Xerography Debt #9
Table of Contents
Davida Gypsy Breier, Editor
Fred Argoff, Brooke Young, Dan Taylor, Maria Goodman, Rick Bradford, Androo Robinson, Donny Smith, Mark Hain, Matt Fagan, Christoph Meyer, Erin Quinlan, Zebulun, Josh Bowron, Eric Lyden, Gavin J. Grant, Bobby Tran Dale, Violet Jones, & William P. Tandy, Reviewers
Androo Robinson and Matt Fagan, Artists
Little Ivan and Emilio, Office Assistants
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 347
Glen Arm, MD
© October 2002
#10 Due out February 2003. 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
I am excited about this issue. The list of reviewers keeps growing and is ever more impressive, the page count keeps expanding, and cooler still, there are new columnists. XD started out as such a small, simple idea and hasn't stopped growing. Unfortunately, to let the zine keep making progress, I've had to increase the cover price. If this is a major concern, please write and let me know, but I think the additional features and reviews are worth it. Xerography Debt will never be a money making venture. I aim to try and break even, if possible. The more you support the zine, the more it will help support the zine community.
I planned on including a column of my own, but there just wasn't space for it. I am currently writing a (hopefully) monthly zine column for the Atomic Books website (www.atomicbooks.com) if you are interested. The first two columns are online, and the next one, "Font Use 101," should be online as soon as this issue hits the mail. XD reviewer William P. Tandy also has a column on their site devoted to all things Baltimore. I've updated the "Basic Stuff You Should Know section, to explain some of the inner workings of this zine.
And this is completely tangential, but I wanted to mention that my high school English teacher is now counted among the XD supporters, which I think is unbelievably cool.
Recently, I've heard a lot of whining that "zines are dying," "there are no good zines anymore," and that "the golden age of zines" is over. Bullshit. At this point, FACTSHEET 5 only lives on as a whispered specter that the old folks get all misty-eyed over. Well, you know what, zines don't need F5 to survive; I think the last five years have proven that. Other review zines have sprung up to fill the void. Yes, F5 was a great help, but things change, and clichéd as it is - nothing lasts forever. I know some great zines have either disappeared or gone on permanent hiatus, but plenty of new zines are born every year too. Open your eyes to what's new and quit crying in your beer and coffee about DISHWASHER and every other old favorite that is gone. Zine culture is very much alive, but to keep it alive we've got to quit getting hung up on the past.
Keep reading and you'll see that zine culture is not only alive, but flourishing.
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 completely communal, non-possessive sense. We are individual artists and writers coming together to collaborate and help keep zineland flourishing. It is a communal experience from start to finish. Do your part by ordering a few zines from the many reviewed here and, if you self-publish, please consider including a few 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, and 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 you 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 email@example.com.
If you are interested in reviewing for XEROGRAPHY DEBT, please contact me by mail or e-mail for some rather vague, but supposedly helpful guidelines. All you need to do is write five reviews that will excite people to send money, stamps, or a trade.
XEROGRAPHY DEBT is receiving more and more zines for review. Until issue #6 complimentary copies were sent all of the zines reviewed. That just isn't feasible any more. If I have your e-mail address, I'll try and email a copy of the review and a link to the new issue on the website. If I can afford the time and postage I'll send a postcard or letter with the review. If I am unable to do this, please bear with me, I'm doing the best I can.
It is available for free online (some reviews and artwork will only be available in print) or paper copies can be ordered for $3.
I 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:
Al Cene, DB Pedlar, Jeannie McStay, Androo Robinson and Maria Goodman, Donny Smith, Patrick, Janette, Earl, Owen Thomas, Anne Thalheimer, Josh Bowron, Matt Fagan, Leona Drizin, The Salt Lake City Library, and a few anonymous benefactors.
We love letters
Thanks to my (self) exposure in XD, Quimby's in Chicago contacted me to
carry Ugli Fruit. I feel like I hit the big-time!
Mark Hain, Swarthmore, PA
the same thing is happening in the libraries in Japan as one of
the writers wrote. They waste our money by buying tons of megahit books and
trash many of valuable ones. (Worse, they even don't sell their unnecessary
books. They just throw them away!) That's really terrible..."
Hiroko Kato, Tokyo, Japan
"The details of the SevenTen Bishop tour of the near east are now available on our website. Our campaign of 'chalking' the sidewalks of everywhere to broadcast our message is underway. Please follow the links from our homepage www.seventenbishop.com to Sidewalk Bombardment. There you will see photos of our tour and text transcriptions of the spontaneous writings we performed in the various cities. We drove 2500 miles in five days through Norfolk, VA; Baltimore, MD; New York, NY; Toronto, ON."
"Kyle Bravo here. I'm writing to let you know that we've moved. The How2 Zine, How2 Distro, and These Are the Days are no longer residents of Richmond, VA. We got married and moved to Chapel Hill, NC so I can go to school to study printmaking. The new address is: PO Box 788, Chapel Hill, NC 27514; firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, me and Jenny are starting a press, if you want a catalog or any other info about it get in touch."
"Welcome to The Postcard Project. I'm collecting hand-made, one-of-a-kind postcards from around the world for a future art-exhibit. As for the future gallery show, there are no immediate plans. This is a long-term project, and so I'll wait to see how many cards come in. If anyone has ideas or suggestions, please contact me. Thanks, and I look forward to seeing a postcard from you! Christopher Thinn, The Postcard Project, 509 St Clair Ave W, PO BOX 73599, Toronto, Ontario M6C 1C0 CANADA; http://thepostcardproject.cjb.net"
Bobby Tran Dale will no longer be receiving mail at his old Potomac St. address. Use this one to send fan mail and Bride of Frankenstein toys: 7932 Winthrope St., Oakland, CA 94605; email@example.com
Baltimore - city of a million stories, most of them untold. And whether you're a native, a transplant, or just passing through, chances are that one of them is yours. Smile, Hon, You're in Baltimore! celebrates all things Baltimore, good and bad. From the routine to the quirky to the downright bizarre, Smile, Hon is interested in your stories, everything that defines what it means to live - or simply be - in Charm City. Work, home, neighborhoods, pastimes, nostalgia, Saturday night, Sunday morning, and everything in between, good, bad, and ugly. Submissions/queries are welcome via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by writing to Attn: W. P. Tandy, c/o Smile, Hon, You're in Baltimore!, P.O. Box 963, Havre de Grace, MD 21078
CALL FOR ENTRIES 12 Items or Less: A Grocery Shopping Zine
Currently seeking stories, ruminations, tales, and essays about grocery shopping for "12 Items or Less," a new comp zine from Low Hug Productions. Did you fall in love in front the deli counter? Ever drop a jumbo sized jar of tomato sauce in the middle of the aisle? Do you just love the endless rows of products? Do you visit grocery stores in other cities you are visiting? What was your favorite grocery store or food market to shop at, ever? Guidelines: 500 words maximum. Comics will be accepted, but keep in mind the finished product will be square-sized, that is, 5.5 x 5.5 inches. Submission Deadline: Nov. 15, 2002
Submit to: Send your submissions via e-mail to email@example.com or regular mail to A.j. Michel, PO Box 2574, Champaign, IL 61825. Compensation: Like crime, Low Hug Productions doesn't pay. You will receive a copy of the zine.
The Home of Zineland Security
By Donny Smith
[Dwan, PO Box 411, Swarthmore, PA 19081] firstname.lastname@example.org; www.geocities.com/dwanzine
Well, although I'd like to start this out with a long rant about how "security" is just an excuse for right-wing politics as usual, I figure you can read the papers yourself.
But here's something maybe you didn't know. Even though you "might not be deemed 'respectable' or 'reliable,'" your writings "are needed . . . to track public attitudes, political opinions, alternative perspectives, and counter-culture events"! (This is according to the president of Ardito Information & Research.) Smart librarians have known this for years and have hoarded every "alternative publication" they could get their hands on. Many libraries accept donations of zines, either for their general reading collections or for their "locked-room" collections.
