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


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

TBA issue 4

This music and art zine actually uses a really cool format. The whole thing is screenprinted onto a huge piece of paper, and once unfolded it features a pretty rad poster with art by one of the artists interviewed inside.

I think screenprinting in general is pretty neat, though I have pretty limited experience with it. I keep meaning to learn how to do it well, but up to this point that day has not arrived. Instead I can just read things like this, be impressed by the general readability of the screen printed text, and dream.

Content wise there are two interviews with artists, two with musicians, and some info on bands and other art/design publications, all of which are pretty good. I would have liked a few more pictures, but the poster really does make up for that.

Unfortunately, the website address included doesn't lead to anything anymore, so I guess they stopped putting this out. It's too bad as it's a pretty awesome idea.

(This review was originally published on 365 Zines a Year.)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bicycles and Autonomy

Bicycles and Autonomy

The Chainbreaker Bike Book
a Rough Guide to Bicycle Maintenance
222 s. rogers st.
Bloomington, IN 47404

This is an illustrated guide to everything you’ll ever need to know about fixing and maintaining bicycles. It tells you what tools to use, which way to turn the nuts & bolts (not always the way you think), and provides insider tips and advice along the way. This is seriously the only book you will ever need on bicycle maintenance. But That’s only the first half of this book, the second half of the book is the reprinted version of the zine that started it all, Chainbreaker. Great zine, excellent reading, and very inspirational. I loved Shelly’s article entitled, “Hey Ladies!” wherein she recounts some of the challenges and obstacles that she has had to overcome being a woman mechanic. Stories like this need to be told and re-told as often as possible. The layout is cut and paste and full of beautiful pictures of bikes and bike people, fun illustrations that reminded me of ‘The Moonlight Chronicles’ at times, and really great bike-centric stories, ideas, and advice.

Anarchist Bicycle Rally Confidential Mad Libs
Joe Biel
POB 14332
Portland, OR
ABR CML is a compilation of police reports written about Portland Critical Mass bicycle rallies from 1993 through 2005 with select words taken out mad lib style. As an activist I found this to be fascinating. I thought I might be a bit freaked out by it, in the “Seriously? They really do spend all of that money and dedicate all of those resources to this stuff” kind of way, and to a certain extent I was. But I also felt a bit of relief that my paranoia over all these years has been somewhat justified. This book is a good resource for anyone who feels compelled to speak loudly about issues that threaten the status quo. Knowledge is power and reading this gives the reader a unique look into the inner workings of at least one bureaucracy paid to keep the peace in the ‘progressive’ city of Portland.

How and Why: a do-it-yourself guide
Matte Resist
POB 582345
Minneapolis, MN 55458
Microcosm $14
222 s. rogers st
Bloomington, IN 47404
In keeping with the bike-centric-diy-theme, we have this book. Like ‘Chainbreaker’, H&W is full of illustrated and useful information outlined in an accessible and very reader-friendly way with lots of pictures. And it begins with bicycles: how to fix ‘em, outfit ‘em, and even how to ride ‘em in the winter. It goes on to provide practical information and tips on a wide variety of subjects such as buying a house, building a mouse trap, educating & socializing your youngsters, building musical instruments out of all kinds of funky shit (bike spoke kalimba?), bike tube bungee cords, pop can solar panels, and an extensive section on how to grow veggies that’s worth the price of the book alone. This is a great resource for anyone wanting to take a shot at living off the grid, or at least attempting to move a bit further away.

The Sea Part Three

By Will Kirkby

Dang, it's been like six months since I last read one of these, and almost a year since I read part one. Maybe I have too many things to read. And maybe (probably) I should dig up the first two issues of this series and reread them since upon starting this one I'm a little lost (but I'm not even sure if I still have those issues anymore).

My confusion as to what was going on in this issues makes me think that anyone picking this up without reading the previous two issues might not enjoy it much (though I suppose I could be completely wrong). We're dropped into the middle of a plot, there's a time jump I didn't really get, characters aren't introduced very well, and one of them only speaks Japanese. Okay, so the main character (who's thoughts we are able to read) can't understand him either, and by not translating the speech Kirkby is putting us more into the mindset of the main character, but it's kind of annoying because he's clearlying saying _something_, I just have no idea what.

The story itself invovles captivity, monsters, escapes, amateur surgery, ominous predictions, and similar things. Kirkby uses first person narration to tell most of the story, and unfortunately it doesn't work as well here as it did in issue one. There the character was trapped on a boat and had only himself to talk to for most of the comic, whereas here we have other characters but have no real knowledge of what they're up to.

While the story disappointed me somewhat I continue to enjoy Kirkby's art. He uses a lot of close-up images of the characters heads in his art, each almost filling the panels. These are good at creating a sense of claustrophobia, and I remember them working really well in the earlier comics. However once the characters escape from captivity I'm left longing for bigger images that show more of what's going on. Kirkby at times does leave the four panel grid behind and draw images across an entire page, but all these really do is make me wish that all of the art was bigger and that this had been released in a different format.

If you haven't read any of Kirkby's comics this isn't the best place to start. Instead you should go and pick up issue one of The Sea or the Birdsong anthology he's involved with. He's an excellent artist, and I look forward to seeing what he'll work on next.

(This review was originally published on 365 Zines a Year.)

