energy - a powerful weapon against those unlucky enough to get in the way. 

The frameless sketch book style of art gives a lot of fluidity and space to the narrative. It's a welcome expansion to the Läskimooses magaverse, although it's one that is only four parts long. 

Buy a copy here: http://www.kreegah.net/leo-kuikka-tappavat-k%C3%A4det-1.html

And don't forget to check out Läskimooses while you're there. 

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Clock Tower Nine #13

Clock Tower Nine #13
28 pages, digest
$4.50 delivered (US)

This issue by Danny Noonan is mostly a story about a long ago road trip, starting in Cleveland, dropping through the south, and ending in Portland. A slightly nerdy punk rocker roadie and a girl skateboarder. My favorite line was, “On the open road nothing is a non sequitur.” which I find borderline prophetic.

Another good one, “If I had known how close we had been to the border with Arizona I would have kept driving the night before. Only so we could wake up someplace besides Texas.”

There’s a couple bits of filler, one of which are answers to the question, “What is the last record you would sell?”

Reader 1: Scream Dracula Scream by Rocket from the Crypt
Reader 2: Weight Loss Plann 7” by G-Whiz.

I’ve never heard of either of these bands so I ripped them from Youtube and am listening to them now.

Extra points for multiple Cleveland references.

Danny c/o Spin Cycle
5403, 321 Broadway E.
Seattle, WA 98102



Review by Jack Cheiky

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Art School - Adam Void

Art School
by Adam Void

Approx 21cm x 27cm, zine fold into 7cm x 10.5cm.

One page double sided b&w on orchid stock


A visual mash-up, collage, cut & paste mini zine from prolific artist and zine maker Adam Void. It's a kind of cool little zine, and a perfect example of Adam's seemingly ceaseless creation and his view on art - specifically art school. 

In Adam's own words: 
"Well, not just any art school. It's a remix of illustrations from the 2018 School of the Alternative handbook. So more like art school in the woods with spraypaint, bears, and a bunch of weirdos."
I've reviewed a few of Adam's other zines in the past - which you can find here. I've always valued his work, so I'm excited to see Adam's new venture, a partnership with Chelsea Ragan, called Cut in the Fence

Cut in the Fence is a zine producer and distro with a focus on graffiti, underground, and folk art. Go visit the website and you'll see some great looking stuff - I've been sent a few more things for review, which will be posted soon. I also really think the pricing is set at a level that is accessible. For that reason, be aware that lot of Cut in the Fence publications are limited edition, so if you see something you like, don't hang around. 

Buy the Art School mini zine here: cutinthefence.com/product/art-school-adamvoid

Friday, November 16, 2018

Läskimooses - issue 43

Läskimooses - issue 43 

by Matti Hagelberg

23cm x 17cm, black and white, colour covers.

32 pages, with A4 English translation sheets.

****Läskimooses is an ongoing series. I've read and reviewed all of the previous issuesif you haven't read those reviews, I recommend at least talking a look at the first couple of posts to get a sense of the scope of this epic alternative comic.***

What happens after the end of the world?

What is the psychological aftermath of preparing for the end of the world that doesn't come? 

Close up detail of Matti's trademark scratch style.

At this point in Läskimooses these are the questions our protagonist and antagonist have to face. 

For centuries cults and religions have prepared for the end that never arrives, an enlightenment for a chosen few that is postponed indefinitely. Issue 43 also explores the absurdity of the idea that religious truth comes to those who sacrifice their sensory input to obtain a high level clarity of thought - chastity, starvation, isolation, light and sound proof rooms - all of which are also used as forms of punishment or torture. As history has shown us, sensory deprivation leads to madness unseen by those in the midst of the madness. 

There are flashes of the wider Läskimooses reality amongst the confusion and darkness, the detailed drawings standing out in contrast to the dark abstractions, before we're once again we're left with an uneasy cliffhanger. This is the dark underbelly of Läskimooses.