Of course, not every library is collecting zines-which is where you come in. If you want more exposure for your zine or for zines in general, maybe you should become involved with your local library. Offer to lead a zine-making workshop, or volunteer to organize and catalog a zine collection. Or maybe set up your own library or infoshop.
Library workshops aren't usually intimidating to lead. Susan Steider, a young adults librarian at Lincoln (Nebraska) City Libraries, ran a zine program last year. The library provided books about zines, clip art books, and a list of good websites. She considered it a success because the two young women who participated produced three zine titles, one of which is now in the library collection. (One of the young women also became a "citizenship issues" volunteer at the library.)
If your local librarian seems averse to zines, keep in mind that she might already be pressed on all sides by people who
Zines do create controversy, since people aren't really used to free expression. (For example, a zine exhibit by Tom Trusky at Boise State University in 1992 "drove people [in Idaho] wild-with delight & hatred." According to Trusky, his "unabashed delight in discovering a free press" and his "democratic approach" brought demands that the exhibit be closed and his tenure revoked, or at very least that he "be required to go into the display cases and, like Casper's dresser, place small cloaks over the most offensive titles.") But don't get discouraged. Most librarians really believe in their mission of free access to knowledge for all.
Even if you don't have the time or inclination to volunteer in a library, you can mail in your zines. For instance, the Walker branch of the Minneapolis Public Library is interested in "fattening up" the zine collection that it's taking over from the main branch. To see what they already have, go to http://mplwebcat.mpls.lib.mn.us/search/d?SEARCH=fanzines. They accept donations: Moira Cross, Walker Public Library, 2880 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408 USA. Boise State also accepts donations of Idaho-related zines and artists' zines ("unique or exceptional in terms of materials employed, format, and/or layout/design"): Tom Trusky, Director, Hemingway Western Studies Center, Boise State University, 1910 University Dr, Boise ID 83725 USA.
Of course, the more people who have a chance to read your zine, the more weirdos you'll hear from (for good or bad). Here's some practical advice on dealing with the prisoners, child molesters, fundamentalists, psychopaths, and everyone else you'll meet in zinedom. You can take it or leave it, mix and match, it's up to you:
1) Get a PO Box.
2) Use your first name only, or use a pseudonym.
3) Trust your instincts. If you get a bad feeling from someone, don't correspond with them at all.
4) Ask questions. If you get an odd request, don't send your zine. Instead ask the person something like, "Who are you? Why are you interested in my zine? How did you hear about it?" Watch for evasive or defensive answers. (Read Davida's Notice about Bill Price below.)
5) Be suspicious if a correspondent wants to meet you in person, especially if you're a woman, a transperson, or a gay man. No matter how well you think you know the person, always meet in a public place the first time and always let a friend know where you're going and who you're meeting.
6) Don't correspond with prisoners who mention that they're getting out soon -not unless you're prepared for the huge emotional, financial, and possibly legal risks of having them show up at your door. (But if you are prepared for that, ex-cons need all the help they can get!)
7) If you have any concerns at all about a prisoner, write to the warden. Just take the address the prisoner gave you, take off the prisoner's name, and write WARDEN. Include the prisoner's full name and prisoner number in your letter. (If you have online access, just type the name of the prison into a search engine or the name of the state plus the words "Department of Corrections.") But be judicious in what you say to the warden, because prisoners get disciplinary action over the slightest things.
8) If you get mail from a non-prisoner that's threatening, asks too-personal questions, or gives you a weird feeling, don't send your zine to that person. In fact, don't even respond to their letters. If necessary, consult with your local postmaster. The Postal Service can send that person a letter saying to stop sending you mail. The relevant forms are Postal Form 1500 Pornographic & Undesirable Mail, if someone's been sending you "obscene materials, violence-inducing materials, and some types of mail relating to lotteries," or Postal Form 8165 Mail Fraud Complaint Questionnaire, if there's been any money involved. I'm not sure what the form number is for creepiness.
9) Give some thought before you exclude prisoners entirely from your mailing list. They're human beings too, and this is the reading material they have available:
a) Prison libraries. In some cases a paltry collection of donated materials picked over by Christian fundamentalist hicks.
b) Mail-order purchases. But prisoners can't use Amazon.com and, in some prisons, can't order from used book stores. And while prisoners pay "outside" prices, plus shipping & handling, they earn "inside" wages, well below minimum wage.
c) Whatever you send. Many prisoners rely on zines and newsletters for their sanity. We are often their only connection to people like themselves. Imagine if all you had to read was Sports Illustrated, Walmart's Top Ten Bestsellers from 1997, and the Bible.
DIRECTORIES OF ZINE LIBRARIES & INFOSHOPS
FURTHER READING ON ZINES & LIBRARIES
FURTHER READING ON THE FUTURE OF U.S. DEMOCRACY, ZINES, YOUR RIGHT TO PUBLISH, & SO ON
Notice About Bill Price:
Bill Price is a twice-convicted child molester. In 1984, he was sentenced to 8 years in prison for molesting a 9-year-old girl. He went to jury trial with 5 counts of child molestation. In the early 90's, he repeatedly molested two girls starting at ages 5 and 6, respectively. In 1993, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison. He is approximately 50 years old.
He has published three zines: Bars, Ishi, and Fem Zine. The first issue of Ishi is written as if he is a sexually abused, young girl, and attempts to appeal to the same. Fem Zine is a listing of zines by young women. Zinewriters have reported an increase in orders from prisons after being listing in Fem Zine, which implies he is distributing this to other prisoners.
Distros and zinewriters have reported that he has shown particular interest in zines with topics of rape, abuse and sex, and zines by young women, heavy-set women, and lesbians. He is having some of his zines and letters mailed from outside the prison, so that people he contacts do not necessarily know he is incarcerated. He was released on parole in May 2001.
"Hi! I am a zinester, now kiss my ass!
(or How great thou art, ya brokeass, no distribution having mofo!)"
By Bobby Tran Dale and Sue Donimh
7932 Winthorpe St., Oakland, CA 94605
So you wanna become a cool zinester, a small press publisher, a comix artiste or yet another voice for the free press, do you? Well, welcome dear one, c'mon in! Someone else's work has just been ripped to pieces and we won't be seeing them for a while, so there's room for you to join our elitist club of disaffected free thinkers who've made it through the years! Not to mention, we're always in need of fresh meat. Heheh...
It's no secret that the small press is a haven for those of us who need a release from our day jobs, need a hobby, need a forum for our thoughts, it is a place to find other off-beat creators, where burgeoning talents hone their skills, and last but absolutely not least, it's the last remaining hold-out from the mainstream's forced socialization and behavioral modification. How strange is it then, that in such a funky, supposedly accepting place where even Quasimodo might find solace, entering it can be as hard as trying to get your ass into the latest nightclub if you don't know someone inside?
Alone and with a bad outfit at a club will keep your ass standing in line with the rest of the filler hoping to eventually get in on the same guest list. Likewise, a crappy zine will throw you in with the rest of the suckers who can't even get a bad review that says what a crappy zine they've put out (and by the way, getting no review space at all is always worse than getting a bad review). In both cases, having your finger on the pulse of the scene will, of course, keep you current. But what's "current" is debatable depending on where you are standing at any given time as things evolve. So if you are just now getting into the swing of things, and ya don't know shit, things might be a little difficult. Buckle in, it's gonna get bumpy!
In no particular order, we've compiled some items that we've noticed through the years in this lovely land of xerography and debt that might help one sift through all of the shit and myths that are out there- and maybe even get you a little higher on the small press food chain if you work it right. It is by no means definitive, nor claims to speak for the masses but it might be a start for some newcomers and yet another reason to bitch for others. And with that, we say: "Welcome, we're pleased to eat you!"