Monday, March 28, 2011

book reviews - activism

A number of people recently have talked to me about feeling like my (and previous) generation hasn’t passed down the lessons we’ve learned from our own experience and activism. Here are few books that are full of great essays.

That’s Revolting! : Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation, edited by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore

I’m reading this right now and it is so excellent! A really wide range of essays. Stories from the 60’s to today, all of them really relevant. This should be on everyone’s reading list. It’s a great introduction to radical queer politics, and a great reinvigorator for those of us who have gotten comfortable in our own lives and taken a break from dealing with the world. There’s so many great essays in here, it’s hard to pick out a few to highlight, but I did really appreciate the two on Gay Marriage, one by Carol Queen. “Certainly, oppression in any context is wrong. Naturally, queer folk are irritated when straight people get benefits denied to same-sex partners … pissed off queers making a point can cause the culture to shift.” She argues that instead of trying to “squeeze our asses onto the park bench of Normalcy” it would better serve the world and ourselves if we celebrated and fought for our wonderful diversity – for more choices rather than fewer.
Another great essay is a conversation between Marlon Bailey, Priya Kandaswamy, and Mattie Udora Richardson called Is Gay Marriage Racist. They discuss all kinds of questions people pose in support of gay marriage (questions I’ve had myself) and provide alternative ways of looking at these questions.
There are so many other topics covered in this book. Rural queer teens, activism from the 60’s and today. Performance Art, Protests, Pipe bombs, Sex, Films, Queer Radio, more and more and more.

Uses of a Whirlwind: Movements and Contemporary Radical Currents in the United States, edited by Team Colors Collective

I’ve heard the Team Colors has a pretty theoretical and hard to understand website, and this book does start out with a pretty inaccessible introduction and first essay, but after that, it is really useful. The essay A Look at Resistance to Interstate 69 by Earth First, discusses lessons learned about positive and problematic roles activists play when they come into a community they are not from to organize and do direct action – lessons I’ve seen activists have to learn over and over, so I’m grateful someone has written about it! Another essay I really liked was Harvesting Solidarity: Farmworkers, Allies and the Fight for Fair Food, which talks about a successful campaign for Florida tomato workers against Burger King and Taco Bell. It discusses tactics and how the coalition between farmworkers and students worked.
There’s an essay about queer activism (an autobiographical essay about why the Human Rights Campaign sucks and why pushing for hate crime legislation is not the answer), and an essay about current art activism. There’s a section on theoretical analysis. This book is a little disjointed and has more theory than I generally am drawn to, there are some essays that seemed like they were written for an audience that doesn't know much of anything about alternative culture, but I would hate to see it lost to the theory heads, because there is a lot of great info in here that I think would be particularly useful to younger or new activists. Also important for seasoned activists to get us thinking of how to think about and articulate our experiences and what can be learned from them.

From Act Up to the WTO
I must have leant this out, because I can’t find it. I’ve leant it out so much and everyone loves it. It is a history of Queer activism from mainly the 80’s and 90’s. So much of our history, even our current history, gets disappeared, and this book helps

Ypsilanti District Library. What's a zine, you ask? The event offers teens the opportunity to create their own small self-published periodicals or zin

Metal Between Two Faces No. 1

By Michael Lomon

In serialized fiction you've got to figure out how to break your story into satisfying pieces. Each part could potentially be someone's first, but the most important part is the first. You have to get the key players on the page, explain the plot, and hook the reader to make them come back for more. This can be hard to do when you're working with limited pages, and is the major stumbling block of this comic.

The thirteen pages presented here did manage to convey that the story is set in some sort of horrible dystopian city filled with robots, radition contamination zones, and killer mutants (exciting!), but failed to really tell me what the story is going to be about. Is it a romance set against the backdrop of this strange city? Is it a crime mystery with certain characters (but which ones?) trying to track down a murderer? Will there be a rebellion against the dictitatorial rule that seems to exist? Some combination of the above? Something completely different?

There are definitely things I liked about this comic (who doesn't enjoy a good mutant-robot muder mystery?), but I can't help but think that if this first chapter had twice as many pages to set the scene it would have worked far better (and perhaps I would have understood what happened on that last page).

Artwise Metal Between Two Faces differs rather radically from the background-lacking comic I reviewed yesterday, as almost every piece of the page is covered with drawings. Scenes set outside feature massive buildings in the backgrounds, while those inside feature densely crosshatched walls and crossword style floors. The gutters between panels are solid black and rarely straight, while speech bubbles are jammed into corners and sometimes cover up artwork. This makes everything flow together, and at times it can be a bit hard to concentrate on one specific area of the drawing. Still, the larger images manage to convey the busy, chaotic city that the story takes place in and are quite nice to look at.

(This review was originally published on 365 Zines a Year.)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Images from the zine produced by the 2011 Expanding the Walls students in collaboration with current artist in residence Kamau Amu Patton

Somewhere City 1

Written by Adam Clegg
Drawn by Michael Scott

Noir crime stories are filled with cliches: the missing girl, the tough-as-nails hardboiled detective who smokes all the time, the feeling that even if the hero wins the battle they've lost the war, and even more that I cannot remember. While lots of people are really into this genre they never really click with me unless the creators add something extra: a science fiction or fantasty element that makes it more interesting to me because I love monsters and robots.

