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


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Zine Fair at the Usurp Gallery, London, UK

I just got an email from some people who are the zine coordinators at the Usurp Gallery in London.

They're looking for zines to be sold on consignment at the gallery, and are organizing a zine fair in a few months.

If you're interested, you can check out their website at usurpzines.tumblr.com or take a look at their flyer below.

(Originally written for 365 Zines a Year.)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

There is a Danger

PO Box 1282
Fullerton, California

This is kind of strange thing to review, because it’s not one complete narrative, or a number of distinct pieces. Instead it’s brief pieces of writing, usually only a page or two, about travel. Not that these are traditional travel stories with a starting point and final destination, but rather they are mostly about the trip itself.

The writer travels by car (both driving and hitchhiking), train-hopping, bicycle, and even boat. The fact that this is just about the process of travel is interesting, and there are stories about, and by, fellow travellers, people met upon the road, and even people who pick you up while hitchhiking (is there a word for people that pick up hitchhikers? Apart from “nice”).

These stories really indicate to me how the creator of this zine has a very different personality than me, as he seems to be able to slip into conversations with total strangers incredibly easily. This is something that I’m not so good at, and has led to long silences during some of my own hitchhiking escapades.

There are also pieces about some of the small towns and places that you pass through while travelling, and how they never seem like a destination, but only a stop along the way.

A couple of bits stood out to me. There are a couple of references to breaking into buildings to sleep at night, which is a story idea I really enjoy. The idea of being somewhere you’re not supposed to be, while the owners don’t know you’re there appeals to me. Unfortunately this isn't explored as much as I'd like it to be.

The other was his account of cycling across a bridge from Washington State to Oregon. At first I thought he was writing about the same bridge I crossed on my bicycle trip in the area. His description of the bridge was very similar to my own experience. But then I saw that the bridge he crossed was considerably longer than mine, and as terrible as the bridge I crossed was, it could have been worse.

The whole zine is kind of strange, and is written in a style that uses thoughts and descriptions in ways that don’t usually appeal to me. Actually, they still don’t, and for the first few pages of this zine I kind of dreaded reading the whole thing (it’s quite long!), but I continued, and eventually I got used to the style the author used. I didn’t enjoy everything in here, and I think I would have enjoyed the stories more if they had been written in a different style, but I still found enough to enjoy here that I could recommend this to people that enjoy reading about the process of traveling to other places.

(Originally written for 365 Zines a Year.)

Hobby Horse

from One Minute Zine Reviews by DJ Frederick

Simon Yates has an eye for the curious and unusual and shares his interests through publishing HobbyHorse. Unlike the prancing pony toys of childhood, you’ll have to hang ontight once you step into this roller coaster. The two issues Simon graciouslysent to me are packed with intriguing articles referencing a copious range oftopics. Reading Hobby Horse one learns about the development of transatlanticcables in the 19th century and the roles of William Thompson (LordKelvin) and Wildman Whitehouse in making modern transatlantic communication areality. There’s a story describing the Lizard Man of Matobo National Park in Zimbabwe.Yates shares a biography of the enigmatic astronomer and mathematician Hypatiaof Alexandria. In Hobby Horse you can learn how to build an Aeolian harp and apsychedelic “dream machine”. Where else can you find all of this coolinformation in one place? Nowhere.

Zines like Hobby Horse embody the possibilities and endlesscreativity that zines have to offer readers. For more information write to POBox 1879 Strawberry Hills NSW 2012.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Neckmonster Seven

By Cheyenne Neckmonster

I spent about two years living and traveling through various countries in Asia, and my brother has lived in either Taiwan or China for almost three years. So I have some knowledge of Asia, and am interested in reading other people’s experiences with the continent.

In this issue of Neckmonster Cheyenne writes about the six weeks she spent in China studying as part of a program offered by her university. It’s kind of strange reading this, as the Cheyenne involved is different (and six years younger) than the one that I became friends with. I haven't read all of her zines, but her voice seems a bit different here.

I enjoyed reading Cheyenne’s account of her trip, even if, or because of, some of it was like my own experiences in those countries (I also missed Mexican food). Of course Cheyenne got to go to some places that I never saw (I am totally jealous that she got to see the Terra Cotta warriors), and I laughed at her crappy experience at the Great Wall of China (pro tip, don’t go to the nearest section, it’s worth sitting in a cab or whatever for another hour to get to a part that isn’t filled with tourists).

