Xerography Debt #15
Davida Gypsy Breier, Editor-in-Chief
Donny Smith, Editor
Fred Argoff, Eric Lyden, & Bobby Tran Dale, Founding Reviewers
Christine Douville, Miriam DesHarnais, Kathy Moseley, Bob Sheairs, Brooke Young, Matt Fagan, Gavin J. Grant, Dan Taylor, Ellen Adams, Rick Bradford, Gaynor Taylor, Julie Dorn, Randy Osborne, Fran McMillian, & Stephanie Holmes, Reviewers
William P. Tandy, Proofreader
Xerography Debt is a Leeking Inc., publication. It is scheduled to appear 3 times a year. Issues are $3. Send cash/stamps, zines, and correspondence to: Xerography Debt
Davida Gypsy Breier
PO Box 963, Havre de Grace, MD 21078
© June 2004
#16 Due out February 2005. You can pre-order today!
To order a paper copy of this issue, please send $3 (cash, stamps, money order, or check) to Davida Gypsy Breier, PO Box 963, Havre de Grace, MD 21078
Table of Contents
This issue is a milestone. It marks the fifth anniversary of Xerography Debt as well as the swell sounding 15th issue. It also marks the first truly donor-supported issue. My introduction in the last issue had more of an impact than I expected. There were some very generous contributions and for that I am genuinely pleased and grateful. Everyone that supports this zine should be credited with its continued existence. Mrs. Drizin, Tracy Pickle, Frank Marcopolis, Bobby Tran Dale, Donny Smith, Chris Gilbert, Gianni Simone, DB Pedlar, Tom Hendricks, and Christopher Robin were especially generous and deserve extra thanks.
This is something of a special issue. I mean, 5 years in zine years (which are longer than dog years) is a very long time. In the last few months, I’ve heard from several zinesters who said they might take a break or drop out for a while. This always saddens me, fearful that this announcement is the death knoll of a zine I particularly like. Personally, I know that in certain respects zine making is far harder for me now because of time constraints, but also easier than it used to be because I have better tools, a co-editor, and more experience. I’ve thought about quitting. I think we all have at some point or another. I’ve said it many times by now, but shifting from a train/bus commuting lifestyle to a car commuting lifestyle was detrimental for my writing/editing. I don’t have the morning rush hour to read and I can’t let my eyes glaze over as I look out the window pondering how to summarize a zine or make plans for the next issue.
However, I can still think in a car, I just can’t make notes to get too deep in my own head. I was thinking about the introduction and these issues zooming up I-97 today. It caused me to view zines as if they were a mass transit system. (disclaimer, if you have never been a regular mass transit ride, this may seem nonsensical.) Review zines function as stations for zine passengers. We help keep people interconnected between multiple systems. Within these multiple systems exist the many types of zines (personal zines, political zines, mamazines, punk zines, teen zines, food zine, literary zines, etc.). Lets face it, these cliques usually need some sort of hub to interconnect outside of their immediate group. The individual zines are the passengers. They come and go, some are regulars and some are occasional riders. Some are beloved and some are crotchety. Some you know well and some you just know by sight. When I rode the train there were people I saw every day. Some would occasionally disappear and then reappear, such as I did between jobs. To this day I recognize some of these people if I see them, even though I haven’t ridden the trains or busses regularly for a year and a half and never actually spoke to them. They go on and so do I.
I would return to the trains in a heartbeat if there were an easy (and cheap) way to get to and from the train station closest to my job. So, perhaps it is the same for the zinesters looking for a break. I like to think they will start riding the trains again when they are able. For now, I have a station to run, which has had an on-time performance far better than the Maryland Transit Authority can boast. And our rail lines are in decent shape, with a great crew aboard.
Well, I hope that doesn’t mark the most rambling introduction to this zine ever. Keep riding….
Davida Gypsy Breier
Basic stuff you should know
If this is your first issue, XEROGRAPHY DEBT is a review zine for zine readers by zine writers. It is a hybrid of review zine and personal zine. Xerography Debt has its own freestyle approach. It is all about communication, so each reviewer has used the format or style most comfortable to him or her. Also, each reviewer "owns" the zine in a communal sense. We are individual artists and writers coming together to collaborate and help keep small press flourishing.
Do your part by ordering a few zines from the many reviewed here and, if you self-publish, please consider including some reviews in your zine.
Xerography Debt’s reviews are selective. To explain the “system”: Some reviewers choose to review zines they have bought or traded with, some review zines that are sent to Xerography Debt for review, and some do both. Also, I buy zines at Atomic Books (my local zine store), as well as zine events, so if you see your zine reviewed and you didn’t send it in, that might be where I found it. Generally the only reviews you will read in here are “good reviews.” Constructive criticism is given, but basically we don’t have the time or money to print bad reviews. If you sent your zine in for review and don’t see it listed, wait a few months and see if it appears in the following issue. I read and then distribute the zines to the reviewers about two months before the print date. If the reviewer passed on reviewing your zine, it will be sent out again for the next issue. So, each zine gets two shots with two different reviewers. Ultimately, many of the review copies stay in the XD archives, but some are donated to zine libraries. Occasionally mistakes happen, postal or otherwise, so if you have a question about a zine you sent in for review, please contact Davida at PO Box 963, Havre de Grace, MD 21078 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
XD is available for free online (some reviews and artwork will only be available in print) or paper copies can be ordered for $3.
If you have an event, announcement, or project you would like to share, please get in touch.
The lack of paid advertising within these pages is deliberate. Despite reviewing our friends and lovers, we try to be somewhat objective and free to do as we please. Needless to say, this brings up the point of needing some help to keep the machine running...
We see Xerography Debt as the PBS of review zines. It is by us, for us, with no financial incentive - just a dedication to small press. If you have a few spare stamps or dollar bills to help support us and the zine community, it would be most appreciated. Also, let me know if you wish to remain anonymous. This issue’s sponsors are:
Mrs. Drizin, Tracy Pickle, Frank Marcopolis, Bobby Tran Dale, Donny Smith, Chris Gilbert, Gianni Simone, DB Pedlar, Tom Hendricks, Christopher Robin, Balir Ewing, Delaine Derry Green, Anne Thalheimer, Fred Wright, Kris & Lola, and several anonymous benefactors.
Exhibitions and Events
ZINE COMPONENT AT MUSEUM SHOW
Cram Sessions: 02 Dark Matter
November 3 - 28, 2004
“Cram Sessions is a series of four experimental month-long contemporary exhibitions featuring works by emerging international artists. Each Saturday, the galleries are transformed into a forum where visitors can interact with the art, the space, and the artists. Dark Matter, the second installment in the series, explores creative work by hobbyists, gamers, zine-makers, and established artists whose work has a strategic or practical dimension. The work is called Dark Matter because it remains largely invisible and goes unrecognized in the art world despite its potential as an agency for social change. The exhibition includes an ingenious Hippo Roller designed to help women transport large containers of water, a bottle-cap pasta project, a zine archive, experimental instruments, objects produced by a knitting collective, and a slide archive of graffiti work from Baltimore City.”
10 Art Museum Dr., Baltimore, MD 21218
News from Hot Iron Press
WE’VE MOVED! After 2 years in Chapel Hill, NC, Hot Iron Press has moved back “home” to New Orleans, LA. We are currently searching for the perfect studio space to house our operations. Until then we can be reached at 1685 Jean Lafitte Blvd, Lafitte, LA 70067.
NEW ORLEANS BOOKFAIR. Hot Iron Press is helping organize the 3rd Annual New Orleans Bookfair - a free, open to the public exhibition of artist books, zines, and independently published works from around the world. Participating publishers include Last Gasp of San Francisco, Fiction Collective II, New Mouth from the Dirty South, Soft Skull Press, AK Press, Verso Books and many many more. The bookfair is Saturday, October 30th from 10:00am to 6:00pm at Barrister’s Gallery, 1724 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd, New Orleans, LA. To find out more check out www.nolabookfair.com.
BABYLON LEXICON. In conjunction with the New Orleans Bookfair, there will also be an exhibition of artists’ books called Babylon Lexicon. If you would like to show your work at Babylon Lexicon, email us at email@example.com.
Kyle Bravo and Jenny LeBlanc
Hot Iron Press
SMILE, HON NEEDS YOUR WORDS
The deadline for the upcoming sixth issue of the best-selling Smile, Hon, You’re in Baltimore! is November 1, 2004. Send your Baltimore-related tales, poetry, photographs or artwork to firstname.lastname@example.org, and you, too, can be a part of the zine Baltimore City Paper calls “surprisingly fascinating, consistently absurd, and often weird as hell.”
They also named it “Best Zine” in their annual “Best of Baltimore” issue (http://www.citypaper.com/bob/story.asp?id=8891)...
Which gives them an entire year to sober up.
Spread the word...
William P. Tandy, Editor
P.O. Box 963, Havre de Grace, MD 21078
CONFESS YOUR SINS
Just wanted to let you know about a great competition we have launched to support the release of our new book “The Confessional.”
We are asking everybody for his or her worst or should it be best confession. We are going to turn the winning confession into a script for a comic.
Information can be found under the competition link on the www.warpton.com website. We will post them onto the site so everybody can try and guess who you think some of them may have come from.
Confessional is a 40 page full colour one-shot being distributed via Diamond Comics and is appearing in the latest edition of Previews. Written by Chris McCay and Illustrated by Lee O’Connor
For further information contact
PO B0X 2110, Swindon, SN25 4RQ, England, UK
The Book Of Hopes And Dreams
Submissions are required for “The Book Of Hopes And Dreams”, an anthology of transcendent poetry, short stories and art.
All profits from this book will go to Spirit Aid: a humanitarian relief organization dedicated to alleviating the suffering of children and young people whose lives have been devastated by war, poverty, genocide, ethnic cleansing and all forms of abuse.
Guidelines and submission criteria at www.thunderburst.co.uk. All contributors will receive one complimentary copy of the book. All profits from the sale of the book will go to Spirit Aid. Any queries should be directed to Dee Rimbaud by e-mail: email@example.com
I thought you guys might be interested to know that we’ve added a new page on our website: www.undergroundpress.org/resources.html. This page is small for now, but I’m hoping to make it grow to include all kinds of zine-related resources. Right now the page includes a couple of reprinted articles from recent Zine Worlds (with more to be added as we have time), our list of zine-reviewing zines, and a list of other online zine-related resources.
We’d love your help in making this page grow. Point us to other online resources we don’t have listed. Or if you have DIY articles you’d let us reprint, that’s great, too!
We have also posted our updated list of known zine libraries and infoshops. You can find it here: www.undergroundpress.org/infoshops.html. Please help us to keep this page up-to-date by notifying us of address changes, closings, or new libraries that have opened. (Send updates to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
As I have mentioned before, we’re working to update our links page (www.undergroundpress.org/links.html). In particular, I’m hoping to add as many links as possible to the websites for zines and distros. If your zine/distro has a web presence and you’re not listed on our page, please send an email to email@example.com and we’ll add you.
Finally, we’re sure that you had a great time attending the AMC and/or the Portland Zine Symposium (and I’m jealous that I didn’t get to go to either and *you* did), but don’t let the summer zine fun stop now! There are lots of other zine events planned for this summer and fall — you can find a list of them on our website: www.undergroundpress.org/events.html.
Places to find zines
PINE Street Infoshop Opens in Chico, CA
Library and zine/pamphlet distro, some books for sale, and DSL computer access. It’s also a meeting place for anarchist and leftist. <www.infoshop.org/inews/stories.php?story=04/07/24/1792878>
OP Distro ZINE KIOSKS
Just wanted to let everyone know that a brand-spankin’ new zine kiosk (a.k.a. zine rack) will be going up in the heart of Collingswood, NJ (southern NJ, about 10 minutes outside of Philly). Yes, a real-live place where you can walk in the door and actually pick up a zine for sale (other than Tower Records or Wooden Shoe); plus, you will be helping out an environmentally-friendly, woman-owned-and-run business.
The kiosk will be at the Green Heart Environmental Shop, 661 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood. Phone number there is 856-833-1144 (call for store hours).
The first official day will be this Sunday (October 24th), but it will probably be ready by the afternoon of Saturday (Oct. 23rd).
Hope to see some of you stop by!
Bob Sheairs, OP Distro
PS — If you have a zine that you would like to get into my kiosk distro program, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or
30 Locust Ave. Westmont, NJ 08108
(Ed. note, Bob also created t-shirts for the Philly Zine Fest that were a parody of the famous "Love" sculpture found in Philadelphia's "Love Park.” Available in large and extra-large, for $10. See image on page XX.)
226-0027 Kanagawa-ken JAPAN
Davida and Donny were kind and curious enough to ask me to start a column devoted to the mysteries and intricacies of mail art and networking. I’ve written an introduction to the subject for other publications [namely Zine World #18 ($3, PO Box 330156, Murfreesboro, TN 37133-0156 USA) and my Call & Response #1 ($3, 3 IRCs, or selective trade)], so we decided to concentrate on more concrete examples, some of which offer participation. If you want to read the whole story, you may want to check the aforementioned zines. Here I’ll only sum it up a little.
Mail art, or correspondence art, is a loose international network of people who exchange mail, artworks, and ideas. Actually, the Network is not a cohesive, organised one but rather a magmatic, ever-changing, organic entity with no center, made of a theoretically infinite number of sub-networks. There is no leadership, no manifesto, no written rules. Mail art is many things at once, and everyone has his/her personal approach and motivations. Some people are in it simply to make friends. It’s a sort of pen palling-cum-art-exchange. Some people are more artistically committed than others, but everybody can become a mail artist, regardless of his/her skills. The communicative aspect is far more important than art for art’s sake and collaboration is one of the key words in the Network, whose ultimate goal is building a sort of alternative approach to culture. In other words, this is more or less what the zine community has been doing for years; a practice that the advent of the Internet has amplified to enormous proportions. All these different, but often overlapping networks share many strategies (maybe the biggest difference is that in mail art, most of the production is more visual than word-based) and the common principle that “if the Establishment ignores us, we can easily do without it.”
One notable consequence of this approach is that many mail artists are socially and/or politically committed and strive to include these issues in their activity. Here are two examples of the innumerable projects that are constantly being organised. Both of which I started (you will excuse me for showing off a little bit …).
Fighting Back - Stop Violence against Women was born because I’m a member of Amnesty International (AI), the worldwide voluntary activist movement working for human rights. At the end of every year, AI Japan reports on its state of the organization’s health, and the recurring theme in recent years has been that we are constantly losing members and in this country, AI has become more or less an invisible entity. So we felt the need to enhance our public image, trying in the process to lure more people into our ranks. When another member pointed out that the 2004-2006 worldwide campaign would have focused on domestic violence against women, as well as violence in conflict and post conflict, we decided to ask mail artists for help. This, by the way, is by no means the first time that AI and the Network have joined hands to address specific problems (other topics tackled in the past have been torture and the death penalty). A task group was formed, with me concentrating on the mail art part of the project (writing the call, spreading the word, and instructing the others on how to collect and catalogue the incoming works) [in a future column I’ll write more extensively on the joys and pains of organising a mail art project,] while other people looked for a suitable venue for the exhibition, invited experts and activists to talk, and organised other collateral activities. All in all we were able to gather more than 250 contributions from all over the world, including postcards, collages, drawings, photographs, etc, and even local artists, who are not usually active in the mail art network, lent or donated paintings, sculptures and embroidery. The show was a huge success and now we are looking forward to bring this project to other places (schools, culture centers, etc.) both in Tokyo and in other cities.
Now that this part of the project is over, we are left with hundreds of copies of the catalog. This is a beautiful, full-color, full-sized 24 page booklet, printed on glossy paper, containing a wide range of the works received, plus brief introductions to Amnesty International, mail art and the theme of the exhibition. If you are interested in visual arts and/or violence against women, or you simply want to help AI Japan to recover at least a part of the expenses, please contact Chris Pitt (Kyoritsu Women’s College, 2-2-1 Hitotsubashi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 101-8433, Japan <email@example.com>). One copy costs $5 to $7 on a sliding scale, postpaid worldwide. Please pay what you can afford and remember that it’s for a just cause.
Mail artists usually interact either by participating in big international exhibitions or on a one-to-one basis. The AI project was an example of the first type. The next project I’d like to describe belongs to the second and is a perfect example of what I like most in mail art: the many possibilities to collaborate and interact with a wide network of like-minded people.
It all started in 1998, when I made a couple of fake election campaign posters (it was election time in Japan) and briefly put them on the same billboard near my house where all the local candidates had put their ugly faces. The idea behind this “art action” was that political elections have become a farce and are almost useless to really change society. It’s a rat race in which every candidate only aims at joining the elite and share power and money. The election posters they make in Japan are particularly cheesy and phoney and you can often see the horrible truth behind the candidates’ smiling masks. After that isolated performance, I decided to start a project, that I called The True Face of Politics, in which I invited some of my friends to make and send me their posters. I collected several works, but once it came to put them on the billboards, I realised I couldn’t do everything by myself, and the people who had offered to help, suddenly became unavailable. (I can’t really blame them: after all, what I wanted to do was illegal, and to challenge authority while you live in a foreign country isn’t really a sane thing to do).
This way, the project became a sleeper, and has been kept on hold until now. This year I’ve finally found the time and energy to start working on it again and was lucky to find a group of networkers who were all too happy to collaborate. So I made copies of the posters and sent them to Australia, China, Uruguay, and the US, where each one of my friends will do what he or she wants (or can do: the Shanghai part of the project will necessarily be a more private/secret thing, for reasons I’m sure you all understand). Coincidentally, the Australian and American parts will be held during real election time. That should add fun to the local rat races…
When everything is over, my collaborators will send me any documentation they have produced (reports, photos, hopefully newspaper articles, maybe even a video from US) and I’ll put everything together and produce the final doc. Let me know if you want to get a copy. You can contact me at <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The best way to join the Network is to take part in one of the many mail art projects or to contact the mail artists directly. If you want to give it a try, you can start with this:
Wipe: send 40 sheets of toilet tissue. Size: max 14 x 11 cm. Open theme and technique. No organic material or traces please. Edition made every 20 participants. Send to Field Study, P.O. Box 1838, Geelong, VIC 3220, Australia.
For more calls and projects, you can check these web pages:
Gianni Simone also publishes KAIRAN, which is devoted to the discussion of mail art-related topics. Available for $4.00 postpaid worldwide from 3-3-23 Nagatsuta, Midori-ku, Yokohama-shi, 226-0027 Kanagawa-ken JAPAN.
The History of Zines:
Friction in the Archives
by Matt Johnson
I have never had, and may never again have, so much porn in the house as I will this week. The drive for the free porn giveaway at New York’s Folsom Street East Fair continues apace; today I spent the afternoon purging a friend’s collection of duplicate copies, which yielded a big box of mags and calendars, some going back as far as 12 or 13 years. More to come on Friday night, plus my own measly contribution of a single magazine.
I’ve never been a big consumer of porn in any medium. Why not? Well, I have a very rich fantasy life; my sex fantasies tend to revolve around narrative, not imagery, and the narratives are obscure, convoluted, and ultimately non-sexual enough that they don’t find their way into standard, mass-consumption porn. The levels on which I’ve come to appreciate most porn are the historical and the cultural. No doubt this sounds horribly pretentious. Let me say in my defense that I am not trying to ennoble myself in any way: yes, some porn can and has successfully gotten me off. But once the getting off is done, porn has a lot more to tell us about ourselves and our history, if we really look at it.