Somewhere City takes an idea reminiscent of Dark City. There doesn't seem to be any way out, and nobody can remember who they are or why they're there. The inhabitants seem to have been there for several years, and try to live their lives as best they can in a town surrounded by forbidden zones and filled with sketchy areas. Of coruse all of that is background info that we learn while the main missing person plot is going on, and it works well. The hints suggest that that Clegg and Scott have a whole world and society built up and they'll reveal it as the story progresses.

This first issue features the detective talking tracking down informants and trying to find some clues. I generally liked the art and Scott manages to pull off all the talking heads used throughout the issue (though how much of that is down to the female lead having a Betty Boo haircut I'm not sure).

The major problem with the art is that many of the panels are lacking in backgrounds. This lack of detail leaves the characters floating in white space, and is especially noticable because some of the pages and panels do feature backgrounds, and they're quite nice ones that help to set the scene and show you more things about this mysterious city (a stall selling "books in lost languages" for example). I guess the artist either ran out of time before they wanted to print this or just decided it wasn't worth it. I hope future issues have more backgrounds as I'm looking forward to reading them.

(This review was originally published on 365 Zines a Year.)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

City of Roses


This is another excerpt from a larger work, and it too is printed on only one piece of paper, but it's quarter sized and stapled! There are eight pages! Clearly this makes it an actual zine instead of whatever it was I was reviewing yesterday. Yes my standards don't make any sense. (Also, I just got rid of a couple of things from my zine box that I decided weren't actual zines, one less thing to review! Parts of one of them might end up on my 365 Artist Trading Cards site though.)

Portland is known as the City of Roses, and that's where this story fragment is set. Whether it's part of a longer series or not I don't know, but this small piece of urban fantasy did manage to hold my attention and make me wish that I'd gotten one of the complete issues.

Instead, I'm left to wonder what the characters who appear are (they don't seem to be fully human), what the monster mentioned was doing, and what the hell was going on in the train at the end of the story.

I generally enjoyed the prose that was used, though I did find the use of present tense a bit weird for some reason. Another thing I thought was strange was the way the characters spoke. The characters frequently speak in sentence fragments, which reflects how people speak in real life but often feels awkward in prose. At times I wasn't sure if there was a word missing or if the author had meant for the sentence to end that way.

This was in contrast with one place where a character told a mythological story of some kind and spoke in a strange manner, both archaic and fanciful. Of course, the character says that "everyone knows" this story, so it could be that they are repeating words that have been told by others for a long time.

I'd like to read more of this, though I feel that not knowning Portland that well (I've never even been on the train system, I rode my bicycle everywhere) I'd miss out on a lot of the little references that residents of the city would enjoy. Of course, those could just make my next trip more exciting when I visit places where fictional monster battles happened.

(This review was originally published on 365 Zines a Year.)

Friday, March 25, 2011

What is a zine?

Well? How do you define it? (Please comment and let me know!) I barely have any idea except that sometimes I think something is "zine-y" and sometimes I don't.

Today I'm reviewing three short photocopied things that I've somehow managed to attain. Where did they come from? How did I get them? Are they any good? Are they even zines? Can you tell that these are some of the things from my almost empty box of zines that I mentioned?

Each of these is a single photocopied piece of paper folded in half, and that's my first major stumbling block. It seems too small, too inconsequential, to count as anything. Yet, I've seen things (like Peach Melba) made from one piece of paper which I definitely think of as zines. It seems that "thickness" is a major factor in how I define what is and isn't a zine. Fold a single piece of paper in half once and it doesn't count, fold it twice (or more!) and it does. Why is this? I think it must be because I generally assume you could just shrink these pages down and have them fill half the space. But surely you could do that with any zine?

Well, enough pointless thinking, it's time to actualy look at these individually and decide whether or not they count as zines.

Goodbye Midlothian Hello Greater Edinburgh

This provides information regarding a proposed expansion of roads in some area of the UK that I'm guessing is Scotland, but other than the title I have never heard of a single place name included here. The writer wants there to be less cars and more public transit (yay!) instead of whatever the government has planned. If you're from the area that it's about it could provide you with some useful information about the proposal.

I'm going to say that this isn't a zine; it's a flyer, a leaflet, an informational publication, or something else that is about important stuff, but really needed to be edited (it misspelled "council" on the first line) and reformated (type written and hand written text?). This leads to two further questions: why do I care so much about format and where they hell did I even get this?

Strange Biros

This one is a preview for three different things. Two pages of a comic about a paranormal investigator in the 1940s which features a giant snail, one page of a prose story about the same character, and a single page comic that is clearly part of a longer piece and tells you almost nothing about the comic (a Nazi robot demon is mentioned but not shown, and that's not a good enough pull for me).

Maybe I'd read more of these stories, but the previews haven't attracted me in any real way.

By the Brothers McLeod

Okay, now this one has almost enough content to get its own review, but I'm just going to do it here. It's a collection of drawings that I think can be best described as character possibilities. It seems like the McLeods drew a bunch of different people and doodles and maybe something will happen with them and maybe not. My favourite was Mr Tweed, a stereotypical university looking man who carries around a bag full of lobsters and books he's never read. I wouldn't mind reading some more stuff by these guys, maybe some day.

