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


Saturday, September 29, 2018

What Cubehead Thinks

What Cubehead thinks (chickens & eggs)

by Will Conway / tastes of ink

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


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

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

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

While you are there check out Will's other pocket money priced zines, more of Will's work is reviewed here.

Review by Nathan Penlington

Friday, September 28, 2018

Finding your way to Dylan Thomas

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

A4 zine fold, colour printed. 


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

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

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

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

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

Review by Nathan Penlington

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Golden Rule - collected poems of Ernest Noyes Brookings

The Golden Rule - collected poems of Ernest Noyes Brookings

Boatwhistle Books, 2016

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review by Nathan Penlington

Friday, September 21, 2018

Läskimooses - year #5 (2016)

Läskimooses - year #5 (2016 - numbers 30-34)
by Matti Hagelberg 

23cm x 17cm, black and white, colour covers.
5 issues, variable page count (24-38 pages), with A4 English translation sheets.

A few months ago Matti Hagelberg sent me a huge parcel containing 42 issues of his epic experimental comic Läskimooses, and as with everything else sent to me for review, I'm reading every word.  My reviews are taking the series year by year, until we catch up with the latest issue #42 - the full set of reviews will be found here, and like the the series itself it's probably best to read them in order. If you've read my previous Läskimooses reviews feel free to skip to the text below the next photo, otherwise here is a quick primer. 

Läskimooses straddles experimental comics, diy culture, punk aesthetics, and graphic art. It's already the longest single comic book story ever produced in Finland, with about two years left to run. Läskimooses is written entirely in Finnish but thankfully, for the non-Finnish speakers, each issue comes complete with an A4 sheet containing English translations.

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. 

Again, it's hard to describe the content without spoilers, so I'll keep it brief. The first of this set of issues contains a disconcerting moment, and with a tangible backdrop of underlying tension, the diverging narrative is continued. 

The art incorporates elements and styles from a diverse range of sources from The Flintstones to pulp gangster thrillers, via Planet of the Apes and children's illustrated history books. Every issue of Läskimooses also contains a photo-montage on the first page, as well as a detailed, and obsessively drawn image on the back page. It's an additional puzzle to try and fit each of them with the ongoing narrative, more often than not there is no direct correlation - but that obscure/d connection is part of the fun of Läskimooses

The back page illustrations for year five range from a couple in fancy dress as Jessica & Roger Rabbit, Hitler sleeping in a deckchair, the pyramids of Egypt, and cos-players dressed as He-Man and Skeletor. Maybe that search for connection is part of the satire on conspiracy theory - the willingness to find connection and causality where there is none.

I can confidentiality state that if you're this far into Läskimooses you'll be hooked. So, get yourself a subscription, ration your reading, and you'll be caught up as the final issue goes to print.

There is now an updated shop for international orders, where you can buy back issues by year. The sold-out issues have just been reprinted, so it's a rare occasion that all issues are available - so get in quickly! 

Or ask your local independent comics dealer to get Läskimooses  in stock.

You can also check out some samples online here

Review by 
Nathan Penlington

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Sick: a compilation zine on physical illness

Sick: a compilation zine on physical illnes
Edited by Ben Holtzman

14cm x 21.6cm, 88 pages

Cost: offered as part of Microcosm Publishing sliding scale pricing $5-$7

I read every word of every zine that is sent to me for review. Occasionally the focus of a zine is so close to my own experience it can make that reading difficult. For me, Sick is one of those zines. 

I have a lifelong medical condition that results in permanent chronic joint pain. Its invisibility and long-termness brings with it additional social challenges that everyone with a chronic condition has to face: periods of isolation; having to explain or excuse yourself; 'behind the scenes' planning for the most mundane of activities; not knowing from one day to the next.

The pieces in Sick are written by those with physical illness, and by daughters, sisters, and friends. The conditions include cancer, multiple sclerosis, hypoglycemia, hepatitis, Lyme disease, and polycystic kidney disease. What comes across in Sick is not the details of individual conditions or individual suffering, but a collective need for understanding and awareness. Ben states in the introduction:
Too often those of us who are living with illness have felt that our experiences are not welcome in conversation, even within radical/alternative communities. Illness is seen as taboo...this zine collects peoples' experiences with illness to help establish and further a personal and collective voice of those impacted by illness. 

The writing throughout is excellent, and the zine is clearly lovingly produced and designed - with a stylish use of old medical textbook illustrations. I know I'm close to the subject matter, but at times Sick will be an emotional read for anyone. For example, part of Sarah Hughes' piece includes a verbatim letter written by her dad to his "precious dysfunctional family":

If you're talking to me and I sound happy, it means I'm happy. That's all. It doesn't mean that I'm not in a lot of pain, or extremely tired, or that I'm getting better, or any of those things. Please don't say "Oh, you're sounding better!". I am not sounding better. I am sounding happy. 