Recently, I was contracted to write an encyclopedia article on Bears (a term denoting large, hirsute gay men) for an online encyclopedia of LGBT studies. Unlike the history and culture of leather, BDSM, and kink, for which there is a reasonable amount of literary, para-literary, how-to, political, and even scholarly literature, the self-identified Bear community is a novel enough phenomenon that it still lacks a comparable bibliography (though it should be noted that Bears were recently added to the list of available Library of Congress subject headings). Lacking this base, I turned to porn as a historical source.
The start dates of publications like American Grizzly, Daddybear, Big Ad, American Bear, and Bulk Male provide invaluable information on where and when Bear (self-)identification begins as well as how quickly it spreads. The grandpappy of them all, Bear, was first published in northern California circa 1987; within five years, Bearhunt, a bilingual (French/English) rag was being published in Amsterdam and sold in at least seven countries on three continents, according to the list of vendors on the back cover.
The issue of Bearhunt/Chasse aux ours which I have from 1992 (volume 1, issue 2) is a black-and-white glossy. It should be noted that many of the first genre porn periodicals, including the now resolutely commercial Bear, began as small-format fanzines with a very limited circulation, manufactured at home or surreptitiously on the office copier. (At least one noted leather/BDSM journal, Bound & Gagged, also began this way in 1989.) My friend’s sharing these documents with me afforded a host of insights, and compelled me to completely rewrite the first draft of the Bear article. He also had some other beautiful genre porn fanzines of considerably shorter duration to show me, including Solid Waste (issue 1), a zine devoted to sludge and gunge—pictures of guys in rubber gear covered with mud, shit, and axle grease—that just about made me cream.)
The late 1980s and early 1990s (after the widespread introduction of photocopiers, before the World Wide Web) will perhaps one day be regarded as a golden age of genre porn (as well as of self-publishing more generally). Tiny publications with little interest in profitability or sustainability made catering to an incredibly specific target audience (perhaps even a target audience of one) possible, even if the publication failed to last beyond a single issue. The range of kinks addressed by these zines is tremendous, far outstripping what commercial publications or websites offer now (or, for that matter, offered then).
No doubt there is sufficient self-made internet porn available to satisfy even sexual tastes as esoteric as mine, but there’s something about holding in my hands a chapbook like Solid Waste, featuring pasted-in photographs of filth-encrusted rubber wading boots, that makes my heart glad. It is not moribund; it lets me see who I am, and know that what I seek is perhaps not so remote or so daunting because it has already been done and witnessed in these faded copies. As the net becomes more and more bound to commerce, with the concomitant homogenization of imagery that makes this trade possible, I fear that the initiative, creativity, and guts I see in that chapbook risk being lost.
With that in mind, I will hazard sounding like a real old-timer (which, chronologically at least, I swear I’m not) and say how much more work and expense being kinky seems to have involved even ten years ago. What was available of the internet frequently required dialing into bulletin boards long distance; slower connection speeds made that a pricey venture. Less tech-savvy ways of meeting people involved placing paid ads in magazines (which one had to work up the nerve to purchase at a local bookstore, assuming one had access to such) and awaiting a handwritten response via snail mail, forwarded from the magazine publisher. Indeed, I know a man who met his former lover through such channels, exchanging numerous and lengthy letters and eventually moving cross-country to be with him.
How many of us would have the patience or the will to do this now? And yet there was an international Bear community in 1992 (not to mention an international Leather community which was already half a century old by that time). It happened, and it happened because people worked their butts off. More people had a more profound investment in the welfare of their community, simply because it took so much more effort on everyone’s part just to keep that community going.
As the hurdles to finding kink communities and drawing upon them as a resource have fallen, notably through the introduction of technological innovations, a two-tier system has developed whereby a small group of people maintains the institutions which keep these subcultures alive (clubs, groups, bars, dungeons, magazines, websites) while the remaining affiliates have become more or less passive consumers of the minority’s efforts. Because people don’t have to work nearly as hard to achieve what they want, they don’t. They set their sights on less and settle for less. The premium placed on universal, barrier-free access to public erotic life has stripped the value from the clandestine, exclusive, labor-intensive efforts which made that life possible in the first place.
In the original British series Queer as Folk, there’s an episode where a friend dies and the protagonists take it upon themselves to dispose of his porn collection before his mother finds it. Sifting through apparently endless magazines and videos, one disgustedly opines that this filth is the only legacy which gay men will leave to the world. To my mind, our porn, most especially the porn we make ourselves, is perhaps one of the most important legacies we can leave. It is a large part of what little documentation there is of the historically and culturally contingent sexual worlds we have fashioned for ourselves. When porn does not enter the archive—and it typically does not—a large part of our history is lost.
I’m hesitant even to part with the box of porn on the floor next to my desk. When I put it into another man’s hands, will he see it as something ephemeral to be discarded? Or will he see the instructive value in it that I do?
IT MEANS IT’S WANK
By Jeff Somers
P.O. Box 3024, Hoboken NJ 07030
“So what does that mean? It means it’s wank.”- Vic Flange, www.fleshmouth.co.uk [now defunct], describing my zine.
...in which your intrepid wanky columnist disabuses you of the notion that zine reviews count for anything, in the larger view of things
I think it’s safe to say that no one publishes a zine because they think it will make them rich. Hell, I had to get a job just to be able to publish my zine; the lax security around my first company’s copiers is what made my zine possible in the beginning. While plenty of people manage to print and mail their zine despite living in poverty, I am just not willing to give up the essentials (beer and. . .okay, just beer—but, Bubba, that’s a lot of beer) so my zine empire had to wait until some unsuspecting corporation could underwrite my expenses. I work in publishing, which is perfect for under-the-radar zine making, because everything you’re doing for your zine looks just like your work duties. Until people began noticing how much time I spent at the copier and how I never seemed to know anything about the projects I was supposedly working on, they all thought I was the busiest motherfucker on the planet.
My job and zine publishing have one thing in common: Neither will make you rich. Whenever I meet fellow publishing drones in the various dive bars around the Tri-State area—and I meet them often—we exchange the secret handshake, make the traditionally outrageous claims of money and cocktails owed to each other, and recite the motto: You won’t get rich in publishing. Just because someone, somewhere is getting rich from publishing doesn’t mean any of that trickles down. People fresh out of school or some disastrous career often think that publishing is exciting and glamorous, that you’ll be doing lunch with high-powered writers and movie people, making deals, and living large on expense accounts—but the reality is that publishing is a relatively low-paying world, and that the majority of publishing is not very exciting—we’re talking educational, medical, technical publishing and the like. I mean, you’re talking about a field dominated by people who were English Majors back in school. None of us are worth anything in the business world.
Zines won’t make you rich, either. People putting out their first zine sometimes assume that they are months away from having MTV News in their living room interviewing them, and they often labor under the misapprehension that zine reviews are an important link in this chain of success. There’s usually no budget for promotion—or if you’re like me there was a sizable budget for promotion and you drank it away one crazy night, waking up in a cheap plywood coffin in Mexico, penniless and potentially brain-damaged—so zine reviews are a cheap way to get the word out. But don’t think that if you can just get enough reviews in enough places, your zine will take on a sort of cultural escape velocity and become the new underground sensation, leading to hip underground notoriety, mention on lots of Blogs, and eventually the sort of book-deal fame of, say, Pagan Kennedy (Pagan who? Exactly!). It just won’t happen.
Now, if this is what you’re hoping for—certainly not everyone gives a rat’s ass about being a published author and all that—then know this: The assumption that zine reviews help you sell zines or get notoriety is, as far as I can tell through my blurry vision and delirium-plagued experience, horseshit.
My zine’s been reviewed in a lot of places, a lot of times. A comfortable estimate would be that my zine has been reviewed about 100 times since it’s inception. This counts everything, from poorly-spelled and incoherent reviews tied to rocks and thrown through my windows to reviews in well-known publications. Also tied to rocks and thrown through my windows. That’s a pretty good number. Despite all of those reviews, I’ve never experienced anything that could be called a spike in sales—and most of those reviews, if I can ditch the faux-modesty I usually clown around with, were good reviews. I’ve had plenty of good reviews, and they’ve had about zero impact on interest in my zine. The conclusion is pretty obvious: The main reason for zine reviews is to create content for zines.
Come on—who hasn’t read a zine where the last four pages are sort of scattershot with zine reviews done in large type, and you can just tell the damn things were puked in there just to fill out the issue. This doesn’t really apply to publications like Xerography Debt or Zine World, because their whole purpose is to review zines—you can’t accuse a zine-review zine of including zine reviews just to fill out space. Well, I guess you could. But I’d only do so after a few stiff drinks and a swelling desire to pick a fight. When you’re reading a zine that is preoccupied with, say, homosexual Mexican wrestlers for 40 pages and then suddenly includes five half-assed reviews in the back, you can guess what happened, can’t you?
Reviews are great, of course. They’re feedback, for one thing, and they certainly must in some way get the word out. But they’re only getting the word out to people who are already looking for zines—maybe the first few good reviews in well-known places can bring you some new readers, but after a while I’ll bet everyone who’s ever going to buy a copy of your zine has already, and no amount of good reviews is going to change that. So while there’s nothing wrong with reviews, you have to be prepared for the fact that they will result in little more than ego stroking.
Of course, if you’re putting out a zine thinking it’s going to make you rich and famous, you might as well give up now and put the money you’re spending to better use: Buying me drinks. Feel free to mail me airline-bottles of liquor. I needs them.
915 W Second St
Bloomington IN 47403
In August we moved from suburban Philadelphia to Bloomington, Indiana. Expect a new issue of my zine Dwan as soon as we can afford copying again.
I’m also working on a library zine with Miriam DesHarnais, tentatively entitled Library Urinal. Send your odd library anecdotes or serious library thoughts to her or to me: Donny Smith (please don’t put urinal in the address), 915 W Second St, Bloomington IN 47403 USA; email@example.com.
Many of the zines reviewed below came from the Philly Zinefest in July or from Boxcar Books (310 S Washington St, Bloomington IN 47401 USA).
available from Dittman, PO Box 1082, Franklin PA 16323 USA, for trade (or $3?); firstname.lastname@example.org
on the cover: a broken Van Gogh mug
inside: Comic, story by Michael Dittman, drawn by Jon Armstrong. A young man has to leave his ambitious girlfriend and go sponge off his mother for the summer. He meets a young woman who’s smart and fun and, without meaning to, breaks her heart.
overall: Is this funny or is it pathetic? Does it remind me of Christian fundamentalist instructional art? I don’t know, but I guess it works.
available from Meg, PO Box 1529, Santa Cruz CA 95601 USA, for $2 or trade
on the cover: c-o-n-f-i-d-e-n-t-i-a-l in finger-spelling
inside: fragments of poems, memoirs, drawings, and observations; bits of reading; “This story begins in the middle and ends with what was left out.”
quote: The girl who writes fiction about pathetic lovelorn females is leaving her apartment with the fine boy from the bookstore who made a kind face at me, I think, when I was in there friday night reading magazines and crying about the pictures of pregnant rats in bottles breathing mercury fumes, They are grinning.
Last night it was me alone in my apartment sobbing saying “poor chickens” and feeling glad that I’m gonna die someday.
overall: a lovely feeling (like a bitter dream just barely remembered after a really good night’s sleep)
creature with 97 limbs by MMGK (no date)
available from Mitchell Kato, 1769 Wainwright Dr, Reston VA 20190 USA for $2 or trade; email@example.com
subtitle: prototype for theology of eternal despair
on the cover: a creature (with far fewer than 97 limbs)
inside: short, somewhat crazy theological poems (possibly 97 poems; they’re numbered but not necessarily arranged numerically), illustrated with line drawings
quote: How can light and darkness co-exist? // light will expose darkness while darkness will shun light. / A rough hand made of darkness tries to grab light. / And light shines out of the eyes of the / wise. Light is carelessly light. / Darkness brood, brood and / brood and brood / but can not come to the idea of / light. —26
overall: Normally I wouldn’t have much patience for these poems, but lately my mind has been similarly splintered (so that English barely seems like a language—let alone my language) and sentences like “for as I was Satan who loved no one / not loving / cold as the prison cell / God made it so” actually make more sense than a lot of the things I have to read (and if you’ve received a letter from me lately I think you know what I’m talking about—especially a letter written at 2:30 am). Recommended.
Grackle two (June 2004)
available from Malinda, 1703 Southwest Pkwy, Wichita Falls TX 76302 USA, for $1 or equivalent trade; firstname.lastname@example.org
inside: Malinda goes to college after almost 10 years out of school, travels all over the US, and becomes a weight-lifter.
quote: Initially, I was really self-conscious about switching sides of the room. Not only because there aren’t many women over there, but also because almost no other women were doing the exercises that I was. After a few weeks, I became a regular on that side and many of the guys introduced themselves and began to ask me about why I was working out and if I was in training for a competition or something. Some expressed concern that I might be lifting weights that were too heavy for me and that I might get hurt. A few times I was rather insulted by their questions, but I realized that I was somewhat of an oddity and that in their way they were just trying to be friendly.
overall: In the first Grackle, Malinda was struggling to keep a positive attitude about her life in Wichita Falls. In this one, she really takes off, doing a lot of things and doing them well. You’ll want to keep up with her progress!
The Inner Swine Volume 8, Issue 2 (June 2002)
available from Jeff Somers, PO Box 3024, Hoboken NJ 07030 USA for $2 or trade; email@example.com
inside: Jeff rants about various aspects of life in these United States
quote: Pigs, part of being an arrogant, self-centered martyr is judging everyone around you on a constant basis, seething with the desire for the power to punish everyone who offends my sensibilities, which is, in general, everyone.
note: I’ve been reading positive reviews of Inner Swine for how many years now? But this is the first issue I’ve actually read, and then only because I found it in the free bin at the local cooperative bookstore (the price was right). Anyway, it is funny, and smart—like everyone said—just not really offensive at all—like everyone warned. Maybe my sensibilities have atrophied? (Or my sense of irony is overdeveloped.)
overall: Jeff is cute. He’s just the sort of straight boy I would have had a huge crush on in my undergrad days.
Laburnum #3 1/2 / mister fujiyama loves you number 4 1/2 (April 2004)
available from Marie Abbondanza or Sheena Allen for letters or cookies or both; email firstname.lastname@example.org for current address or check http://www.mflyzine.net/ or
what it is: a tiny perzine split
on the cover: (Laburnum) a grotesque clipart bat, with what appears to be a library bindery slip
inside: (Laburnum) thoughts on brain development, squids, and octopi, “How to Make Friends with an Octopus”; a report on the book Sexism & Science, with a little rant on the necessity of citing one’s sources; (Mister Fujiyama) thrifting on Good Friday; being taken to a restaurant she couldn’t afford if she was paying; going home for Easter; driving up to a house where someone died and wasn’t found for a month; dreams; manual labor; masturbation; growing windowsill grass
quote: (Mister Fujiyama) Everyone knows how my favorite activity is menstruation, so when my period came today I was thrilled.
mister fujiyama loves you number four (winter 2004)
available from Sheena Allen for a stamp; see above to check for current address
what it is: a thick, tiny perzine (66 pages, 2.2” x 2.9”)
inside: the gratification of taking a good photograph; descriptions of sex and love; looking out her apartment window in winter while someone she loves sleeps next to her; losing touch with zine friends; vegetarianism; some guy hits on her; random little thoughts or poems
quote: She is bare except for the dainty necklace and a pair of slacks, and I wrap my arms around her small waist and pull her close to my body. The light in the room is dim from a single light bulb, and the wind and her heartbeat form a two-piece while I hold her a few seconds longer.
Opuntia 52.5 (September 2003)
available from Dale Speirs, Box 6830, Calgary Alberta T2P 2E7 CANADA, for trade, letter of comment or $3 cash
inside: letters to the editor, accounts of hiking in the Rockies and of killing a mouse, and a report on Calgary’s annual science fiction convention
overall: About halfway through reading this issue, I realized how clear and engaging the writing was, without drawing attention to itself. Transparent (I don’t care what anybody says, I want to be tricked by the transparency of language).
Opuntia 54 (May 2004)
availability same as above
inside: among other things, a very sensible, non-panic-inducing article titled “A Soldier’s Viewpoint on Surviving Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Attacks” by Red Thomas (SFC, ret.)
overall: It warms a librarian’s heart.
portrait of the artist as a young trannie Sexy #6 (October 2003)
available from Darby, 1359 Monroe St NW, Washington DC 20010 USA for $2? or trade?; email@example.com
on the cover: worried faces that “Banish Fear and Sex Ignorance Forever!”
inside: lots of thoughts on race, class, sex, sex work, gender, drag, anarchy, family, and violence by Darby and friends; info on STDs
quote: hitch-hiking from south china maine to portland, i got a ride with bert, whose backseat was filled with wood, had fougt in world war two,and swore every other word. i don’t spend much time around people his age, and his combination of rambunctious energy, frailty & lifestories was exciting & surprising.
another quote: When I went to work on Wednesday morning my medical records were still missing. When I returned, not only had the records been miraculously found, my prescription [testosterone] had been phoned in to Central Office and I was assured that although I had missed two shots, I will not miss a third. “Your point has been made,” said the unit manager, “Please call off the dogs.” The phone lines of Danbury Corrections were shut down by your calls, stopping all other business from occurring. I am told that the warden is still unable to use her fax machine. “The most recent faxes have been from a bunch of nuns,” says the unit manager, a look of absolute bewilderment on her face. —letter from Jesse, in prison
overall: Thought-provoking. The best parts of course are the personal stories. (Sentences like “whiteness is a social and political construct that emphasizes the domination, authority, and perceived humanity of those who are racialized as white” or “the black/white paradigm was often overlaid onto other racialized populations by white supremacists” are valuable only insofar as the reader can match up his or her own images with the words. For me, I suspect that my images do not match those the author had in mind as she wrote. That’s where stories come in and that’s the special strength of zines. They tell stories that are told nowhere else.)
Sisu issue one (February 2003)
available from Johanna for $1; email firstname.lastname@example.org for address; www.nobrandheroine.net
on the cover: Johanna and family in their boat, which is named Sisu
inside: definition of sisu (Finnish for “determination,” “resiliency,” “toughness,” “endurance”); thoughts on the word fob (an ethnic label meaning “fresh off the boat”); “How I Became (Half) Asian: A Drama in Many Parts”; a plea for correct pronunciation of unusual names; thoughts on changing her name; examination of white folk music; “In Defense of Queens” (the borough, not the drag folk); an account of joining a CSA (community-supported agriculture group); ideas for reusing rather than recycling; a chronology of her acne; karate
quote: Sixth grade or thereabouts: Getting into the umpteenth fight with a “friend”, she hurls the insult: “Well, at least I don’t eat rice at every meal!” Bewildered, I stuttered, “What’s wrong with that?” Boys begin to harass me. … I am embarrassed by some Filipino family friends living with us—my friends either slyly make fun of their accents or simply act uncomfortable around them. Even their parents get into the act: While in a fight with the same girl who found rice so objectionable, I discover (from a mutual friend) that her mother contemptuously refers to one of these people—a woman named Inday—as Endive. Again, I didn’t know what endive was, but I felt the venom. …
Twelfth grade: As through all of high school, I get called “white bitch” & the like if someone bumps into me in the hallway (no, not if I bump into them, if they smack into me, I still get shouted at). Deciding teams in gym, someone says “I don’t want her, Chinese can’t play softball.”
note: #2 came out in March 2004, but I didn’t like it as much (too much like reading someone’s academic assignments)
Ten Thousand years from Enlightenment (2004)
available from Gaynor Taylor, PO Box 380431, Cambridge MA 02238 USA for $2; email@example.com
on the cover: a collage of (I guess) Gaynor meditating, with a cartoon warthog head, against a background of hell money
inside: Gaynor’s pet peeves with “eclectic spirituality” and its followers (including herself), mixed with accounts of her sojourns in India, Nepal, and Tibet
quote: Single pointed concentration, or meditation, is a finely attuned art and no denying it. It’s tough to be a beginner. Hey, it’s just tough. I refuse to accept, however, the legitimacy of my fellow meditators throwing a hissy fit because someone in the meditation hall keeps coughing, the guy next door to the Dharma center is mowing the lawn, or someone’s perfume is distracting them.