1) MYTH: My zine must look like shit to be a true DIY product! This is for the people who think that they are following some type of ethic simply to increase their street credibility, or so they think. It has boggled our minds over the years that people have had an aversion to polishing up their zine's aesthetic because "cleaner" looks too mainstream blah, blah blah-if this isn't you, then join us in laughing at these poor souls. It's one thing, for example, if you have political beliefs that make you refrain from computer technology or your resources, cash or otherwise, are limited and you're doing what you can. But there's no harm in taking a moment to think about LAYING OUT your publication with both eyes open no matter who you are. We know everyone's not a graphic designer or an artist. But you needn't be. Scribbling a bunch of incoherent shit all along the borders for "artistic" effect or handwriting a bunch of "profound" stuff in between articles (that only you and your friends "get") to fill space and whatnot can work in capable hands, but let's face it, many aren't capable. It doesn't make you punk, it doesn't make you funky, it doesn't make you artsy etc etc. It's distracting and makes your shit look like shit. If you're not an artist, don't try to be. Folks, there really ARE some things that you shouldn't try at home and some things that OTHERS do better.
Yet another example is it that doesn't take a genius to realize that a third generation photograph printed via copier will look like Godzilla slipped on it and gave it back to you. If it looks like shit to you, it will look the same to your readers-this isn't brain surgery, folks. Find out what image copying options are available at your printers and try them. There are also books filled with copyright free images that you can use as well. Lay out your work like you give a shit and make an effort beyond fondling the gluestick. Being DIY does not mean being sloppy.
2) OBSERVATION: Should I trade with prisoners? Donny Smith has written a pretty damn accurate primer on how to deal with prisoner trading. If you aren't sure about such things we suggest that you read it elsewhere in this issue. Here, we'll take it even further by mentioning a few things not included in his piece. If you're into the mystery and excitement of trading with prisoners, we say go for it. Danger IS quite sexy. But be sensible if your street sense is lacking, seriously. We've had some cool correspondences from prisoners and have hopefully, given them some fun reading in return. But there have been instances when some letters have creeped even us out. If reading detailed accounts of why your potential inmate correspondent was incarcerated, for example, "...and I shot him five times in the face with a double barrel shotgun at point blank range..." etc, etc, creeps you out, then be prepared, most inmates have lots of time on their hands and many are willing to eventually, if not upfront tell you why they're in. This is not to say all are in for murder of course, but you get the picture. If you don't know what you might get into, don't waste your time and their stamps. Also, our experience has dictated that we do not write correspondences with any zine that we have sent. Mail letters separate from the zine that you send. Others may have had luck sending both together, but we've always been told that publishers supposedly don't write letters to their readers (eh?!?). It's rather impersonal, but hell, we didn't make this shit up. We say try both and see what works for you. And last, but yet again, not least: If you have a publication that depicts penetration (of the sexual type, dears) or lots of violence (violent penetration?), be prepared. Everything is censored going in and out of the system. It just takes one censor with their pantaloons in a bunch to get your work shipped back to you faster than the Space Shuttle on reentry. The two above examples have never fared well with us trying to get into the joint and have specifically been pointed out to us as the cause for return. As a result, we've spent tons of money sending stuff that intermittently ends up coming right back. Be wise and you may fare better.
3) YOUR FUCKED, DEPT.: "I'm gay, where do I send my zine?" Hello faggot. Here's some coffeetime, to wake up. We don't want to discourage queers from joining this hootenanny of counter-culture revolutionaries, but the truth is, queer zines aren't as prevalent as they were a few years ago, and you better have some good shit, not to mention, ACCESSABLE shit if you want to get noticed-otherwise, it's back of the bus for you, queen, and take yer zine witcha. If anyone has disputing information, please step up and pass the love. It's ironic that the rejected of the rejected in the underground and "normal" society are the least prolific and visible in their output. This is not to say queer zines are dead, because they're not. But they simply do not come close to the output and presence of their str8t counterparts. You're a little fish in a big ocean. But you do have other members in your school as well as sympathizers but you gotta find them, little Salmon-boy. The prime movers and shakers in zineland are straight flavored pubs for disenfranchised str8t folks that may include queer stuff, but not be centrally themed around this fragment of the community. If you're a gay male, people are not as likely to be as moved about your survival from cancer and the death of your lover as they would John Doe's angst ridden breakup with his girlfriend or the true horror of his parent's refusal to give him yet one more month of rent. This is not to say the vast majority of people are shallow idiots because there truly is a lot of intelligence and diversity that exists here in zineland, and you CAN cross platform your zine with str8t readers, You're just far outnumbered and will need to shout a little louder to make your voice heard and your zine visible. Dykes and their zines have it a bit easier all around. It's our theory that Str8t males make up most of the zinesters out there (this is not scientific, but serves this example well and we've heard others state the same so we'll just run with it) and given that idea, they make up the most reviewers that will get your work noticed. Think in terms of real life: Many, NOT ALL Str8t males, despite most of their claims of being accepting/liberal etc etc, will cower when it comes to publicly dealing with gay related issues, especially gay male issues, but will likely have no problem dealing with the concept of two women together (kinda think porno here, for example). The sisters are usually a bit more palatable to the overlords. Str8t males can relate to boobs, gay or str8t before they'll be able to even THINK of just your chest hairs (we won't even go there and mention the "P" word in a gay context). It's unfortunate, but this is what society does to its own, and the effects trickle down to even these underground depths. This is what you, if you're a gay male, are up against. Time to get that boob job, fellas, and seek out queer or queer-friendly reviewers who might give you more than just a patronizing line or two. Until you find your sources, don't be shocked to read such lines from your reviewers that go something like this: "I'M NOT GAY BUT, I LIKED THIS PUBLICATION blah blah blah". They may often have such proclamations of its author's Hetero orientation to distance themselves for sake of saving face to their readers from a publication that they've liked but happened to be a QUEER product. Just overlook this obviously brittle social stance and the reviewer's lack of faith in their own reader's intelligence that they won't lynch them for guilt by association. And never mind the ridiculousness of the fact that if the tables were turned, just about every review typed from our fingers here would have to begin the same way: "We're not Str8t, but we liked blah blah blah..." Just get used to it. If you're just starting out, you'll need all of the reviews that you can get. Believe that. For resource starters, you might try www.holytitclamps.com for you tech-whores, or write: Larry-bob, Box 590488, San Francisco, CA 94159-0488, for you snail mailers to get info on possible queer resources.
4) YEAH, AND?, DEPT.: "I'm So Angst Ridden And Rejected, I Wanna Die Zine": Well, then shit or get off the pot. We will never be accused of demeaning the impact of another person's experience. But in this instance, understand, that amongst fellow freaks, rejectoids, militants and mutants, depression and suicide can easily be called passé and uninspired amongst the jaded, not to mention, many have simply been there, done that with their own zines. Think of it this way: It's like any slasher movie series. Same ol' shit, different players though we desperately look for the newest plot twist that never shows itself. We love perzines, but if you are planning to do one with your funk being the large percentage of the content, then be creative with it and get the most out of the therapeutic workout. Therapy and validation are possible benefits from putting yourself out to people in your zine. But you will get neither when you get clowned for putting out mopyass shit that doesn't have any more edge than the 100 other zines that came before you.