I liked the part where she wrote about trains, as they're a form of transport I still find faintly exotic. (I've spent most of my life living in places where trains didn't exist at all, and large parts of the rest in places where it's not really a functional form of transportation). I especially liked the bit where she wrote about watching people and places flash by outside the windows, and the tiny glimpses into people's lives that you got.

In some places I really enjoyed Cheyenne’s word choice (even if the fact that she never used capital letters kind of annoyed me). I liked how she described the "bleak landscape of roast duck and warm beer", when talking about being a non-drinking vegetarian in China.

Overall this wasn’t what I expected from an issue of Neckmonster (if Cheyenne ever told me she’d spent six weeks in China I’d clearly forgotten), but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

(Originally written for 365 Zines a Year.)

Monday, March 19, 2012

You're the Best.....Around!!! #2

By dumbbunnynz@hotmail.com

When I was first sent issues of Kids in Sport Films I was incredibly wary, I mean, it's not exactly a genre that has produced a lot of masterpieces.

However the author of the zine was able to allay my fears, first by writing an apology for being late in the introduction, not because the zine was actually late, or that anyone even wanted or expected a second issue, but because it's traditional that second issues of zines include introductions that apologise for their lateness.

(It reminded me of a Copy Scams song.)

The rest of the zine is written in similar style, making snarky and sarcastic references while theoretically discussing the movie. I laughed out loud in a few places, and read found some sentences funny enough to read to my partner who was sitting next to me on the couch playing Chrono Cross.

The zine describes the ideal way to watch Kids in Sports Films. First you drink too much, then you come home and sleep until the following afternoon, then you go and collapse on the couch and watch terrible movies on TV. Perfect!

Amusingly the author of this zine doesn't even seem to like this genre of films that much, he constantly indicates that the film featured in this issue, Rookie of the Year, isn't that good even by the standards of Kids in Sports Films, and it seems that whenever he references another film he insults it for being sexist or somehow terrible. Rookie of the Year reaches the mighty heights of "adequate", and I'm not sure if it even deserves that (despite my enjoyment of it as a child).

Then the zine breaks down the film into plot, how it does and doesn't work, and how it could be improved. Then it goes into each character individually, describing their role in the film, and how successful they were at this.

The strangest thing about this zine is the discovery that someone went and made a fan-sequel film, and blogs as the main character as this film. How strange! The zine includes an interview stolen from a website with the comedian behind the fanfilm, and it's so strange that this thing exists at all.

I found this zine to be well written, funny, and enjoyable, and much to my surprise I'm actually looking forward to reading the next issue.

(Originally written for 365 Zines a Year.)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Fan Zine

By Sarah Cai

This is a short, cute zine that is based around a pretty good pun. Fanzines have been around since the 1940s, and the zine scene of today grew out of those early science fiction fanzines. Sometimes I read an actual scifi/fantasy fanzine, and it’s strange, though kinda neat, to see that the same type of things is still being made almost 75 years later.

This zine however is not about science fiction at all, instead it is filled with pictures of fans. There are a bunch of different fans (such as "ceiling" and "desk") included in this zine, and the drawings and text on each page combine to be pretty amusing.

I’m just sad that fan death wasn’t mentioned.

(Originally written for 365 Zines a Year.)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Photocopier Music Playlist

Last weekend at the Roberts Street Social Centre we had a launch for our brand new photocopier! There was cake and games and you can see some photos on our website or facebook group.

I was in charge of music and managed to create almost eighty minutes of photocopier or zine related music. Awesome!

One of the bands I included are The Copy Scams. They're a pretty rad band that is mostly made up of zinesters. You can find out some more info on Alex Wrekk's blog. There's info on how to download their EP, and an announcement that they'll be touring the UK in November! Exciting!

I've made a youtube playlist of most of the tracks from below, though The Copy Scams songs and a couple of others aren't up there. The playlist is located here. Let me know what you think!

One of the coolest tracks I discovered was this one by Nigerian singer 9ice. He's apparently a big star in Nigeria, and I have absolutely no idea what he's singing in this song.