Sick is essential reading for those with physical illness, as well as family and friends of those with a condition. Topics also include receiving and providing support, as well as how to be an informed patient. And if nothing else, reading Sick will help open a dialogue in relationships where illness is a factor, to not proportion blame, to help erase the guilt of need. 

Saturday, September 8, 2018

bio auto graphic #13: common senses

bio auto graphic #13: common senses

Michael C. Nicholson / ensixteen editions

A5 black & white booklets, cardboard covers, in five volumes - with printed belly band.    
12 pages per volume.

£15 for the set of five. 

In 2007 Michael was invited to Smith College, Massachusetts, to make work that reflected and considered the traditions, people, and place, that make up the institution. This five part set of bio auto graphic grew out of that visit.

While each part takes one of the five bodily senses as its focus, each part also explores 'sense' in a broader context: a sense of learning; a sense of identity; a sense of Smith; a sense of place; and a sense of self. 

Like previous issues, this set of bio auto graphic is poetic, profound, and visually arresting. Readers of other issues of bio auto graphic will already be familiar with Michael's distinctive illustrative style - his approach to line and space, the way he layers time and imagination, and allows the subject matter to be considered from unusual vantage points. 

Drawings from Michael's sketchbook adorn the inside covers - and offer a glimpse into Michael's ability to capture fragments from life, his thought process, and his approach to drafting what will become the final layouts used in this collection. I always find unfinished work fascinating, so it's an additional pleasure to be allowed that peek backstage, and thoroughly annoying to see how casually talented Michael is.  

In addition to Michael's own writing the text of common senses includes parts of interviews with students and tutors of Smith College, as well as quotes from literary and artistic figures. All of which help build a complex, multi-faceted, interrogation of topics.

There are only a limited number of common senses sets available, so all I can say is use your common sense, and get yourself a set before they sell out.

For more information visit the Ensixteen blog: ensixteeneditions.blogspot.com

Or email Michael directly: ladnicholson(at)yahoo(dot)co(dot)uk

Review by Nathan Penlington - you can find my reviews of previous issues of bio auto graphic here

Friday, September 7, 2018

The American Indian Ready to Wear Catalog 2018

American Indian Ready to Wear Catalog 2018 
by Joey Clift, 
illustrations by Janet Myer 

14cm x 21.6cm, 12 pages. Colour cover, black and white pages. 

$5 or $1 digital* copy

You only need to have a very rudimentary knowledge of American history to be aware of the horrific atrocities carried out on native tribes by 'settlers' of the 'new land'. Even at this point in history discrimination against indigenous people in American is ongoing, and in many cases codified into law. 

American Indian Ready to Wear Catalog 2018 is written by Joey Clift, a registered member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, who grew up on the the Tulalip Indian Reservation. In correspondence Joey said this about his zine:

"Working in the entertainment industry, it frustrates me to no end to see how little representation actual native culture has in popular media. When we do get representation, it's almost always based on a very specific image of native people that hasn't been accurate for hundreds of years, if not just a straight up racist stereotype, the goal is to shine a light on that"

The American Indian Ready to Wear Catalogue 2018 is a biting satire which leaves no appropriator of Native American culture unscathed: Disney; The Native Sports Mascot; a well known butter manufacturer; Hollywood actors; sports team owners; male and female retired New Agers; and middle-class hipsters. 

This is a perfect example of the tone and style of Joey's zine:

For satire to work it needs to be funny and simultaneously make a political point, this zine does both of those things extremely well - that it needs to do so proves the tragic state of American culture.

I'm a sucker for cross generational collaboration, so the fact this zine is illustrated by Joey's mum is an added joy. Janet's drawing contributes considerably to the look and humour of the zine. She's a professional artist in her own right, some more examples of her work can be found on her artist facebook page

So, to know what not to wear this, or any, season go and buy a copy of the zine here: Redcatpress.com

*Please note we do not endorse digital zines at Syndicated Zine Reviews!

Review by 
Nathan Penlington

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

On Subbing: the first four years

On Subbing: the first four years
by Dave Roche

18cm x 13cm, 128 pages

Cost: offered as part of Microcosm Publishing sliding scale pricing $4-$6

Another of Microcosm's excellent zine compilations. On Subbing collects together four years worth of zines by Dave Roche that chronicle his experiences in special education classrooms. 

At 25 Dave felt he needed a change - like many people he'd fallen into a rut of a permanent temporary job which he hated. "I wanted a job where I felt like I was doing something worthwhile", he explains in the introduction. A surprisingly easy job interview later and he was hired as a substitute Education Assistant. 

