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


Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The CIA makes Science Fiction Unexciting

The CIA makes Science Fiction Unexciting
Series edited by Joe Biel

Microcosm Publishing

18cm x 11cm, 160 pages

Cost: offered as part of Microcosm Publishing sliding scale pricing $7.95-$11.95 USD

Microcosm Publishing excels in producing a diverse array of zines, and perhaps more importantly also produces compilation publications that collate together and reprint series of zines that would otherwise be unobtainable. 

The CIA makes Science Fiction Unexciting is an updated compilation of the first 5 zines in the series, which were originally written ten years ago. Subtitled 'Dark Deeds & Derring Do from 1950 to Today', it examines the secret history of the CIA and the shadowy world of American politics. Looking at the USA today, its a publication that has never been more relevant. 

Broken down into chapters that concentrate on separate events or topics: The assassination on Martin Luther King Jr; AIDS & biological weapons; how the PATRIOT act infringed upon basic American rights; the assassination of Puerto Rican independence leader Filiberto Ojeda Rios; and the reality behind Iran-Contra. 

While some of these topics are certainly in the area of conspiracy theory, we are living in a time where political conspiracy is revealed on a daily basis. Nothing in this publication is beyond the scope of a government with global power and the wealth of the 1% as its key motivators. 

The content is extremely well written, leading the reader through the relevant terms and key players, building compelling arguments with thorough research, incontrovertible facts and data, examining and eliminating secondary sources where necessary. If you want to dig deeper each chapter has its own list of further reading and references. 

While incidental to the text, i
t's stylishly designed and illustrated, and just goes to prove Microcosm's attention to detail.

The CIA makes Science Fiction Unexciting
 is a book that will fit in your pocket. Buy it, carry it with you - and if you ever disbelieve the way the US is heading, have a look at where it's been.

Review by Nathan Penlington

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Läskimooses - year #1 (2012)

Läskimooses - year #1 (2012)
Matti Hagelberg 
23cm x 17cm, black and white, colour covers.
9 issues variable page count (24 pages - 32 pages). 
€60.00 (Euros - price per year)
As I've said before, zine makers are currently reaping the advantages in printing technologies and new distribution channels. Allowing independent writers and outsider artists to create work that are still zines, but also overlap with other forms and formats. 
Läskimooses straddles experimental comics, diy culture, punk aesthetics, and graphic art.  With 42 issues already published, it is the longest single comic book story ever produced in Finland. I've been sent the entire back catalogue for review - but rather than a torrent of single issue reviews, or a huge full series review, I'm going to break it down into years - the same way the subscription is sold. 
Läskimooses contains elements of pulp sci-fi & pop culture, and the history of the universe. But in essence Läskimooses is a parody of conspiracy theory, you know the kind that underpins TV shows like Ancient Aliens - theories that begin at the fringes of reality and quickly veer off into unhinged absurdity. 
Yes, I know what you're thinking - what exactly is Läskimooses? You'll have to read as far as Issue 5 before you can start connecting dots, and the story with the title. The narrative is plotted in an intriguing way. Largely its a conversation between two people - one is unseen (the reader is given their vantage point within the conversation) - while the other person constantly interrupts with counter stories and theories, and frustratingly often wanders off to make coffee. Everything that happens is part of what they are telling each other, and as you begin to piece together details you realise perhaps it isn't as straightforward as that. 
The art is completely suited to the content - abstract frames alternate with fantastical creatures, clearly drawn with an obsessive line. It's that obsessive line grid, combined with a scratch technique to create white on black, that gives Matti's work a distinctive quality.  
Läskimooses is written entirely in Finnish but thankfully, for the non-Finnish speakers, each issue comes complete with an A4 sheet containing English translations. My initial concern was that reading the translations would disrupt the experience, but really it's no different than watching a film or TV show with subtitles. In effect, for me, the Finnish text only helps create a dislocating effect that adds to the strangeness of the story. 
I think you can genuinely compare Läskimooses to the epic TV series phenomenon - the world it creates is huge, the characters intriguing, and its not afraid to push and pull you in directions you think you don't want to go.  So far I've only read to the end of Issue 9, and I genuinely can't guess where we're heading, all I know is I want to stay on the ride. 

Here's a short documentary of Matti working on the series:
You can check out some samples of Läskimooses here, along with the international ordering info. Most of the sold-out issues have just been reprinted, so it's a rare occasion that all the issues are available - so get in quickly

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