Here's the full playlist:

1. 9ice - Photocopy
2. Daft Punk - Technologic
3. Kill Me Tomorrow - Xerox My Hand
4. Fujiya and Miyagi - Photocopier
5. monsters are like that - echoRiotPop
6. Junkie XL - I've Got a Xerox to Copy
7. Xerox Girls - rammle
8. Cleveland Bound Death Sentence - Rumble Seats & Running Boards
9. The Copy Scams - one one one one
10. Simon Bird - Xerox Waveform Godless Ocean
11. Atom And His Package - Undercover Funny
12. Cut Copy - Hearts On Fire
13. Client - Zerox Machine
14. The Copy Scams - this is the intro
15. The Church Of Hysteria - Photocopy
16. Man Made Noise - Photocopy Machine
17. Mascot Fight - That's A Photocopier Not A Chair
18. The Copy Scams - 24 hour zine challenge
19. Yemi Sax (Photocopy (Original by 9ice)
20. Adam And The Ants - Xerox
21. Rosa - Scan To Print
22. The Copy Scams - list of stuff n' things
23. Private Eleanor - Photocopy

Can you name some tracks I missed?

(Originally written for 365 Zines a Year.)

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Adventure Journals of Sin Cat #2


If nothing else The Adventure Journals of Sin Cat isn't a quick read. It takes quite a while to read it all, because every page is filled with huge amounts of tiny text.

The comic itself is confusing. While each page looks quite nice as a whole, and I quite liked the art in some individual panels, reading it as a comic is pretty damn confusing. It's not always obvious what panel to read next, text can be too small to read (and frequently makes no sense when you can read it), and the plots (or whatever passes for plots in these comics) is frequently just ignored for bizarre jokes and other things.

Sometimes when the way the plots go into completely random places it reminds me a bit of Jamie Smart's Bear, but that has much more comprehensible art, and is far more enjoyable over all.

On some pages it seems as though the comic is an attempt to create a narrative around doodles that were already on the page, while most of the time it seems as though the creator is just making it up as they go. It's kind of funny how some of the pages reminded me a bit of Chris Ware, as his pages are incredibly over designed, and the only real similarities are lots of small panels and each page looking nice as a whole. And that, while I can appreciate them both as "art", I don't really like them that much.

Confusing, at times hard to read, but still at times interesting. I can't really say much more than that.

(Originally written for 365 Zines a Year.)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Q for Treason #13: Building on Land on Prince Edward Island

By Reece

I've enjoyed the previous issues of Q for Treason that I've read, with their stories of exploring ghost towns and abandoned buildings. So I was a little disappointed to start reading this one, which is all about building a cabin in rural PEI, which is a combination of words that is almost completely uninteresting to me.

The first part of this zine is full of semi-technical details (at least to me) about building stuff and my eyes began to glaze over as I forced myself to read it. Needless to say I didn't find most of this part that interesting.

There are a few bits in this section that are nice, for example Reece's fear of climbing a rickety ladder he'd built, and how he "expected it to be one of the most terrifying experiences of [his] life, along with watching the movie The Grudge or driving in Montreal", but generally it didn't appeal to me that much.

Other parts of the zine are more interesting, and give examples of rural PEI life (and why I would never want to live there). The story about visiting a realtor to buy land and having him be over an hour late and incredibly drunk when they finally meet is kind of hilarious, while the mention of the gay couple getting firebombed is really depressing.

I also enjoyed Reece's stories about stealing a stove from an abandoned church, and some of his interactions with the local people, but overall I was a bit disappointed by this issue, and at the very least thought it could have included some pictures of the finished cabin, if not the actual process.

If you're into rural living and building cabins though you should probably check it out. Maybe you can tell me why Reece thought it was a good idea to build a cabin almost entirely by himself, because that was one thing I really didn't understand.

(Originally written for 365 Zines a Year.)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Stranger Knights

By Bill Volk, Casey Bohn, and Mary Soper

The introductory page of this anthology says that it's a collection of comics about "brave men, women, gods, and radiation beasts who venture into an unjust world and punch those things that need to be punched", so you can probably already guess that I'm going to give this comic a good review.

Despite reading lots of zines and minicomics for this site, I still read a surprising amount of superhero comics (I'm currently rereading Ed Brubaker's Captain America run, hurray libraries!), and I still _like_ superhero comics, even though most of the stuff from mainstream publishers is pretty awful. One thing I do enjoy are indie comics creators versions of superheroes. I've dug the Strange Tales collections that Marvel has put out, James Kochalka's SuperFuckers, and similar books.

