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


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Terrible Stories from Kelly McClure

A5, 28 pages (cream and navy).

What qualifies as terrible? Quite a lot of things, I should imagine. The lack of politics taught in Britain’s schools? The internalised gender divide? My colleagues’ insistence on discussing nothing but Love Island for the past two weeks? All are different flavours of terrible.

Kelly McClure’s stories certainly aren’t terrible, which led me to the conclusion that she must be the sort of person whose modesty is so extreme that she would actually take the naming of her anthology as a weird opportunity for self-deprecation. Slightly bemused, I began to read, and then I got it – perhaps it wasn’t the stories that were terrible, but the characters.

A sadistic rancher, an imperfect mother, an extreme introvert. In truth the characters’ personalities are scattered all over the morality spectrum, and it’s difficult to judge whether each of them are good, bad or other.

One of the interesting qualities to McClure’s writing is that her stories feel more like scenes, the reader is placed into the characters’ lives and just as they begin to feel like they know them, they’re whisked into the next story. This anthology seems to be less about providing the reader with entertaining stories, and more about creating a feeling of kinship with the characters (whether that be positive or negative). It’s an interesting read and skilfully written – these six stories will play on your mind for a long, long time.

You can get a copy of Terrible Stories from Kelly McClure via Budget Press here.

Review by J.L. Corbett

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

A short, sad story

A short, sad story

by Will Conway

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


A short, sad story is, well, a short, sad story. 

The zine is similar to Will's other work that I've had the pleasure of reviewing, in that it is made up of witty wordplay with a poetic sensibility. 

Each page contains a line or two, illustrated minimistically, that also work towards the whole. The whole in this instance being a love poem. In my opinion it's worth reading for the last line alone.

Buy a copy on Etsy for only £1.50: etsy.com/uk/listing/579513592/a-short-sad-story-booklet-will-conway

And while you are there check out the rest of Will's zines (some of which are reviewed here) - a pick up a couple of other ones too. 

Review by Nathan Penlington

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Arc 1-4

Arc 1-4

by Will Conway

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

£5 for four issues. 

A sci-fi saga told through a four part series of linked zines. 

Expect interplanetary warfare, artificial intelligence, hybrid technology, and the ongoing stupidity of humanity. The perfect elements for a juicy, witty epic. 

Each page is illustrated by a combination of collage, pen & ink drawings, and paint.  

Buy the set of four via Etsy: etsy.com/uk/listing/589031460/arc-1-4-bundle-will-conway

And while you are there check out the rest of Will's zines (some of which are reviewed here).

Review by Nathan Penlington

Friday, June 8, 2018

The ship'd sailed - stories about friendship and loss

The ship'd sailed - stories about friendship and loss

by Amy Ng & Weng Pixin

A5, 40 pages, coloured print. Plus contributors sheet. 


Part of being human is experiencing loss of someone at some point in your life. I don't mean through death either, I mean the kind of loss that comes through the withering away of intimacy or through sudden departure. 

While loss is understood to hurt if that loss is of a romantic partner, betrayal by - or loss of - a friend is spoken about less, especially between grown-ups. But the resulting hurt and anger is no less real, and is sometimes no less all consuming, than it is when the same happens as a teenager. 

It is these raw and real experiences that Amy & Weng set about collating for this zine. What results is a set of varied stories from life about adult friendships written and illustrated by seven different artists. 

While all of the pieces overlap in anger and grief, their honesty is intimately personal, yet they reach out. In a way, its like talking with a new set of friends. 

Buy a copy of The Ship'd Sailed here: etsy.com/listing/583969599/the-shipd-sailed-stories-about


Review by Nathan Penlington

Volunteers #1 - Rob Jackson

Volunteers #1 - Rob Jackson 

36 pages, black & white

£4.70 (free UK p&p, see site for rest of world)

Volunteers #1 is the first in a series of comics following a group of volunteers working on a preserved stream railway. It's easy to imagine the setting as the perfect idea for a sitcom, and the storyline unfolds with the tension of the best TV dramas. 

It's charmingly drawn, and the script evokes the tension, burgeoning romance, rivalry and chivalry, between the characters. 

Look beyond the steam railway of yesteryear and you'll find themes centred around investment and 'progress', and treachery inherent in capitalism. Volunteers #1 couldn't be more about now, even if it was focused on electric cars.  

You can buy direct from Rob at his website: robjacksoncomics.ieasysite.com - check out the rest of his work while you're there. 