There is now an updated shop for international orders, where you can buy back issues by year. The sold-out issues have just been reprinted, so it's a rare occasion that all issues are available - so get in quickly! 

Or ask your local independent comics dealer to get Läskimooses  in stock.

You can also check out some samples online here

Review by Nathan Penlington

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Flotation Device #14

Flotation Device #14

Keith Helt 

40 pages, 14cm x 21.5cm. Black & white, on cream paper.  

$2 (USD)

Obviously, reviewing zines means there is mainly a nowness to what I'm reading - the latest issue, or a recent capturing of thoughts or events. But there is a deep pleasure to be had from older zines. For that reason I'm always up for reviewing past issues of anything - as long there is some availability for readers to get hold of a copy.  We all read old books, listen to old records, and watch old films, without thinking - yet that doesn't happen so much with zines. Largely it's a scarcity factor, limited print runs, and creators - quite rightly - moving on to making something new. Although some publishers and distributors - Microcosm for example - is helping to plug that hole by printing, and reprinting, compendium versions of out of print zines. 

Why am I telling you this? Well, the distance of time and space is hard coded into Flotation Device. This issue was written and published in 2015, focused on events that happened in the previous decade. Those memories cluster around playing in a band from 2001 to 3003, and working in a comic shop from 1998 to 2006. 

The zine is split into two linked pieces composed of text fragments, illustrated by photos taken at the time. The first piece recounts the relationship dynamics of playing in a band, tensions around songwriting, pre-show nerves, divergent musical ambition, and the realities of practising in a comic shop after it has closed its doors for the night. 

The second section focuses on the years Keith worked in a comic store. Keith's writing is sharp enough to allow you to visualise the shop in detail - the stacks of old comics, the trashy knickknacks that are branded collectable, but you also get to understand it's rhythms, the personalities of the staff, the particularities of the customers. There is stuff in here too about zine making, running festivals, and workshops. 

It's not an easy task to draw you into a stranger's life and make you care. Flotation Device does that effortlessly. There is an unflinching honesty to the writing too - about not fitting in, how anxiety can form itself around even insignificant interactions. 

Flotation Device #14 was my first encounter of this really solid zine, written by a really solid writer. Completely recommended. 

See more on the Flotation Device blog: flotationdevice.wordpress.com

Review by Nathan Penlington

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Rum Lad #10

Rum Lad #10
by Steve Larder

A5, black and white on grey paper, 16 pages

£2 (plus postage)

Rum Lad is a unique combination of diary style comic and astonishingly detailed illustration. When sending me the latest issue (it's one of the best things you'll read this year - read my review here), Steve also sent over issue 10 for review. 

When Steve isn't drawing he makes noise in a band called Moloch - Rum Lad #10 is essentially a diary of the Moloch / Savage Realm 2016 tour. Moloch make music that is around the Sludge/Doom area of the spectrum. If that doesn't mean anything to you, they describe themselves like this:

Moloch's primary objective is to ruin everyone's night with a bass tone that has so much treble and distortion that it reduces humans to paste and a turbo brute behind the pots and pans who just won't give in until every snare is destroyed.    

The zine follows the the ins and outs of touring, lugging gear, soundchecks, crashing on floors, discovering new bands, new people, and new places to eat. Also included is a breakdown of some of the finest Slayer moments. 

Rum Lad #10 is a peek backstage at the reality that underpins the moments a band is on stage, all the unseen and unexpected acts of kindness that allows that raw brute wall of noise to happen. 

You can listen to Moloch on their bandcamp page - moloch.bandcamp.com - but it doesn't have to be your kind of thing to take something away from Steve's zine. 

Buy a copy via Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/501213378/rum-lad-10-comic-zine - and while you're pick up issue 12 too! 

And visit Steve's site for more of his incredible illustrations: SteveLarder.co.uk

Review by Nathan Penlington

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Doodles and dontdles

Doodles and dontdles

by Will Conway / tastes of ink

A7 zine fold from A4. Colour printed.