5) LICENSE TO BE A BITCH: When you finally get to meet real zinesters, things to avoid, dept.: OK, this is going to get tricky. Virgins take notes. We can see the fragile egos of the crowd clogging our mails with vitriolic letters of rebuttal already. The more stable of the population will sit back and nod knowingly. Throughout the course of the years, it has pleased us to no end to finally meet and attach a face to the words and comix that we've seen & read. In many instances we've not been disappointed. It's the deer-in-headlights of the bunch, those in social gatherings of zinesters, at conventions, etc, etc, that are the real, walking, breathing nerdgeeks that you thought existed only in the movies and are clueless as to how one should interact in social gatherings. It starts us to wondering at times, just what the fuck are we doing in this crowd. Listen folks, we know the underground is full of an eclectic assortment of colorful and eccentrics personalities. What would it be without them/us? Why would any of us even be here without such company? And given that, differences will occur. It has amazed us (for we amaze easily, as you can tell), that so many people in the zine scene are either without the most rudimentary of conversation skills and/or are rude as fuck, with the concept of civility being as foreign as Osama Bin Laden in a Victoria's Secret commercial. CONVERSATION SKILLS: For example, most conversations are two-way affairs. You give some info, the other person reciprocates and, give or take, it becomes an even exchange of ideas and information. When the conversation starts leaning primarily towards the interests of one party, that is called an IMBALANCE otherwise known as being ONE-SIDED (the guilty party should quietly or loudly acknowledge this and make an effort to correct the problem). If said perpetrator fails to realize the error of their ways as well as that god is watching this social blasphemy unfold, it then spirals uncontrollably into the realm of social Satanism. Yes, the horrible culmination of events, when "I" becomes the lead into every other sentence, the affliction that can only be attributed to demonic possession-that which is called SELF-AGGRANDIZING BULLSHIT. A good excor-therapist or a nice smack in the face will assist them in snapping out of this dysfunction (don't try to walk away, they'll just follow you!)." On RUDENESS: Can't we all just get along? Why is it the least visible of the underground are always the ones with the fattest egos and the most shit to talk? That's not to say that some of the heavier hitters don't need a house dropped on them either, but we swear, this more so is a phenomena amongst the less connected. OK, fine, you may know this and that person, but what exactly is it that you do and why should we give a f*ck? Well, this is all kinda like the above example (but you get the picture) so we'll move onto people who don't know how to reply to comments except but in two or three word sentences and no follow up: "That's cool", "That's neat etc, etc. How sad that this is the extent of their opinions gallery. The English lexicon is a shiny happy resource, abuse it, explore it, be free with it, hell, IT'S FREE, so USE IT! If this is you, PLEASE work on a few things before exposing yourself and others to more social torment.
6) I'VE COPIED EVERYBODY ELSE'S WORK AND STILL DON'T KNOW WHAT TO PUT IN MY ZINE: A zine is one snapshot of its creator's truth at the time of publication. It's your hardcopy of that which is in your head and a calling card for others to know you by. This is not to suggest that each publication that you'll put out will be a revelation of profundities to you and your readers, but that for the most part, most zinesters will not likely put in even filler that doesn't have a minutia of significance to them: i.e. poetry zine creators will not likely put a report on the Soul Train Awards into their work simply to fill space. We all get a little paranoid when it comes to putting our work or issues out. We'd bet money that even the most militant zinesters hope there's someone out there who will receive their work well. Otherwise, why do it? We've read about some of the most mundane shit like someone being stuck at his or her office working all day. Who'd give a shit? But the writing was creative and engaging, and surprise! We enjoyed reading about that person's boringass day at work and moved on to finish the rest of the issue. If your content feels right, it probably is. If it feels a little off, well.
7) COMIX ARTISTS WHO SUCK, DEPT.: HA! Gotcha with that title, eh? No...as above, there will be no particulars cited. Just some peeves that are handed out on the SUCKgestion platter. Fellow artsy-fartsies, and we're addressing those of you who haven't been hipped to this yet. But, hey, can you get a firmer grasp on the medium in which you work in? The copy machine is not an exacting instrument of reproduction, nor are its capabilities easily harnessed, but you can come close.
PREPRODUCTION: If you do a mini, you'll likely will only need to draw a half or a size up if you don't work 1:1. We suppose this advice could be said for whichever size your printed comix happens to be. If you work 1:1, which means, the same size as the printed piece with no reduction, then by all means, find an art paper or board that doesn't allow your ink lines to bleed. Without any reductions, the bleeding/feathering effect is easily visible and looks pretty bad when spread out over numerous panels in an issue. Of course, this is the zine arena and there's room to breathe, but flexing your creative muscle and being lazy are two different things. If you don't know how to fix this, here ya go: Bristol board will offer probably the best paper density that minimizes bleeds. Sketchbook paper tends to be thinner and more porous and doesn't withstand long holds of the pen without it absorbing ink in a sponge-like fashion. TONES: If you work in tones, then you'll need to utilize toning features available at the printer or on, say, Adobe Photoshop to capture the shades. Otherwise, all of that work drops out of the final, or remnants are visible that just makes your work look muddied and unclean. Zipatone (those rub-on dots) are near impossible to find, so axe that. Work backwards, see what your printer is capable of doing in reproducing your art and incorporate that into your project's conceptualization and execution. TECHNIQUE: Find your own technique that makes you comfortable. This isn't art class.
TALKING SHIT ABOUT OTHER ARTISTS/CREATORS: Hey, art is highly individual and not one person is the preeminent critic or artist. The critic who unmercifully rips apart a creators work without constructive elements in their criticism tends to be the least creative of the two but just possesses the linguistic skills to deconstruct that which he/she cannot create on his/her own. Likewise, an artist/creator who is first to throw a paintbrush tends to be the one with the least amount of grip on their own work and thusly starts shit to remove focus on his/her utter lack of comprehension of their own creations. That said, watch your mouth if you think that you're the small press comix pimp-daddy. You may want to watch your back, since there're about 100 others ready to knock you off your pedestal and are working on doing so right now. But get past some of the bullshit, and there's a new horizon of equally quirky artisans awaiting your arrival. And who knows, if you're lucky, they might be nice to you.
8) ZINEOUS OUTPUTUS PROLIFICUS: Dispel any notion that the more prolific that you are in putting out a zine is not an indicator of the quality contained within your publication. Double digit issue #'s LOOK pretty, but what's inside counts. If that's one of your driving forces, then stop, the devil done led ya wrong. Few people have put out numerous issues that are consistently high in quality as well as content. If you think you are able to be among the Cometbus's, Murder Can Be Fun's, Ped Xing's etc, etc, then go forth young zinester, go forth and multiply them thar publications. To the rest, take your time. It's quality, not quantity. Size does not matter. It's what's inside, dear. Shall we go on or are you having "mommy" and Godzilla flashbacks yet?
9 And beyond) ETCETERA, ETCETERA: In closing, this list can be added too by us as well as you reading this, right now and years from now as new experiences are garnered. It's open ended. As we'd said, it is by no means all-inclusive nor do we claim it to speak for everyone. Wherever you end up standing in the trappings of the underground press will dictate the evolution of these and other ideas to fit your own experiences and course. They may even not speak to you at all. Whatever the case, let the good and bad of the zine world serve as the catalysts, the inspirations to your own creative endeavors. The tools and resources are right here in front of you. Now come kick our asses with your work.
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, describing my zine.
WHY I LOVE BAD REVIEWS...
...in which Jeff Somers plucks his head out of his own ass for a moment to explain why he wishes all the reviews he got were bad reviews
I AM NOT a proud man. I've begged for my drinks. I've crawled on the floor looking for loose change. I've begged people to read my zine. Lord knows there isn't much I'm ashamed of any more, and pretty soon I expect all that residual shame from childhood to be burned out, leaving me as some sort of Homo Superior, ready and willing to take charge of this planet. Until I evolve those Jedi Mind tricks, however, I bide my time publishing and contemplating the world around me. And drinking.
Not being a proud man, I've never worried much over reviews. A zine is usually such an idiosyncratic production that it cannot, by nature, achieve a large audience. That's why movies and bestselling books suck so badly: in order to appeal to that many paying customers, the Entertainment in question has to satisfy a broad range of tastes and expectations. In other words, in order to appeal to that broad an audience, most stuff has to be bland, obvious crap. It has to suck. Zines, for the most part, are far too personal, and far too specific in their appeal, to ever garner nationwide love. This usually means that even in the relatively small world of zine publishing it's hard to please a large number of people, and even the most well-regarded zines or ziney-writers have their detractors.