Other comics by Rob are due for review here soon.

Review by Nathan Penlington

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Headwinds - Issue #2

A4, 24 pages (23 black and white pages, colour front cover).

£1.50 (+80p p&p)

Headwinds is a relic made in modern times. The second issue promises more of what was delivered by the first; reviews, interviews, columns and comics.

One of my favourite parts of this issue was the interviews with two ageing punk bands, because the parallels between the them are too delicious to ignore (and perhaps intentional). Culture Shock is a punk/ska outfit from Wiltshire who split in 1990 after an eleven-year run, before reforming in 2010 to put out a new LP, Attention Span. The Proletariat is an American band, originally part of the Boston hardcore scene before they split in 1985 and then reformed in 2016 to play a few shows and put out a vinyl reissue of their debut album, Soma Holiday.

Culture Shock and The Proletariat had their heydays at least thirty years ago, and both have a lot of thoughts about how returning to band life in the age of the millennials is a bit of a culture shock (you’re welcome). For all their similarities, the two bands have somewhat opposing views on the evolution of the musical landscape over the last few decades. Both interviews are an interesting read, even more so when read one after the other.

Another highlight was Mike G’s column detailing his stint as a homeless youth. The column doesn’t quite fit alongside the album reviews, band interviews and comics in the zine, but that scarcely matters. It’s an honest account of a difficult time – even though most readers won’t relate to the panic of not having a home, they will relate to him as a fellow human.

If pressed to find a fault with Headwinds, I would perhaps shoot a side-eye over to the comics. The art style is endearing, but the stories do seem to meander and then cut off somewhat abruptly. I do feel it’s worth remembering, however, that comics are more mainstream than they have ever been before, which means that the bar for them as an art form is staggeringly high.

Much like its first issue, the best part of the second issue of Headwinds is its sense of nostalgia for a time passed. Generations X and Y collide in these pages, and the two fit together wonderfully.

To keep up with Headwinds’ latest updates, you can follow @tblastzine on Twitter. You can get a copy of your own through PayPal by emailing HeadwindsZine@gmail.com.

Review by J.L. Corbett.

Friday, May 4, 2018

More Snippets

More Snippets
by Will Conway

A7 zine fold from A4. Coloured print. 


More Snippets by Will Conway is a pocket sized cut & paste zine with a healthy dose of wordplay. It's tough to review, not because I didn't enjoy it - I did - it's just hard to give a sense or sample of the contents without giving anything away. But think witty aphorisms with a poetic sensibility. My favourite is the bike one, you'll know it when you read it.

Buy your copy on Etsy for only £1.50: etsy.com/uk/listing/580032896/more-snippets-booklet-will-conway

And while you are there check out the rest of Will's zines (some of which are reviewed here).

Review by Nathan Penlington

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

What Cubehead thinks

What Cubehead thinks 
by Will Conway

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


A short comic from Will Conway in which the enigmatic Cubehead ponders the problems surrounding zombie reproduction, energy conversion versus decomposition, before ultimately questioning what it means to be wanted. 

Cubehead as a zombie? I'd be f***ing terrified. 

You can pick up a copy on etsy: etsy.com/uk/listing/593512650/what-cubehead-thinks-a-comic-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

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Minor Leagues #5 - Simon Moreton

Minor Leagues #5 - Simon Moreton 

Published by Lydstep Lettuce - March 2018

62 pages, A4, black & white. Cardboard cover. Plus 22 pages, A6, coloured paper.

£5 (or pay what you feel you can afford) + p&p

The fifth outing for Simon Moreton's Minor Leagues series (previous issues are reviewed here) sees a change to a larger format, and with it an enlargement of Simon's stories to encompass histories beyond his own.  

We learn about the real ghosts that haunt his present, spectral memories from childhood encounters, and thoughts of the recently departed that shift focus when you observe them. 

It's no secret that Minor Leagues has come one of my favourite zine series - and it still has the capacity to surprise, and genuinely move me. In this issue, like previous ones, the interplay of documentary photography, well crafted text, and expressive illustration, pulls you into Simon's world. Included too is an additional smaller zine which explores the locus of this issue from different perspectives. 

Whether this is your first encounter with Simon Moreton's work, or you're a regular reader, you won't be disappointed. It's a zine of hope, heart, and humanness. 

Buy a copy: smoo.bigcartel.com/product/minor-leagues-5

Or visit smoo.bigcartel.com for subscription options.