Doodles and dontdles is another pocket sized zine by Will Conway. This one is a series of handwritten jokes, clever word play, and puns, accompanied by hand-drawn illustrations. It's a witty celebration of word and image, a gateway into Will's work - work that sits confidently between comedy, poetry, comic books, and illustration.
More of Will's work is reviewed here, and while you can buy individual zines on his Etsy shop, I recommend taking advantage of the 'Buy any 5 for £5' offer. There are plenty of zines to choose from - if you can't decide, just pick a few at random, you'll be rewarded with a little pile of zines with a unique and funny perspective. 

Doodles and dontdles is available to buy here: etsy.com/uk/listing/647355283/doodles-and-dontdles-will-conway

And this is Will's Etsy shop: etsy.com/uk/shop/WilconWayBooklets

Review by Nathan Penlington

Friday, October 12, 2018

Läskimooses - year #7, numbers 41-42 (2018)

Läskimooses - year #7 (2018 - numbers 41-42)

by Matti Hagelberg 

23cm x 17cm, black and white, colour covers.

Page count approx 24, with A4 English translation sheets.

If you've been following my previous reviews you'll be pleased to know we've finally caught up with the entirety of Läskimooses back issues, that's all 42 issues read! If you haven't read those reviews, I recommend at least talking a look at the first couple of posts to get a sense of the scope of this epic alternative comic. 

For me the strength of Läskimooses is in its ability to spin multiple stories simultaneously, contained within an overarching narrative. All of those stories have been teased out slowly, the threads forming knots, moments overlapping, subplots mirroring and supporting, but all a kind of mirage of air and deceit. Just when you begin to think everything that has to be said has been said, and you think you can see the general direction, there is a sudden surprise turn in the narrative. 

For example, you can't help but side with our conversationalist when he says: 

"I have a hard time taking that...[word redacted to minimise spoilers]...seriously...but if you say it went like that, so then it is like that". 

And in 2018, that is the cultural climate we're in, when the verifiable is secondary to hearsay and spin. During the seven years of its development it seems Läskimooses has come to contain more truth than contemporary politics (Hi there America, oh hello Russia. Sorry Brexit, I forgot about you). 

Fiction Vs Fact in 2018 - if you say it went like that, so then it is like that. 

Although my box of review copies is now empty, Läskimooses is still not finished (in fact issue 43 has just been published). If you've yet to pick up a copy get on board Läskimooses soon - hopefully this series of reviews has proved it's not too late to catch up. It's been an absolute pleasure to plough through them all. 

At this point I'm left with a dilemma. I would like Läskimooses to end soon, I have questions that are demanding answers, but I would also like the pleasure to continue for quite a while longer. Thankfully, we're looking at two more years longer. 

There is now an updated shop for international orders, where you can buy back issues by year. The sold-out issues have just been reprinted, so it's a rare occasion that all issues are available - so get in quickly! 

Or ask your local independent comics dealer to get Läskimooses  in stock.

You can also check out some samples online here

Review by Nathan Penlington

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Rum Lad - Issue #12

Rum Lad - Issue #12
by Steve Larder

A5, 28 pages, black and white on grey paper.

£3 (plus postage)

Rum Lad #12 is a funny & heartbreaking tribute to Steve's grandparents. His Gran died in 2013, followed by his Grandad in 2017. As Steve says in the introduction: 

"Grief can do all sorts of cruel things to your brain...the jarring lapse where you forget they're gone"

He goes on to point out that the hurt of grief is caused by love and affection. Steve has captured his love for his grandparents in this collection of short stories, and comic strip vignettes, that reflect the absurdity of everyday life and the unexpected moments that we store as tender memories: his Gran wearing a Tesco carrier bag as a substitute hood, and hanging sweary punk t-shirts on the washing line; his Grandad's relationship with Paxo, and a catalogue of his tattoos.

Rum Lad #12 is also an unflinching chronicle of his grandparents' decline - the failing bodies, and reversing of roles, that we all have to face as we age. 