Add in the fact that everyone in zinedom seems to be reviewing everyone else-and I mean everyone-and you're pretty much guaranteed to receive some bad reviews in your time. I, for one, don't view this as a bad thing. I like bad reviews. I prefer them, actually. Good reviews are nice and all, but give me a snappy, well-written bad review and I'm much happier. The reason for this is simple: bad reviews offer much more by way of snappy advertising slogans. Like Matt Dillion's character Cliff in Singles says: all this negative energy just makes me stronger.
BAD REVIEWS A-GO-GO
The best bad review I ever received is easily from Vic Flange on the web site fleshmouth.co.uk. This inspired little gem went: "Inner Swine is a site about a zine about something or another, and unfortunately tries to be a catalogue for various publications, plus a sampler, plus a web site. There is much that suggests this should be good...but it tries too fucking hard to stay on the right side of mass appeal. So what does that mean? It means it's wank. Come on, stick your fucking necks out. You have nothing to lose but your fucking heads." It gives me the instantly memorable slogan The Inner Swine: It Means it's Wank! The second-best bad review I ever got appeared in Ten Things Jesus Wants You to Know: "This is an honest zine, so I will be honest. Most everything in here I didn't need to read." This gives us the equally snappy The Inner Swine: Most Everything in Here, You Don't Need to Read. See how this works? Good reviews, while heartwarming, don't offer up this kind of advertising fodder, and lord knows accolades don't pay the bills. I mean, a slogan like The Inner Swine: Not Bad for a Jersey Zine just isn't snappy, dammit, and The Inner Swine: Jeff Somers is a damn fine looking man just sounds made up.
Plus, good reviews are wasted on a smug bastard such as myself, because they simply meld in with the chorus of congratulatory voices in my head, singing Oompa-Loompa songs which rhyme zine with keen.
What I really enjoy about bad reviews are when they're wrong. Not about the quality of my writing or of my zine, which is wholly subjective, but about actual facts. Checkable things. Like once a reviewer from maximumrocknroll got all bent out of shape because the 'fake letters to the editor' weren't very funny. This was best explained by the fact that they weren't fake, which I think would have been obvious to a gas huffing moron. Or when the reviewer for Punk Planet recently worried over the DIY nature of my zine because it's distroed in Tower Records, when Punk Planet itself is distroed in Tower Records. Things like that made my day, because it gives me an opportunity to be sarcastic. Nothing gives me greater joy in life than being sarcastic.
It's one thing if a bad review discusses specifics in an intelligent and critical manner-I've had plenty of bad reviews I can't really argue with. It's the smug, no-substance reviews that boil down to "I didn't like this because I got a bad feeling from the cover, so I didn't actually read it, and you shouldn't either" that bring me joy, because quoting them in big block letters just makes the reviewer look bad. Joy! I mean, how hard is it to do basic factchecking with zines? Okay, considering that most of our zine publishers pack up and move every three months, I guess it could be kind of hard to factcheck a review. Of course, you could actually read the damn zine, even if you were handed twenty zines and asked for reviews in three days. But then, I suppose having the correct information and informed opinions goes against everything that zines stand for. They certainly go against everything my zine stands for.
Until next time, friends, treasure your bad reviews. Paste them in big letters on the front covers of your zines. Print up vinyl stickers at stickerguy.com with choice phrases. March into your local libraries and shout them out at the top of your lungs until the cops drag you away. Be proud of your bad reviews, because you can measure how cool you are by how many people hate you.
 please read my zine
 Jack Daniels, yum
 which is not to suggest that zines cannot suck, because many-oh so many, and probably yours-do
 even I have my detractors, which is shocking to me every time I think of it
 Matt Dillon is one fine-looking man
 which it is.
 Charlie and the Glass Elevator is the little-known sequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, on which the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was based. Little known because it sucked.
 though they were right about one thing, they weren't very funny
 except buying liquor and cigarettes for underage kids, of course
PO Box 5531, Lutherville, MD 21094
Dan Taylor moved to Maryland six months ago and is still discovering the joys of Pit Beef. He currently publishes The Hungover Gourmet: The Journal of Food, Drink, Travel and Fun, hangs out at thrift stores and auctions, and is not a bad guy, despite what some people would have you believe.
($2, 24 pp. Digest-sized)
234 Locust St., Philadelphia, PA. 19106 (Note: the Boston address listed in this issue is out of date)
Ratting out the crappy goings-on of your workplace surroundings is fun. My best "worst job" involved emptying and inventorying crates at a music publishing warehouse. The days were long and dull but we were able to spend the day recovering from the previous night's activities. Oh, and we were ripping off the book publisher that shared the other half of the warehouse. Good, cool coffee table books and reference works that I still have. My worst "worst job" was working as a marketing director for a chain of retail stores. The commute sucked, the hours sucked. The owner was a money-grubbing weasel who I'm pretty sure was coked out of his mind 90% of the time. When I decided to walk out the door he was in the process of falsifying financial data in order to make the company look better to investors.
JACK comes to us courtesy of "Jack Masters," who works as a journalist covering the world of technology. Okay, so it might not sound ripe for a fun and funky little zine. Then again, great zines have come from less. "Jack" uses the zine as his sounding board, a place to share the stories about creepy hardware reps, lying companies and the day-to-day minutiae that only his friends were privy to. Granted, it drifts off into preachiness on occasion, but hey, it's a hell of a job for a first effort.
I'm not sure if JACK will reach the level of great workplace zines like TEMP SLAVE, FAST FOOD JANITOR or WORKING FOR THE MAN. For that to happen I have a feeling that "Jack" will need to open up the pages to outside contributors after another installment or two. That said, it's an excellent debut and I'll be looking out for more.
UNSHAVEN CHI #1
($2, 32pp, digest-sized)
PO Box 7273, York, PA 17404
I feel sorry for today's kids. Sure, they're growing up in a world made more uncertain by terrorist attacks, the threat of war, and - of late - a sniper making the rounds of the suburbs here in Maryland. But far worse than that is the state of cereal and Saturday morning TV! I long to get up on a Saturday morn, crack open a box of Sugar Corn Pops and sit back with a few hours of good old non-PC Bugs Bunny and Road Runner cartoons. Maybe even some Josie and the Pussycats, Hong Kong Phooey, Lancelot Link or Touche Turtle. Sigh. Today they get force-fed Jackie Chan or (worse yet) educational programming while their parents WATCH WHAT THEY EAT! Aigh!
Apparently, I'm not alone in these desperate times. How else do you explain Ben Steckler's UNSHAVEN CHI #1 showing up in my mailbox? It's got a Fall '99 date on it yet a higher power somehow saw fit for it to come my way. Why am I getting all sugar-high freaky on you? Well, this is one big issue-length love letter to the cereals, marketing and mascots of those marshmallowy glory days. Reading it and rediscovering fallen comrades like Professor Goody and Sugarman was a lightly-frosted trip down memory lane.
SCATOLOGICAL THINK CAP #3
($2, 36 pp., digest-sized)
PO Box 13085, Macon, GA 31208
Anybody that has had to deal with them knows that realtors, in a word, suck. My roommate and I rented one of three units in a house located in a snooty Jersey suburb. The house stuck out like a sore thumb amidst the historical homes surrounding us, and we didn't help matters by carousing till all hours. Regardless, the cheap rent came with a couple caveats: one, the landlord offered no assistance if problems arose; and, two, he might just sell the property without notice.
The latter came true in the spring of 1995 and we found ourselves at the mercy of an obnoxious, bottle-blonde realtor named Suzie who had an annoying habit of "forgetting" to call us about appointments to show the place and once left the keys to every unit in the house on the front lawn for an entire day.
All of this means that I could feel, I mean really feel, for what Josh and Brittany went through while they housesat for an acquaintance. What began as a rent-free dream turned into a hellish, realtor-driven nightmare complete with "forgotten" calls, surprise visits, nasty notes and much more. To their credit, these two seem like they handled it much better than we did, though the result was pretty much the same.
The writing is fast-paced and conversational, like you're listening to a close friend spin the tale over burgers, o-rings and way too much coffee at the diner around 3 am.
