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

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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.


£1.50





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! 


tictail.com/laskimooses
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
teveLarder.co.uk


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. 

£1.50



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



Saturday, October 6, 2018

Dog-Ear - Issue 9


Dog-Ear - Issue 9


6cm x 21cm (A4 folded into 5 panels)

Free where stocked / £1.50 if bought online





Dog-Ear is a great example of a publication in which content, form, and distribution, all coalesce into a unique, perfect zine. 

The zine is formatted from a single A4 sheet concertina folded into a bookmark. The size means each page is perfect for poems, short short-stories, and provides an elongated blank canvas for original illustrations. 


The contents of issue 9 include witty pieces from Neil Laurenson, Olivia Spidel, Nathan Fidler, Rebecca Field, and Mansour Chow; an excellent visual interpretation of Day of the Triffids by Vicki Johnson; and an experimental crossword by Charlie Methven in which the answers are each a different single letter of the alphabet (its a concept George Perec - member of the Oulipo and crossword composer - would definitely approve).

Dog-Ear is primarily distributed free at selected independent bookshops at locations around the world, but it is also available to buy either as a year subscription (£7 for 4 issues), or individually at £1.50 an issue. 

Dog-Ear is also open for submission - check their website for details: dog-ear.co/submit


Review by Nathan Penlington


Friday, October 5, 2018

Läskimooses - year #6 (2017)


Läskimooses - year #6 (2017 - numbers 35-40)

by Matti Hagelberg 



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

6 issues, variable page count (approx 24-38 pages), with A4 English translation sheets.




If you haven't read my previous reviews of Läskimooses here's a quick recap from my review of year #5:
Läskimooses straddles experimental comics, diy culture, punk aesthetics, and graphic art. It's already the longest single comic book story ever produced in Finland, with about two years left to run. Läskimooses is written entirely in Finnish but thankfully, for the non-Finnish speakers, each issue comes complete with an A4 sheet containing English translations.
My reviews are taking the series year by year, until we catch up with the latest issue #42 - the full set of reviews will be found here, and like the the series itself it's probably best to read them in order. 

Year six of Läskimooses opens with the continuing story of Agner Mang - what unfolds is a story of a race with the dream of total planetary dominance, one that mirrors Earth's history of colonialism, with an additional secret society - a golden age conspiracy theory trope - at its core. 
But it's the last two issues of year six, particularly the bumper issue 40, that brings the larger narrative into focus and starts to tease at who is telling these stories, where we are, why we are here, and what our relationship is with the only other person in the 'now' of the narrative.
It's smartly plotted, edging the conspiracy theory satire into the formation of cults - the object of devotion being Läskimooses of course. The last issue of year six ends with six black squares, the final square just contains the words: "And Läskimooses didn't come". Another cliffhanger in pure Läskimooses style.
If you're reading the English translations you'll find a couple of small errors - a misplaced word, ie 'if' for an 'it', and once or twice you might find the page numbers don't correlate. But they are tiny, easily overlooked mistakes in an epic work. Certainly not enough to mar your engagement with the narrative. 

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! 

tictail.com/laskimooses
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 4, 2018

What Cubehead Thinks


What Cubehead thinks (souls)

by Will Conway / tastes of ink

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

£1.50



The third issue of What Cubehead Thinks tackles the shadowy spectre of souls. 

I know, you're thinking that perhaps you don't need to listen to what a man with a cube for a head has to say about a topic religious scholars have been arguing about for centuries. But, within just eight pages, Cubehead pulls apart whole belief systems with a robust, smart, witty logic.

I can honestly say that even after only three issues Cubehead is becoming one of my favourite alternative comic characters, one that's perfectly suited to a pocket sized zine format. I look forward to more. 



You can pick up a copy on etsy: etsy.com/uk/listing/647357237/what-cubehead-thinks-will-conway-first

While you are there check out Will's other Cubehead zines - both of which (and more) are reviewed here.


Review by Nathan Penlington


Monday, October 1, 2018

I came home with a foreigner Saturday night



I came home with a foreigner Saturday night
by Jeremy Dixon / Hazard Press

A6, eight pages, Limted edition of 100, colour print, hand stitched. 

£4 (free p&p)




I am a huge fan of found art and found writing. One of my favourite zines of the early 2000's was Found magazine, I included a monthly found poetry column in The Fix (now no more, but at the time the UK's first stand up comedy magazine), and my live interactive show Choose Your Own Documentary centres around four pages of a diary found between the pages of a second hand book. So, even before opening this up, I knew I was going to like it. 

I came home with a foreigner Saturday night reproduces a photographic portrait of a man taken sometime around 1910-1919, and a handwritten entry scrawled on the back. Because its tricky to decipher the handwriting, the text has also been translated into type, and in the process has become poetry. 


The poem is pregnant with desire, promise and hope. And like all found writing is riddled with questions - the who, what, where - but also 'what happened next?'. It is this fragment of time lost that gives this little book its power. 