Review by Nathan Penlington

How to make this booklet

How to make this booklet
by Will Conway

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


The ultimate in self-referential artist-book meta-zines, or a practical how-to guide for those wanting to see how you make a small booklet from one piece of paper with no glue or staples. I'll be honest, I'm on the fence - perhaps it is both simultaneously, like a kind of Schrödinger zine. 

Either way, each page offers simple, illustrated step-by-step instructions on how to make the object you hold in your hands.  

Buy a copy, and pass it on - you might just help encourage a new zine maker. Or just take pleasure from the philosophical conundrum.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Break the Chain, Volume 2

 A5, 44 black and white pages
£2.90 (+£3.62 p&p)

The second volume of Break the Chain is a battle cry from the Jacksonville punk scene. Sequels are always tricky, and so I was eager to see if zine maker Matt Sessions could pull it off.

The first interview is with Dawn Ray’d, a black metal band from the north of England (my neck of the woods, how exciting!). Reading through this interview, I was a little disappointed with myself; my surprise at the band’s articulation and love of poetry (their band name comes from a poem by Voltairine de Cleyre) spoke volumes about my own preconceptions of heavy metal bands. Much of their interview was an exploration of the power and beauty of words, and yet it ended with a reminder of the anarchy at their core - “Fuck the pigs, smash the Nazis”.

This volume also offered fantastic artwork from Matt Jaffe. His images have been created with thousands of dots, each one carefully placed, each one a crucial part of a bigger picture. Jaffe’s artwork is sharply evocative, but more importantly it teases one’s curiosity – each image bears a strange caption (“alienergy”, “sickened”, “radiate”), none of which make sense straight away.

It’s clear that Sessions has held onto the same punk ethos that birthed the fist volume of Break the Chain, and he’s built on this significantly in the second volume. The pages are crammed full of content, each item fitting well within the theme of angry protest whilst offering their own distinct point of view.

Sadly, some items fall a little short. Ed Dantès’ essay “In Prisons We Trust (part one)” is full of angry commentary, but unfortunately offers very little depth or intelligent examination of the points he is criticising. I was really rooting for Dantès – his argument started off well, gained momentum, but the deathblow never came (perhaps it arrives in part two).

This volume is a gripping read, and I think this has a lot to do with Sessions’ obvious love for the music scene in his area. It’s clear that he doesn’t make Break the Chain for profit or notoriety (you won’t find his name anywhere in these pages), but because he loves the Jacksonville scene.

On the whole, the second volume of Break the Chain is a triumph. It it builds on the themes of protest and angst introduced by its predecessor and the result is a zine which is polished and cohesive – clearly, Sessions is finding his groove.

Volume two of Break the Chain can be bought here 

Review by J.L. Corbett

Sunday, April 15, 2018


A5, 20 colour pages
£3.62 (+ £3.62 p&p)

Synaesthesia (the condition) is sensory confusion. Your house tastes like cake. Your lover’s voice smells like fresh cut grass. Your favourite song feels crunchy. The number seven is green, for some reason.

Synesthesia (the zine) dives headfirst into delirium. Stacey Matchett evokes a sense of desperate, inescapable confusion in her pastel colour palettes, bold rainbow scribbles and delicate black linework - it’s a beautiful assault on the senses. 

Usually when poetry and artwork appear together in print, the images end up playing second fiddle; they usually serve as garnish, pretty pictures to illustrate the words. Matchett turns this convention on its head. The bright images dominate the pages of this zine, holding hostage the reader’s psyche and rendering the accompanying poetry somewhat redundant. It’s not that the poetry is particularly poor, more that within the psychedelic pages of Synesthesia its role is secondary to the artwork.

When I first encountered Matchett’s work in volume one of Break the Chain, I described it as “grunge expressionism”. Reading through Synesthesia, it seems clear to me now that her work is too nebulous to fit within that category; her art style shifts throughout the pages, and yet each drawing bears her stylistic signature.

Matchett does a great job of creating a collection of artwork centred upon a theme without falling into predictability – each page explores a different facet of a disorganised mind and does so with a touching vulnerability.

You can buy your copy of Synesthesia here.

Review by J.L. Corbett

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Break the Chain: Volume 1

 A5, 28 (mostly) black and white pages
£3.76/$5.19 (+p&p)

The first volume of Break the Chain (created by Matt Sessions) is an anarchist’s guidebook to the punk rock underbelly of Jacksonville, Florida. My perception of Florida has come almost exclusively from the images on my television screen; endless sunshine, orange juice aplenty, home of Disney World – everything that my dreary British life is not.