WATCH THE CLOSING DOORS #19
($2.50, 24 pp., digest-sized)
1800 Ocean Parkway #B-12, Brooklyn, NY 11223-3037
When I first dipped my two into the great big zine pool I didn't know what to expect. I was a film freak back in those days and I didn't know anything existed outside my world of photocopied, typo-ridden newsletters drooling over the latest gore flicks. As my exposure broadened and I started getting more and more publications, part of me longed to go back to that original rush of discovery.
WATCH THE CLOSING DOORS was like a shot of adrenaline to my jaded senses. It's what got me into zines to begin with. A topic, loved by its editor, celebrated, embraced, mocked, loathed and exalted, all in the course of 24 wonderful pages. What pains me is that 18 previous issues have come and gone under the radar and I want to read them all!
My only complaints are of the most minor variety... the Subway Diary is a wonderful piece, but too short at only a page. And the photos are too dark to really appreciate the great commentary that accompanies them. In other words, somebody get this man a scanner... QUICK!
($1.00, 16 pp., mini-digest)
C/o Ped Xing Comics, 2000 NE 42nd Ave. #303, Portland, OR 97213
Regular readers of XD are already familiar with Androo's work, so I certainly don't have to go into a description of the talent and quality at work here. What we're offered in this second installment of the series (he promises "There is more" on the back cover) is a graceful and artistic take on the one-panel comic, which is truly an art form of its very own.
There is no elaborate set-up at work here. Sometimes there isn't even a punchline. Instead, we're offered snippets of dreams and waking life that are sometimes thought-provoking, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, and sometimes the kind of sharp, witty sketches that evoke a gentle, knowing chuckle.
($2.50, 36 pp., digest-size)
Right off the bat I have to say that I admire the hell out of this ambitious blend of prose, poetry, art and commentary. I don't want anybody to get the wrong idea. But something kept itching at me during the course of reading it.
It's full of pieces that hit the mark and miss wildly, sometimes within the very same piece. There are stabs at humor, a New Orleans photo essay that I wished were more fleshed out, and an unfocused piece about the director of Donnie Darko that seemed, well, out of place.
I'm not a believer that every zine has to have a narrow focus, or a focus at all. Hell, that's what makes zine publishing such a grand and cathartic endeavor... no editors to cut pieces, no corporate ad giants to appease. But, reading SATSUMA, I got the distinct feeling that there was a better publication lurking beneath the surface. A great publication just itching to get out. And maybe that's what made me feel so conflicted. There's potential here, and it's far better than much of what lands in the ol' mailbox. But aren't we always harder on the ones with the brightest future?
LADY CHURCHILL'S ROSEBUD WRISTLET #10
($4, 48 pp., half-legal)
Gavin J Grant
Small Beer Press, 360 Atlantic Ave., PMB #132, Brooklyn, NY 11217
True confession time, gang. I am a certified, card-carrying pop culture junkie. B-movies on cable. 70s power-pop on vinyl. TV shows that deal with superheroes and books that rarely stray into an area that anybody would call "fiction."
Which makes me think that maybe, just maybe, I wasn't the person for something with such a high-falutin name as this publication. I also have very bad eyes, so 48 illustration-light pages all set in the same typeface made this, um, a bit of a daunting task.
Now that I've gotten the nitpicky gripes, physical shortcomings and guilty pleasures out of the way, I'll be the first to admit that there's plenty to recommend here. First, you can probably tell that I'm not "a novel guy," so I was delighted to discover that the bulk of the mag was made up of short stories. They're the perfect length for my short-attention-span brain.
Second, if variety is what you're looking for, LCWR has got it in spades. A sprinkle of poetry (kept to a thankful minimum while still achieving "literary" status), an intelligent film column (though I'm not sure who hasn't discovered the work of Jack Hill after all these years), and stories that range from the creepily-fantastic ("The Mushroom" and "Lost Connections") to two tales that are exciting, interesting, dramatic, funny and compelling ("What's Sure to Come" and "Born on the Edge of an Adjective").
Like any good literary collection, not everything here will turn you on, section your grapefruit or blow your skirt up. But each and every page holds something for you to discover and take in.
71 Storm St., Apt 2C, Tarrytown, NY 10591
Since I don't have the spunk or stationary needed to assemble my own freestanding press release, I'd like to commandeer this opportunity to vaunt the spring 2002 issue of ONE FINE MESS, which is nearly in its final stages of production and just in time for the holidays! This insuppressible, 34-page tour de force features in-depth coverage of now-unseasonable subject matter, ambitious stabs at appealing page design, and no more than four significant typos. Were my husband and I laboring in a void, or merely avoiding labor? The matter can be settled only by you, the white-hot tastemakers of today's boot-cut literati. Your calendar may scream November, but spring hasn't sprung until you cozy up with a limited-edition copy of ONE FINE MESS, your portable piece of sunshine.
MR. PEEBODY'S SOILED TROUSERS & OTHER DELIGHTS
No. 15, 30 pages, digest
Let me begin by stating that from time to time, I recline in my drab little cubicle at work and wonder in a melancholy way about the lives of other zine publishers and countercultural creative personalities, and without fail I conjure a vicious swirl of productive, photogenic hipsters undertaking interesting projects at offbeat hours of the day, shaking their oily little haircuts into perfect formation, wearing imported sneakers and getting magnificently high on exciting drugs, all while I suffocate from nine to five beneath the reeking mattress I call my day job. MR. PEEBODY'S SOILED TROUSERS, which is built mostly of Jason's daily diary for the month of August 2002, offers an utterly refreshing perspective. This is due to its down-home manner and complete lack of painstaking, premeditated coolness. I was infinitely comforted to learn, for instance, that, like me, Jason is often too tired to even go out drinking on Fridays. I am pleased that he occasionally subjects himself to uninteresting films (Moulin Rouge, in this issue) and spends a good deal of time just hanging out with his girlfriend. Other events include a disappointing turnout - but a fun time - at the L.A. Zinester's Picnic, a dream of a gruesome bear attack, the unholy heat of Los Angeles in the summer, and sadness at his parents' newly announced separation. He also writes an explanation of the zine's title, though a person could probably explain it herself with help from an educated guess.
Jason, P.O. Box 93133, Los Angeles, CA 90093
No. 7, "The Stalking Issue," 40 pages, digest
RETAIL WHORE is amazingly thorough in its treatment of the theme. There are no recipes, no poems and no unrelated items. The zine really is completely about stalking, mostly with regard to editor Kat Raz's firsthand stalking experiences. The mood throughout, too, is unwavering: gleefully and unapologetically off the rails. She offers an overview of prominent zine boys and their stalkability (Al Burian: unstalkable due to proliferation of groupies; Eric Lyden: too overexposed for authentic stalking purposes); a timeline of real boys and celebrity boys who have captured the editor's obsession since 1985, with notations made for those Kat has either met or received letters from; an illustrated anatomy of a prototypical stalkee (big brains, knobby knees, illness-prone); an interview with Caroline Sullivan, who wrote a book about her adolescent obsession with the Bay City Rollers; tips for carrying out your own stalking (Google your prey, dial his phone number from a pay phone, dress like a supermodel and finagle your way into glitzy celebrity events); and an interview with Krista Garcia, publisher of Scaredy Cat Stalker zine. My favorite piece was Kat's recollection of writing a fan letter to film actor Dante Basco. (Basco's talent agency apparently forwarded the envelope to his home address without refreshing the postage, and the package was returned to Kat with his coordinates slapped on the front of it. She found the corresponding telephone listing, called him up, and had what sounded like a very civil 10-minute conversation with him. What a pro she is!) It just goes to show the victims of this volcanic bad-ass shouldn't feel hounded; they should feel preferred. And they should definitely look into getting ahold of her zine before she gets ahold of them.