… If you can only meditate in the middle of nowhere, in perfect silence, with your personal air purifier around your neck, then the problem is deeper than your fellow meditators, believe me. If your sangha consists entirely of highly strung, professional types, who take everything very, very seriously, and who would sooner self-immolate than laugh, I think you will find it illuminating to go to, say, a predominantly Tibetan or Vietnamese Buddhist Centre. It’s a whole different experience. …
Woven 6 : The City (February 2004)
available from Moira Clunie, PO Box 7754, Wellesley St, Auckland NEW ZEALAND for $1 (NZ) or $1 (US); http://nutmeg.gen.nz/woven/
what it is: a single letter-sized sheet, cleverly folded and cut to form a one-piece chapbook
inside: seven poems by seven women; some nice cityscape illustrations
quote: and for each pace / committed to this street / a skin of rubber / peels to the pavement / a skin of tenderness / peels to the heel —”one-up” by izz
overall: unusually focussed for a poetry zine; vivid, personal, political
PO Box 5531, Lutherville, MD 21094
Dan Taylor is the editor of The Hungover Gourmet: The Journal of Food, Drink, Travel and Fun. The latest issue can be had for less than the cost of a Starbucks Venti Skim Latte, so get on over to www.hungovergourmet.com. If you don’t like food, drink, travel or fun, visit www.dantenet.com for the latest in horror movies, drive-in shlock, sexploitation sinema and the great Klaus Kinski.
INCENDIARY WORDS (June 2004, Vol. IV, No. 3; 4821 W. Fletcher Street #2, Chicago, IL 60641-5113; $1.00; 7 pages) People often talk about sports and underground culture like the two are mutually exclusive. In other words, if you publish a zine or play in a punk band or write poetry then you don’t/can’t like sports. (Well, that last one might be true.) Frankly, I love sports, though the only one that I watch with rabid enthusiasm during non-playoff season is pro football. Maybe it’s that whole ground acquisition as a metaphor for nuclear war thing. Or maybe I just like gambling, even if it only works out to a little more than a dollar a week.
One sport I tried and failed miserably at was soccer. Too tall and awkward, I suppose, ‘cause those lil’ cats ran circles around me. Soccer wasn’t all that big back in those days, but it’s huge now. Hell, it’s so big there’s even soccer mom porn. Go figure.
If you’re a soccer lover, INCENDIARY WORDS – which sounds like the name of a punk rock zine – is probably right up your alley. Editor Steve “Pudgy” DeRose dishes about everything from the return of indoor soccer to Chicago and soccer convention news to the latest match recaps, trivia, interviews, schedules, web site reviews and more. Since newspaper sports coverage tends to focus on the major professional sports, publications like this – as no-frills as it may be – are probably the best access to accurate, passionate writing about the sport of soccer.
GREASY SPOON (No. 18, Summer 2004; PO Box 30103, Columbia, MO 65205-3103; $4; 16 pages) It’s with a heavy heart that I review this last issue of Dirk Burhans’ excellent GREASY SPOON (formerly known as BURGER BOY). This well-written, funny, joyous look at the world of regional American restaurant chains has always been a welcome site in my mailbox. Chock full of photos, news, arcane facts and details you wouldn’t read anywhere else, GREASY SPOON never failed to deliver the goods.
This issue finds the editor/publisher bidding us farewell – he’s concentrating on a book he’s writing – but the issue doesn’t go out with any boo-hooing or self-congratulatory back-patting. Instead, the issue brings another solid lineup of articles, including a mouth-watering look at Peebles Bar-B-Q in Florida (written by a guy who just opened his own BBQ joint) and an exhaustive article on Jack’s, a burger chain founded in Alabama during the early 1960s. Other highlights include a look at the Burger in a Hurry chain (with its elfen mascot Mr. Realee Good) and reviews of other regional spots that still exist despite our culture’s attempt to mainstream everything in existence.
I will definitely miss GREASY SPOON and encourage you to check out the web site at http://web.missouri.edu/ ~burhansd for info on current and back issues.
BREAD AND SALT: A Zine of Food History (No. 1, Summer 2004; available from Fork ‘N Spoon Zine Shop at http://diystore.cjb.net; 16 pages) What’s the old saying: “When God closes a door He opens a window”? Well, I certainly hope so, because the place’ll get kinda stuffy if He don’t.
Right about the time I was bumming about the end of GREASY SPOON I opened the mail and there was a copy of BREAD AND SALT, a brand new zine about food history from Tim Miller, a grad student specializing in food history. Miller and I had corresponded on occasion and he was considering writing something for an upcoming issue of THE HUNGOVER GOURMET. So, while I was sorry to see GREASY SPOON go I was thrilled to see another food zine appear on the horizon.
As the editor describes the zine in the introduction, B&S gives him the opportunity to detour from the scholarly writing involved in a masters program while trying out article ideas that could be developed into freelance pieces. One feature in the zine talks about the history and lore of concentration camp cookbooks, which is a topic I’d never even considered or heard about. It’s a short, but interesting, look at the attempts by POWs and other prisoners of the Nazis to keep alive their memories of life before wartime. Other features are a bit lighter, but no less informative, in nature, dealing with the food and drink rations of English sailors, the American origins of ice cream and doughnuts, and some strange foods the editor’s family enjoyed through the years.
The first issue is a little rough around the edges, full of text without any graphics to break things up. But, as debuts go, the content is fun and interesting (though as a food nut I may be biased) and I’m certainly looking forward to more installments.
5025 Thacher Rd., Ojai, CA 93023
I’m Ellen and I make the zine September Coming Soon and I’m going through a zine-identity crisis and I think the zineworld and I need to take a break, see if we can rekindle that old spark. If I don’t see you on the other side, thanks for everything zine people, thanks for the letters in my mailbox, thanks for the words, and I love you. (And I’m still running a zine library, if you want to send zines there.)
A Watcher of Birds ($2-3, Leilani/3063 Greely Ave/San Diego CA 92113)
There are some neat little drawings interspersed through the text of this zine. The sketches, from what I gathered, were penciled down by people who know her well, which fits perfectly since AWOB is all about Leilani knowing herself well and helping us get to know her. Yep, it’s a perzine. But it’s a little different. Right away she drops names of some writer and artist types that I like so we’ve got some reader-identifying-with-zinester going on, and but then in the same intro she sets a pretty big hurdle for herself. Leilani promises not to just tell her story, but analyze it as well. A risky step, and it’s a step well navigated in some pieces, but in others not so much. While I’m certainly interested in what she’s writing about—knowing the end is near with a love, leaving her hometown and later coming back to it with fresh and appreciative eyes eyes, a boyfriend’s emotional abandonment during her pregnancy—her prose gets little stiff, a little distancing. But all in all it’s an interesting world to step into and hey, check this out! In a nutshell, here’s AWOB in her own words: “Movement, memory, transition, the alienation that comes from choosing to experience many lives as opposed to choosing just one.”
Musea: Art with Craft #132, 134 (free, Tom Hendricks, 4000 Hawthorne #5, Dallas TX 75219,
http://musea.digitalchainsaw.com) I love Musea. Tom Hendricks writes these zany 8 page, half legal sized zines, heavy on the wit sauce. The zine sets itself up with a two-column layout with random, and I do mean random, clip art. Tom’s writing is chatty, goofy and exuberant. One of my favorite articles discussed all the drawbacks of the review system. Another was about putting the roll back in RocknRoll. Honestly, who thinks to write this stuff? It’s fantastic.
Sigh Suicide Text ($2, half size, 20 pgs, Nitai Cook, 4837 Santa Cruz St Apt A, San Diego CA 92107, firstname.lastname@example.org) One of the first lines of this artzine reads, “I’m sick. But how else do you think I got in to art school?” I’m still not sure what it is, but there’s something disturbing about the tag-art-oriented pen and inks and comics in here, most of them being incomprehensible. The artist draws thick lined industrial scapes, morphed animals with all their top teeth sharp and sticking out, a robot with a swords through his heart. The artist writes as well, but it seems that the words one-line crossed out are more important than the words left behind.
What a cool idea. Listen to this: Not My Small Diary ($4, Delaine Derry Green, 1204 Cresthill Rd., Birmingham, AL 35213, DELANGEL3@hotmail.com, www.mysmallwebpage.com) comes in two volumes per issue! The first safety-pin-bound dose is a blast and then after that you’ve got another one waiting for you! NMSD pulls comix from all kind of ziney artists, including one of my favorites, Androo Robinson. What’s also great is that contact information for each artists, and the title of their own comic is typed right at the bottom of each comic, so it’s a snap when it comes to contact. This installment of NMSD focuses on artists’ lives from age 11 and under. Everything little kid under the sun is covered—fibs, bullies, the school bus, Halloween, finding out about sex, cello lessons.
Ankle Biter #3 ($1-2, Christian Walker, PO Box 983, San Jacinto CA 92581-0983) Ankle Biter, while it may be a little…no, a lot too “bitch” heavy for my taste and heart, is an uninhibited account of a man coping with his wife’s decision to divorce. He takes it out on himself, his house, her memory. There aren’t a lot of details, but the details stop to matter. He’s separated from his two sons. He’s alone. And seems to have been reading a lot of Bukowski. Honest to the point of discomfort at times, AB stretches the reader’s understanding of love and the world to understand Christian’s struggle with them both. You’ve got fair warning though: this zine’ll probably break your heart.
1800 Ocean Pkwy. #F-10
Brooklyn, NY 11223
What a month this has been! It started off with the Republican National Convention here in New York (which this city did not need, if I may editorialize just a bit) and ended with another batch of zines to review. And if that doesn’t cover the full spectrum, well, then I don’t know what does. So, without further ado, let’s see what was in the big envelope that was only slightly bent and twisted by the Post Office...
So here’s TROUSER CHILI. If you’re hanging around with a bunch of friends and the topic of humorous zines happens to come up, someone better mention this one. I started reading through it, and I laughed and laughed. Then after I was finished, I went back and read it again...and laughed some more. Actually, it’s too bad this zine was on top of the pile, because it interfered with the other reviews I still had to do. Are you getting the idea that I liked it? That’s good; now rush $2 to the editor and get your own copy. But don’t blame me if you start laughing at inappropriate times. Waldo Thomas Frank, 2910 Sycamore St., Alexandria VA 22305.
BIG HAMMER is a poetry zine. I should explain my philosophy about poetry. I see it as much more difficult to judge than prose. I can dismiss bad prose without batting an eyelash, but I’m never comfortable doing that with poetry. I will say, however, that I most definitely do not believe in standardized meter. As far as I’m concerned, asymmetrical poetry rules. And this zine is just packed full of contributed writings. The editor sez, send $5. I say, unless you’re strongly allergic to poetry zines, go for it. Dave Roskos at Iniquity Press, P.O. Box 54, Manasquan NJ 08736.
As in the past, I’ll say this about perzines: I like them, because I find peoples’ outlooks fascinating. The first issue of ANKLE BITER was no exception. The editor says it’s about, “education, children, tools, politics, games, and general hoo ha.” I don’t know about most of that other stuff, but show me a zine with general hoo ha, and you get my interest. Hey, I’m not going to give the whole store away. You’ll have to get your own copy, then turn to page 18 and figure out exactly how many piggies Farmer Bob did have (hint: Gritch the Witch isn’t going to be happy when she does the math!) Merely $1 from Christian Walker, P.O. Box 883, San Jacinto CA 92581.
Now, you might say a lot of different things about me. But you cannot call me a gourmet. And I don’t drink, either. Yet I still enjoy each and every issue of THE HUNGOVER GOURMET that passes through my hands. How do you figure that? Perhaps it’s the vicarious pleasure—but I think it has a lot to do with the writing, also. The zine is done in a very friendly style, like you were sitting around with an old friend and talking about things. And the general theme of the 8th issue was nostalgia for places that are no longer, which is something I’m always interested in. So stop wasting all that valuable time, and send away for a copy today. $2 from Dan Taylor (he is the eponymous Hungover Gourmet, you see), P.O. Box 5531, Lutherville MD 21094-5531.
Uh oh...another perzine. I’ll have to go downstairs and get the mail later. MESH HAT is just crammed full of observations from daily life. And cartoons, and photographs. And even a bit of haiku—though it isn’t the sort of haiku they tried to teach you to write in high school English! My vote for favorite piece goes to “Questions I Ponder but have Never Asked Anyone.” Issue #7 has 72 pages, so the editor is being mighty reasonable in asking only $3 for a copy. Chris Haraway, 6208 Grady’s Walk, Bowie MD 20715 (Trades? Maybe; that’s the official word!)
Here’s my theory: Davida always sends me one zine to review that she knows I’m going to have a tough time doing. This go-round, it’s FINDING DATURA. The highlights of issue #2 are band interviews, with the Von Dooms and the Dresden Dolls. Anyone who knows me knows that as far as I’m concerned, there haven’t been any bands worth talking to since the Beatles broke up, and that was in 1970. Well, OK, maybe the Rolling Stones, but that’s about it. Being a complete outsider to the music scene, I simply can’t get all excited about the Dresden Dolls. Or even the Von Dooms. But perhaps some of you out there can be, and you were just waiting to find out more about the bands. Here’s your chance. $2 or trade from Rob Monroe, 512 Lincoln Way West, Mishawaka IN 46544.
...And that’s the word from Brooklyn this time around, kiddies. Maybe next time I’ll finally be able to dig up that photo I’ve got hidden somewhere, and then I’ll stop being so damned anonymous on these pages.
P.O. Box 438
Avondale Estates, GA 30002
Julie Dorn is fumbling around her new job at a public library, but knows that someday she’ll be able to answer simple reference questions and understand the Dewey Decimal system. She infrequently publishes her zine, Junie in Georgia, but hopes to return to a regular writing schedule soon. ($2 per issue, PO Box 438, Avondale Estates, GA 30002)
DADA’S GOT A BRAND NEW BAND
Ben T. Steckler, PO Box 7273, York, PA 17404
50 cents, mini
In college, my friends and I spent many hours contemplating the band we’d one day form. It didnt matter that none of us played instruments or knew even the basics of song composition. We’d shout ridiculous lyrics and argue over choreography for the backup singers. Of course, the band never materialized, but I always remembered the name I loved the most: Pork Schrapnel.
Anyway, Ben T. has created this mini containing 24 doodles paired with imaginary names for bands. Some are extra interesting because of the juxtaposition of the drawing and the nonsensical words accompanying it. Others are just plain silly. My favorite: Riboflavin. (Not just a good mineral.) If you’ve got fifty cents to spare, DGaBNB is good for a quick read and a few smiles. (Be sure to ask about the other zines Ben makes, too.)
CHOCOHOLIC! A ZINE ABOUT CHOCOLATE
Stephanie Scarborough, PO Box 715, Weatherford, TX 76086
$2 or $1 plus 2 stamps
44 pages, digest
I never understood people who didn’t like chocolate. How is that even possible? The smooth creamy sweetness that creates a friendly buzz in your mouth? The deliciously dark brown color? The easy-to-transport packaging? It’s perfect!
If you’re like me, and share in an addiction to one of the world’s best treats, you will enjoy Chocoholic. Here you’ll curb your fix for great recipes, chocolate reviews, chocolate trivia, and other tasty morsels. The story that made me laugh the hardest was the one about carob. I always fall prey to the deceptive co-op treats, knowing full well that carob does not equal chocolate, and the “dessert” will ultimately be an expensive disappointment.
In any case, Chocoholic is cute, fun and well worth a few bucks.
ANARCHIST KING OF ALPHABET CITY, MAY 2004
Andrew Daniel Saleem Penland, 149 Newfound Street, Canton, NC 28716
$2 U.S., $4 Canada/Mexico, $5 World
40 pages, digest
Let me start by using Andrew’s own description of this zine: “A format and genre bending collection of essays, drawings, collages and poetry from Andrew (along with his time-travelling co-conspirator Andrew Octopus).”
Andrew likes to make abstract, futuristic drawings and write complicated prose. He also writes poems about insomniac locksmiths, psychadelic DJ’s and drugs. Despite Andrew’s claims that “I work very hard to ensure that I translate the concepts in my head to things other people can understand,” I had a lot of trouble comprehending this zine. The text pages are so dense, and the script crosses over itself, that trying to follow the message starts to feel like work. Overall I can dig the dreamlike arty-ness and enjoy the visual aspects of this zine, but Andrew’s deliberate obscure phrasing can quickly feel like muddy ramblings.
Perhaps it’s better to include an excerpt, so you can make up your own mind. “bleeding meaning on the library floor into bite-sized arias and nails them to the disembodied words which revolted against the wholeness of body 2 seconds in the future shallow sleep strobing in the man-made architecture of its identity splashes and drips of a phencyclidine tape recorder raised on its mother’s vomit like a bird threatening fireworks in its own static-eaten bones.”
MOONLIGHT CHRONICLES #41
D. Price, Box 109, Joseph, OR 97846 or www.moonlight-chronicles.com
$4, 100 pages
May the universe bless D. Price. Whenever I open Davida’s envelope and find a copy of MC, my stomach launches into a happy dance.
MC is one of the best, most inspiring zines out there. As I flip through its pages, I want to draw more, be a better artist, experience the world in new ways, breathe, build my own house, fix my bike, observe, be a more humane person and hug strangers.
Price offers up fabulous sketches and several digital photographs of his springbreak trip with his family. He also shares stories of trying out a new backpackable wood stove, buying a new copier, getting a new dog, quotes on writing and drawing, sketches by guest artists, and a description of an incredible scrap metal eagle that he helped his son create for his senior art project.
Ultra-creative, sensitve, moving. Highly recommended.
RIOT ANGEL #1 JAN 01
Rebecca Toennessen, 63 Colomb Street, Greenwich, London, SE109EZ, England
$3 U.S., $2 UK, $3.50 Canada/Mexico
40 pages, digest
Riot Angel engages the “spirit of riot grrl and feminist punk zinesters.” It’s a collection of fiction, poetry, lit crit and interviews from a variety of authors. Most of it is really decent, even for someone like me who’s incredibly picky about lit zines. The best of the bunch is the heartbreaking “A Daughter’s Tale” by Michelle Angone, the distubing but compelling “Gagging for It” by Joanne King and the bittersweet poem “Flowers for Frances Farmer” by Helen Kitson.
28 PAGES LOVINGLY BOUND WITH TWINE #10
Christoph Meyer, PO Box 106, Danville, OH 43014
$2 or trade or 6 issues for $10
By far, 28PLBwT is one of the most consistant good, thoroughly enjoyable zines I’ve read. And in my opinion, issue #10 is the best so far. (Although I really liked the first two issues, too.) Christoph is a writer, a zinester, a stay-at-home dad and an all-around funny guy. Each issue is indeed lovingly bound with a different type of twine, and he usually includes some additional labor-intensive detail to each issue (stamps, drawings, googly eyes on a photograph.)
Christoph shares his adventures in life and parenting, examples of his poetry and fiction, and lots of other good stuff. The best of Number Ten includes a kick ass poem (“Converted”), a beautiful story (“Caged Cat Blues”) and a hilarious story of some random message left on his answering machine. Highly recommended.