It was quite the surprise to find that this Floridian zine is gritty, anarchistic and in grey scale. The overall appearance of Break the Chain is dark and distinctive. Particularly strong is the artwork from Stacey Matchett, a sort of grunge expressionism wherein the figures in all her drawings share the same tired gaze. Their eyes haunt and resonate.

The first interview is with Woven In, a surf-rock regular on the Jacksonville music scene whose responses to standard interview questions are refreshingly intellectual and offer a surprisingly deep contrast to her “beach-goth, post-punk dream-come-true” music. Not long after reading her interview, I was listening to her music on Youtube.

Also interviewed are black metal grindcore band, Wørsen. Whilst they do seem somewhat excited about the release of their newest album, the theme of their interview appears to be apathy. They say “[the gigs] tend to run together after a while”, and when speaking about their songs they make comments such as “It’s also one of the newest songs we’ve written, so I’m not burnt out on it just yet”. It’s a shame – had they been a little more enthusiastic about their own music, it would have been a lot easier for the reader to get on board with them. I found myself more interested in finding out about Sickmark, the German power-violence band briefly mentioned at the beginning of the interview.

All sense of apathy is quickly forgotten with the zine’s final interview: an in-depth conversation with Penelope Spheeris (director of landmark punk films such as The Decline of Western Civilisation and Wayne’s World). How on earth did the creator of Break the Chain pull that one off? It doesn’t matter, of course (but I need to know!).  Spheeris speaks with great articulation about the punk rock aesthetic, the importance of dedication and devotion to one’s work and the controversial impact of The Decline of Western Civilisation, which was banned after just one screening in Los Angeles. It’s a strong end note and an impressive coup for the first volume of Break the Chain.

Break the Chain is definitely worth a read. As someone across the Atlantic I enjoyed the zine as a brilliant showcase of the talent in Jacksonville’s alternative community, and I expect Jacksonville natives will enjoy it as a token of pride for their hometown.

Volume one of Break the Chain can be bought here .

Review by J.L. Corbett

Friday, March 2, 2018

Land Slide Dreams - Adam Void

Land Slide Dreams 

by Adam Void

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

$/£: trades encouraged

Another mini-zine by prolific artist and zine maker Adam Void, creator of the great Nirvana Rules and Misadventures & Musings from the Train Brain zines reviewed elsewhere on SZR. 

Landside Dreams opens out into a cut & paste collage that illustrates a handwritten text on the reverse side: 

These memories, brought back by a brief dream I awoke from just a moment before. The bed was just cold enough to not make it back. Sometimes you just can't make it back. 
Like the best kind of zines it's confessional and artful, drawing you in to another's vivid world. 

If you'd like a copy contact Adam at adam_void (at) yahoo (dot) com - trades are encouraged. If you ask nicely he might also send you some other goodies. 

Adam's been making zines since 2003. Check out his past publications page: adamvoid.com/index.php?/ongoing/publications - now THAT is a zine maker.

Review by Nathan Penlington

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Were Stan and Ollie Anarchists?

Were Stan and Ollie Anarchists?

Readers Digress! #9

12 pages, cardboard cover, a5

£/$: exchange encouraged, and/or stamps to cover postage

An interview between the infamous Radical Slapstick magazine and Oxbridge Milhaven whose spill-all book My Life in Hollywood exposes the 'true' secret history of the Golden Age of Comedy. 

Were Stan & Ollie Anarchists? What was the real motivation for the anrcho-surrealist political prankster Buster Keaton? Was Mae West a true libertarian?

This zine is another welcome addition to the Readers Digress! series, the former incarnation of The Bubblegum Dada Corporation. The series is intelligent, sharp, witty, playful, very much in the tradition of the dadaists, absurdists, and the 20th century avant-garde. 

The B.D.C. is a curiously offline enterprise based on the coast of England, but if you'd like a copy of Were Stan and Ollie Anarchists? you can now contact them at their newly acquired email address - bubblegumdadacorporation (at) gmail (dot) com - with offers to exchange creative endeavours, or an offer of stamps to cover postage.

Please say we sent you. 

Review by Nathan Penlington

Back of the gig #1

Back of the gig #1


A6, 8 pages.