And that's it! So yeah, I'd really only count one of these as having enough content to be a "proper" zine, but really whether something is a zine or not is up to both the creator and the reader. I'm hardly the expert in this stuff, and something I hate could easily be someone elses favourite.

(This review was originally published on 365 Zines a Year.)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Word, Peng #1

By James 'Couk' Downing

I remember back when I was in high school and university I would read Exclaim! every month. It was a free, monthly, newsprint magazine about music and other stuff. I'm probably more into music now than I was back then (listening to Radio 6 everyday exposes me to new music, fancy that!) but the two things I remember about it was that my university radio station was too crap to send in lists of what the most popular songs being played were and Marc Bell's bizarre comic strip Shrimy and Paul. It was a strange comic that I can't really describe very well (especially since I haven't read it in like eight years), and while there doesn't seem to be much of it online, you can take a look at a couple of pages here.

Okay, so why spend so much time talking about Canadian music magazines and Marc Bell? Because at times the short comics in Word, Peng really reminded me of Shrimpy and Paul both in the style in which it was drawn and the type of humour it used. (The art also reminds me of someone else, but I can't remember who, so we'll just forget about that.)

Downing has drawn a number of different comics in here, ranging from just a few panels up to several pages. The comic strips frequently suffer from overly sketchy art and while the shorter pieces can be funny (I especially enjoyed all the ads for fake products) my favourites in here are the incredibly surreal, and more nicely drawn, ones that Downing has clearly spent more time on. These feature some sort of weird flying worm, the adventures of Three-Head (see below), a fill-in-the-blanks comic that becomes increasingly nonsensical as more and more is left to the reader's imagination, and one with a giant evil robot yeti that starts off as normal as something like that can be but by the end has become somewhat unsettling.

These longer comics share a surreal sense of humour and stories in which you have no idea what will happen yet. Bizarre things occur, and while you may at first find them funny, when given more thought they somehow seem almost tragic. Now if only all of these comics in here had more of that and less of characters shitting everywhere.

(This review was originally published on 365 Zines a Year.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Xerography Debt #28

68 pages, digest size, $3.00 from Davida Gypsy Breier, PO Box 11064, Baltimore MD 21212, USA + Davida(at) leekinginc.com + http://www.leekinginc.com/xeroxdebt/
Xerography Debt #28 and Zine World #30 landed in my mailbox on the same day. Which one to review first? Well, if in doubt, I always go for alphabetical (and I'm not alone! See end of review...)
In this issue:
- totally kickass awesome wraparound cover by Hai Anxieti;
- Davida clarifies XD's relationship with Microcosm in the wake of the flood of rumours and allegations flying around about Microcosm and Joe Biel;
- another instalment of the excellent 'Where Are They Now?' series that catches up with ex-ziners to find out stuff like why they quit publishing their zine, what they're up to now, and would they consider doing another zine;
- columns by Dread Sockett (tackling XD's policy of only including positive reviews, and the complaint from some folks that XD reviews the same zines over and over, often in the same issue); Jeff Somers (on why he doesn't write zine reviews); and Gianni Simone ('A Fun Introduction To Mail Art');
- pages and pages of wonderful zine reviews! There's no way you're gonna read all these in one sitting, so this is the perfect reading material for busrides, or the dentist's waiting room!
[Full disclosure!: I am now one of the XD reviewers. A great honour! (good for XD, too - they finally have their 'token Aussie'! (Zine World has Dann Lennard.)) ... And a note on that - I wondered why my reviews were right at the very end of the issue. I'm the new guy, is that it? No, that is not it. The reason is simple: the reviewers appear in alphabetical order!]

The Matter Second Issue Preview

If you look at the cover of this zine you can figure out why it was made. The Portland Zine Symposium was about to happen and apparently they didn't have all the content ready for their second issue. But the problem with previews is that they're often kind of lacking in content.

This one features excerpts from a number of comics and prose pieces, but half of them are actually the second part of stories that began in the first issue, this means that the first issue is a more effective gauge of what will be in the second issue, and, since it includes complete chapters instead of excerpts, will give you a better idea of what the second issue will contain. (Though to be honest I'm not even sure if the second issue came out, as the website address listed in here no longer leads to anything.)

Still, I like the cover (I love that typographic style), and there's an introduction to this piece about what zines are that is kind of interesting. It's interesting to think that zines are _everything_. They can be comics or prose or poetry or art or photography or recipes or music or travel or personal or educational or anything. The only thing that really unites the people that make them is that they don't just want to make something, they have to, and they'll go to all extents to create and distribute what they've made.

Speaking of which, have you seen my zines? Want one? Email me and we can work something out.