224 Moraine St., Brockton MA 02301
Awww... will you look at the adorable little fellow to your left? Isn’t that the cutest damn thing you’ve ever seen? Once again, awwwww.... Yeah, that’s a picture of me from I think kindergarten. Look at this picture and then look at my picture in last issue and then ask yourself what the Hell happened. See folks, cuteness doesn’t last very long. Not long at all... Anyhow, if you’ve read XD before you know who I am and if you haven’t you probably don’t care so let me just get on with the reviews.
LOVE vol. 2-
Ahhhh, there’s nothing quite like a little reviewer incest. Last issue Matt gave my FUN FACTS zine a good review and now this issue I’m giving one of his comics a good review which almost makes it look like I’m just returning the favor which couldn’t be further from the truth. The only reason I’m giving LOVE a good review is because, quite simply, it’s a good comic. Very good, to be more accurate. LOVE is a comic about a gay couple named Jack and Pokie though Matt is careful to point out that it’s not a “gay comic” and it’s not. It doesn’t come across as a comic about 2 gay people in love, it comes across as a comic about 2 people in love. 2 very nice people in love. I couldn’t help but like these characters. How can you not like a guy who builds a crow’s nest on his roof and let’s his homeless friend live there? How can you not like ... umm.... I’m trying to think of something specific Jack did to make him likable, but I can’t come up with anything other than him just being a good guy who you just want to root for no matter what. Interesting storyline, nice artwork (especially like the parody pages he sneaks in) and a good cliffhanger (just what the Hell is up with Jack and Pokie’s downstairs neighbors? Just good stuff all around. Send $2 to Matt Fagan 1573 N. Milwaukee Ave. PMB 464 Chicago IL. 60622 Hadmatter@hotmail.com www.geocities.com/meniscusenterprises
48 HOURS OF PURE ENTERTAINMENT!
This is a comic featuring 2 24 hour comics by Suzanne Bauman. A 24 hour comic is pretty much exactly what it sounds like- a whole comic done entirely in 24 hours. Apparently sometimes cartoonists will get together and have these 24 hour comic parties where everyone will work on 24 hour comics at the same time. It’s almost unfair to judge a 24 hour comic because I’m sure that if she had more time Suzanne’s comics would be much more polished and much less rough, but that’s also part of the charm of this type of thing- what you get is pretty much unfiltered because there’s not much time to sit and agonize over every little detail- you just have to get in on paper. These 2 comics have something of a rough charm, but the charm is definitely there. If you’re a fan of Suzanne than these comics are probably a must read. If you (like me) have never seen her comics before then I’m not sure this is where I’d start, but it certainly makes me want to send her money to see what her non 24 hour comics are like. Send $2 (all proceeds go to Friends of Lulu and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund) to Suzanne Bauman PO Box 12096 Hamtramck, MI 48212 www.fridge-mag.net
There’s nothing quite like a good old personal zine. just a guy writing about stuff that happened to him or stuff he saw or... just stuff. No great adventures (unless you consider inadvertently taking your apartment’s handyman to buy drugs to be a great adventure) no Earth shattering excitement (unless you consider finding a napkin autographed by Pat Benatar in a box of old records you bought to be earth shattering) and no “boo hoo, I’m so sad and depressed” type whining. Just a really good personal type zine with articles on Jeremy’s record collection, being sick and an article he wrote in the fifth grade on why he loves the government so much. Plus it’s littered with pictures he got out of a 1958 high school yearbook. Normally I’m no fan of including photos in your zine that are totally unrelated to the writing, but if you are gonna do it the pictures should be as good as these (I especially enjoyed the picture of the 2 wittiest students “clowning”) Recommended. Oh, this zine also contains a CD ROM that I didn’t watch. Send $2/ trade to Jeremy 904 Widlwild Tampa FL 33604
EAVES OF ASS #3
And if you think ALLTHATCREEPETH sounds like it’s your cup of tea you might wanna check out EAVES OF ASS as well. It sort of has the same tone and... Hell, Craven, if you’re reading this you might wanna trade with Jeremy, Jeremy you might wanna trade with Craven. Me, I’d be happy to trade with either of them. This issue features articles on a bus trip “NO!” an article where Craven just discussed things he doesn’t like and why- everything from Al Burian to Bruce Springsteen to the Peace Movement. I don’t know about you, but I always enjoy reading people going off on things they don’t like. It’s usually petty and I often disagree, but it’s always funny to read, a few pages of found items (which seems to be “inspired” by [some might say blatantly rips off] FOUND magazine, but I like FOUND so no complaints here), a very funny article on a scientific experiment he participated in where he basically watched porn and got drunk (and good money went towards funding this experiment) and drunken band reviews where Craven and a friend listen to and review records while drunk. Good stuff. send $1 or $2 or a trade to Craven Rock PO Box 20692 Seattle WA 98102 email@example.com
FRAN MAGAZINE #6 This sort of reminds me of the type of thing you pick up for free at the record store. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just what it is. Plenty of ads, a few pages of records reviews, an interview with one of those kooky punk bands who are pretty much indistinguishable from any other kooky punk band you see reviewed in any other zine, some LA Bar reviews and assorted other articles which range from funny (the interview/ personal ads and Filthy Stinking Cheap, an article on how to live cheaply and an article on why the movie The Day After Tomorrow sucks) to kinda funny (an article on masturbation using the internet) to “huh? I think I’m missing a joke here” (A Letter from Jenni Wu) This issue is pretty LA centric, but they say the next one won’t be so much so... I’d give it a shot if I had a few extra bucks laying around. Send... OK, the cover says “free” but they say the next issue will be $3 so I guess this one is $3 as well. to FRAN magazine 511 N Kenmore Ave. Suite #103, Los Angeles CA 90004 www.franmagazine.com
MISFIT #3 and 4 I hate to say that any one zine is “the best of the lot” because when you do that it makes the other zines I reviewed look somehow inferior. But if I were one to do that then I would have to say that I think I enjoyed this zine more than any of the others I reviewed this issue. MISFIT is basically a humorous per zine with some funny comics and some goofy lists (29 things to be Shallowly depressed about, 10 people who can kiss my ass, Foreign Foods to Avoid) with enough serious stuff to keep things from getting too glib (most of the more serious stuff is in issue 4 which also details the birth of her child which I guess causes one to become more introspective than usual. But issue 4 also features a disgusting and very funny “Vomit Diary” which... in terms of the vomit alone makes me thrilled that I can never give birth) Highlights include “the Art of Vengeance” comics, “Intolerable Words in my Life” If your more interested in the humor type stuff you should go with #3. #4 is slightly more serious, but still quite funny. Send $4 per issue or trade (traders should include .83 of postage) to Hannah Eye c/o 105 Wilkin St. #2 St. Paul MN 55102 firstname.lastname@example.org
Closing thought- does anyone else hate it when they get a zine in the mail that’s not stapled together? Why do people do this? Is it somehow more “punk” or “DIY” to not staple it? If there’s anyone out there who has made the artistic choice to not staple your zine please tell me why because I am fascinated by this practice.
PO Box 2235, Fredericksburg, TX 78624
COUCH TAG #1
by Jesse Reklaw
($1.50 ppd from Jesse Reklaw / PO Box 11493 / Berkeley, CA / 94712 USA. Web: www.slowwave.com)
I have to admit, in all sincerity, that I’ve never read a mini-comic by Jesse Reklaw that I didn’t enjoy. Something about his work just grabs me. Even when I occasionally think the drawings at first appear to lack energy, it doesn’t matter; as soon as I actually read the story, everything works and I’m hooked. It’s a subtle, sneak-attack sort of style that I admire.
This particular mini-collection contains three pieces. “Goldfish” depicts a creepy childhood memory, the sort I imagine most people have a handful of. “Wrong Turn” is a weird dream. And, really, what’s a Reklaw collection without at least one dream comic? This one features the artist, his sister, Bill Clinton and Dan Quayle. The final entry, “Two Letters from My Grandmother”, is just that, illustrated. It’s also the most personal and least fulfilling piece (in the sense of conclusion). The two letters in question were written a decade apart and illustrate just how much things can change in a few years and how dissatisfying certain aspects of growing up may be.
“Goldfish” and “Two Letters...” both appear to have been done on scratchboard. Whether or not they were actually created that way I can’t say for sure, but they do look nice. Recommended.
DANIEL BATTAMS FAN CLUB MAGAZINE Vol. 2, #2
(£2.50 from Daniel Battams, www.danielbattamsfanclub.com)
To be honest, I wasn’t eager to review this one because I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it and now that I’ve read it – well, I’m still not sure what to make of it. I don’t know for sure how much is legit and how much is a put-on and since the zine is based in the far-away magical land of London I can’t even say if the references inside are genuine. I mean, hey, maybe the whole thing is completely on the level, who knows? But how seriously do I take a fan magazine published by the very subject of said magazine? (The concept amuses me, though, I must admit.)
Anyhow, what we’ve got here is a mini-sized perzine of sorts with color throughout (and lots of artwork by Mr. Battams), fan club-y stuff (letters, gossip, photos), fashion (?), a nice letter/illo (think Jeff Zenick) by Tom Pearce, a funny article by Sarah that confirms my feeling that Friendster.com is mostly worthless to the end user, and more.
FLASHS DE MAI
by Christine Douville
($10.00 from La Petite Fée / 6595 St-Hubert, CP 59019 / Montréal, QC / H2S 3P5 / CANADA. E-mail: email@example.com)
I’m certainly not the person to review this chapbook as (a) I’m not really a poetry enthusiast and (b) even if I was I can’t read French. But I did want to let you know about it just the same. As mentioned above this is a poetry chapbook, in French, by Christine Douville. It’s nicely produced with speckled interior pages, cardstock cover (with cutout) and hand-bound with twine. E-mail Christine for more info.
JESSICA SEES RED
by Karl Wills
($4.00 from Karl Wills / PO Box 105 278 / Auckland / NEW ZEALAND 1030. Web: www.comicbookfactory.net)
The “Jessica of the Schoolyard” mini-comic series is set in what appears to be a private school and stars Jessica, a very bad girl. She’s so bad, in fact, that even when she’s good she’s still bad. Case in point: In this installment, her attempt to protect a blind girl is to stuff her in her locker for safe keeping. At one panel per page, these Jessica minis are quick reads but that fact is fairly easy to overlook because the books are just so beautiful. The interiors are printed in lush, old school full-color, which is gorgeous in combination with Wills’ clear-line style. And don’t get me wrong, the stories are lots of fun; I just can’t help but think it’s going to be an even better read once they’re collected at some point (which, granted, I’m only assuming will happen). At any rate, I recommend this series. There are 11 books thus far so do yourself a favor and check the website for more info (and enjoy some flash cartoons while you’re there).
edited by Marcel Herms
(available from Anima Mal Nata / Postbus 6359 / 7401 JJ Deventer / HOLLAND or The Hunting Lodge / J.F. van Hengelstraat 76 / 1019 DC Amsterdam / HOLLAND. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com)
If you’re into noise recordings or noise’s graphical partner-in-crime, art brut, then you’ll probably want to check this out. There are interviews with Bob Saunders (Manherringbone), Oscillating Innards, Monobrain (Fckn’ Bstrds, HEADHUNTER), Jelle Crama (Rotkop), Kapreles and Johnny van de Koolwijk (Dead Husbands). For those unfamiliar with those names, most of these artists record noise and make other types of art. In addition to the informative interviews you’ll also find a rant about the noise “genre” by Hal McGee, several pages of reviews (recordings, related zines) and lots of great drawings by Billy McKay, Marcel Herms, Sietse Hoeksma, Kapreles, Claudio Parentela, Marc van Elburg and others.
I must admit that I don’t quite “get” noise. I don’t know if it’s a matter of opening my mind or a lack of exposure, but I do know that my brain doesn’t know what to do with it (in large doses, anyway). I think it’s excellent that the stuff exists, though, and I’m even more pleased by the type of visual art that seems to come from its participants. If you’re curious about any of this, I recommend RIGODON. It’s as good a starting place as you’re likely to find for info on this segment of the underground.
by Andy Nukes and Marc van Elburg
($6.00 from Marc van Elburg / de Hondenkoekjesfabriek / PO Box 68 / 7700AB / Dedemsvaart / THE NETHERLANDS. It may also be available from Andy Nukes / PMB 211 / 19046 Bruce B Downs Blvd. / Tampa, FL / 33647 USA)
I’ve been enjoying Marc van Elburg’s projects for a while now and I’ve been a fan of Andy Nukes for years so I was quite looking forward to this joint effort. Essentially what you’ve got here is 20-some-odd pages of jam drawings by the two artists. Van Elburg’s visuals are generally pretty chaotic while Nukes’ are pretty controlled (although very abstract), so they’re an interesting pair for this sort of collaboration. I think it works well (I knew it would, I just couldn’t imagine it). What’s more, as with all of the Hondenkoekjesfabriek booklets, it’s perfect accompaniment for the included noise CD.
by Brian Horst
(Brian Horst / Festival of Failure / 1916 Pike Pl. #12-301 / Seattle, WA / 98101-1056 USA. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
The first Brian Horst mini-comics I received were acquired through a third party but I enjoyed them so much that I tracked the man down to get more. Brian is a mini-comic machine lately and has at least seven different titles available at the moment, all of which are fun. They’re a mix of comics, doodles and crewcuts that’s really appealing to me. He’s got a nice retro style made somewhat manic by the quickdraw look of most of the artwork, which is a good thing as I see it. In fact, each mini is like a tiny sketchbook (I’d love to see a large collection). My guess is if you enjoy work by, say, Sam Henderson, Tim Kelly or Jay Ward, then you’ll dig this.
WIDE AWAKE #4 & 5
(Wide Awake Press / PO Box 14234 / Greenville, SC / 29610 USA. Web: www.wideawakepress.com)
Wide Awake Press represents a group of Southern misfit artists based in South Carolina. They have a fairly large catalog of publications to choose from but right now we’re going to take a look at their flagship anthology.
First of all, the covers are beautifully produced. They both sport wraparound silkscreens that look great. I know if I was part of a region-centric zine I’d want to be represented that well. And the insides aren’t too shabby either. In fact, considering that space is apparently limited to locals, the cream-to-crap ratio is much better than one might expect.
Number 5, the most recent issue, contains work by several people you may know of or soon will. Some of the stuff that stands out: Publisher/designer J. Chris Campbell contributes a couple of fun comics and an appreciation of Ernie Kovacs (with a great illo), among other things; Duane Ballenger’s got a few of his “Sux Me Eggs” strips (goofy fun) and a ghost story/horror tv send-up called “The Old Dark House” that’s pretty funny and done completely in pencil (this charms me for some reason); Josh Latta’s strip about a lovelorn G.I. writing to his girl that’s really punctuated by the tiny strip below it titled “I Think We Should Just Be Friends”; Jason Gammon fiddles with visual conventions in an amusing way; funny fake ads for Upstate Savings Bank, this issue’s alleged sponsor; Ashley Holt’s cartoons, several of which have “Southern” written all over them (not literally, you understand); and Andy Runton’s “Owly and Wormy”. Plus, the toenails on the cover are scratch ‘n sniff (they smell good to me – is that wrong?) and there are toilet paper endpapers. What more would you want?
In addition to the stuff above there’s plenty more fun between these two issues: a few Onion-style articles, impressive drawings (JP Eisenberg, Gary Goodfleish, Rob Patterson), Heavenly Friends (Andrew Davis), a really creepy photo by Amanda Wilson, Chris Harber’s “Aliens in the Office” strip which shouldn’t work but just does, and much more. Oh, and #4 also includes an envelope of goodies. Mine held the first version of Campbell’s Travel mini-zine, a sticker, a couple of tiny video game console trading cards and one or two other bits.
The emphasis here seems to be on fun and with that these books succeed. As with any anthology it’s not all ground-breaking, must-see work but there’s enough here to recommend. I’m not sure what the price for these is but I suggest going to the website and having a look around.
PO Box 380431. Cambridge, MA 02238
Caryatid Rises – Hope
A collaborative zine with poet Marilou Awiakta. Women, writing, hope.
$3 – e-mail for trades
It was difficult to find anything I liked in this month’s batch of zines. I had to pass over half of them. Sorry, but I tried. At least it keeps my word count affordably low for Davida.
A run of the mill zine. The mini-zine insert with photos of a derelict cemetery is interesting. Anti-Iraq war rhetoric is standard fare. The writing isn’t bad, just so ordinary that, when I came to write the review I had to keep looking at the zine to remind me what it was about. Considering the writer claims that school reform is her life’s mission the zine is surprisingly anodyne. I guess I like more zeal to back up the statements.
428 N.13th Street, 51, Philadelphia PA 19123
20 pages half size plus mini zine insert
TWENTY-EIGHT PAGES LOVINGLY BOUND WITH FLOSS
#9 The Dental Issue
OK, but somewhat disappointing. The best joke is the construction - the usual twine is replaced by dental floss with a little extra in case you feel the need. If 6 pages of Q and A about keeping your pearlies cavity free or commentary on the suicidal tendencies of dentists appeal to you then this is the zine to buy. Lisa Moster D.D.S. generates kudos for giving one day annually to treat patients for free. The Amish dentistry satire scraped pretty low for laughs.
P.O. Box 106, Danville OH 43014
The Family Issue
Largely excellent with one or two duds. The theme “family” is taken very widely. There are gay families who want nothing to do with marriage, families finding community online, and families torn asunder by the terrorist attacks of 9-11. Hip-hop Moms talk about the ways their music and the hip-hop culture influence how they raise their children. (Probably the coolest sentence uttered about parenting comes from Asia One, “I feel that if you’re a fly mommi with your game tight, your daughter’s gonna look up to you for support and knowledge.” God, I hope so. ) TV is yet again exposed as a child-brain-rotting axis of evil. Alternative media is chastised for ignoring children, pre-teens and teenagers and leaving them to become warped in the desert of popular culture. A pertinent article but I could have done without the ubiquitous use of the word ‘brat’. I suppose it’s meant to be ironic but it still pisses me off. Theresa, Ani and Sylvia give three perspectives on their extremely unconventional family. I loved this article - superlatives fail me. They are three lovely, vibrant individuals who have to endure staggering amounts of abuse for being themselves. This is Clamor’s best edition. Well worth reading.
PO Box 20128 Toledo OH 43610
Recommendations from my personal store:
Franetta’s zine got good reviews last time but I was so crazy about it that I want to put in my own plug. Great writing. Beautifully packaged. In a class of its own.
PMB 170 40 East Main St. Newark, DE 19711
$2/2 stamps/ 3IRCs/56pgs/5x5/trades
Fat and bursting with 20 brief stories of that iconic “first kiss”. Very stylish cover. Strong on content. Funny, sweet, painful, gross, it’s all there.
