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


Monday, July 22, 2013

Bring on the Dancing Horses

By Shaun
PO Box 1282
Fullerton, CA
92836, USA

Bring on the Dancing Horses is another zine by the author of There is a Danger, which I reviewed last month. It covers much of the same material as that zine (bicycle trips, exploring, abandoned buildings), but is much longer, and perhaps because of this is able to have more of a narrative in places.

Specifically there's a lot written about a giant squat Shaun stayed in while in New York City, the people he met while he lived there, the adventures they had, and how they were eventually evicted. As a person who enjoys abandoned buildings, urban exploration, dumpster diving, and adventures, this stuff really appealed to me, and Shaun's accounts of hiding in dark rooms filled with junk while the police walked by, or sleeping in a cleaned out elevator control room successfully managed to paint pictures in my mind.

I read Shaun's zine at a very specific time when it may have had more of an impact on me than even a week ago. I have a full-time job I find to be (while somewhat worthwhile) incredibly boring. My plan was to work until August, visit some friends and family, and then start a new chapter of my life in another city in September. I have recently discovered that this new chapter will not be what I had planned, but will instead be something currently entirely mysterious to me. While some find this liberating, I've spent the last seven years of my life feeling fairly rudderless, and had hoped to have a goal slightly longer than "pay this month's rent". While I can work my boring job if I have something to look forward to, I now wonder why I should even bother with my job, and whether I should, like Shaun, give up on the capitalist society we exist in, and become more outside it than I already am, rejecting societal norms, and existing as a scavenger. This was only cemented by the sudden onset of spring, and days with 20 degree weather (to all the Americans that read this remember that I live in Canada, so this is actually warm).

PostScript: Included with Shaun's zines I received a letter that described what his zines were about. One small piece really stood out to me. It was about how part of this zine was about "a girl (always a girl...)", and really, that's kind of true. For a certain type of person, there is always a girl. One that you find, one that you leave behind, one that you remember.

Excerpt (I don't usually do these, but thought I should for this zine):

I woke up early and set off into the building, flashlight in hand and a feeling of vertigo from the sheer size of the labyrinthian halls, the multiple wings and adjoined church left eerily empty and bathed in dust and stained-glass light, and so much detritus from its past lives as a community center. On the third floor was the main room, lined by open windows whose glass had been removed, now letting light, noise and breeze flow lushly throughout the room. Most other windows in the building were boarded up, allowing in only a small sliver of light through the triangular wedges cut from the bottom of each plywood sheet. This made nearly every room dark, menacingly silent, and possessed of so many odd and curious details of which one could mine a litany of scenarios and theoretical explanations for.

On the lower floors were the large performance theater and basketball court. Chairs were scattered about the floor, a painted set remained standing on the stage, and a tall laddered-platform on wheels sat in the middle of the room. It was hard to know if these all were left in carless [sic] abandonment or if they were the remains of some squatter-party, as Bowery Manor at once appeared both the elegiac remnants of a once-bustling community space forced out by the city of New York and a boundless playground for those who stumbled upon the shell, determined to breathe life back into it. Unfortunately, the building being closed off meant that it was illegal to be anywhere on the property, and anyone coming or going or inside Bowery Manor had to be ware of any police of HPD presence around the building. Thus, besides the metal door installed by the kids and secured with chains and padlocks, the first floor also had a large metal beam wedged between the stairs and the rollgate, the only accessible entrance to anyone who did not want to squeeze through the sledgehammered hole beneath the tarp or climb through a second story window.

Debris lined the floor nearly everywhere you looked - phone books, paper, clothes, boxes full of completely useless objects, nearly any imaginable functionless item could probably be found somewhere on the floors or shelves or in the drawers or in any of the other nooks and crevices in the building. In some rooms, you were not stepping on any floor at all but on the slippery and unstable mountains of old magazines, computer equipment, kitchen tools, CD cases. The swimming pool in the basement was filled to an even six inches below the brim, not with water but with junk.

(Originally written for 365 Zines a Year.)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Sorry vs Sausage

By Bernard Boulevard and Gordon Gordon
PO Box 20204 Seattle, WA
98102, USA

This incredibly short (one sheet of folded paper) is pretty odd. It combines random pictures with text about the words in the title. There is no actual vs, unless you read about both and decide one is better than the other based upon some arbitrary rules.

The "sorry" section seems like a tirade against Canadians. "You say SORRY way too much. [...] you tell me you're SORRY?! That is so lame, you meek prick. You should be in my face yelling "In Your FACE!!"". Um, yeah.