(This review was originally published on 365 Zines a Year.)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Opuntia 70.1D

16 pages, digest size, $3.00 cash for a one-time sample copy, trade for your zine, or letter of comment - Dale Speirs, Box 6830, Calgary, Alberta, CANADA, T2P 2E7
With Dale's unique zine-numbering system, '.1' issues are reviewzines, so that's what we got here.
First up a review of 'Uranium: War, Energy, and the Rock That Shaped the World' by Tom Zoellner [2009] which covers the history of uranium.
Next up a review of 'Fiat Money Inflation in France' by Andrew Dickson White [1921, revised 1933], a study of hyperinflation in the aftermath of the French Revolution.
So far, pretty dry stuff that didn't interest me very much.
But then along comes 'Thar She Blows!' where Dale reviews a whole bunch of volcano disaster movies and TV episodes, including Dante's Peak [1997] (Dale admits that he has no practical experience with volcanoes - "...the last volcano in Alberta cut loose 63 megayears ago, so we don't have to carry extra coverage on our house insurance"); Volcano [1997]; Disaster Zone: Volcano in New York [2006]; a 1966 episode of TV series The Time Tunnel that featured Krakatoa; Krakatoa: East of Java [1969] (Dale points out that "the movie is more famous for its title than its content, since Krakatoa is actually northwest of Java, but Hollywood never lets piddly little details like that get in the way."); Magma: Volcanic Disaster [2006]; and an episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. that featured a device that can activate individual volcanoes from the other side of the globe. (Holy shit, pretty awesome weapon for a supervillain right there!)
The issue wraps up with 'The State of Zinedom As Of 2010-12-31', including a table that shows numbers of zines received from Australia, Canada, Britain, USA and Others between 1998-2010. In 1998 Dale received 23 zines from Australia, but that dropped off dramatically within the next few years, but seems to have been holding steady at 5 or 6 for each year since 2006.
Despite the 'just the facts, ma'am' layout and occasional dry, uninteresting piece, every issue of Opuntia has something that totally kicks ass.

Jolie's OLD ZINES Zine Grab Bag

Lone Pilgrim and Orochi Pilgrim

By David Blandy and Daniel Locke

Saturday: I photocopy some zines, I walk around town, I go into an art gallery. Oh that's cool, this artist has made action figures of himself, and created a fighting game staring himself, and made some comic books about himself (or his various alter egos). Neat.

Sunday: Maybe I should read this comic I got like a year ago. Oh wait, that name looks familiar. Ah, I see it was written by the guy who did that art show yesterday. Wait, what? That's a kind of strange coincidence. Especially as I got the comics in different cities, bought one directly from the artist (who is different from the artist of the other two comics), and have never met the writer. Still, it was bound to happen eventually I guess.

The comic is a discussion of philosophy, the meaning of life, and the way of the samurai. It's kind of strange as the characters mostly just walk through a garden and discuss various ideas like the concept of Mu, the idea that reality is an illusion, and similar things. It's probably a bit hard to understand if you don't have some familiarity with East Asian philosophy, though there's an amusing bit of self reference when a character says "Those things that are easily understood are rather shallow."

Locke does a pretty good job of illustrating the many pages of talking heads, though I wouldn't have minded a few more backgrounds. His art style isn't particularly Lone Wolf and Cub-like, but he uses some Japanese styles, and it's all perefectly fine for the type of story being told.

Why'd I just mention Lone Wolf and Cub? Well the comic is designed to look like the Lone Wolf and Cub volmes that Dark Horse put out a few years ago. There's even a neat little glossery in the back like they had! It's a really nice homage to a pretty rad comic series, and it's amusing to see a glossery that switches between discussing aspects of Japanese Buddhism with describing characters from '90s fighting games.

(This review was originally published on 365 Zines a Year.)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Amazing vs Asshole

By Bernard Boulevard and Gordon Gordon
Chow Chow Productions
PO Box 20204
Seattle, WA

This is one of a series of really weird little zines. They're short, thankfully, as I'm not sure how much of these things I can read. (And yes, I do try to read every single word in every zine I review on this site. If I don't I generally mention it.)

So this is two sort of strangely written rants, one about how people overuse the word "amazing" making it meaningless (ie. towels aren't amazing, major events are), and the other about how some people are assholes, but real assholes can be awesome? Like I said, it's rather strange. And all accompanied by pictures of the aforementioned assholes, both people and the physical part.

I'm not really looking forward to reading the ohter one of this series that I have, but as this is apparently the third printing of this issue I am apparently somewhat alone in that.

(This review was originally published on 365 Zines a Year.)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Zine Fair and Youth Arts Market Blacktown

Vstream Zine - the First Ever 54-page Zine about Vegan Blogs

Portrait Zine Class

When: Sat., March 26, 12 p.m.
Price: $40/$35 members
Forget blogs and zine out when the Zootown Arts Community Center, 235 N. First St. W., presents its Portrait Zine Class, which is taught by local artist and zine writer Ladypajama and features the chance for students to use photos and their drawings to create a small zine, from noon–5 PM. $40/$35 members. Call 549-7555 to RSVP and visit zootownarts.org.

Zootown Arts Community Center (ZACC)

Tales of Diversity

This is a slickly produced (full colour! Glossy paper!) comics anthology created by Eastside Educational Trust and funded by the UK government. Or the last government at least, I doubt the new one would ever give money to something like this.

It features contributions from about twenty teenagers living in London (or at least I assume it's London), and it's neat that they actually are pretty damn diverse. The photo on the inside front cover features more diversity than seemingly the entire town I grew up in Canada (not that that would be that hard really).

The comics that these kids have created are pretty varied in a number of ways, namely quality and content. Some of them are quite accomplished, while others are kind of terrible. Since there are so many different strips in here I'm just going to comment on a few of them.