Jenna Weiss, PO Box 321, Fanwood NJ 07023
$3/equivalent trade, paypal email@example.com
8 days in august and September
a mother and toddler take on the rnc
Vikki Law is a photographer and writer who makes out of the ordinary and creative zines. This one-off chronicles what it was like to protest – 3-year-old daughter in tow – at the Republican National Convention in New York City this Fall. Vikki writes about her reasons for protesting, how the media’s scare tactics made her question whether or not to bring her little child along, why she decided that it was important that she did, and how peaceful and empowering the protests were in reality. Vikki is looking for more stories, art and photographs from the RNC protests. If you have any, send them to her at: Vikki Law, PO Box 20388, Tompkins Square Station, New York NY 10009
Bobby Tran Dale
3542 Fruitvale Ave. PMB #141
Oakland, CA 94602-2327
Greetings and Infernal Salutations dear minions of the small press and the wide webbed world. It’s Botda here with a few words on-what else? Mostly comix for those of us who fall into that literarily challenged category. It’s all about the visuals baybee, visuals! With that I say, ‘Hail’ to you lonely small pubbers, keep pubbin’ and send them in. But remember, it’s quality not quantity that will likely get you some space with at least my tiny bit of XD heaven. And in these instances below, I think there’s a good amount of quality to be had or at least consider. Read on…
ONLY THE LONELY
44pp Digest, Silkscreened cardstock covers
PRICE: $3.00 (But via snailmail or Paypal on site)
P.O. Box 9705
Berkeley, CA 94709
begin my reviews with this, probably my favorite of the bunch. A compilation of
comix by local Bay Area cartoonists and notables Andy Terhune, Thien Pham
(www.e-zcheese.com), Joe Sayers (www.jsayers.com), Josh Frankel
(www.hungryforbrains.com), Alixopulos (www.alixopulos.com), Tom Neely
(www.iwilldestroyyou.com), Jesse Reklaw (www.slowwave.com), and Fredo
(www.altgeek.net). Actually, I can’t tell you if everyone here is truly from the Bay, but really, who cares? What we do
have here is one of the better compilations that I’ve seen in awhile. A long
overdue and very well done f-you to the autobio/poor-me comix scene. I read
thru this pretty much chuckling all the way through mostly because so much of
it is so dead on. It is witty with just enough barb that you ‘get it’,and even
the most die-hard sob….err….autobio afficianados can gleen a laff or two from
its sarcasms, because face it folks……most, not all of what gets put out is
kinda silly and needs to be made fun of. I mean really….do you really care that Joe Blow lost his job
and ‘thinks deep thoughts’ all day long? Someone please, just shoot him before
he gets anywhere near a pen and paper….and gawd forbid, draws some comix. And you, if you’re the consumer of this stuff,
please go do some drugs and make your life more exciting or somethin’(well, not
really, we don’t advocate that drug-thing either here at XD!).
So, a few high points of this digest full of them: ‘The Secret Diary Of: Unit X14-b’ by Sayers; a lonely robot persues love to fill his world of robotic loneliness, After unsuccessfully offering a ‘procured lobster’ in an attempt to get some booty lovin’ he finds himself at the ‘Womyn’s Music Festival’ asking “Who desires intercourse? I needn’t tell you the results of that little missive. In ‘Walk, Birds, Candy’ by Frankel, the main character, longing for his lost love, well…goes for a walk, saw some birds, ate some candy and was ‘thinking of you’. This starts off simple enough of until a few pages later while still going for a walk, seein’ birds, eating some candy and thinking of you know who, finally descends into madness in a splash page that was worth a few laughs for sure .It was beautifully executed, simple and hella funny. In Alixopulos’ ‘Lonely Planet Starring Lonely Boy’, the panel that was the most bitchin read: ‘I don’t know where to go exactly-I just want to move around and have some profound thoughts or poignant emotions’…hee hee. Thassoo mean. In Reklaw’s ‘It’s A Magical Place’ we have amongst other weirdness, the main character having deep conversations with his kitty. He paints a portrait of it while peeing in the toilet bowl as he proclaims ‘Isn’t it amazing! It fills my heart with joy to make art every day!’
Each of these strips had their charm. The illustrations appropriate to the presentations. Honestly folks, this was fun stuff all around and this was one of the rare occasions that I didn’t finish a comix zine thinking,: ‘Damn, that was a cool piece, but this other stuff sucked’. It’s a good sampling of some locals here as well as a fine piece of work. And don’t forget to breeze by their websites for a look.
Midnight Creep : Price: $3.00, 5.5x5.5 28pp, Silkscreened cardstock covers, Winter 2004
P.O. Box 12253
Berkeley, CA 94712-5253
To start, I should probably say the Fredo’s art might be a little harsh on the senses to some, and the narrative and humor might be a little to much for a few comix peeps to stomach. For those who might fall into the latter, more ‘softcore’ readers, be warned. Luckily, there’s not much humor in this piece here, so you’re spared on that account. Fredo’s work definitely has its own swing and you either will jump on for the ride or be rudely tossed to the curb. ‘Funhouse’ isn’t simply part of the name of his site, but an accurate description of the style of his work. That said, I begin his little spotlight on ‘Midnight Creep’.
Here we have a very well done piece on love gone sour, murder and the resulting mayhem that eventually leads to the Devil getting’ his dues. The main character Jimmy opens the story after hopping a boxcar, and is giving a telling of his recent past deeds to another railway traveler. After being suspicious that his wife might be cheating on him, he takes an opportunity to hide in some bushes one day to watch the goings on at his house while he’s supposed to be at work. Needless to say, he catches the woman with the local preacher and proceeds to slay them both. What follows of course, is what brings him to the beginning of the story. Without giving away the fine ending, I’ll say that when Fredo decides to draw demented characters, he does it well. His bizarre imaginings go well on paper and do indeed give me that ‘eeow that’s kinda creepy lookin’ effect. I always wonder what is reeeeeally lurking just under the surface when I see his work. I do not suggest that his style is realist in its execution, but the kind that just eats at you despite its oftimes ‘simpleness’ of design. Some people can get away with it, some people can’t and Fredo seems to do a good job at takin’ the money. Of all of the work I’d seen of Fredo’s, this was the most effective. Fredo’s work has never fallen under the bright and shiny category to me….it always just misses being really disturbing on different levels and most always has a dark flavor to it. In this case it’s pretty dark and it works very nicely. The whole story really had an old folk story/ noire-ish/ Twilight Zone-y thing going on and I really liked it. The little twist to the end was welcome as was the really creepy looking last panels. I should say, that the phonetic spelling of the ‘Southern’ drawl was a little jarring at first, but I got over that pretty quick. That said, Bravo, man. I hope to see more like this small(er) press comixJ
BOG-GOB No. 29 Spring 2004
Standard offset/newsprint, 32pp
Price: Free at Chattanooga TN sites, $2 by mail
P.O. Box 4425
Chattanooga, TN 37405
Here’s my cop-out review of the issue, but hey…what can I say about BG that I haven’t said before? BG is basically your local free indie paper. I’ve tended to like reading the haps in BG over the years because, hey, I ain’t getting’ near Tennessee anytime soon and it’s kinda interesting to read about things that happen elsewhere. Also, it’s smaller than most of the local freebies here so WTF, the size is convenient…and they BIND IT so the damn thing doesn’t fall apart all over you while you’re reading it on a bumpy bus (not that I take a bus, but you know what I mean). But mostly though, BG has always been a fun read to me and a nice backpack stuffer when you might encounter boring waits. Anyhooz, this issue: An interview with Madfish Willy, a piece on Electric Frankenstein featuring the art of their posters, a comics-to-film article, the ALWAYS funny, ‘Diarrhea Of A Madman’ rant and Matt Holdaway offers an ode to the life affirming cyber immersion experience that is the Google search engine. And of course, the rest of the issue is the usual DVD and Indie music reviews, zine reviews and BG’s usual humorous brand of catty writing. I should also mention that for $5 (FIVE BUCKS), you can get a BG Grab bag full of back issues, other zines, stickers and whatever else the have lying around. As they say: ‘It’s a sore-dick deal…you just can’t beat it’.
ANGRY DRUNK GRAPHICS 2004 FREE SAMPLER
OK…some of you are reeeeeally gonna wonder what smoke I was crackin’ on this one, but I’m sorry, this was hella stupid funny, and even as a dinky ‘sampler’ it definitely piqued my interest to see the comix that these snippets were culled from. I even went to their website to order their ‘Fun Ways To Kill Your Children’ book, but…uhm… didn’t cuz it crashed my ****ing computerL Anyway… There’re two strips here and the rest are little comix excerpts from ADG’s other offerings: Spaztic Colon, Odd Tales, The Snow Prince and Fun Ways To Kill Your Children. The humor most definitely may be a little too off-color for some, and maybe I’m just hella tired but these tidbits had me crackin’ up. There’s a few panels from ‘Fun Ways To Kill Your Children’…i.e…’take them hunting’…’give them electric bath toys’,and ‘razor tipped frizbees can be fun’. That should give you an idea of what’s in store. The problem is, you are missing the visual accompaniment that makes this stuff pretty funny in that ‘that’s soooo wrong’ kinda way. But it’s the Nightmare Before Christmas reminiscent…well kind...reminiscent illustrations that really make all of this kookiness work. Bulging eyeballs, carnivorous people eating pontificatin’ vegetarians, and all of the other very Addams Family-esque scribbles that make these publications seem worth a peek. I say the sampler is free, so drop by the site and check availability and see if it’s something you’d want to get into anyway. But both are free, and you know how I love free things. In the meantime, here’s to hoping we get a better look at full-on ADG publications. “AHH!!Help me!! There’s a carnivore on my head!! He’s gonna eat me!”….ooooh uh uh…lol
THE PLOT THICKENS #3
2004, 36pp digest, color covers
Contact: N. America (Price: $7):
Top Shelf Productions
POB 1283 Marietta, GA
Contact: British & European orders
Price: 2.50 Sterling/5 Euros
8 Brewer Street
Brighton, BN2 3HH
(NB Euro orders as concealed cash only)
Gavin Burrows is back with the gang in this British comp of comix. I don’t remember them being carried by Top Shelf last time, but hey, there’s my old age kickin’ in there. So what we have here is a slick, well done collection of satirical strips that yet again runs the gamut and kind of defies any specific categorizations. I should first point out that at least for me, there’s a different flow to satire and humor with our overseas brothers and sisters so if you pick this up, keep it in mind. If you’re really bred on American stuff, you might need to wait to be in the right mood for some of these comix to hit you the way they were meant to.
That said, I didn’t love every single strip in here, but that’s usually the case with compilations. But ultimately, even the ones that I didn’t like as much didn’t make me wonder what in the Hell said pieces were even doing in the comp to begin with. A coupla high points that I’d enjoyed included: ‘The Waste Of Space’, a barbed little vignette done in the veign of Space: 1999 and the like. Featuring bored travelers having to deal with their overly enthusiastic ship Captain, who’s desperately trying to keep spirits up to no avail. In the best strip of them all, the unfortunate denizens of Hell’s torture chambers get together for a mediated discussion with their torturers to discuss more effective ways in which to implement torture tactics and get the best screams per beating, disemboweling, and branding. It sounds pretty low brow, but it was pretty dern humorous. I also really loved the very dirty Robert Crumb/Freak Brothers scratchy illustrations that were just perfect for the piece. Excellent. ‘Reckless Force’ jibes at useless superheroes such as ‘Flipping Lid’ with his paranoid superpowers and ‘Zen Boy’ with …well…whatever it is he does. That too was pretty well done.
Overall, this is comp that I could recommend for some, maybe not all. It’s produced well and doesn’t feel rushed or …well….crappy. Like all comps, there are highs and lows, but this one does a good job sustaining its interest by being so diverse in its offerings.
And that dear folks brings us to the end of my portion of the reviews. Hopefully, you will at least take a moment while you’re at work surfing the Net (don’t lie, ya know ya do it, plus: god is watching and she punishes liars!) But drop by some of these listed websites and check these folks out. You might find something that pleasantly surprises you.
Gavin J. Grant
176 Prospect Ave.
Northampton, MA 01060
Gavin J. Grant hopes that by now there will be a new freely-elected (as much as Diebold and the Electoral College allow) President of the USA by the time this is printed. And that it isn’t the Governator. Gavin freelances (read: needs work) and runs Small Beer Press (www.lcrw.net) in Northampton, MA.
CHOCOHOLIC: A ZINE ABOUT CHOCOLATE
Heh heh. This is the zine for me. Well, just about. Reviews of mostly over-the-counter chocolate “bars” — most of them are something-or-other enrobed (catchphrase of UK food industry) in some wax-heavy substance that sort of resembles milk chocolate. CHOCOHOLIC is tons of fun, somewhat informative, and includes loads of recipes. Don’t get me wrong: while I’ve got a chocolate cook book, so far it’s only porn, but I want good chocolate and that’s not something large US chocolate manufaturers (sic) are interested in producing. In the UK apparently 12% of all food sold is now Fair Trade-sourced—which is something that began with coffee, tea, and chocolate. So, search out the Fair Trade foods wherever you are and see if we can make a difference while eating the food of the gods.
No.1, $2, quarter-letter, 42pp., Stephanie S., PO Box 715 Weatherfgord, TX 76086 firstname.lastname@example.org
Well laid out long-running zine with some illos. zOn Mars (and reviews of six books on that Red Planet), on lawyers, on RFID (potentially scary radio chips in everything from your library books, your choccy bars, and, er, you), on the Free State Project (quick: everyone move to New Hampshire to live free or die and swing the vote!), and a long letter about a guy who can build you a 40’ house for $10k. Not quite free, but almost, compared to house prices.
No.127, $2/trade, letter, 8pp, Jim Stumm, Hiler Branch, Box 29-XD, Buffalo, NY 14223
SHOT BY A RAY GUN
Right on the cover it says: One Hundred Drawings. And, inside, well, I didn’t count them, but there are probably 100 here. And they are more than worth a penny each. I’m ordering a couple more for friends. Maybe I’ll cut them up (oooh!) and paste them to walls, envelopes, jackets, friends. Lots of off people, maybe some aliens, at least one cat. Go on, send Billy a buck.
No.8, $1/trade, quarter-letter, 27pp, Billy McKay, PO Box 542, N. Olmstead, OH 44070 email@example.com
THE HUNGOVER GOURMET
It’s a magazine, really, a big damn mag with lots of good writers (including a bartender’s hiccup cure that I’m not sure I would try). Ok, ok, it’s a zine. Best thing in it is by Matt Holdaway about a club in San Francisco or thereabouts. Anywhere the patrons bring each other tamales is somewhere to cherish. That it’s a bar just makes it ten times better. The theme of the issue, though, is places that have been and are now gone. Great reading and hopefully will encourage appreciation of the bars, restaurants, izakayas, &c. you still love.
No.8, $2, letter, 31pp, Dan Taylor, PO Box 5531, Lutherville, MD 21094-5531 hungovergourmet.com
FLORENCE OF ARABIA
B&w mini-comic with hand-colored cover. Chapters 4-6: Florence’s head survives on the moon and someone has reconstructed her earlier journals and letters that she had thought rid of when she burned them. Ok, so you may have to order the first ish as well to make it all make sense, but, like all Hob’s comics, it is lovely stuff and well worth it.
No.2, $1, tiny (or rather 2.5”x5”), Graphesthesia, PO Box 420596, San Francisco, CA 94142
PMB 170, 40 E. Main St.
Newark, DE 19711
Not much has been going on with me these days. I’ve been helping my parents settle into their new place which seems to be a never ending process. They lure me over with fresh seafood and then give me a few boxes to unpack. Not fair. I really should have moved to California with my sister. I’ve also been working at getting more young people (that is, people younger than me) registered to vote and praying, that for all our sakes, the Bush-man loses. Oh, and I’ve been reading zines, too...
GRACKLE #2: One of the reasons I like perzines so much is that I get an opportunity to read about people whose lives are a lot different from my own. So I really enjoyed Malinda’s account of going to college at the age of 27, short trips around the country and competing with her school’s Olympic weightlifting team. Her writing style is homey and inviting and her handmade cover is beautiful. A fine read. I wish I could keep it. Malinda, 1703 Southwest Pkwy, Witchita Falls, TX 76302, firstname.lastname@example.org, $1.00 or equivalent trade
QUEER FRIEND Vol. 1, No.1 (Summer 2004): Warning: you will probably need a magnifying glass to get through most of this zine. But good news: it will be worth the extra effort. This great first issue includes thoughts on feline angst vs. canine totalitarianism, thoughts on the verb “to queer”, a thorough and practical guide on how to eat organically on less than $3 a day (there’s a recipe for making your own veggie burgers that I’m going to try) and pages from Paul’s sketchbook. I definitely look forward to reading more from this zinester. Queer Friend, P.O. Box 14314, San Francisco, CA 94114, free, but donations of cash or stamps greatly appreciated
FOR THE CLERISY|GOOD WORDS FOR READERS #57: I do most of my zine reading while waiting for buses on my way to and from work. This gets a bit tricky, as it requires me to keep one eye on the text while the other keeps watch for my bus. I know a zine is really good when I get so absorbed in it that I almost miss the bus. This latest issue of FOR THE CLERISY made me do just that. Brant Kresovich paints a portrait of Japan using book reviews and snippets of his experiences as an English teacher there from 1986 to 1992. Really fascinating and impeccably written. For the Clerisy, P.O. Box 404, Getzville, NY 16068-0404, email@example.com, $2, trade or letter of comment
BOB #3: I really liked this zine. It’s well designed, well written and parts of it are laugh out loud, laugh ‘til you cry funny. There’s an interview with Tommy Avalone, a 20-something independent filmmaker who ran for mayor of Haddon Heights, NY, an irreverent look at some of the weird third parties that exist in this country, a short rant insisting the revolution will be televised but no one will be watching, why people blog and more. Informative and fun. $2, Outhouse Publishing, 30 Locust Avenue, Westmont, NJ 08108, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.njghost.com
THE WHIRLIGIG #9: It’s good to see a lit zine out there where the writing is decent, original and not too full of itself. I enjoyed almost everything in this issue, but I especially liked Douglas Lain’s story, The Dead Celebrity about a guy who stays famous as long as he doesn’t leave the mall and Mike Cipra’s piece, Evidence of Cannibalism in the Culture, a biting satire about prejudice and government bureaucracy. Definitely worth checking out. $3, The Whirligig, 4809 Avenue N #117, Brooklyn NY 11234-3711, www.thewhirligig.com
P.O. Box 1912
Mill Valley, CA 94942
Some verbose fool writing in the last Xerography Debt describes San Francisco as a city of “mad screaming drunken filth,” and calls it “a tumbleweed ghost city populated by misshapen beggars slumped in doorways where they hold out their paper cups, and by desperate whores losing their shapes along with everything else, and on weekends by wild-eyed, package-laden tourists who lumber aboard the street cars for one last ride.”
Of course that fool was me. At the time I was looking for an apartment in the Bay Area and believed happiness lay across the Golden Gate Bridge from Fog City’s corruption. But my true happiness lay where it always has: in the corruption itself, as I have always known, except for the few minutes I was writing those sentences. Something went wrong with my thinking.
So here I am in Marin County, where knotty-muscled bicyclists rise at dawn to squeeze into their Spandex pants, tie on their jellybean helmets, and hit the streets. Where young women push baby strollers along the sidewalks endlessly, as if they have lost their homes and are in no hurry to find them again. Where spoiled dowagers shuffle in and out of the little shops, bitterly buying things.
How did such a fate befall us, exactly? I’m not sure. When Sarah and I flew out in June for my job duties we started checking out potential abodes (or she did while I worked) and our hunt directed us Mill Valley, a charming burg at the base of Mt. Tamalpais. Charming if you’re visiting, that is, as throngs of San Franciscans do every weekend. Sometimes I think they come here for one of the reasons people go to Vegas. That is, in order to absorb the mood of wealth – not by throwing money away at gambling tables but by wandering through the streets at leisure, the way most of Marin seems to wander every day. The populace exists here in a sort of trance of richness and indolence. Other times it seems the outsiders are visiting a zoo, where the creatures to be watched are not caged animals but Homo sapiens with large bank accounts, enormous SUVs, and fancy clothes.