Of the three stories in here, the first (pictured below) is written and drawn by Bill Volk and features the god on earth Shamash as he fights infinity robots (yes, that many), teams up with other superheroes, and travels to other dimensions. It really combines a lot of my favourite things about comics, mostly that it is full of bizarre creations, humour, and fighting. This story reminds me of superhero comics I enjoy like Incredible Hercules, Atomic Robo, SuperFuckers, and Invincible (I cannot believe that Robert Kirkman hasn't created a character called Jillhammer yet).

The art is mostly good, and while one of the gods that appears is kind of weird looking, it didn't detract from my enjoyment of the story.

The second story in this anthology is also written by Volk, but is drawn by Mary Soper. This one is a sort of space-fantasy hybrid whose interstellar princess hero reminded me of some of the magical girl anime and manga I've read. The comic features the princess fighting both dinosaur-men and sexism, and has her using her powers in a pretty cool way to avoid a major battle. My only real problem with it is that I'm kind of sick of rich and idle superheroes and/or royalty being the focus of stories. Screw them! Even if they are fictional. Also the story ends on a cliffhanger, and I don't know how to find out what happens next.

The third story is about a guitar player who's probably into transcendental meditation and stuff like that as he says that "The echoes from that planet are all wrong." The art style in certain panels was interesting to look at, but the overall piece didn't really come together.

But still! Two out of three stories is pretty good for an anthology, and I'd be interested in reading future issues.

(Originally written for 365 Zines a Year.)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Butt Dilly


I almost feel as though I can't review this zine because I just don't get it.

It's written in some new-age self help style, except it's all about poop (or rather "anal dirt") and how you should sleep all the time. Or at least I think that's what it's about.

I'm guessing it's supposed to be satirical, but I frequently found the style to be incomprehensible, and the content was just weird and kind of gross. There's a bunch of collages inside which, I guess, could be funny in another context, but here they just add to the "WTF" nature of this whole thing.

Um, yeah...

(Originally written for 365 Zines a Year.)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Decadence #7

By Leon Sadler, Lando, Daniel Swan, Tsemberlidis, Jon Chandler, Dan Hallett, and Alex Payne

While there are a number of different comics artists in this anthology, my two favourite are the ones whose releases from Decadence Comics I've read before.

Tsemberlidis (who drew the cover) creates another of his bizarre, beautiful, silent comics. The story (as much as there is one) is about an astronaut who lands on a seemingly abandoned barren planet. He wanders alone amongst rocks and mountains until he encounters a geometric object and the story starts getting weird (as many of Tsemberlidis' stories do). People start shape changing and bizarre shapes start emerging from foreheads, eyes, and penises. The ending is reminiscent to 2001: A Space Odyssey, both in what actually happens and that I have no idea what it means.

But none of that matters because I love Tsemberlidis' art. His pages are filled with tiny lines and details that somehow manage to add so much to the characters and their backgrounds. Mostly I'm just glad I don't have to touch anything that appears in the comic, because it all looks incredibly disgusting. Technology seems to be encrusted with the remnants of something, while his nature scenes can mange to exude a feeling of humidity and dampness.

At times this reminded me a little of Tsutomu Nihei' Blame, but mostly in that they're both about a silent adventurer wandering through bizarre, incredibly detailed backgrounds.

Lando's comic (see below) is part two of an ongoing story about a guy living on an abandoned island with a bunch of robots. This story seems seems to be more about showing what parts of the island are like, and how they robots act and react to certain things the main character does.

The main character is riding his bicycle, while accompanied by a robot. He goes on a different route than the robot tells him to go on, and almost dies. The robots of the island end up saving him and helping him afterwards. The story raises a lot of questions and makes me curious about what's going on. Who is this guy? Why is he on the island? What's with all the cyborg implants? Is he even human?

The art and themes remind me of Japanese science fiction like Akira or Ghost in the Shell, not so much in how the characters look, but rather the designs of the setting and pages. I think Lando does a good job of pacing the cycling, changing angles to create some cool visuals, and managing to convey the speed of the character. I also love seeing the strange architecture in the background, which makes me even more curious about this island and what was happening on it.

While I didn't like the other stories in this comic as much as these two they do feature some cool visuals. But, for me at least, the selling point of this anthology are the two comics I wrote about, and they both deliver exactly what I wanted.

(Originally written for 365 Zines a Year.)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Zine Review: Megawords ICY Zine


The Fly Away Zine Mobile


Spring on Main Street

This Friday, March 16 from 7 to 9 p.m... Newark.. spoken word... Steven Leach, poet, radio host, editor, and publisher... Franetta McMillian, poet, prose writer and ‘zine’ publisher, published in “Perspectives of New Music”, “Taproot” and “Jittering Microscope”. won ‘zine’ awards and been published in numerous ‘zines’.