The opening piece (The Dollhouse by Leke Adekanbi and Shantel Cherebin) is about acceptance of people with different sexual and gender identities to the norm. It's a good message (though an old one for me), but is more notable for the use of colours (each page uses only one colour, giving the comic an interesting look), and the kind of bizarre way some of the characters speak. I guess this second thing is probably more due to the fact that I don't hang out with many East London teenagers.

The second piece is by Charley Hayter and is kind of a strange thing to be created by a teenager as it starts in 1980 and features some school kids discussing what they want to be when they grow up. Cut to the present day and they meet up again, where one has achieved her dreams and the other hasn't. It's, uh, kind of depressing (the person who hasn't works in retail). I do like the art style (sort of amerimanga influenced, and no, I never thought I'd use that word either), and someone's job is a beekeeper. Awesome!

After this strong start many of the other pieces in here aren't so good. Some don't seem to make any real sense, some aren't really comics but are really more just pin ups, some don't seem to have any connection to the theme at all, and one (the longest in the comic!) seems to miss the entire point of the project and features people going on holiday somewhere, complaining about the food served, and then getting sick after eating it.

That's not to say they're all terrible, several of them have some merit (either in theme or art), and one by Nickita Patterson is pretty awesome. Matching high contrast black and white photos with text the piece (it really isn't a comic) talks about the African diamond industry and the brutal rebel groups, child labour, and general exploitation involved in its running. It's nicely laid out, and has a powerful message, even if it might not "properly" match the theme of the book.

One interesting thing I saw through these pieces was how terrible the lettering generally was. Only a few of the pieces used digital lettering, most preferring to do it by hand, but either way it frequently looked bad and was hard to read. So I guess aspiring comics creators should take note, spend time working on your lettering as well as the other parts of your comic. It doesn't matter how amazing your story is if nobody can read it.

(This review was originally published on 365 Zines a Year.)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Peach Melba #19

By Pearl
PO Box 74

When I was 13 I spent most of my time playing Magic: The Gathering and Super Nintendo, and reading X-Men comic books. I was so cool. (Now of course I do...much the same things. I think I play cooler games than Magic at least.)

What I wish I'd been doing instead at that age was making rad zines like Pearl does. Each intricately folded zine is filled with lists of what she's been doing, what's interested her lately, and random other things.

This issue's got lists of things Pearl doesn't like ("evil twins"), ways to eat people (how would you even mash someone to eat them? They don't have the same consistancy as potatoes. I don't think this was throught through to the extent that I am doing so...), and things made of metal ("the angel of the north", "some parts of clocks") amongst others.

There are also instruction for how to make a square envelope, that I haven't tried, but I'm sure work well. This isn't my favourite issue of Peach Melba, but it never fails to put a smile on my face when I read it anyway. Hurray!

(This review was originally published on 365 Zines a Year.)

Friday, March 18, 2011

What We Did For Kicks

What We Did For Kicks

36 pages, digest size, by James Andre with art by Jacek Zabawa, Jase Harper and Luke Pickett, www.milkshadowbooks.com
...Kicks is a lit zine with a bunch of short stories and poems, mainly dealing with drug-fueled nights and days. The writing is strong and relentless (James also wrote the excellent pornstore zine, XXX Neon Sign), really dragging the reader into these seedy, strung-out scenes. There is some less grim stuff in here, like the story "Low Level Geeks With High Level Lighters' about a school formal which the narrator and his friends decide to sabotage with smoke bombs. There's also a bizarre story, 'Punkzzz On The Prowl' (set in 1979) about a group of punks stealing beer, then wanting to chain whip some "pretty kid", but they couldn't find him, but before that they attempted to pierce their nipples and cocks with syringes, which didn't work because the needle blunted too quick, so they instead got out a homemade tattoo gun and one of them wrote 'hate' on his neck, figuring he could change it to 'fate' if he ever got a job.
There's real mutant-looking illustrations throughout that fit these stories well.

The Leeds Thought Bubble Festival

By Aaron "Smurf" Murphy

I got this at last year's Thought Bubble comicon (probably the best big comic event in the UK, it's really fun!), and it's really just a comic about going to the event itself. It's kind of weird metatextual in that way, but if you read it outside of that context it's really just a diary comic about, well, about how fun and well organized the event is.

Murphy's art is pretty good, though the oversized format he printed this at really kind of hammers home the lack of backgrounds in many of the panels. Probably the funniest thing about the art is that he is (or at least was when I met him) entirely unrecognizable from version that shows up in this comic, having shaved off all of his hair and beard for charity.

Overall the comic is a decent idea, but it's incredibly general about the event as a whole. Murphy seems to have been at the event before, so I'm kind of curious as to why he didn't include any anecdotes, or even the aftershow dance party in the casino (it is a kind of weird comic event).

(This review was originally published on 365 Zines a Year.)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Smog City #2

Smog City #2
58 pages, 6 x 10
$5 US, $7 Can/Mex, $10 World
No Trades

This motherfucker can write. Of all the self published "serious wannabe writer" zines I seen so far, this is by far the best. Mulnix has raw talent and mastery of the written word, but more important, he has what many writers lack; the ability to identify his weak spots and improve. This issue is a single piece of fiction, and that's all I'm saying. In addition to the kick-ass prose, this also has some of the most creative, interesting layout and graphics you'll see, the likes of which you usually find only in artist books. Live long and prosper, Mulnix.