25p + 75p p&p (or trades)

Don't be fooled by the title - Back of the Gig has nothing to do with music. But don't let that put you off, it's a sweet pocket sized handwritten zine (complete with
corssing crossing outs) filled with anecdotes and observations about haircuts & supermarkets, funny asides and musings about the mystery of the man at the roundabout. 

And 25p, what is to lose?! I look forward to issue #2. 

And while you're buying this issue pick up the greatest hits of Drink the Sunshine for no extra postage. 

To buy visit backofthegigzines.bigcartel.com/product/back-of-the-gig-issue-1 

Or if you'd like to trade email backofthegig at yahoo [dot] com

Review by Nathan Penlington

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Misadventures & Musings from the Train Brain - Adam Void

Misadventures & Musings from the Train Brain

Adam Void, 2017

13cm x 18.5cm, 20 pages, cardboard cover, plus 8 small centre pages. 

$/£: trades encouraged

Post-industrial American folk culture has the mythology of the once great railway running straight through it. At once a symbol of power, exploitation and expansion, to those on the other side of the tracks the railway is also a symbol of subversion and freedom.

In Misadventures & Musings from the Train Brain Adam Void jumps the present day rails, and this is a catalogue of those journeys: the yearning for the vast expanse of landscape, the thrill and reality of riding open porches, the dust of experience. 

Adam's zines have a distinctive style, partly the result of the cut & paste of urgent typewriter. But the writing is compelling too, and brings to mind some of the early work of Cometbus - I guess the wanderlust of this issue also helps contribute to that. 

The centre pages reproduce contemporary railroad graffiti - long part of hobo tradition - a firm nod to the history of a largely unacknowledged counter culture. This is a really well put together zine documenting perfect misadventures. 

If you'd like a copy contact Adam at adam_void (at) yahoo (dot) com - trades are encouraged. 

Adam's been making zines since 2003. If you want to make yourself drool and/or make yourself feel envious check out his past publications page: adamvoid.com/index.php?/ongoing/publications - now THAT is a zine maker.

Review by Nathan Penlington

Tales of the Celestial Shamrock

Tales of the Celestial Shamrock

Readers Digress! #16

A7, landscape, 40 pages, cardboard cover

£/$: creative exchange/stamps to cover postage

'A collection of comic wisdom from the laughing monks of the Sho Ping Temple' is how this zine from Readers Digress! describes itself. 

It is formed from a series of zen-like stories and poems that: 
gleefully celebrate the fact that in a godless universe there is nothing more glorious than the sound of poetic laughter.
Like previous Readers Digress! publications there are various levels of reality, playfulness, allusion, and theft, being carried out - this issue is an unapologetic homage to the comic genius of Tommy Cooper. The re-appropriation of the material into a cultural other is more than a dadaist act however, and encourages the reader to consider the text in other ways - that is as well as being a small tribute to the grand cosmic joke. 

As I've said before I've been enjoying immensely the output of The Bubble Dada Corporation (formerly Readers Digress!) - it is always varied, surprising, and its work is based on a diverse set of cultural references. So if you like the sound of this publication you'll definitely like the rest of their work. You can read my reviews of previous Bubblegum Dada publications here.

The Bubblegum Dada Corporation is a curiously offline enterprise based on the coast of England. But if you'd like a copy of Tales of the Celestial Shamrock you can now contact them at their newly acquired email address - bubblegumdadacorporation (at) gmail (dot) com - with offers to exchange creative endeavours, or an offer of stamps to cover postage. Please say we sent you!

Review by Nathan Penlington

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

3mm Bleed by Fredrik Rysjedal

3mm Bleed by Fredrik Rysjedal 


32 pages, cardboard cover, 3 colour Riso printed. 


3mm Bleed - a graphic design drama is a self-referential, drily witty comic. The story follows an award winning graphic designer who is horrified to find their work for various companies' disposable coffee cups, plastic bags, and bottles, littering the environment. 

Is the designer part of the problem? or can they salvage their conscience? It's the perfect gift for the self-doubting graphic designer in your life. 

3mm Bleed breaks the constraints of standard layouts, and is in itself a set of aesthetically pleasing graphic designs. It's also been produced by Riso print which adds immensely to its look and feel.

If you'd like one it's best to move quickly as the print run is limited to only 50 copies. 

Available to buy in the US from Quimby's: quimbys.com/store/8327

Or visit Fredrik's site for more info, and other work: fredrikrysjedal.no/3mm-bleed

Review by 
Nathan Penlington 

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