Rum Lad has a trademark style of art - a combination of breathtakingly detailed line drawings that sit alongside more comic book style illustration. The writing in this issue reminds me most of Simon Moreton's Minor Leagues, not just the themes of memory and loss, they are both told with a similar warmth and humour. 

It's a no-brainer. Not only is it just £3, it's one of the best things you'll read this year.
Buy via Etsy: etsy.com/uk/listing/644672935/rum-lad-zine-12-comic-perzine

And visit Steve's site for more of his incredible illustrations: S

Review by Nathan Penlington

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Kackle #14: Prom Queen Werewolf in 3D

Kackle #14: Prom Queen Werewolf in 3D
By Bruce Wilson

9cm x 12cm; 16 pages; blue, red and grey print; includes 3D spectacles.

$7 USD

Remember when 3D meant red and blue cardboard spectacles? 

Prom Queen Werewolf in 3D reads like a low budget horror film from the 70s, complete with retro styled 3D glasses. 

Kackle #14 is a single short story, that follows Sally Jinkins on the lead up to her prom in a small town with a big problem. The problem comes in the shape of a local werewolf that has yet to be killed or caught. A curfew is just a precaution not a solution, and with the prom coming up, well, the town is asking for trouble. 

It's a fun, lighthearted horror romp, and while there are some twists to the plot, you can probably guess the ending. In a way though, the enjoyment is in getting there. All the illustrations are drawn in 3D, and are incredibly effective. 

Kackle #14 is well executed and produced, for example even the 3D spectacles are attached in a way that facilitates the zine to dispense with an unnecessary envelope for shipping. It's a small point, and I know paper is fundamental to our medium, but we should all be conserving where we can. 

With Halloween coming up you should definitely buy this - you get bonus points for incorporating Prom Queen Werewolf into your fancy dress: 

"What are you dressed as?", "Oh me? I'm just a retro styled 3D zine fanatic".

To buy a copy contact Kackle via facebook.com/kacklezine

or email spatty31 at hotmail dot com

Review by Nathan Penlington

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Forever And Everything #3

Forever And Everything #3
By Kyle Bravo

14cm x 21.5cm, 46 pages, 

$10 (plus shipping)

Forever and Everything chronicles fragments of everyday life with a young family, the struggles and joys of creating a new life and new art. We join Kyle and his family when their first child is a toddler, with another child on the way. As a dad of a two year old, there is a lot in Forever and Everything that speaks directly to my personal experience: the difficulties of explaining the world, and having to psychologically accept a psychotic range of emotional outbursts at any given moment. But there is a lot here for anyone, parent or not, who is a fan of the Chris Ware end of the comic spectrum. 

The stories are full of emotion and humour, wry observation, and an honestly that is beguiling. The simplicity of the drawing style contributes to the tone - going on one of the fragments in this issue they seem to be drawn with a ball pen, which is also part of the charm. 

It's hard to believe that Kyle only started making comics when his first child was born, Forever and Everything #3 is a confident and considered comic worthy of your time and attention. 

You can also check out some of Kyle's stories on Tumblr - most of the comics in Forever and Everything #3 are brand new, and have not been published elsewhere, but this will give you a great introduction to his work.  foreverandeverything.tumblr.com

Review by Nathan Penlington

Monday, October 8, 2018

Wastes of Ink

Wastes of Ink

by Will Conway / tastes of ink

A7 zine fold from A4. B&W print on coloured paper. 


Wastes of Ink is a hand-drawn and hand-written pocket sized zine, each page containing a witty play on words with a related illustration. Out of Will's work I've reviewed of previously, this zine is closest in style to More Snippets - as this too contains witty aphorisms with a poetic sensibility, think smart one-liners. 

Once again its difficult to give details of the content without giving anything away, but hopefully it'll suffice to say its pithy, irreverent, funny, smart, and well illustrated. 

Wastes of Ink is available to buy from Etsy: etsy.com/uk/listing/647353561/wastes-of-ink-will-conway

While you are there check out Will's other pocket money priced zines, more of Will's work is reviewed here.

Review by Nathan Penlington

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