PO Box 29753
Los Angeles CA 90027


Of Martial Traditions & The Art of Rebellion

By Seaweed

Sometimes I find writing this blog really strange. I mean, the concept of zines is so vague that I really can review anything I want as long as its printed on paper. (Or even if it's not!) Since I review everything that I've received this leads to me reviewing comics where Godzilla and other monsters review movies one day, and an anarchist treatise on the importance of learning martial skills the next.

The whole idea of using physical force to achieve your ideals is something I struggle with. I feel that the things happening in the Middle East are pretty important and exciting, but there are many different things you have to consider before you start a revolution in your own country. This zine actually takes a pretty pragmatic take on the whole thing, and there are two quotes I thought were important enough to write down.

The first is "all rebels who want to overthrow the present social order[...]need to ask themselves what success means for them" and the second is "[...]it makes absolutely no sense for a minority of revolutionaries in North America to contemplate attemtemping an outright military contest against the police and army. The states [sic] combat power is simply overwhelming.".

These two pieces of information answer some of the questions I had about the idea behind this zine. The author may want societal collapse and a new system in place, but they know that there is no way for that to happen now (and if the economy hasn't collapsed after everything that happened in the last few years I don't know if it ever will), and so they advise people to take the long view. That is you must stay in one place, gain local support, create communities, and eventually you may be able to create real change in the way that people live. It's kind of depressing, but it also makes a lot of sense.

However, there are lots of other ideas in here, and at times the author seems to be arguing themselves in circles. I mean, how do you create "an anti-authoritarian culture that values martial skills" yet doesn't have warrior aristocracies? The only way to prevent a warrior aristocracy seems to be to train everyone in the community in weapon skills, which leads to the fact that you are taking away the ability for people to _not_ do something if they don't want to.

One thing the author references are tactical works, such as The Art of War, and how it is important to know about these even if you don't plan on using them. Seaweed explains that this is because those you are confronting on issues will be aware of them (think about how many business people read those books).

There are definitely a lot of interesting ideas in here, and there are also a lot of things that I don't really agree with. I'm not really down with using physical violence to achieve my goals, but at which point does violence become justified? The zine asks these questions, though doesn't give me a satisfactory answer.

The zine is well written (unlike this review!) in a somewhat academic style, and if you are capable of dealing with that and are interested in the idea of rebellion and revolutionary change it's probably worth reading this and discussing it with others.

(This review was originally published on 365 Zines a Year.)

he Comics of J.T. Yost


I always like it when I can look at a single panel of a comic and instantly recognize the artist. So often people seem to learn how to draw comics by mimicking other artist’s work and then don’t seem to get very far away from it. Not the case with J.T. Yost’s work, he has a very distinctive style. The stories are gloomy and weird, which I like, and the panels are consistently interesting to look at on their own without following the story, which I also like.

Tales of Good ol’ Snoop Doggy Dogg, & It’s Dream Time Snoop Doggy Dogg
$3 and $4
These are illustrated dreams that the author has had about Snoop Dogg. They are weird and fun to read. Also contained within is a childhood story about being a geekish loner, befriending a tough guy and going to a party. Insightful and entertaining.
‘It’s dream time’ is more of the same: illustrated dreams that make you go hmmm? After reading them (which would be the case for most of us if our dreams were illustrated I suppose).

Loosers Weepers # 1&2
$5 each
Apparently J.T. Yost is pretty adept at finding notes, letters, and journals in random places. He then comes up with a story behind those finds and illustrates it. This is a great idea. It’s interesting and funny to read the actual notes and letters and then see what kind of a kooky story he has concocted from them. There are homophobic raps scribbled onto the back of envelopes, silly schoolyard checklists, and notebook journals from distraught lovers, all of which play a part in the various characters’ lives. Awesome.

Old Man Winter
As the title suggests this is a story about an old man and his sad daily interactions with family members and the public. It’s a beautifully drawn tale of a broken person at the end of his days. Also included in this book are some pro-vegan comics that point out the process of meat production and animal experimentation in a unique and highly effective way. I really enjoyed this comic and after reading all of these zines, I now consider myself a fan.
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I Left Blues City

I Left Blues City

05 Dec 2010

I Left Blues City, but the state of misery didn’t leave me

Aside from being handsome as shit Benjamin Weir writes some truly beautiful poems. Harsh with the truthfulness of reality and gorgeously somber. They are the kind of poems that linger after you’ve read them even if you don’t remember the words. I love words that convey a state of mind, the kind that make you feel like the artist was feeling when they wrote them. And even if it isn’t what the artist was feeling when they wrote them it doesn’t matter. Because they made you feel something and through them a connection is established. Benjamin Weirs poems do this for me and I know they will for anyone who picks up this zine. If you’d like to get a hold of this zine you can reach Benjamin at benjaminpweir@gmail.com

Godzilla the Film Critic

By Ben Clark

Okay, so it's a tiny minicomic, and the joke is pretty much told on the cover, but still, somehow, I was expecting a bit more from this. Mainly I guess because the "plot" (such that it was) mostly involves two monsters arguing about whether Cloverfield is any good or not. Their discussion reaches about the heights of your average Youtube comment (ie. it sucks! It rocks! I'll fight you!).