A collection of black & white photographs taken while walking through a ghost town.

By Jason Niebauer

I was kind of excited when I saw the cover to this zine. A ghost town! How cool! I’ve enjoyed the other zines about ghost towns that I’ve had a chance to read.

However, inside I was kind of disappointed. The black and white photographs are the only content, and there is no text or explanation of where the town is, why it’s a ghost town, or how the photographer ended up there.

The photos, for the most part, seem like they could have been taken in any kind of run down town or neighbourhood. I’m pretty sure I could find some places in the city I live in that are more interesting and “ghost town like” than these ones.

I can’t really criticize the quality of the photographs themselves, as the small size in which they are reproduced, and my disappointment of their subject matter makes it difficult to do so.

(Originally written for 365 Zines a Year.)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Here. In My Head. Issue 9

By Cath Elms

This perzine isn’t actually that personal, it focuses on things that Elms is interested in, instead of things that are happening to her. (Wait, is there a definition of perzine? I have no idea how to categorize things it seems. Some zine librarian I am.)

There are pieces on how technology is creeping into every aspect of our lives and how the internet makes us less productive (which I think says more about the person than the internet), feminism and how people in theology courses are not very progressive (shocking!), and female gods.

I was initially going to complain about how Elms says that her knowledge of Christianity is "shaky", as she just graduated with a theology degree, and apparently didn’t study any other religions (why you would want to study Christianity specifically when you are, as the author claims, not a Christian is kind of beyond me, but generally most people’s interest in religion is beyond my understanding). But then I realized that I graduated with a degree in Russian literature and I’m clearly not an expert in that area. I may know more than the average person (and some of the references Elms' uses show that they know way more than me about religion), but I definitely don’t know it all. As the saying goes, experts are people that know more and more about less and less, and it’s cool that Elms can admit that they're not an expert.

The piece on female religious icons is pretty cool, and I wouldn’t have minded if the entire zine was just profiles of female gods. Some of the pictures used to illustrate the write ups are kind of weird (really? That’s what you choose ti illustrate Freya?), but I thought it was kind of neat to read about these…characters? Entities? Mythological beings? My only complaints would be that the piece only mentioned stories from Europe and Asia, when there are lots of religions from other parts of the world.

One of the problems I had with this zine was that Elms is constantly referencing stuff, but not actually writing about it. Here are some examples:

"...in a future issue..."
"I could talk about..."
"...I can't write about [it] publicly..."
"...in my next zine..."
"...(long story, too personal)..."
"...Maybe in a later issue..."

I understand if you don’t want to write about personal experiences, but constantly saying “I can’t write about that” draws more attention to it. And if you want to have a “next issue” page or whatever, that’s cool, it’s a fine tradition of serialized publications. But dropping references to things, and then not explaining them? That just seems weird. Perhaps it would be better to spend the time now and expand upon those ideas, instead of saying that maybe you’ll get around to writing about them in the future.

But I guess that's just my opinion.

(Originally written for 365 Zines a Year.)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Zine Review: Wrong Number #1

from: One Minute Zine Reviews by DJ Frederick

Wrong Number #1
by Belka808
8 pages / $1

I took a chance and ordered Wrong Number Zine #1 since it has a title similar to a brilliantbook by Franklin Rosemont (An Open Entrance to the Shut Palace of WrongNumbers) which is a series of essays pondering the serendipitous nature ofwrongly placed telephone calls and their cosmic significance in Mr. Rosemont’slife. Turns out Wrong Numbers Zinewas named for just such occurrences. WrongNumber Zine is published in a newsletter format (a print zine style that Iam appreciating more every day). The artwork and layout are eye catching &the content is highly readable. Within its eight pages Belka808 discusses theart of drinking tea, favorite books, street sticker art, being a southpaw,there are zine reviews and much more.

Here’s a direct link: http://www.etsy.com/shop/BelkasKawaiiKiosk?section_id=10551606

The Roberts Street Casual Gaming Federation 2011-2012 Yearbook

This is my newest zine, it's all about the board game club that I organize.

There are write about all the games we played last year, comics and drawings about games by my friends Jen DesRoche and Nik Hill, and some other stuff.

If you live in the Halifax area and are interested in playing board games with some people join our facebook group or get in touch with me. We play a couple of times a month and it's pretty low key and fun.