Anyway, we found ourselves inspecting the second floor of a restored Victorian in Mill Valley. At this point, something went wrong in Sarah’s head also. “This is it!” she cried, ignoring the ghastly mottled-blue carpet (which more resembles carpet padding), the west wall made of triangular wooden panels (think of the dance floor in a 1970s supper club in Dubuque, and include the scuff marks), and the lack of blinds or screens on windows that don’t shut tight anyway (with spider-laden trees all around). The chipped paint, the filthy linoleum in the bathroom, the roaring bus stop right out front.
She liked the kitchen a lot.
“It’s my fault,” she would moan in the months after we signed the lease. It was. But the fault was as much mine as hers, for believing I could find satisfaction with rich people among the redwoods, away from the dirty noise and drama of “the last lovely city,” as Alice Adams called San Francisco in one of her short stories. We came all the way from Illinois to the wrong place, if only by a few miles.
The worst of it is (well, OK, not the worst but pretty bad) that there is apparently a black hole between here and where Davida sends the zines from, so I got no packet this time despite her two attempts. Thus I am cobbling together below a sort of polyglot mishmash assembly of five based on reading materials plucked from toppling piles balanced in the corners of our furniture-less living space.
Eight months left on the lease. The landlord won’t let us out unless we find somebody to move in. In flaky Marin, you’re lucky to find somebody who can keep an appointment. We had one guy and his woman who seemed especially promising. They loved the place. I pointed out the flaws and he said, “Yeah, but all the rentals in Mill Valley are shitty.” The guy, who had grown up in Mill Valley, exclaimed over the kitchen, the view, and the three-windowed turret where I write at night. They came to look at the place twice. The second time he said, “We’ll put in an application with the landlord and after it clears and I get the green light, I’ll give you a call. How does a December 1 move-in sound?’’ We shook hands. He called back a few days later and said he didn’t want it.
When you get down to the truth, though, what does it matter where you live? I mean, yes, I’d rather not have tourist morons gaping into our drape-less windows. (They’re all odd-shaped – the windows, I mean, and some of the tourists as well. To get anything that covers the window would require custom making, and I’ll be goddamned if I’m going to do that when I know I am out of here at the first chance.) Sometimes I even hear the gapers in the street below jabbering about how quaint the house is, as they watch us eat our dinner. We sit on the floor by the largest, full-length window, candles all around. Romantic. We drink a lot of wine. Sometimes they wave at us, and I wave back. It’s good I do not own a gun. I mean, people will be wherever we go . . . Mill Valley, San Francisco, Minneapolis . . . and I will do what I can to avoid them.
On the upside, Big Pinch World is now online at www.bigpinchworld.com. You’ll find a piece or two of the hard copy version and the rest of the site is original material (or as original as I can be; nothing is outright stolen), with more to be added regularly as lightning bolts of inspiration strike. If you would like a tangible copy of BPW, of which a moldering few still exist, please send two bucks to post-office box address up there at the top.
“Numero Dos,” Summer 2004
A smaller typestyle in the second issue of this import from Spain means more stories and that’s always good. OK, not always, but in the hands of Kris the American and Lola his Spanish wife: yes. Kris has an eye for detail, like this about two old women he saw eating olives while he was walking around over there doing the same. “They were both standing in the middle of the street spitting pits. Neither one of them had any elastic in their socks.” You get another installment of Lola’s chuckle-making impressions of America, which thankfully include nothing along the lines of “you pigs should all die.” Instead she finds “American potato culture too crazy for me,” with “100 different kinds of potatoes.” She likes the diversity of American food in general, though, and her prose is full of endearing not-quite-English turns of phrase, as in this sentence about luggage during one visit. “Too heavy. It’s normal – women always make a heavy suitcase.” You can almost hear the accent. Letters section and reviews, too, for a “modest amount” of U.S. cash, Euros and/or trade to Kris & Lola c/o Lucio Carrasco, calle Obispo 4 bajo, Plasencia 10600, Caceres, Spain.
UNDERWORLD CRAWL #2
R. Lee writes in a note to me, “It’s 2 pm on a beautiful sunny Sunday and I’m sitting here in a dark room typing away and that suits me fine.” You might know that about Lee from the fine jolt provided by the first issue – that he likes to write, doesn’t much appreciate most people, and would rather be inside. More of the same, I am happy to report, in his second effort. “Monophonic rustbelt zine pulp” is how Lee describes it, a chronicle of dreary jobs, moronic co-workers and a home life relieved by jazz and beer. Here’s the man talking about a visit to the grocery store. “This woman stared as though she were inspecting a painted wall for defects. I keep coming up against people like this. They’ve got a factory-sealed, ultra-hygienic quality about them. They look brittle, sexless and immune. Scrubbed, suburban, synthetic and so thoroughly detached they can stare at you with the opacity of a mannequin. This troubles me. ‘Why don’t you try looking the other way for a while,’ I said to her.” Some Bukowski, some Carver, some altogether remarkable work here. Buy it. Two bucks to P.O. Box 1421, Oshkosh, WI 54903.
THE U-HAUL ADVENTURES
Collected Columns 1996 - Tuesday morning
I snatched this off a table at the San Francisco Zine Fest. (Yes, I paid.) The 66-page compilation is made of pieces Mike Faloon banged out for other zines, which most of his friends didn’t get to read since the zines went kablooey. “And that’s not right because I often write with my friends in mind,” says Mike. So here they all are, plus four new ones he put together for a reading tour. It begins with his description of a high-school prank in which he and other students decide to assume the names of various Watergate conspirators and vaguely threaten teachers with some mischief which they, the students, had not decided on but is to take place on April 16. The pre-Columbine joke gets out of hand, almost surrealistically. But many of the pieces here are about music by Faloon, who went on to become a fifth grade teacher himself. Some great lines like, “Most people gaze at their Jethro Tull records and blame the whole experience on a weakness for one chemical or another. Not me.” Good readin’, whether you’re a Tull fan or not. Four dollars to 801 Eagles Ridge Rd., Brewster, NY 10509.
Marc Parker’s struggles with pot and life continue, as does his penchant for mysteriously hilarious covers. The first issue’s front bore a photo of an enormous rehab patient in a hospital gown grinning at the camera while a wee nurse clutches his (her?) arm. This one depicts one beauty queen hugging another, apparently at the moment when the huggee has been declared the winner and the hugger is called upon to fake gladness at losing. The winner doesn’t seem to be holding up too well herself, as the frame has caught her in a sort of grimace before full joy breaks out. The text is day-to-day life with Marc, including job tedium at the call center. “So I didn’t quit today. Instead I hung up on people, gave out misinformation, and spent about thirty minutes in the break room while my phone sat on unavailable number four.” His pot habit, much explored in the first issue, crops up on p. 17 when “it turned out Madison had come over to scrape Teresa’s pipe for resin. This I was able to resist.” Otherwise the main attractions of this zine, and there are many, consist of Marc’s laconic observations about his own existence. “All my shirts are quite odorous, most are stained. My pants bear the remnants of numerous ethnic dishes. My bedding reeks of bodily fluids. It’s unseemly, even for me.” Marc writes each issue by filling up a notebook, whereupon he stops. More notebooks, please. A bargain at one dollar in cash or stamps (no trades) to 2000 NE 42 Ave., Apt. 221, Portland, OR 97213.
CALL & RESPONSE #1
Another one from overseas, this by Gianni Simone, an Italian residing in Japan with wife and kids. “I do hope this is just the first step in a long journey. I hope we will make this journey together.” Well, why not? There are bits about mail art, travel, getting old(er) and insects (Gianni likes spiders). His talent for mail art shows in the handsomely done cover with a taped-on photo. The first issue, he admits, is “rather chaotic and disorganized,” a collection of stories written for other zines. My favorite is “Dark Passages,” inspired by the popular trespasser zine Infiltration and made by putting together bits from that effort in a collage to make a psychological rather than literal, external journey. It’s a great experiment, like the one Gianni proposes elsewhere involving a two-sided postcard. The “Fun With Puke” essay is alarming, however. Send four dollars cash or IRCs to Gianni at (yes, another complicated foreign address that sounds like a joke, American pig!) 3-3-23 Nagatsuta, Midori-ku, Yokohama-shi, 226-0027 Kanagawa-ken, Japan.
SLC Zine Library
210 E 500 South
Salt Lake City, UT 84111
The slow days of summer have quickly turned cold here in the Rocky Mount-ains. I am sitting on my couch in pants and a thick hooded sweatshirt wondering if I am really ready for the cold and trying to recall what I did with my sweaters. I really hope the freaking moths stayed away from my nice wool sweaters. Bastards are always after my sweaters.
FROM A TO ZINE: BUILDING A
WINNING ZINE COLLECTION IN YOUR LIBRARY
Ok, rules is rules and this is not a zine, it’s a book. I should also probably admit that this review is in no way, shape, or form objective as I see the author daily and I am not sure I could take her in a fight, even if I am the self-proclaimed Bare Knuckle Boxing Champion of the Mountain West. That said this is the greatest book ever written about building a zine collection in libraries. Just because it is currently the only book on such a subject should not detract from its informative chapters and stunning prose. Buy this book, or better yet make your local public library buy this book so there will be even more zine librarians buying zines.
Julie Bartel ISBN 0-8389-0886-1 ALA Editions
28 PAGES LOVEINGLY BOUND WITH TWINE #10
Hey, look! Vegans eat at Taco Bell. Even I won’t eat at Taco Bell. Will wonders never cease? Seriously, what can I say about this zine? Are there people in the zine community that have never read 28PLBWT? I just don’t believe it. Issue 10 has funny google eyes on the cover, some nice poetry, a funny story about how you can never please your dad, jogging through the zoo, and a super heart warming story involving pigs and toes. Only people who hate puppies, kitties, and babies don’t buy this zine, it’s a proven fact.
Send $2 Christoph Meyer, PO Box 106, Danville, OH 43014
I am not ashamed to admit that I like fuzzy, warm love stories so when a zine decides to name itself LOVE I expect it to deliver the goods. Thankfully, LOVE is an awesome comic that reaffirms my faith in how nice relationships can be. The zine chronicles the everyday lives of the mowhawked Pokie and the ruggedly shaggy Jack and picks up where #1 left off. In this issue Pokie and Jack have a few new friends, put on puppet shows, and even play canasta on the roof. Reading this comic is one of the highlights of my week, which either proves how great it is, or how easily I am amused.
Send $2 Matt Fagan, 1573 N Milwaukee Ave., PMB 464, Chicago, IL 60622,
LIVING FREE #128
There is something so comforting in knowing that zines/pamphlets like LIVING FREE are around. This zine reminds me of my Calculus teacher in high school, the always impressive Mr. Corsi. Mr. Corsi swore like a sailor (this in Utah) and made all his classes watch really bizarre astronomy movies from the sixties. Most of this zine is preoccupied with the question of whether the Moon or Mars is better suited to support human life, a subject I have never really pondered before. I have to admit I found this article fascinating in a really geeky way. My favorite article was called “In Defense of Rent” where Jim Strumm argued with a piece he read in the anarchist zine THE MATCH. For some reason pitting the scientist against the anarchist pleased me immensely.
Send $2 Jim Stumm, Hiler Branch, Box 29, Buffalo, NY 14223
THE CONFESSION OF NATHAN CROSS
This zine is so amazingly well written that it stands out in the world of zines and, frankly, makes me a little jealous of the author. The minute I started reading this short story I had forgotten I was reading a zine and was convinced that the author should be making millions of dollars writing best-selling books. The story is about a president named Nathan Cross, who I think might be based on George W., and his meeting with the Angel of Death. While the story is political, it handles the war in Iraq in a very sincere way that is devoid of the blistering anger that people on both sides feel. This is so unexpected and, well, nice. This was the most humane and thoughtful attack on the current president that I have ever read, making it by far the most powerful.
Send $1 (a steal) Etidohrpa, PMB 170, 40 East Main Street, Newark, DE 19711
I must say that this zine has been going strong since 1980, and more importantly, understands the power of the index. The librarian in me adores the fact that the authors reference themselves, while the human in me doesn’t really like the small type. The small type is understandable once you start reading the zine and discover that it is written yearly by hippies who live in the woods. These hippies have dedicated their lives to two things, building a community of fellow wood-dwellers, and converting those of us who still live in towns to their trimmed down life style. There are articles telling people how to make lights out of tuna fish cans, what the optimal shape of a tent should be, and how to keep crawly things out of your food supply. There was also a story about a dude who lived in an underground bunker in Nantucket, which sounds like the start of a beautiful limerick. Despite the zine’s really small type and lack of prepositional phrases, it kind of made me want to learn how to be a hunter and gatherer, which is saying a lot.
Send $1 to POB 190-L, Philomath, OR 97370
1573 N. Milwaukee Ave. #403
Chicago, IL 60622
I publish the zine SEMIBOLD on a semi-irregular basis. It’s a perzine about my life and random other things.
You can order a copy for $2 postage paid to 1573 N. Milwaukee Ave. #403, Chicago, IL 60622.
TEN THOUSAND YEARS FROM ENLIGHTENMENT
The journey towards a more spiritual existence is complex when you have to live in the real world. Gaynor has been studying Buddhism for twelve years and sometimes still finds it difficult to put its teachings into practice when the frustrations of everyday life present themselves. Let me tell you, I could not agree MORE! I have only been studying Buddhism and yoga for two years or so, and I am constantly admonishing myself to be less harsh and judgemental and trying to be more accepting of people. It’s comforting to know that others feel the same, and yet a little disheartening to know it will not get much easier with time. She bemoans the lack of this realism in magazines and books about spiritual practice, and a disconcerting materialism that presents itself in Western Buddhist practice. No one NEEDS a $60 meditation cushion, or (my own personal peeve) a diamond “OM” necklace. The idea is supposed to be to remove these wants and desires from our lives, but if you look at any yoga or spirituality magazine they are chock-full of ads for any accessory you could think of. Gaynor also tells a few stories of her travels in India, where she met her future husband David, and her woes later back in the States trying to start a meditation group for mothers. She has a witty, chatty writing style and I really enjoyed this. (And not just because she hit a lot of my hot button issues!) It has a nice collage cover, too.
22 pages, digest size. $2 US, $3 Canada/Mexico. Inquire about trades.
PO Box 380431
Cambridge, MA 02238
YOU IDIOT #3
Nate assigns himself the task of looking at the absurdities of anti-drug propoganda and education in America. I really had no idea of the screaming hyperbole and lack of credibility involved here. One of the worst examples is the dual-purpose comic book produced by the Tandy Corporation in the 80s. This combination anti-drug propoganda and Tandy/Radio Shack product placement involves two annoying kids who foiled drug deals with their Radio Shack computer gear. Then there’s the obligatory Mr. T. anti-drug comic, which posits that the best way to get someone to stop using drugs is to beat the crap out of them. Nate also excerpts some of the “best” essays from the D.A.R.E. program (published on their website). If these essays are to be believed, smoking pot will ensure that you never get a good job, you’ll end up living in a cardboard box, and you may even want to jump off a bridge. Then there’s the anti-drug rap songs, which I won’t even get into here. Dizzying in their badness. On the non-drug related beat, there are articles about Randy “Macho Man” Savage’s new rap album, and a catalog of drunken robberies around the world. Nate’s done his research and makes his point with lots of humor. Recommended.
56 pages, digest size. $2
PO Box 8995
Minneapolis, MN 55408
CHUMPIRE #169 and #170
#169 consists of two brief tales: observations about eye exams, and a successful search for a new “old man barber.” There are also a few pages of zine, vinyl and CD reviews, mostly focusing on punk/hardcore bands I’ve never heard of.
#170 has even more reviews of punk and hardcore live shows and vinyl releases. There’s also some end-of-the-school-year thoughts on teaching. I would’ve liked to read more about his teaching experiences. A schoolteacher who knows a lot about punk and hardcore seems like an interesting person to me.
Both issues are hand-written and have a few teeny photos on the covers-a little bit hard to read in places. I liked what I read, I’d just like there to be more!
#169, 16 pages, mini; #170, 8 pages, mini. 1 stamp or trade
PO Box 27
Annville, PA 17003-0027
STEPHEN’S LITTLE BOOK OF
CHARITY SHOPPING and STEPHEN’S
SECOND LITTLE BOOK OF CHARITY SHOPPING
Stephen is a thrifter extraordinaire, and these two minis just barely scratch the surface. Here he presents a handful of his choice picks, describing the item, how much he paid, where he purchased it, and perhaps a little story about why he bought it. One of my favorite lines describes a knitted wool rabbit in a red dress that he purchased: “Possessed of a strong Riot-Grrrly-character, she’d make an ideal comic strip subject.” Each item is accompanied by an illustration by Erica Smith of Girlfrenzy — often humorous in their own right. Nicely printed with 4-color covers. (Note: the “Second Little Book of Charity Shopping” is currently out of print, but the first one is still available).
each issue is 24 pages, mini. Contact Stephen for price & postage info.
Flat 4, 17 Powis Rd.
Brighton BN1 3HJ, England
THE SLUSH PILE #3
This zine is published by the Underground Literary Alliance. Its goal is “to overthrow the literary establishment and get access for real writers.” Their major beef is with the deluge of “literary fiction” in bookstores today that has become homogenized into a consumer product, like canned goods in a grocery store. It is no longer art. This is their attempt to counter that, by publishing what they would like to see in the bookstores. I think my favorite piece was “Three Pieces Involving Social Interaction” by Will Von RatBlood. In three short vignettes he relates the mental pain and stress some of us put ourselves through for what others would see as meaningless small talk situations. If this is fiction, he hit the nail on the head as far as I’m concerned. Emerson Dameron’s 100-words-long fragments are also worthy of note. It’s an interesting writer’s challenge. Sometimes they are complete thoughts, sometimes they aren’t. Many times short fiction zines leave me cold, but I enjoyed most of this. With illustrations by Yul Tolbert.
64 pages, digest size. $3 each.
632 Prentis, #9
Detroit, MI 48201
4401 N. Sixth St. Apt. 827
McAllen, TX 78504
For three years, I have said that I will write a zine called MISPLACED HIPSTER. I’ve spent the better part of the last three years feeling misplaced due to a nomadic love affair with journalism. I know there are other misplaced fellows (THOUGHTWORM comes to mind, especially) in the zine world, but I hope to add to this type of dialogue. The zine should (will) debut in early 2005.
THE HUNGOVER GOURMET #8 (P.O. Box 5531 Lutherville, Md. 21094-5531; $2; 31 pages; digest) E-mail: email@example.com
This issue of the THE HUNGOVER GOURMET is all about nostalgia. Writer and editor Dan Coleman is mourning the death of family owned places and the good diners that feature industrial-strength coffee and the clink of heavy restaurant china. THE HUNGOVER GOURMET, himself, is not alone. His contributing writers mourn the loss of similarly great places coast-to-coast. There is an especially moving essay by his wife Christine Coleman Taylor who revisits memories of families restaurant with a sense of gratitude and longing that could never come as a result of owning a franchise restaurant or spending a summer hawking burgers at a Chili’s or an Applebee’s. Outside of the retro sentiments, the issue also includes some musings on martinis, a bright about “The Bartender’s Hiccup Cure” and reviews of a few restaurants that do it right snubbing America’s love affair with strip mall cuisine.
BONE MARIMBA TWO (230 S. Dodge St. Iowa City, IA 52240; $1.50; 33 pages; digest)
A story titled “Asshole” in three parts is set up by writer Brent Johnson to be a personal story about his experiences at the 2002 Underground Publishers Convention in Bowling Green, Oh. On an aside, Johnson dropped X-D a note saying he was a first timer, so it’s interesting that while the story is two years old, it paints a clear picture of who Brent was and probably is as his philosophies on life are dense, rigid yet pretty unstructured by society’s standards. He has an encounter with a country whigger on the Greyhound, experiences a surreal out of body experience in Joliet, Ill. and speaks of returning home and telling fragmented stories to his former girlfriend and barmaid. He also talks about his job taking care of handicapped men and how he loves it. Then he later betrays it with drunken stories that fade into a blackout that ends with a run across Iowa City’s quieter landscape that hasn’t been trampled by college kids. Johnson’s writing paints a very clear picture of his simple yet destructive lifestyle that leaves this reviewer hungry for more.