The sausage section is kind of amusing ("The Best Sausages are Fat and Juicy [...] And Slam Your Throat With Pleasure!"), and mentions vegetarian sausages, so I guess it wins.

(Originally written for 365 Zines a Year.)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Three Zine

By Squid

One of the first thing you notice about this zine is the way it's printed. I have no idea how Squid did this, but the blacks on this zine are incredibly black and shiny. There are a couple of pages that are mostly black, and they just feel thick with ink. It's really neat.

As to the content, Three features drawings (of monsters!), comics, and recipes, but the majority of the zine is made up of "interviews with cool females".

Squid talks with one of the organizers of the Women's Autonomous Nuisance Cafe (WANC), and female members of the musical groups Lilies on Mars, Seaming To (okay, a person rather then a group), and Creatures of Kontrast.

I enjoyed reading all the interviews, as they range across a fairly wide variety of questions and talk about some cool stuff and actually made me go and listen to the bands online. The WANC interview discusses lady DJs, squatting, and other neat stuff, while all of them feel more like conversations than some of the interviews you read.

There are also reviews of concerts by a couple of the bands. The first of which seems to degenerate into a fever dream ("AAAAAAAAAAAAGH! Giant cockroaches with TV's for brains and temporary bus stop signs for noses!") before returning to talk about the music. Though considering that one of the band members say that they like "confusion, paranoia, and craziness" I think this is probably appropriate.

(Originally written for 365 Zines a Year.)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Skillshot 16, 17, & 18


I recently (ie. about an hour ago) finished reading Yeti Researcher, a fake scholarly journal devoted to the study of crypto-hominids. Its humour lies in its combination of reality with fiction, and how you're never quite sure how seriously to take any of it. I really dug it, and it reminded me of a piece I once wrote in a zine for the (fictional) Canadian Journal of Kaiju Film Studies about the Very Hungry Caterpillar vs Godzilla film.

I bring this up, because if I didn't know any better I might think that Skill Shot was an equally fictitious zine, chronically events that never happened, and people that didn't exist.

Except that they do exist, despite the fact that I don't think I've ever met anyone who's (admitted to being) into pinball, and before I read this zine I didn't even know there was a pinball scene.

These zines cover events that have happened, news and gossip about what machines might be coming next and which are broken, techniques, question and answer sessions with pinball players ("Do you listen to music while playing Pinball?"), high score challenges, the locations of every pinball machine in Seattle, the Seattle Pinball Museum, and more.

Honestly, it still seems kind of like some elaborate scam, but since there's a website, and more than 18 issues I have to accept that it's a real subculture that I've just never encountered.

In one way Skill Shot really succeeds: every time I finish reading an issue I want to start playing pinball. Apparently there's a Halifax Pinball League, maybe I'll check it out next month.

(Originally written for 365 Zines a Year.)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Gadgie 24

By Marv
PO Box 93
PE21 7YB

Gadgie is another of those big, thick (over 30 pages) punk zines that covers music, zines, complaints, and whatever else is running through the creator's mind.

Gadgie's been coming out for ages, and its creator Marv is now in his late 30s, married, and even has a child. Old punks don't die, they just (pro)create the next generation.

In this issue Marv talks about the punk scene in Boston, England (both current and its origins), going to Loch Ness for a holiday with his partner and kid, misheard lyrics, a pretty epic account of every injury he's ever acquired while playing soccer/football, and loads of other stuff.

I like how Marv seems really enthusiastic about everything, and how being injured bothers him because it means he can't go and dance at punk shows. However, his nonstop style of writing was kind of exhausting, as you don't really have any idea when the longer pieces are going to end or what's going to happen next.

Marv has a really distinct style of writing, a sort of stream of consciousness "I did this, then I did this, then this happened" type of thing. If it appeals to you you'll probably be happy to read anything he writes, but if it doesn't then I'm not sure there's any topic he could get you to read about. I think I fall somewhere in the middle.

(Originally written for 365 Zines a Year.)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Enter The Barefoot Lone Pilgrim: Origins

By David Blandy and Inko

I've reviewed a couple of Blandy's comics on this site in the past. If you read those reviews you might understand why I have a hard time thinking what to say about this comic that mixes James Brown lyrics with Shaolin monk cliches.