(Originally written for 365 Zines a Year.)

The Newsletter [Large Pizza] - by Truman Bentley Jr

from Blackguard

In a recently received Newsletter ['Large Pizza, Cheese & 3 Toppings'], Truman announces the origin of everybody else's mother, and humans in general:

"They were not created by an outside god autonomous in the universe. The SPACE ALIENS were creating life in labs of SPACE SHIPS and the SPACE ALIENS were trying to design living clone entertainment love dolls, cooks and targets for the SPACE ALIEN military laser beam gun practice range."

To further assist Truman in his research (and to obtain a copy of The Newsletter), send US stamps and cash money to: Truman Bentley Jr, 3219 Carden Drive, Colombus GA 31907-2143, USA

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Alas Fair Sailor All is Lost

By Lee McClure

This is, oh gosh, this is an incredibly depressing comic. It’s well drawn for sure, but I really cannot recommend you read it as it just seems to be existential despair.

The story follows a sailor, and his pet monkey, as they sail through a seemingly unending sea. Though, I guess if you’re in a small boat the sea is going to seem unending because it’ll take you ages and ages to get across it. Storywise not much really happens (unless I spoil the ending), but it’s all about setting a mood. A mood of terrible depression.

Artistically this comic is much more inspiring. Each “panel” is actually a circle without any distinct border. McClure has filled the panels with cross hatching and lines so as to create the idea of a circle without actually drawing one. The art is really detailed (it must have taken ages!), though isn’t in a photorealistic style or anything like that. It also manages to accomplish a lot with a very limited setting. Plus there are some really good drawings of monkeys.

Um, so yeah, if you really like the art below, or enjoy being depressed by the futility of existence, then check out this comic. If not, well, I don’t really blame you.

(Originally written for 365 Zines a Year.)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Peach Melba #25 and #26

By Pearl
PO Box 74

Pearl somehow manages to make a zine every month. At this point I’m lucky if I get one out every six months. Sigh. Sure Pearl’s lists zines aren’t that long or complex, but they’re still there every month, which is admirable in and of itself.

Through these lists we discover what’s been on Pearl’s mind, what she’s been doing, and what she plans to do in the future. It’s an interesting view into someone’s life, and tells you more than you might expect.

My favourite lists in these two issues are “Places That I have slept” (this sounds familiar to another zine…), “uses for spoons” (“picking locks”, “hitting irritating people”), and “Things that you should “never trust”” (“the kickstand on my bike”).

Issues 26 also introduced me to the idea of a Zocalo. I don’t know if this is a thing local to Brighton, or if it’s more international, but it sounds pretty neat

The word comes from the name of the plaza/square in the centre of Mexico city. City squares are really rad things that don’t really seem to exist in North American cities, unfortunately. They act as meeting and event spaces, allowing people to gather for art, music, political events, other activities, and just casual socializing.

The one mentioned in this zine is a sort of street party that is all about meeting your neighbours, which is a pretty awesome thing to do. I really wish neighbourhoods had more interactions between the people that lived in them, instead of most people just hiding in their houses all the time. Of course I’m not really helping very much, I don’t know any of my neighbours (in my defence, it is cold and snowy outside).

(Originally written for 365 Zines a Year.)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Chiaroscuro Part One

By Dan Dunlap

Straight up science fiction comics are something that you don’t see that often. I’m not really sure why to be honest, but there seems to be a lack of them in the industry.

Chiaroscuro is a science fiction comic, and while at first it seems to be filled with science fiction and fantasy clichés, I felt that Dunlap actually dealt with them quite well. When the spooky monks come and tell the main character's parents that he is the chosen one and has to be taken away to be trained, they say that they’ve already arranged for them to come and live nearby so they don’t have to abandon him. When he encounters some “monsters” he immediately attacks and kills them.

This is something that bothers me more and more in video games. Why am I attacking these monsters? They’re wearing clothes and using tools, that means they have intelligence, societies, and culture. I should be studying them, not killing them! (Clearly I should be playing Ultimate Anthropologist instead of Final Fantasy).

However, Dunlap manages to throw a curveball at this trope, and it turns out that the “monsters” that Tog (the main character) attacked were actually just cattle of some form, and the people who owned them are kind of pissed off about it. This even leads to the question of whether Tog is the “chosen one” at all, or if he’s just wandering around thinking that he is. (Okay, maybe I'm reading too much into the story.)