Kat Raz, P.O. Box 688, Evanston, IL 60204-0688; email@example.com
SECRET MYSTERY LOVE SHOES
No. 1, Summer 2002, 42 pages, quarter
So. In a general way, I can tell you this is a well-rounded and endlessly appealing zine built of comics, how-to pieces and anecdotes, with some items typed and some presented in Androo's terrific font-like handwriting. More specifically, I can tell you my favorite feature was "Drawing Comics from Memory," where editors Androo and Maria endeavored to recreate, without looking at them, characters from popular Sunday funnies such as Garfield, Dennis the Menace, Dilbert and Blondie. They provided word bubbles, too, that were so killingly funny and precise I was obliged to pause and acknowledge that I had stumbled into the midst of stark, raving genius. Genius! Also: appreciation for Frisbee, an accompanying glossary of Frisbee moves, and advice on how to throw the damn things. (Maria may be the sport's answer to Mr. Miyagi: "Think of your arm and the Frisbee as a cinnamon roll," she writes, and it works!) Also noteworthy are Androo's "reviews" of books he's never read, his illustrated list of things he's stolen and things that have been stolen from him (the rubber hippo incident was particularly heartbreaking), and the SMLS paper dolls insert. Oh, and Maria's captivating home-improvement guide entitled "How to Decorate With Crap." In fact, the whole thing is a gem, an esteemed bundle of really interesting, funny, splendidly executed ideas brought to life by smart people. Please order it. I mean, really. If I try to say any more, I'll just start stuttering.
Maria Goodman and Androo Robinson
2000 NE 42nd Ave., PMB 303, Portland, OR 97213
No. 1, 23 pages, digest
DRIVING BLIND is the first zine effort of Erin H., a 19-year-old college student with congenital muscular dystrophy. She'll cringe at that description, for sure, since she writes that she's never defined herself as a disabled person requiring round-the-clock medical attention; rather, she considers herself a Superman-obsessed bookworm who loves to eat Pringles. And happens to have muscular dystrophy, the way others happen to have blue eyes or big feet. But since her wheelchair-bound perspective is relatively uncommon, it should be noted. In this issue: feeling at odds with the handicapped community, a letter to the grandfather she never met (and who, judging by his sultry Navy photograph, was a full-on smooth operator), diary entries from last fall, thoughts on the joy of reading, zine listings, and a page of obsessions. I also really liked the essay she wrote about her grandparents' old house in Elizabeth, New Jersey. She remembers the décor and the Cuban cooking and the pet parrot and the Spanish game shows blaring from the television, and wonders how so much could have fit into such a tiny place. A person kind of has to wonder the same thing about this tiny zine.
$1 or trade
Erin H., P.O. Box 656, Keyport, NJ 07735
SHOT BY A RAY GUN
"Alligator Alley," No. 1, Jan. 2002, 31 pages, slightly larger than quarter-size
This combination photo-comic zine follows a single, linear story: Billy's trip to Marco Island in Florida with his friend Brad, to visit Brad's parents. The photos are nicely reproduced, and the illustrations are thick-lined and memorable: People are depicted with bulbous eyes and rounded teeth, their joints falling in unnatural places. As his vacation unfolds, Billy receives an introduction to bluegrass music, visits an eat-in movie theater, hops to a nearby island teeming with antiquated hippies, rides an airboat, and nearly wins some pocket money in a game of bingo. The story is told almost in the manner of a children's book, with simple, airy sentences that force the eye to the images for more information. The story takes an unexpected turn near the end, however, when Billy buys a strange Aborigine sculpture at a flea market and stashes it in Brad's parents' house, which is the apparent cause of a serious blaze that kills the family's cat(!). This doesn't stop Billy from deciding the trip is the best vacation he's ever had, and he's nice enough to thank Brad's parents on the last page. (Really, though, after tracking a haunted bauble onto the premises and burning their house down with its tribal curse, I'd certainly show a little thanks to my hosts, too.) Oh, and I think it's really cool that Billy counts the illustrated cover as page one, the mark of some well-deserved pride in craftsmanship.
$1, trade or a nice letter
Billy McKay, P.O. Box 542, N. Olmsted, OH 44070; billyCSQP@aol.com
No. 18, 48 pages, quarter
In this issue, Cindy's mother dies from an unspecified illness. It's interesting how Cindy doesn't focus on the actual event but rather strives to capture its peculiar emotional aftermath. She's living in a New York squat at the time, and as she roams the byways of lower Manhattan, sights and sounds come diving at her with a gigantic and overpowering clarity, as though the loss of her mother has sent the world careening through a warped magnifying glass. Other aspects of her life are told in wispy tendrils: following a boy she loved to Miami, living in mobile home, and so on. Her sentences are wistful, sober and vivid, each one seemingly hung with a tiny weight, though the typewritten pages have a pounding slapdash immediacy about them. There are also thoughts regarding the erosion of abortion rights, recipes and a wheatpasting reprint. The whole effort is almost unbearably heartfelt. I mean, somebody should be paying this girl to write.
$1.50 or $1 and two stamps
Cindy Ovenrack, P.O. Box 1734, Asheville, NC 28802
PO Box 411, Swarthmore, PA 19081
So I'm done with library school finally, and seriously looking for a job. I was turned down after interviewing for my dream job of social science librarian and assistant archivist at a local university. One college before they would even interview me wanted me to sign a statement that, among other things, I believed "in the vicarious death of the Lord Jesus Christ for our sins . . . His personal and visible future return to the earth and that salvation is received only through faith in Him"! Two former professors have given me sort-of job offers, but the pay sucks and no benefits, so thanks but no thanks. The good thing is that I still have a job, even if it bores me. And I've got at least 4 Dwans in the making right now. Dwan available from Donny Smith, Box 411, Swarthmore PA 19081 USA for $2 cash, usually (though recent issues have been $4; always free to prisoners)
GUMSHOE MONKEY NUMBER NINE (JULY 2002)
available from Ellen Adams, 5025 Thacher Rd, Ojai CA 93023 USA for $1 or trade or "a nice long letter from you"
on the cover: many pretty ponies running (rubberstamped); "I'm not sleeping anymore"
inside: memories of summer camp, holding hands, bad boyfriends, belittling parents, and swingsets
comment: Ellen writes lyrical descriptions of the briefest moments in her life, full of nostalgia or hurt or yearning. But they're like distant, separated lightning flashes, and everytime the landscape lights up it's different. Over the course of several issues of the zine I've been building up a picture of who she is, but it's always changing. Partly that's the nature of a perzine, partly it's because she's young. Maybe the more she writes the more her writing will stretch out and fill in a few of the ellipses.
quote: Stacy, Karin and I were all sitting in front of my cabin (Kari and Ashley were asleep) and Karin said, "Let's memorize this moment so we can keep it forever." So we listened to the wind and looked everywhere around us, trying hard to get a hold of everything. We were quiet for so long. Except for our stomachs growling. But it was beautiful.
MIME COMPLIANT 9 MEMORY (MARCH 2002)
available from Jesse Reklaw, PO Box 11493, Berkeley CA 94712-2493 USA for a stamp or SASE
on the cover: a color drawing of a woman (or possibly man) walking down a city street
inside: the wordless story of the same woman (or man) walking down the street and what she notices and remembers
overall: the tiniest, charmingest comic book
P.5!'S PUSSY MAGAZINE #10 (WINTER 2001-02?)
available from Pelin Morawski, 287 Bedford Ave #12, Brooklyn NY 11211 USA for $20 for 4 issues postpaid (the cover price is $4, so I'm assuming you should add $1 if ordering a single issue through the mail)
on the cover: a friendly pussy (cat) and lots of cut-and-paste faces and phrases
inside: Old-school zine-style collages (with lots of bare breasts). Cartoons. Tranny news and views and movie reviews. Quiz: "Are you an annoying customer?"
quote: 2001 has been quite a year and I'm not just saying that because of September 11th although it sure does suck that that happened. Call me selfish, cold, unfeeling, unpatriotic, whatever you want but I have to admit I'm getting really sick of hearing about it already just the same way I'm getting sick of seeing american flags and american flag paraphernelia, Britney Spears, Harry Potter crap and Bin Laden every god damned place I go! . . . And what about George W. Bush? My god, I literally cringe in disgust every time I see that guy's expressionless face or hear him speak! And why is it that every american flag I've seen has a "Made in China" tag on it?