This is, I think, the comic by Blandy that I've enjoyed the least. Whereas the others had more concrete topics, this one is much more vague in what it's about. The cover blares "Discover the true origins of the barefoot lone pilgrim!", and is made up in several ways to look like an old fashioned superhero comic. Yet inside we only get a single person sitting inside, reading, drawing, and thinking about philosophy. Actually, I guess that is the origin of Blandy's alter ego.

Blandy's books are usually very attractive packages and, apart from a lettering font I didn't really care for, this continues that trend. The story is well suited by Inko's art, and I enjoy the style in which he draws people. A person just sitting in a chair could be boring to look at, but Inko uses a number of different angles and varying degrees of close-ups to create some really nice looking panels. While there aren't that many background, the fact that he draws multiple panels that just consist of feet puts him miles ahead of many superhero artists for whom creating comics is actually a job.

I really like the idea of combining philosophy with the trappings of superhero comics (and video games). These are media that generally don't focus on philosophical thought, and I definitely feel that Blandy could create a really cool comic based around this idea. While I don't think that this is it, at least it made me think about some things.

(Originally written for 365 Zines a Year.)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Trixie Biker bootleg

By Matthew Craig

I've reviewed a couple of Trixie Biker comics in the past, and I kind of wish I'd read this one first, as it's a brief origin story for the character. Now I know the vague, and not really important origin for this magically-powered, motorcycle-riding superhero.

The art's not the best, but at least part of that is down to the not great reproduction. Plus it's like five years old, I'm pretty sure Craig's art has improved since then.

(Originally written for 365 Zines a Year.)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Beauty Patrol

By Cody Roder

I recently read something online somewhere (on the Comics Reporter maybe?) that talked about graduates from the Center for Cartoon Studies. The person (whoever they were) wrote about how the center was turning out comics graduates who may know something about putting together a comic, but are still just making minicomics and webcomics with the hope that something will catch on and they'll have a career.

This comic really reminded me of that idea, because while this comic may have a pretty cool cover, the interior is generally confusing and not particularly coherent. At least part of this is because the comic contained within is at least partially a "daily diary comic" (or at least that's what it says on the final page), but I never would have guessed that.

Instead we have characters who wander around doing not much, and spend a lot of time thinking about and discussing various philoso-physics concepts. There is definitely a place in comics for discussions about entropy, particles, time and space, and similar things, but I don't think its place is in comics that use nine panel grids where the art barely changes between panels, and the dialogue is disjointed and sentences are strung out across pages.

I think ultimately I just don't understand why this comic was printed. Not why it was made, because making any sort of art can help you get to grips with your thoughts and you have to work on your art to get better. But I just don't really know who the audience for a comic like this is.

(Originally written for 365 Zines a Year.)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Lost in the Jungle

By Jason Niebauer

I reviewed one of Niebauer’s zines a while ago, and was a bit disappointed. This one however is basically review proof. It’s just some drawings of abstract shapes in a 1/8th size zine. I really don’t have anything to say about it at all.

(Originally written for 365 Zines a Year.)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Jerry's Journal, Volume 2

Jerry's Journal, Volume 2
5.5" x 7.5", 32 pages, black and white w/ color cover, $5
Jerry is back and appears to be fresh out of a relationship that must have ended terribly. It isn't clear if it was a romantic relationship or a friendship that has come to such a tragic end; regardless, it has left Jerry in a sour mood. Jerry's creator, Neil Fitzpatrick, is incredible at conveying the emotion of the situation, both with his blunt and succinct writing and his simple yet well executed artwork. The words and art combine to create something quite profound. The 15 or so minutes that it will take you to read this book is well worth it. Whether you can relate to Jerry's situation or not, his monologues will offer you some food for thought, and the overall presentation will entertain you.


Neil Fitzpatrick

Jerry's Journal, Volume 1

Jerry's Journal, Volume 1
5.5" x 7.5", 32 pages, black and white w/ color cover, $5
Jerry is a bird and a depressive, and this is his journal. He is the creation of Neil Fitzpatrick, and so immediately one must wonder just how similar Jerry is to Jerry's creator...but perhaps that's beside the point. As it is, Jerry is an observer of life, and ultimately he seems to conclude that life is quite pointless, sad, absurd, and boring. From my perspective, Jerry's cynical view is very relatable, and so I like him. However, even if you're not a cynic and you don't find self-deprecation to be all that funny, I'm sure you will still find something to like about Jerry. If nothing else, you have to admit that he is pretty damn adorable.

Neil Fitzpatrick

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