MUSEA “The Library Planet” (4000 Hawthorne #5 Dallas, TX 75219-2275; $5 in U.S. and $9 elsewhere, no trades; 25 pages; full size) E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or http://musea.digitalchainsaw.com.
“Library Planet” must have evolved out of a dream of a research rat turned librarian turned university employee at a law school. The stacks of books and the near sky-high shelves must have (gleefully?) swallowed this tall and lanky man with boyish looks. The prose is pretty clean and not a chore to read. I’m sure the story will appeal to daydreaming bookish types wearing the pallor of library paste and thick glasses of the Buddy Holly era. It’s almost as if the writer awoke in a pool of drool and wrote fast and furious to the finish before it was time to stack the books once again. The piece is part of a longer work in progress so keep your eyes peeled for more installments.
SHAM BOLLOCKS #2, (e-mail email@example.com for information; price $2 ppd; 12 pages; digest; and she has a shop site:
SHAM BOLLOCKS runs at the speed of 200 miles an hour. Sunni and the girls dump out their heads on to the paper, and they watch their thoughts squirm and pulsate on top of images of themselves, Jackie O. gothic and reproductive clip art. It is a quick and interesting read. If you turn up the volume of your internal feminist narrator, you can almost convince yourself that you went to a poetry slam instead of sitting on the edge of your couch, reading this zine and drinking tea.
THE THOUGHT A Philosophers Guild Publication Vol. 22, No. 3 #140 (P.O. Box 10760 Glendale, AZ 85318-0760; $2 and subscription prices available; 28 pages; full size) E-mail: guildmaster@worldnet-.att.net.
Editor Ronald Tobin celebrates while musing about his 23 years of publishing THE THOUGHT. There are some great discussions about affirmative action in this issue that ultimately questions the free enterprise system that we are supposedly governed by. Why shouldn’t we be a Socialist society of equals, when much of affirmative action hiring done today is based on percentages and numbers instead of taking an individual’s talents, abilities, grades and skills into account? Tobin also talks about his upcoming marriage, seeks suggestions for his struggle with sleep apnea and recaps his visit to California. The next issue is scheduled for November; the theme will discuss ideal society.
CHILDLIKE EMPRESS #1 (402 W. Airy St. Apt. 5 Norristown, PA 19401-4602; ? and trades; 37 pages, digest). E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Writer/Editor Raequel has a very definite and clear voice. She is honest about her life and her struggles, but she does not take you in too deep. The zine is not for everyone. It’s got a pinch of perzine chatter and fiction that is appealing, but it is written for Goths, gamers and anime fans. The most exciting part of the zine is Raequel talking about how excited she is to write the zine. She also works pretty hard to find interesting people to star in her zine. She does not have much money, but she has a city full of in-store concerts and book signings and she makes use of them. If Raequel’s zine was the print-goth version of David Letterman’s Late Night, #1 stars Penn Jillette, of Penn & Teller, and former Hole bassist Melissa Auf Der Maur.
SLUG & LETTUCE, (P.O. Box 26632 Richmond, Va. 23261-6632; free (in person) or the cost of postage 60 cents per issue, donations accepted; 20 pages; broadsheet).
I think Christine’s column is my favorite part of reading SLUG & LETTUCE. She has been all over between issues, this time Richmond (her home) and Austin to see a show and drink Tecate all day in a tattoo shop. She is also preparing a photo book of the upcoming 20th anniversary of S& L, which we all agree is a staple of the zine world. So it’s hard to digest news that S&L is struggling due to the digitalization of America and starving businesses not being able to advertise. We should all pitch in, and yes I do agree with C. that S& L is better on paper. It would definitely lose its sex appeal on the web, period. Resist THIS change, I am too. I believe people still like something to hold and read with a cup of coffee and maybe a cigarette or two. It’s not healthy to stare at the computer screen all day.
30 Locust Avenue
Westmont, NJ 08108
Working Stiff Review; Number 1, Aug. 2004; $5 US, $6 Canada; full-sized, 24 pages. 608 East 3rd Ave., Castlerock, CO 80108 – Terry Everton’s first issue of WSR is a powerful message in a pretty package. Although the overall voice of the zine is the well-explored, tried-and-true “disenfranchised worker” found in many other underground pubs, Terry backs up what could have been just keen observation of work-a-day life with some crystal-clear thinking and critical analysis of the working-class environment. In one article, Everton is quick to summarize the dichotomy that is Wal-Mart – warning us that the $1 you save today will need repayment ten-fold in the future. As the Juggernaut of Capitalism (my words, not Everton’s) is quickly closing in on my own little home town, this article struck a chord with me. Also found interspersed throughout the publication are clip-art, four-panel comics entitled “Christian Angst”, which should be sarcastic enough to raise a smile from even the most jagged zinester. There’s an eye-opening article on tipping, that I personally believe everyone should be forced to read in Economics 101. And, though I’m skipping over tons of content, Terry finishes with an article on the Title Game that’s played jointly by middle-management and hourly workers, and the resulting lack of any real reimbursement for the added effort that employees are expected to offer up. Terry, brother, you’re singing my song.
Literary Fan Magazine #2 (with an insert for the Fall of 2004); $1; 36 pages, half size; Karl “King” Wenclas, PO Box 42077, Philadelphia, PA 19101 – The Underground Literary Alliance’s latest publication. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the ULA embodies the ideology that most “zeensters” hold true to their heart: Zine writing is better than mainstream writing. But, as the ULA contends, the current lit system is stacked in favor of the educated elite – pedigreed MFA-ers, who sip high-balls in NY City social cliques, getting each other lucrative publishing deals and nominating each other for writing grants. And who knows, maybe the ULA is right on the money. I attended the last ULA “conclave” this past February (if I recall correctly) and they, if nothing else, were serious about what they were doing. More power to them. As for LFM #2, consider it a primer of the said NY City lit elite, and the ULA’s stance against them. In one article, Will Ratblood refers to Manhattan itself as “enemy territory”, painting a pretty clear picture of how the ULA in general portrays NYC. LFM #2 attacks such current popular clique trolls (in a list of the “Ten Most Ridiculous Literary Personalities”) as Rick Moody(#3) and Tom Bissell (#2). Others are roasted and verbally tarred-and-feathered (Eggers and Franzen) throughout the publication, making LFM #2, if nothing else, a mainstream “who’s who” to direct your general writer’s angst toward. And I thought I would only have the Republicans to hate this year…
Urban Nature Walk (Muddy River, I & II); $2; 20 pages, half size; Jef Taylor, 423 Brookline Ave #271, Boston, MA 02215 – I wasn’t sent this zine for review, but it was one that I picked up after reading Jef’s “The Urban Pantheist”. Jef’s style of writing is laid back, descriptive, and truly passionate about his subject: finding nature’s beauty in the most unlikely of places, the urban landscape. His introduction page alone, in my opinion, is worth the two bucks – if nothing else but to prod him on to do another issue. As Taylor explains, UNW is “both a series of events (nature walks) and a magazine.” So the plan is that he and a group of a few others document their walks around an urban area, relating the carefully researched history of the particular region, the ecological changes that have occurred there over time, and what they find today. A wonderful idea and an excellent (maga)zine, both in content and layout. I hope to see more walks and more from Jef in the future!
Mishap #17; $2-3 (Trade/Free); 48 pages ; half size; Ryan, PO Box 5841 Eugene, OR 97405 – This is my first exposure to Ryan’s writing and his outlook on life, and I found it pretty entertaining. His first piece, Ten Years: One depressed punk. One photocopied zine. Ten Thousand notebooks., is a truly remarkable story that starts in 1994 and chronologically paints a picture of Ryan The Person through the various stages of his life, through his on-again off-again relationship with the punk scene, and through the various zines he has produced. In this issue Mishap features an interview with “Lost Cherrees”, a punk band that’s decided to get back together after an 18-year hiatus – and though I went into the article fearing another “canned” band interview, Ryan reveals that he has the chops to be a formidable journalist. He skillfully elicits detailed answers from two members of the band about their past anarchist stance, their modern-day conformity, UK immigration issues, and over-all world violence; all heavy topics that are handled in a very mature and level-headed way. The pub goes on to offer some fiction, opinion, and reviews – the standard zine fodder – all well written and nicely executed. Though he’s celebrating 10 years with this issue of Mishap, Ryan definitely has at least another 10 years of stories to share.
PO Box 4803, Baltimore MD 21211
Miriam encourages each and every one of you to read Who Let The Dogs In by Mollie Ivins and The Boondocks comic strip by Aaron McGruder. She is a librarian, frequently late, with time to have normal-looking hair only on weekends. It’s been over a year since her last zine so she’s not even going to tell you the name until a new issue comes out. Library-related submissions/ideas for Library Urinal with Donny Smith can be sent to either of them. She is also looking for advice on how to start a Young Adult zine collection in a public library. Her keyboard needs cleaning and she’s got a trip to Canada to plan. She would very much like to congratulate Jodi and Mickey on their engagement.
SMILE, HON, YOU’RE IN BALTIMORE! # 5
William P. Tandy
PO Box 963, Havre De Grace, MD 21078
52 pgs, $3
Essays by various folks mostly on this city- its lesser scandals, muggings, weird signs, and distinctively grungy character. This is a solid anthology, with clearly told stories and a fair share of wit and style (both of the visual and the literary sorts.) Dan Taylor of the Hungover Gourmet’s comparison of two local drive-ins amused, despite the fact that I like the venue he dissed. A loving photo-essay of area theatres past and present is offered by XD mastermind Davida, and Michel Schuster remembers her childhood encounters in New Mexico with a friend that ultimately shot herself in Baltimore. To me the real stand-out is Bill Tandy’s story of finding a decrepit ship moored next to a local Sam’s Club- the very boat he was Junior Boatswain’s Mate on over forty years ago.
All of William P.’s musings give a great sense of detail (when he sees a pair of latex gloves on the ground at the start of a St. Paddy’s Day parade he wonders “What couldn’t wait to be salved?”) Occasionally some of the contributors drift into either in-jokes or other places too partially-realized or obscure for me to successfully follow. However, it’s one of the good ones overall and likely to stand up well even if you aren’t in Baltimore.
LILLIPUT REVIEW # 137, #138
Don Wentworth, Editor
282 Main Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15201
16 and 12 mini-pgs
1 issue = $1 or SASE or 2 stamps, 6 for $5, 15 for $10
Institutions- 1 Year/12 issues =$12
I mentioned last issue my trepidation about fiction zines. So too with poetry zines. But Lilliput Review really does its genre proud. It’s tiny in size, and mixes old short poems from the likes of Chuang-Tzu with new short poems from writers all over the U.S. and abroad. What’s neat is how it manages to form a cohesive whole with lovely connecting themes, while staying really accessible and unpretentious. Props to the poets for their restraint- this group picks zen-simple moments over flowery phrases as a rule. But a hardly visible aspect of the Review is what I respect the most: Wentworth’s editorial eye is so sharp he sees how to let each poem enhance another. #137 especially stands out as an example of some extremely fly editing skills. After I return these to Xerography Debt I’m buying a subscription for my poetry-loving Dad.
Roxanne M. Carter
36 unbound pgs w/3 photos and printed envelope
$8-US/ $9-Canada /$10-World
Francesca Lia Block-style run-on sentences and e.e. cummings (non) punctuation run through this beach-sunny, skull-pretty, crushed flower record of falling in love and living the observant dreamy life in California. At it’s best when it approaches actual narrative, (I am convinced that we are set up to be in a horror film. narrow roads and hard clinging fog hovering over the tops of mountains), or lets mundane detail peek through (I get lost on los angeles freeways. they seem to change direction) disheveled’s overall effect is sometimes muddied by the sheer number of images and sensations per page.
The problem with the writing is that, like in the photos, effort seems to be going towards prettiness and significance. The usually intimate act of reading diary entries becomes sort of opaque with that effort standing in the way. Or maybe it’s not self-consciousness at all, maybe I’m reading it wrong- honestly this reminds me enough of my own former diaries I’m worried I’m not judging it fairly.
The design sense is good- nice font, photos printed well, good decision to leave things unbound. I’d like to see more from this new zinester but maybe with a few boring moments, some plain, dumb shit she thinks we don’t wanna know about, thrown in for a little breathing room.
THE LETTER EXCHANGE-
A MAGAZINE FOR LETTER WRITERS Vol. 2, No. 4
855 Village Center Drive, #324, North Oaks, MN 55127-3016
30 pgs, $7.50 Back issues/$5.00
Far as I can tell LEX is one of a kind. This is not so much a zine as an entryway to a whole other community- one which I peered into with as much fascination as a friend of mine reserves for her study of books on Mormon sexual practices and undergarments. Reading these pen-pal listings is a bit like reading the personals, crossed with alumnae listings from the genteel elder members of my alma mater, crossed with crazy notes scribbled in the margins of library books. New editors Lonna and Gary keep things much less strange than they could be and continue a service that clearly means the world to those that use it.
So here’s how it goes LEXers subscribe to the magazine and post listings for what they’d like to correspond about. Some people are thorough and straightforward: “Stay at home mom seeks outside connections, dialogue about family, books, current events...Neat, long letters preferred.” Others are more cryptic: “After all said and done”; “How does a love song go today?” (A very Duplex Planet question). Others are (unintentionally?) funny- “Crave goofy greeting cards with your message written thereon” or downright creepy- “Lexer: I know why you dumped me. Why the pretense?”
There are also feature articles on letter-related topics- found letters, a reprint about Ronald Reagan’s pen-pal, a picture of a funny mail truck, advice to letter writers from Lewis Carroll, a history of air mail. All extras are well-written and thought provoking. The Letter Exchange’s greatest appeal to casual readers is the issues the whole endeavor raises for an outsider. Why do people want to write strangers? What kinds of communication do people seek? How is having a pen-pal different from (better? worse?) than chatting in person, writing a zine, reading memoir or fiction, or using the classifieds or internet to meet (or never meet, but talk to) people. Is this practice any lonelier? Less lonely?
Particularly interesting to me were the people seeking to start either “ghost” correspondences (pen pal relationships where one writes as a character) or short correspondences to get a specific piece of research information. At first I thought “Why don’t they just take a writing class or visit the library?” From there my head just spun. Any zine that made me think so hard about my job, writing, and basic human needs is worth its cost. The $7.50 is tough since I don’t want to actually use the service myself, just read. Perhaps the county library needs a new periodical that’s unlike any other?
DWAN # 41
915 W. Second St., Bloomington, IN 47403.
12 pgs, Free w/SASE or comparable trade
(free to prisoners for personal letter)
Yes, I’m lucky enough to have Donny as a pen-pal for my lame-ass non-corresponding self, but I can also objectively review his work as being hella good. A mere 12 pages of wee type include one move, one grief (sorry), one sonnet he translated from Spanish, one folk song analysis with trademark crazy footnoting, recommendations for music to listen to while packing, and more sexual dreams than I get to have in a month.
KING-CAT COMICS AND STORIES #63
P.O. Box 170535 San Francisco, CA 94117
32 pgs, $2.50
John P.’s achieved a heightened level of simple gorgeousness in his art. As I read of his move to San Francisco I think about his move from the depressed teen in Perfect Example to his current life-lovin’ status and about how he’s made me feel so much over the years for the joys and pains of a total stranger.
LOVE MIGHT BE WRONG
Willa Coufal/Paul Koob
32 pgs, full color, $7.00
Best book title of the year from 4 year-old Willa Coufal. A tale of a mouse marriage gone badly awry illustrated with grumpy cuteness by Hamster Man creator Paul Koob.
HAMSTER MAN 14/ HAMSTER MAN THE EARLY YEARS: 1989-1992
12 pgs/56 pgs, $1.50/$6.00
Lots of hitting and bad friendship skills comprise this, my current favorite body of comix art. You ain’t a real super-hero ‘til you read these newest and oldest stories of everyone’s favorite bean-shaped rodent.
THOUGHTWORM # 11
1703 Southwest Pkwy, Wichita Falls, TX 76302
28 pgs, $2
I’ve heard a lot of good things about Thoughtworm and am always interested in stuff by librarians, so this was an exciting one to find in my review stack. Orange, with a lovely green print of a tree on it, this is a classy looking production. Sean’s style took a little getting used to; the all-text format combined with the introspective content required me to slow down in my reading. The essays that work best are the ones where his attention to nuance and detail are applied to describing a concrete process or event in the outside world; Some quick thoughts on why bread machines ultimately disappoint and the writer’s personal history with computers resonated more with me than some of the more drawn-out ruminations on home or memories.
Sean just wrote a novel and it was cool to read about what it feels like to undertake (and finish!) something so big. The funniest and most fascinating piece is one on attempting to toilet-train the cats, at first by using the method Charles Mingus used to train his cat Nightlife: “This seemed like a potentially ugly situation to me. But I was hell-bent on training the cats by this point, and the idea of using the Mingus method held high appeal. He was, after all, a phenomenal bass player.” The book and zine reviews are informative and about a diverse array of writing. Worthwhile.
1573 N Milwaukee Ave, PMB #464 Chicago, IL 60622
by Jacob Lambert.
6 ¼ x 8 ½, 24 pp, $2.95
This is an excellent comic about acculturation. Focusing on a native American man going to sleep in a teepee with his wife, what follows in the next few pages is the Westward expansion in fast-forward. Overnight, American pop culture overtakes the landscape, and the poor native is forced to assimilate (rapidly!) or face starvation. He finds a job, a home and a name (Patel, the result of a funny misunderstanding) and quickly wastes his life away just like the rest of us.
CLOVERLEAF has an admonishing and valid message in its heart, some keenly-observed satire and a funny/spooky twist at the end that doesn’t undermine the story the way twists so often do. The art is simple black, white and grayscale rendered most professionally by Mr. Lambert, whose other credits include work for a number of humor and political periodicals, including MAD magazine!
JACK AND LUCKY #2
by Anthony Hon
245 2nd Ave. #2
San Francisco, CA 94118
Jack is a young, hip-but-losery guy who works in the graphics department of Explosive Games. Lucky is either his pet or his roommate (the line is blurred on account of he is a seven-foot bipedal cat). As issue two opens up, Jack is still unconscious from the fall he took in part one, shortly after meeting what just might be the girl of his dreams. The story follows Jack as he goes through some brick-brained shenanigans at work and finally hooks up for a date with Luna - who turns out to be more than a handful of trouble.
This comic could develop into something very special. The art is clean, pleasant and quite well done. The characters are not fully fleshed out yet, but there is a sense in these pages that Mr. Hon knows exactly what he is doing. The world of JACK AND LUCKY is one of the mundane spiked with plenty of whimsy, where a girl with a sense of humor and an eye for danger can turn more heads and work more magic than any giant talking animal ever could. As the story and characters grow, I expect that they will become like familiar old friends, with a world that you’ll want to drop in and visit any time you get a chance.
TEARDROPPE COMIQUES SPECTACULARE #1
32 pp., $1
7000 Rhoden Ct. #T4
Springfield, VA 22151
I really enjoyed this collection of comics. Most were one page, a few crept up to two or three, and there were even some strips laid out four to a page, making for a brisk read at a nice pace. Without a doubt, the entertainment value is worth the cover price.