The range of behaviours of students in special education classes vary from kids from troubled backgrounds, those with autism, and certain children unable to feel or move their body from the neck down. Ages range from pre-kindergarten, to post high-school life skills transition classes with young adults up to twenty-one years old. The varying degrees of educational needs, and age ranges, puts a huge demand on the abilities of the EA, and the nature of subbing means you might not have any clue where you'll be helping out until the phone rings that morning.

Dave had no prior experience before his first day of subbing, so we get an inside view of Dave's progression in the class room over the years, his ability to cope with difficult situations with humility and patience, or at the very least an outer veneer of patience. 

Dave's writing is full of charm, and his honesty is disarming, both for the reader and clearly for even the most difficult of kids. He's funny, willing to play the fool, full of heart and empathy, and completely unafraid to put himself on the ambiguous line morally to act in a way he believes is right. 

This is the 3rd edition of this compilation, and quite rightly, it's truly a great zine. 

You can order a copy direct from Microcosm: microcosmpublishing.com/catalog/books/1010

Review by Nathan Penlington 

Monday, September 3, 2018

Keep Playing

Keep Playing
by Will Conway

A7 zine fold from A4. Coloured print. 


Do you remember the advert for that awful board game called The Game of Life?

"Be a winner at the game of life, 
 Get a job - have money maybe
 Get married - have a baby..."
(You can find the advert on YouTube)

If anyone is compiling a Top 5 Pieces of Propaganda list, that game has to make it in surely. 

Thankfully, Will Conway has corrected the board game mechanism for real life, the result is the pocket sized satire Keep Playing. I can't say too much more without revealing the content, except to say it's funny and nicely produced - complete with hand drawn illustrations. A perfect zine to gift to fellow struggling game of lifers. 

You can pick up a copy on Etsy: etsy.com/uk/listing/607352139/keep-playing-a-board-game-booklet-will

While you are there check out Will's other pocket money priced zines, more of Will's work is reviewed here.

Review by Nathan Penlington

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Random Notes 2

Random Notes 2: Pages of Blank Metal & Noise
by Matthew Rooney

36 pages, 11.5cm x 15cm. B&W print, cardboard cover. 

$4 (Canadian dollars)

Random Notes 2 is a follow up to the zine produced by Matthew Rooney in 2017 (read the review here). It's a hand bound collection of comics, illustrations, and collages, loving put together with a punk aesthetic. I say lovingly, because not only does gaffer tape look great as a spine, it also protects your fingers from those b@*t@rd staples. 

Taken together random notes form a satire on the state of American politics:

"No One Cares About Politics Unless There Is A Meme"

With side forays into sex, and the idiocy of human violence.

If you're into interesting little zines that fully embrace alternative diy culture Random Notes 2 is for you. You can see more images over on 

To buy a copy email: mjjrooney {at} gmail {dot} com

Please say Syndicated Zine Reviews sent you.

Review by Nathan Penlington

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Läskimooses - year #4 (2015)

Läskimooses - year #4 (2015 - numbers 23-29)

Matti Hagelberg 
23cm x 17cm, black and white, colour covers.
7 issues, variable page count (24-38 pages), with A4 English translation sheets.

Please note: The fourth year of Matti Hagelberg's Finnish experimental comic book epic continues the precedent set by the first three years. My reviews are taking the series year by year, until we catch up with the latest issue #42 - the full set of reviews will be found here, and like the the series itself it's probably best to read them in order.

It's difficult to review something so experiential, and so narrative led, without spoilers. But I'll do my best. 
Historically the Läskimooses narrative enters modern era conspiracy - the world of shadowy elites, who assassinate those with the true knowledge. Think Cold war spies, New World Order. Or take a trip to a large newsagent, those books you find advertised at the back of UFO magazines? that's where we're at. A self-published book written from memory, itself a memory of book destroyed because of The Truth, a truth passed down through tens of generations. A truth that has the elites jumpy and trigger happy. 

The art is a hybrid of fine art, religious iconography, anime, classic american cartoons, pop culture pin ups, historical photographs, and stylised abstraction. And this season of Läskimooses has my favourite back cover so far - Jesus riding on the back of a dinosaur. 

Year #4 ends with an issue that starts to pull the over arching narrative into focus, a glimpse of our first face to face conversation with our interruption loving companion. It's a cliff hanger in the style that is unique to Läskimooses, perhaps just slightly reminiscent of Samuel Beckett:

"What were you muttering about just now?....Wait here, don't start before...."

Despite how that might sound out of context, it's utterly gripping stuff. 

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: 

Or ask your local independent comics dealer to get 
Läskimooses  in stock.

Review by Nathan Penlington

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