To buy a copy, or to check out more of Jeremy's work visit: www.hazardpress.co.uk



Review by Nathan Penlington



Saturday, September 29, 2018

What Cubehead Thinks


What Cubehead thinks (chickens & eggs)

by Will Conway / tastes of ink

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

£1.50



Another outing for the enigmatic philosophiser Cubehead. This time he turns the age old conundrum of chicken and egg on its head. If you think you've heard all the smart answers already, trust me, you haven't. 

Don't let the size of this little comic deceive you, it is smart, witty, and irreverent - its a must buy. 



You can pick up a copy on Etsy etsy.com/uk/listing/633526996/what-cubehead-thinks-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

Friday, September 28, 2018

Finding your way to Dylan Thomas



Finding your way to Dylan Thomas
by Jeremy Dixon / Hazard Press

A4 zine fold, colour printed. 

£3 




A charming little literary zine, a homage to the work of Dylan Thomas and a poem about place. 


The micro-book rests on a simple idea: a series of photographs of the signs that lead to Dylan Thomas' boathouse in Laugharne,  South Wales - a place that directly inspired one of Dylan's most famous works Under Milk Wood. 

Simple thought it might be, this little publication is ultimately greater than the sum of its parts. Finding your way to Dylan Thomas indirectly asks the question that all tourist pilgrimages must ultimately confront - what is it you've ultimately come to see? There is a melancholy in the locations of the heritage signs that ultimately must face the inevitable. 



Fan of Dylan Thomas or not (and how can you really be a not?) it's an engaging publication from a press with many other intriguing literary experiments to explore. 

To buy a copy, or to check out more of Jeremy's work visit: www.hazardpress.co.uk


Review by Nathan Penlington


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Golden Rule - collected poems of Ernest Noyes Brookings


The Golden Rule - collected poems of Ernest Noyes Brookings

Boatwhistle Books, 2016

242 pages, 12.8cm x 19.7cm, perfect bound paperback

£15 





This is not a zine, but it couldn't be more fundamentally zine related. If you don't recognise the name Ernest Noyes Brookings we have to go back in a time via a digression. 

In 1979 David Greenberger started the zine The Duplex Planet. Seeking to capture the personalities and histories of the residents of a nursing home he was working in, David began to interview them. Answers to questions like 'What kind of animal would you be if you had to be one?', or 'What can you get for free?', offer a poignant glimpse of lives lived in our recent history. Due to the perfect combination of content, emotion, and humour, The Duplex Planet became hugely influential, and at its peak it could name among its regular readers the likes of Michael Stipe and Lou Reed. 

The Duplex Planet zine spawned many offshoots: a comic book series that featured stories and interviews taken directly from the pages of the zine combined with strips drawn by some of the biggest names in graphic art; and David Greenberger continues to release albums of spoken word set to music that capture the humour and personality of various residents - bringing the words to life in a way well beyond the capabilities of the printed page. 




And within all that is the work of Ernest Noyes Brookings.

Encouraged by David Greenberger, Brookings started writing poetry at age 81, and in the time leading up to his death at age 89 he wrote over 400 poems on a huge variety of topics. The poem titles reveal their subject: Milk, Taking a Bath, Toaster, Spaghetti, Life of a Detective, Watermelon. All receive the same attention, wit, wisdom, and sometimes off the rails logic. Five compilation albums were also made of left-field bands using Brookings' words as lyrics - a series of heartfelt tributes to a true original. 

Brookings' poems were originally published in the pages of The Duplex Planet, spread across most of the 178 issues. The Golden Rule collects together for the first time all of Brookings' published work, and a few poems never previously published in any form. It's the perfect poetry book to read out loud (which I did through a speaking tube, as catalogued in my zine Hi, it's your dad here). Brookings' unexpected twists and turns of language, his repetition of unique phrases and images across different subject matter, is a joy to share with others. 

The introduction by David Greenberger recounts his friendship with Ernie, and the inspiration and origin of Brookings' first poems. Two appendices are also included - one concerns the difficulty of transcribing the poems from Brookings' tiny handwriting, the other is an essay about his poetry that includes this perfect advice:


"Young poets should quit those goddamn idiotic creative writing programs and read this man's poems for 6 months, every day, all day, without rest, and without reading any other poetry" 

Although that's an extreme prescription, Brookings' poems are a lesson for everyone, not least because they prove that it's never too late to start something new. 



You can buy The Golden Rule direct from Boatwhistle Books - boatwhistle.com/the-golden-rule

or order via your favourite bookstore. (ISBN: 978-1-911052-00-5)


You can find some of David Greenberger's albums on Google Play Music, Apple Music, and Spotify. 

Duplex Planet back issues, merchandise, and Ernest Noyes Brookings albums, are available from: duplexplanet.com





Review by Nathan Penlington

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