Now, this is the part that I dread writing, because I don’t want to sound mean, nor yet presumptuous of the author’s intent. Here’s the thing: I really didn’t care for the art. The drawings were very crude - which is not necessarily a bad thing - but the real crime is that they were sloppy.
Please, dear readers, and especially Matthew Teardrop, allow me to explain myself before you start lighting those torches I see you all carrying. The fact is, I thought that TEARDROPPE COMIQUES SPECTACULARE was very funny. You encounter a lot of so-so, sloppy comics when you read a lot of zines, and many times if a comic or mini turns out to be even kind of funny, you rejoice. In some cases, the wise zinester chooses to lead with their strength, allowing the art to bolster the writing, or vice versa. The thing about Mr. Teardrop’s work is that several of the scripts are really solid. They are scripts that, with better art, could be very funny. So the effect (in me at least; I won’t speak for every reader) is that the art tended to drag to comic down. And that made me a little sad.
When I spoke before about my presumptuousness, I was referring to Matthew Teardrop’s inspiration for creating this comic in the first place. I suspect that he really doesn’t care so much about the art, and that is just fine. His goal shouldn’t be to please me. There is a sort of urgency to his comics, and I can see him with a lightbulb suddenly appearing over his head. He flings open a notebook and executes his comic almost as quickly as he can write the idea down. Who can deny the thrill of that? I can tell that he’s having a great time doing this. The thing about artwork is that (generally speaking) the better it is, the longer it takes. If your primary joy in creating a comic comes from the writing, then spending a lot of time on the artwork will just make the whole experience less fun. And if it’s less fun, then the comics will probably end up being less funny. I wouldn’t want to take that away from Matthew or his audience. And certainly I wouldn’t want to discourage him from creating his own comics in his own way.
What I hope is that he will team up with someone, someone who loves to spend a lot of time drawing, and who shares Matthew’s sense of humor. Because with drawings that serve to enhance his scripts, he might grow into a force to be reckoned with.
Until then, I want to go on the record as saying that I will still read TEARDROPPE COMIQUES SPECTACULARE. It’s funny stuff.
20 pp., $2
1711 E. Rawhide #114
Las Vegas, NV 89119-2753
CHAOS is what I think of when I think of underground comix. They’re made fast, they’re funny and opinionated, and the artwork is skillful. And in the best tradition of underground comix, they are able to say what the newspapers won’t.
Issues twelve and fourteen were also included (both dated this year - now that’s dedication!) and they charted a path of growing uneasiness. Each of these comics is informed by the environment of racial fear and terrorist propaganda that we are currently living in, but in issue seventeen the sentiments come to a head. Published shortly before the Republican National Convention, the centerpiece is a rather chilling comic that purports to foresee the fate of the world in the event of Bush’s re-election. And the sad thing is, I could imagine it all happening.
A lively, totally old-school voice is represented in CHAOS. I hope that someday every town in America is lucky enough to have a publication like this. I think if you live around Vegas you might be able to pick it up for free, but if you don’t, it’s worth a couple of bucks for a comic that is both funny and meaningful.
AN INSIDE JOB #1 & 2
3 ½ x 6 ¼, 24 pp., $2
PO box 420596
San Francisco, CA 94142
This is Hob’s dream journal, and it’s lovely. Like dreams, some of the comics are short and incoherent, some are long and weird, but all of them exist in that surreal space where the mind goes when it leaves your body.
Mostly documenting dreams he’s had in his late twenties, but sometimes digging a bit deeper into his past, the comic creates more of a mood than a specific reaction. I can’t say that I really took much away from the experience of reading AN INSIDE JOB, but I did enjoy it.
The second issue adds a new dream feature, “Who What Where”, which focuses on characters that appear in his dreams. Each consists of two panels and a caption. Panel one is the Who, a head-shot of the character. The caption is the What, detailing a particular point about them that Hob learned in his dream (for example, “Could have shoplifted some thread; didn’t”). Panel two is the Where, placing the character into the context of the dream-setting. There’s a charming simplicity about “Who What Where” that I really like. The people are removed from their world, known only through this single reflection of their identity. An echo, perhaps, of the way AN INSIDE JOB creates a strange way of knowing its author, excised from concrete reality, constructed entirely through remembered dreams.
TRANNIES IN LOVE #7
“Journal of the X-Sex”
Tabloid-size, 12 pages, free
(at least send postage, though, don’t be a big jerk)
PO Box 171
Schenectady, NY 12301
Reading TRANNIES IN LOVE was sort of like eavesdropping on the conversation of several members of some clique I didn’t belong to. I got the impression that all the transsexuals in New York hang out with each other, trade advice and write poetry. Then they get all dressed up and go down to their print shop (likely located deep in the heart of the New York Transsexual Secret Headquarters) where they run off the latest issue of their own personal tabloid. It’s probably not true, but don’t you just love the idea of a bunch of glamorous trannies dressed to the nines, handsetting type and operating an antique Washington Hand Press?
In any case, TRANNIES IN LOVE contains all the basic information you’d expect from a free paper dedicated to a very specific subculture. There are testimonials of individual relationships with “trans-theory”, family, other transsexuals, and friends. There is information on trans-resources, domestic violence hotlines, and NYCLU contact info. They even have personal ads! But, more than anything else, they have poetry. Lots and lots of transsexual poetry.
Someone who doesn’t typically enjoy reading poetry (such as, for example, me) probably has no business reviewing amateur transsexual poetry, so I’ll keep it brief. You’re unlikely to find many of these in a prizewinning collection, but they serve their purpose. The authors needed to write them, and they appear in this paper where their intended audience will find them. And that’s good enough for me.
I hope I don’t sound patronizing - if I do, it’s really just directed at bad poetry in general, not at transsexuals. They have enough trouble without me making fun of their poems.
Overall, TRANNIES IN LOVE was pretty interesting, and though I just skimmed some of the poetry, I did enjoy some of the other features. The most comprehensive piece appeared on the back cover, an essay called “The Difference Between Transgendered People”. As you might infer from the title, this is not a professionally-written article, far more opinion than research, but it succeeded in getting me thinking. I have a friend, a female-to-male transsexual (who, incidentally, has also left me with the impression that all the transsexuals are part of a secret club that travels around in a van and solves mysteries and performs rock shows and stuff). I’ve known him for many years, since long before he was a boy, and so we’ve talked a little about the specific challenges he’s faced since he started the transition. But this essay brought up a lot of ideas that I had not thought about, and presented a valid point about how outsiders tend to lump all types of transsexuals into a single category. I probably do that, most of the time.
So, I applaud this resource. I don’t know how much entertainment value it might provide for someone with no vested interest in the transsexual community, but for those who need it (and you know who you are!) TRANNIES IN LOVE is here.
digest-size, 8 pp., free
by Sean Stewart and Steve Lieber, available from
Small Beer Press
176 Prospect Avenue
Northampton, MA 01060
How cool is this? Small Beer Press published Sean Stewart’s (Ed. Note, Small Beer Press is run by our very own Gavin Grant. However, the Sean Stewart in question is not the Sean Stewart of Thoughtworm fame.) eighth novel, Perfect Circle, earlier this year. As part of the promotion, they put out this excellent little preview comic. FAMILY REUNION is a scene from the novel, illustrated by the talented Steve Lieber.
The protagonist is a young man named William “Dead” Kennedy, whose typical young-man problems (career, marriage, etc.) are nothing compared with the fact that he is pestered by ghosts. In the short story, William’s interactions at the family reunion are disrupted by the persistent presence of Travis, his aunt Ginny-Mae’s boy who died in Vietnam. Travis wants something, but William doesn’t know how to help him.
As a self-contained comic, FAMILY REUNION tantalizes. As a piece of advertising, it certainly serves to whet the appetite. In just a few short pages, it creates a portrait of a family dynamic with one unique contortion, and makes you want to read on.
by Mike Twohig
¼ size, 42 pp., $2
72-1 Meadow Farm South
North Chili, NY 14514
Mike Twohig can always be counted upon for a unique reading experience. Clearly, not everyone appreciates this experience (reference the negative review he reprints at the beginning of one recent issue - to each his own, right?), but at least it’s Mike’s own thing. COLDHANDSDEADHEART is a creature unlike any other.
His eighteenth issue is another collection of peculiar stories mixed with striking, eerily organic illustrations. Like so much of what comes from the underground these days, these words and pictures are infused with a chilling trepidation of the future and the shambles that has been made of American politics. And in Mike’s particular fashion, these fears are demonstrated through the way they cast a pall across his normal life. I think I relate to his view because I experience politics in much the same way - a mounting sense of dread that forms a constant dark cloud on the horizon.
6595, St-Hubert, C.P. 59019
Montréal, QC Canada H2S 3P5
CHRISTINE DOUVILLE lives in Montreal, Quebec, where she runs Le Petit Marakkesh zine & small press distro, and publishes Pouèt-cafëe litzine ($4 ppd or trade). Write to her at 6595 St-Hubert, P.O. Box 59019, Montreal, QC, H2S 3P5, Canada, or e-mail her at email@example.com.
In this issue, she decided to list the reviews starting with the zine she liked most. Ex-aequo in number one position, two zines deserving a special mention for their layout and above-average short fiction: Smile, Hon, You’re in Baltimore, and minusone.
SMILE, HON, YOU’RE IN BALTIMORE! #5, 2004
Really well done and generously illustrated with photographs- W.P. Tandy has excellent editing skills, and his many contributors make Smile, Hon a varied and much enjoyeable read. I especially liked Benn Ray’s “Muggered”, and Michel E. Schuster’s “The Cost of Living”, and hope these talented writers will contribute again. I’ll definitely want to check out #6!
Digest, 54 pages. To get your copy, send $3 to William P. Tandy, Eight-Stone Press, P.O. Box 963, Havre de Grace, MD 21078. Visit the website at www.eightstonepress.com, or write at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MINUSONE version 2.0, 2004
Surprising. This very professionnal-looking publication (perfect binding & color cover, awesome layout) describes itself as a “geek zine”. I loved Dave’s tone- he doesn’t take himself too seriously, but did an excellent job with this project. Includes good short fiction (I especially liked Tracy Pickle’s “a Monday spent”), articles (computers, programming, kung-fu and samurai movies, etc.), and an interview with Davida Gypsy Breier. Although the paper version is a bit expensive for me, it’s worth the price- both the looks and contents are of high quality. Long live minusone!
Half-legal, 56 pages. To get your copy, send $7 for the paper version (or $1,50 through PayPal for the PDF version) to Dave Palmer, 5000 Finsbury Road, Baltimore, MD, 2123. You can also visit the website at www.minusonezine.org, or write at email@example.com.
A nicely made quarter-size perzine, sprinkled with just the right dose of photographs. It seems that Andrew is: a) at the end of a period of soul searching / coming of age; and b) hoping to fall in love soon. This issue is titled “Rebound”, and includes media critique, nostalgia & recollections, plus entries on migraines, finger warts, etc., and Part IIs (of a novella, and of an interview published in issue #1).
Quarter-size, 96 pages. To get your copy, send $3 (ppd) or a trade to Andrew, P.O. Box 14211, Chicago, IL 60614. You can also visit his website at http://www.atm4.net, or write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SKUNK’S LIFE #22
This informal words / curiosity zine includes three short fiction pieces; a reprint of an article on how to bathe your skunk; an article on how the Internet can lessen your vocabulary, free time, and originality; an eleven-page article in which you will learn why DB is so angry at the educational system; “The Nurse’s Hypochondriac Corner”; plus, since DB enjoys old books, reviews of the 1942-1943 books in the Book Club Selection. Skunk’s Life is not currently accepting submissions, but in my humble opinion more visual submissions would be a good idea…
Digest, 36 pages. To get your copy, send $2 (cash or check) to DB Pedlar, 25727 Cherry Hill Rd., Cambridge Springs, PA 16403.
TROUSER CHILI #6, February 2004
Sensitive readers, beware- there’s some really gross stuff in there! I should have been warned: the cover states that “the chief enemy of ‘good taste’ is creativity”. Pedophile jokes, fart jokes, and so on… The layout is fun, with altered photos and comic strips; too bad the contents are so crude.
Digest, 24 pages. To get your copy, send $2 or a trade to Waldo Thomas Frank, 2910 Sycamore St., Alexandria, VA 22305, or write to him at email@example.com.
Davida Gypsy Breier
PO Box 963, Havre de Grace, MD 21078
I’m going to make a confession. I didn’t finish reading all the zines I had assigned myself. This is the first time this has happened, but I figure that I deserve a karmic hall pass at this point. I’m only working on these now, well past the deadline and after a hard day’s work, thanks to the chemical bliss of very strong coffee.
It is also the first time I’ve worked on three zines concurrently. I just finished a new issue (#29) of Leeking Ink and hope to have a new collaborative effort at the printer in November, The Formstone Press Guide to Baltimore and Vicinity. The latter is being produced by Dan Taylor (The Hungover Gourmet), Chris Coleman Taylor, William P. Tandy (Smile, Hon, You’re in Baltimore!), and myself. I’m not certain when it will be printed, but the website should hold more info soon www.formstonepress.com.
East Village Inky #23
This venerable mamazine has been reviewed regularly in XD, and is very possibly cited as often as Cometbus. Nevertheless, I thought I would mention the latest issue. I don’t have kids (I have dogs), and I don’t live in NYC or have a husband who has written a Broadway hit, yet Ayun’s breezy tone easily brings you into this world. In this installment, Ayun and her husband travel to Japan for business and eating. There’s a lot of eating in this issue. And electric toilets too. Well worth your time.
PO Box 22754, Brooklyn, NY 11202
Zine World #21
Another keystone in the zine community. Where as XD offers personal essays and looks at the past, Zine World offers news and commentary on the current social and political climate. They also offer tons of zine reviews from a diverse group of reviewers. An excellent resource for zines and related subjects.
PO Box 330156, Murfreesboro, TN 37133-0156
Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet #14
This zine is so good that my aforementioned (bad) dogs ate a piece of it. The horror. They usually don’t eat my zines, just other unmentionable items. It was only the corner, so I was still able to read and enjoy the issue. Gavin does an excellent job finding writers and editing together this collection of literary fantasy. True, well-crafted literary fantasy, that realm of fiction that isn’t given the credit it deserves because of the pulpy crap that permeates the genre. This deserves your attention. Seriously.
72 pages/1/2 Legal/$5 (color cover)
Gavin Grant, 176 Prospect Ave., Northampton, MA 01060
Don’t Blame Me: I Worked for Dean
This one-shot by the publisher of Off My Jammy kicks idealism off the couch and onto the bitter cold streets of Massachusetts. Lisa discusses her early forays into politics and what lead her and her husband to work for the Dean campaign. It made me sad once again that while anyone is better than Bush I would have much preferred to see President Dean take office. Sigh. Recommended.
PO Box 440422, Somerville, MA 02144
When I got to the very end of the zine I noticed that the content had once appeared online, which explained some of the raw nerves exposed in the content. At times it read like a blog posted at midnight with literary flair. The content relates to a love lost and the meaningless sex that followed. It showed a college experience that was foreign to me. Quotes by Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, and Margaret Atwood further set the tone. I couldn’t get into it, but that says as much, if not more about my taste than the quality of the zine.
I don’t see an address listed, but I likely separated the envelope from the zine while traveling.
Libary (sic) Journal
One Semester in the Life of an Academic Librarian, or, Now I Remember Why I Didn’t Go into Teaching and Why I Don’t Go to Church, or, Dwan #40
Donny’s writing makes me ache, laugh and connects with me like few other zines. This issue is, in my opinion, is one of his finest. He details his life (and dreams), complete with the sorrow and rage of trying to teach unprepared students and being asked to removed the LGBT resource page from the college website and the rainbow sticker from his door. He is well-versed in religious studies and the Library Bill of Rights and takes the college to task with its own belief systems. Highly recommended.
30pgs/digest/$1, trade for a librarianly item, free to prisoners in exchange for letter
*New Address* 915 W Second St, Bloomington IN 47403
Fuzzy Lunch Box #7
I must admit, I originally decided I would review this zine because I didn’t feel right sending it to the reviewers in its current condition. You see, I sort of dropped it in the tub. Fortunately for me, this is the kind of per-zine I greatly enjoy. It offers a first-person account of having one’s jaw broken in three places to help the young publisher’s sleep apnea, Deborah’s hatred of camping (and why), worst boyfriends, trying match.com, and deconstructing Disney are also included. Oh, and as twins, they hate the question, “have you always had a twin?”
Laura and Deborah
309 Cedar St #34, Santa Cruz, CA 95062
The Constant Rider #6
Manners for Movers
Genius in its simplicity – an etiquette guide for mass transit users. I wish I had had this several years ago when I started riding Baltimore’s bus routes. It took a few missed stops to learn to shout “back door” without feeling rude. Learn how to ride the bus, how to wait for the bus, how to sit on the bus and more. She addresses bus romances, traveling with children, personal hygiene dos and don’ts , and reminds us to thank the drivers. Beautiful cover too!
P.O. Box 6753, Portland OR 97228
The Zine Yearbook
This yearly anthology offers excerpts from a wide variety of zines published in 2003. At first glance it appears there are about 50-60 zines represented. This is an excellent resource if you are looking to dip your feet into the zine pool. The size and layout continue to improve.
152 pgs/perfect bound, 6 x 9/$12
Clamor Magazine/ISBN: 0966482956
Become the Media
P.O. Box 20128, Toledo, OH 43610
The Pain: When Will it End
Once a zine and now a book, with a second book already on the way. I meant to review this in the last issue, but it was enjoying the spotlight of my living room table instead of the review pile, so I forgot to include it. Excellent political and social cartoons with an edge. Tim’s cartoons appear in our weekly free paper and they are one of the features I never miss.
144 pages/perfect bound, 7.5 x 9/$14.95
PO Box 422, Chestertown, MD 21914; firstname.lastname@example.org
Last Minute Announcement
Cram Sessions: 02 Dark Matter
November 3 -28, 2004
Cram Sessions is a series of four experimental month-long exhibitions. The second installment in the series, 02 Dark Matter, explores creative work by hobbyists, gamers, zine-makers, and established artists whose work has a strategic or utilitarian dimension. The exhibition aims to have theory, art, and visitors operate in the space of display on an equal basis. To enhance these organizational and combinatory effects, 02 Dark Matter includes a series of Saturday programs.
Lecture: Gregory Sholette
Saturday, November 6, 2 p.m.
Artist and writer Gregory Sholette, whose essays on dark matter inspired the exhibition, discusses informal creative production and activism.
Workshop: Radical Information Center
Saturday, November 13, 2 p.m.
Creators of the Radical Information Center, students at the Maryland Institute College of Art, explain the working of this mobile kiosk providing access to resources and ideas. Visitors are invited to contribute to its growing archive.
Open Studio: Skill Share
Saturday, November 20, 2-4 p.m.
Dark Matter artists and activists demonstrate techniques and tactics related to informal creative production and social organization.
Panel Discussion: Dark Matter into Light
Saturday, November 27, 2 p.m.
Independent curator Carlos Basualdo, critic and art historian T.J. Demos, and music theorist Aden Evens discuss issues related to informal creative production. In particular, the discussion will focus on the dangers attendant on "organizing" dark matter and increasing its visibility. Moderated by Chris Gilbert, BMA Curator of Contemporary Art. A reception will follow. Cram Sessions is organized by Chris Gilbert, Curator of Contemporary Art, The Baltimore Museum of Art. It is supported by a generous gift from Ellen W. P. Wasserman. Additional support for 02 Dark Matter comes from the Baltimore Community Foundation.
Note: The bolded session is scheduled to have a zine component.