While the overall style of the art is one that I enjoy, I found that certain panels and storytelling were a bit weak. I thought the designs of the aliens was generally fairly good, and although I’m not such a big fan of bipedal humanoids I acknowledge that creating non-humanoid looking species and their culture is a difficult task.

I do wonder how the creatures could evolve on a world which is static in space and thus half light and half dark all the time. Shouldn’t there be a huge difference in temperature between the two halves? Could a creature that evolved to survive on one half of the planet live on the other side for any length of time? (I over think everything.)

I also really like the cover logo. I think it looks really cool, and even works as a representative of the two different groups in the story inside.

Overall I liked this, and my only disappointment is that it’s only part of a story, and even as a first chapter it seems disappointingly short.

(Originally written for 365 Zines a Year.)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Halifax Comix Jam

I have to admit that I have an ulterior motive to reviewing these minicomics on this day. And that motive is that the next Halifax Comic Jam is happening tomorrow (January 31st), at 7pm, at the Roberts Street Social Centre (there’s more info on the facebook event page). You should come by and draw some comics! No talent is required.

Jam comics are comics that are made when each artist draws a panel, continuing the story (or not). They're kind of like exquisite corpses, except you can see what’s come before. The stories generally involved bizarre humour, often don’t make a lot of sense, and frequently just stop without any type of ending. They can still be funny though.

It’s strange reading several of these in a row, because I see that the same characters show up again and again as artists draw their own creations into the comics. I’m not sure who invented Hitler-Cat, Maraca-Squid (see above), or that weird little robot, but when they show up they tend to take over the comics.

One thing to remember about these things is that they are 18+, and I’m pretty glad that nobody saw me reading them at work.

(Originally written for 365 Zines a Year.)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Awaiting an Epiphany

By Rachel

The Manic Street Preachers don’t seem that popular in North America, and I don’t think I could even identify one of their songs if you played them (album covers I could maybe recognize). I understand there is something of a mystique around the band because of the disappearance/suicide of one of their members in the ‘90s, but I still can’t see what creates such love amongst their fans.

I’ve talked to several people who have friends that live in the UK who are obsessed with the Manic Street Preachers. It’s kind of bizarre to look at this fandom that makes zines about the band, gives them presents, and goes to multiple shows on every tour (and then waits for ages outside to see them afterward).

(Hell, living in Canada the idea of going to multiple shows on any tour seems absurd, but that’s mostly because in the UK you’re probably within two hours of multiple cities, while two hours from where I live wouldn’t even get me out of the province.)

Rachel clearly understands the appeal of the band, even if I don’t, and they continue to be one of the things in her life that make her really happy. Which is great! I’m not going to pretend I understand her motivations for some of the actions she does in relation to the band, but I’m sure I do lots of stuff she can’t understand either.

At the very least her stories about going to shows and meeting members of the band make me think that the Manics are very appreciative of their fans, and generally seem like nice people.

I addition to all the stuff about the Manics Rachel also discusses her chronic fatigue syndrome, which isn’t really something I know much about but which sounds pretty awful, and a not very good article that was published after she was interviewed. She felt she had been misrepresented in the article, and it makes me kind of sad that journalists will write about people in such a way.

There’s also a well written piece on extinct animals, and the ways humans are driving more and more spices to extinction. This piece also touches on global warming, and reminded me how, like obsessive Manic Street Preacher fans, I cannot understand what is going on in the minds of climate change deniers, or, worse, those that acknowledge that it exists, but are continuing full steam (or oil burning) ahead with destroying the world.

So overall this is maybe not the most uplifting of zines (though this isn't to say it's depressing either), but it’s well written, and if you’re a fan of the Manic Street Preachers you should definitely check it out.

(Originally written for 365 Zines a Year.)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Culture Slut 24

By Amber Forrester

Recently I met Amber, the creator of this zine. I’d traded zines with her in the past, but we hadn’t really stayed in touch or anything. Just before Christmas she was visiting Halifax with a friend of mine and several of us got together and played Pirate Fluxx (as recommended by Alex Wrekk, super zinester gaming). We also went thrifting at a Salvation Army shop and found a book about feminist zines. We talked about reviewing zines (oh the hilarity!), which isn’t really a topic either of us get to talk about very much, and traded the newest issues of our zines.