Meanwhile, several other monsters chime in on what they think of various TV shows and movies. These bits are fairly funny ("It's Britney's kids Gamera feel sorry for."), and I wouldn't have minded an entire comic just filled with their brief "reviews". I guess I set my heights too high, but really, this could have been the Citizen Kane (or insert good movie here) of tiny, humourous Godzilla comics. Or at least Clark could have spent a little bit longer on the art.

(This review was originally published on 365 Zines a Year.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Somnambulist Number 16

Somnambulist Number 16

09 Dec 2010

This zine is “all about Oregon” according to the author, but that description doesn’t do the zine justice. The stories are set in Oregon, and one story specifically is about a scenic highway in Oregon, but the zine is a lot like remembering childhood/teenage memories. Some that actually happened and others that Martha created herself. Along with her stories there is some poetry sprinkled in. I’ve always felt that the sign of a good writer is the ability to communicate things without directly communicating them. The precision with which she conveys the ambiance of her stories is what makes this zine stand out. This zine will take you through experiences that were never yours and leave you amazed at how real and vivid something that never happened to you feels.

If you want to get a copy of this zine, and you should definitely want to, you can contact Martha at marthagrover@hotmail.com or at

PO Box 14871
Portland, OR, 97293

Bear with a Chainsaw Issue 1

Edited by Devin Renshaw

In his introduction Renshaw says that there's no "rhyme or reason to this zine", and that is entirely true, as the content switches between his drawings of monsters and completely random written content from others.

The monster drawings are pretty rad. Monsters! Yeah! That's like ingredient number one to make me like your zine. Renshaw draws tentacled monsters, hairy monsters, insect monsters, and more. None of them is incredibly horrifying or anything, but if you spend too much time looking at them and thinking about what they'd look like in real life they can create a certain sense of squeamishness in you.

The other content is considerably less good. A piece about why hobos are terrible which misrepresents homeless people (even if the author claims not to hate them), a poem I don't remember (surprise, surprise!), a nonsensical story about someone trying to find matches so they can smoke up, and some pretty gross "self help" style pieces (ie. "How To Revive Dead Mac n'Chz", and no, I've never put a half eaten pot of macaroni and cheese "in the frig".)

I liked that Renshaw saw fit to put little hand written editor's notes at the end of all the pieces other people wrote for him, but the pieces in general were not really my thing.

I did like the monster pictures though. Monsters! Raaarrrrrr!

(This review was originally published on 365 Zines a Year.)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Dog Stories / Kalamazoo

By Martin Winch

Remember how yesterday I said I'd be reviewing some stuff I'd had for ages and ages and never gotten around to reading? Well here's exhibit A: two sampler zines that I picked up at the Portland Zine Symposium in 2009. That was almost two years ago!

I think I avoided reviewing these because I didn't think either of them was worth a full review. I still don't, however that is handily cured by reviewing them both in the one post. Progress!

Both zines start the same way, with a strangely defensive page telling you how you can get a hold of the full version sof these zines. Even from just reading that I kind of got a vibe that I wouldn't really enjoy these stories.

And I was right.

Dog Stories features a terrible story about some dude being really sexist and one told from a dog's point of view about how horrible it is that their owner won't let them shit everywhere and have sex with everything. Not my thing.

Kalamazoo (yes, it's a real place) features stories of gorwing up in the late '70s and early '80s in Michigan. Characters drink Bud, smoke cigarettes, drive shitty cars, and listen to shitty music. None of which I have any interest in reading about whatsover. (Well, there was half a paragraph about exploring sewers, but that's not a whole zine.)

It's hard to even judge whether these stories are well written, because the content and the style are so completely "not my thing". If you're into Americana they might be worth checking out.

(This review was originally published on 365 Zines a Year.)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Lambiek No. 40 Avontuur Strip

By Chris Ware

So later this month I'm planning on heading back to Canada. While this shouldn't cause any major changes to the way this site is run (other than less UK based comics/zines showing up), I have decided that I want to finish at least one of the boxes of zines that I have lying around before I go back.

And so, over the next couple of weeks we're going to be looking at some stuff that's been in this box for ages. Either because it's so small I didn't see it (like today's) or because I kept putting off reading it for whatever reason.

Don't worry though, there'll still be reviews of newer stuff, and you never know, some of those comics and zines I've ignored for months might turn out to be really awesome.

Today's is a tiny comic that Chris Ware created for Galerie Lambiek, a pretty exciting sounding comic book shop in Amsterdam that I unfortunately never got to visit.

Ware is incredibly well known, and really the only reason I'm reviewing this is because it's really, really small (5x6cm) and as it was a promotional item in Holland probably isn't that well known.

Ware is an incredibly talented artist. I've seen his original pages on display in art galleries and they're impressive things. The only problem is that I generally cannot stand his stories. This story is in the same line as his others: the fat babyman superhero on the cover is sad and depressed. Is liquor the answer? No. Prostitutes? No. Comics? No. In fact they all leave him crying even harder than he'd been before. It's only when he somehow manages to combine them all that he gains some amount of non-depression. It's kind of funny, but my general dislike of Ware makes me not care, even though he drew a headshot of Tintin!

I gave my copy to the Schulz Library at the Center for Cartoon Studies, so you can go there and read it if you want.

(This review was originally published on 365 Zines a Year.)

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