Amber’s zine is a perzine, which, for those that don’t know, means it’s about her life. Sometimes when reading perzines I am impressed by the brutal honesty of the writer. They talk about incredibly personal things in their lives: their failures, their successes, their relationships, their problems. It’s kind of intimidating if you’re thinking about writing a perzine yourself, because you wonder what it is that you should be revealing in them.

In the last issue of Amber’s zine that I read she had just broken up with her boyfriend and moved to Montreal. This time (several years later), she’s just broken up with her Montreal boyfriend and is having a hard time. She’s dealing with her alcoholism (a pretty scary thing that definitely isn’t discussed amongst young people), her feelings of self confidence and self worth, and her times feeling suicidal.

It’s all pretty intense stuff. But the entire zine isn’t just about those things.

Amber also discusses her “job”, which is being a guinea pig for various medical experiments at McGill. These range from the banal (smelling things), to the downright bizarre (a test on genital pain, twice, during which she fell asleep), to the scary (all the pharmaceutical tests). She says that she’s not taking things that aren’t already on the market, but it’s still a bit scary nonetheless.

One of the things I learned while talking to Amber is that she writes and edits her text before she gets them ready for this zine. This may surprise some people who have read her zine, as the entire thing is either handwritten or done using a typewriter, but I think the extra effort really shows and makes Amber’s prose more readable.

If you're into perzines, or living in Montreal, Amber's zines are worth reading, even if there is a distinct lack of monsters and ray guns.

(Originally written for 365 Zines a Year.)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Plan B

By Laura Bifano

Unlike the zine I reviewed yesterday, this comic does have monsters! Or one monster at least. Clearly I am biased towards unspeakable monstrosities.

This is a wordless comic about a little girl (based on the author) dreaming about becoming a mermaid. She loves mermaids (like a certain person I know), and thinks that being a mermaid will be the best thing ever!

Of course when she actually encounters a “mermaid” she finds it is less awesome than she would hope, and her dream is irreparably shattered.

The art is fantastic, the wordless storytelling is excellent, and the story is both funny, and a little sad (the disappointment of the mermaid! The disappointment of the little girl). The price on this thing is (in my opinion) kind of outrageous, but Bifano is a really good artist (check out this amazing painting of a unicorn), and I feel like her work would be much better presented as part of an anthology like Flight, where it would be presented at a better size and a better price, and where far more people would be exposed to her work. Hopefully that'll happen in the future.

(Originally written for 365 Zines a Year.)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Filth Issue 2


I feel kind of bad saying this, but the thing I liked most about this anthology is the sewn binding (you can see it on the edge of the cover, it seems to have been done by a sewing machine). It’s kind of a weird thing to like, but I appreciate it when people have gone to the extra effort to do things like that.

The actual contents, however, don’t really appeal to me. There’s your average mix of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and some other stuff, and like any anthology or magazine you’re not going to like all of it, but in this case I didn’t like any of it.

This isn’t to say that the content here is necessarily bad, just that it wasn’t really my thing. I mean, I do read a fair bit (I generally finish at least two books a month, but I tend to prefer genre fiction (I’m reading Mogworld right now and really enjoying it!). At the same time, I do have a degree in Russian Literature, and read a pretty varied range of stuff, but I tend not to read stories about drug addicts, junkies, and people who like endin’ a lot of their sentences with apostrophes. (That is the weirdest complaint ever, but it’s true.) Why have I gone on about this so much? Because the two longest pieces in the book are about minor criminals and drug use. Not really my thing (I didn’t even like The Wire though, so what do I know).

I’m also not really interested in people telling me about how they became a single parent with four children. I just cannot understand their mindset in any way, and the piece doesn’t really delve into why the person actually had their children.

In fact, the most interesting thing in this zine, to me, was one of the characters talking about a prescription medication I’ve been on. And that was more of a “oh, I recognize that pharmaceutical name and very few of the others mentioned” than anything else.

Actually, that's not true. There was an interview with a musician that interested me enough (ie. it talks about how awesome robots and comics are) to look him up online, but, alas, I can find no mention of Music to Defend Reality from Marauding Hordes of Inter-dimensional Hostiles Volume 1. (Edit: Oh wait, apparently it was sent to me, I just found it in my "box of zines to review". It's actually pretty good. )

Again, I will say that none of the work here is necessarily bad (well, some of it is), just that the content matter really doesn’t appeal to me as it (mostly) lacks spaceships, monsters, humour (at least a type I enjoy), and characters I can relate to. But maybe you’ll like it.

(Originally written for 365 Zines a Year.)

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