overall: sassy and slightly confusing
PAPING #6 (NO DATE)
available from John Mejias, 60 St Marks Pl #4, New York NY 10003 USA for $3
on the cover: a three-color silkscreen of teacher and students with flowers
inside: Cartoons about teaching and grief and adopting a cat and getting locked out of your apartment and many other things.
overall: moving and funny
RAINBOW EVERYTHING: KATIA'S UTTERLY GAY EXHIBIT
available from Katia Roberto for free if you have Internet access
on the "cover": many colors!
inside: Katia's story of how she put up a GLBT Pride exhibit in a rural Illinois library, what made the cut and what didn't and what she didn't even try to put in.
quote: I had some trouble getting the exhibit approved. They thought it would be all about sex. They thought it would be promoting a "lifestyle". (Obviously, this was what I deserved after proposing a banner for the exhibit proclaiming, "Hey, Kids! Vibrating Dolphins and Butt Plugs Are Your Best Entertainment Value!")
another quote: Okay, so maybe I have one very small joke. You see that purple bookmark? The one that says "Are You Bisexual? Do You Not Label Your Sexuality?" Okay, the concept of not labeling your sexuality makes me all smirky for some reason. It makes me think of clove-smoking juniors in college who've read a lot of postmodernism.
Yes, I know I'm a jerk. Sorry.
another quote: Right, so everybody remembers the male-on-male sex guide from the last page? It puts the x in sex, correct?
Let's contrast it with the dyke sex guide . . .
Please note the gently flowing rainbow motif. Gentle, like wombmoon-born-wombmoons embracing their menstrual cycles in a quiet pseudo-pagan ceremony in the woods.
REDDOG REVIEW #4 (SPRING 2002)
available from Asha Anderson, PO Box 1436, Gardnerville NV 89410 USA for $2 cash or equivalent trade
on the cover: an abandoned car in the desert
inside: An account of a car trip into the Nevada wilderness and the things found there. Drawings by an artists' model, Ginger Dunphy. A letter and poems from her uncle, a beat poet who recently died.
quote: The junction is marked by two huge billboards announcing the upcoming town of Winnemucca. On one there is an enormous, green Frankenstein face under which it is written "Where Life Begins". The other sign proudly announces, "Winnemucca, city of paved streets." After that, it's a straight shot south for several more miles. I love it. To me, the desert is a treasure providing a vast and rare view of the planet as it is, land adrift in space, in an atmosphere of its own making, a breathing sphere, an island within an unfathomed sea.
overall: poetic-I mean, in a good way
THE SECRET FILES OF CAPTAIN SISSY 4 (JANUARY 2001)
available from Andy Cornell, 3907 Wedgewood Dr, Portage MI 49024 USA for $2 (?)
inside: A trip to Times Square and the lessons about capitalism he learns. Thoughts on the racial implications of white activists' body odor. A paper on the commodification of teen angst. A lengthy self-analysis, including "Venn Diagram representing the intersectionality of Andrew Cornell." A response to the question Can men be feminists? An evening in a Midwestern resort town and the lesson about patriarchy he tries to teach. A compare-contrast paper on rage and sorrow. Journals from a summer internship organizing for the AFL-CIO in California. Thoughts on punk as ethnic identity.
quote: We had been talking about calling it quits before the cop even arrived, so we didn't put up too much resistance.
Instead, I quietly asked him, "Do you think you could fake an argument with me, and like put me in handcuffs, and kick the table over, and then throw me in the back of your car or something?"
"No," he replied, flatly.
"It really would make a great ending for our performance art piece . . ." I groveled.
"No. Take it down."
overall: pretentious (but the internship journals are heartening)
SPEAKING PHAIRLY (GROWING UP WITH THE MUSIC OF LIZ PHAIR) REVISITED (JUNE 2002)
available from Low Hug Productions, PO Box 2574, Champaign IL 61825 USA for $2
inside: A.j. reprints her 1998 zine Speaking Phairly, with new commentary.
comment: The fact that I don't like Liz Phair at all was no barrier here, because while it's definitely an analysis of Phair's music, it's also an autobiography, which is far more interesting to me.
quote: I still remember that morning, and the late May sun streaming in the windows of his attic bedroom, the smell of the sheets, him getting up, turning his back to me and ejecting me with his words.
another quote: Now I save up my resentment and rage and direct it toward those people who really deserve it-like the former boss who still owes me money, people who talk in movie theaters, and Republicans.
overall: Everyone should write something that merits a second edition. And it almost made me get out our copy of Exile in Guyville for a listen (but not quite).
WORDS THAT SOAK UP LIFE: A READING COMPILATION ZINE (2001)
available from Celia Perez, 2527 N California Ave 1S, Chicago IL 60647 USA for $3-$5 (sliding scale) + $1 postage (cash or stamps)
on the cover: someone with a device that allows her to read and wash dishes at the same time
comment: I should have reviewed this in the last XD when I was talking about "accounts of your adventures in reading." But this zine was so overwhelmingly full of stuff it took me several months to get through it.
inside: After reading a textbook in which "the editor wrote as if . . . we all grow up being read to and that books are easily accessible to everyone," Celia invited a bunch of people from all over the United States and from the Philippines to write about books and reading.
Stories of first visits to libraries, favorite librarians, favorite books, recommended reading lists, analyses of the politics and economics of books, discussions of books made into movies (but not, if I remember right, of movies made into books), and so on. It's a lot of fun and eye-opening too.
quote: This movie SUCKED. I saw it again recently after re-reading the book and was APPALLED. Jodie Foster was the queen of suck, and the book is so incredibly good. Everyone involved with this film will join Spielberg in hell. -Jenna Freedman
note: All proceeds from the sale of this zine go to Women's Prison Book Project and FirstBook.
PO Box 411, Swarthmore, PA 19081
This latest batch of review zines reminded me how much comics amaze me: the skill, the complexity, the consistency, the interplay of text and image, all of it impresses me to no end. I think part of the reason is that, in spite of my now long-unused MFA in printmaking, I don't think I'd be able to create a successful comic. While struggling to earn my degree, I realized making art, or at least making art in an academic environment, with its huge focus on competitiveness and having to constantly worry "will I be able to get this into a juried exhibition?", made me miserable. These comic zines I've reviewed remind me of a long-lost pleasure in drawing, getting lost in an art project, and satisfaction in a job well done.
Speaking of which, I'm nearing completion on my first zine project in years. I know in my last appearance in Xerography Debt, I said I'd soon be posting a website, but it, like everything else I want to accomplish in my life, it's coming along excruciatingly slowly. Plus, simply living often gets in the way. Stay tuned, though- maybe my next zine will be reviewed in a future issue of Xerography Debt (hint, hint).
Starting off with the comic zines .
ME AND EDITH HEAD
A well-drawn, engaging comic, full of interesting visual details. Lieber's drawing technique and style, high contrast without sacrificing a full range of gray tones, is obviously influenced by the Hernandez brothers (Love and Rockets) without being derivative. The text, by Sara Ryan, is likewise engaging. High school student Katrina is disappointed to learn that she has not been cast as Titania in the school's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, and instead must handle the plays costumes. A teacher encourages her to read the autobiographies of famed Hollywood costume designer Edith Head, who advises "Develop confidence in your appearance and dress to match that confidence." Taking the lesson to heart, Katrina finds the formerly demeaning role as costume mistress an outlet for her latent creativity, and fantasizes about dressing a popular girl in the play in a McDonald's uniform. Throughout it all her parents' marriage crumbles. Quite enjoyable, although it seemed to end too abruptly- I wanted to find out what happened next.
Steve Lieber, 1727 NE Multnomah #13, Portland, OR 97232, USA;
Numbers 6, 7, 8, 9; 16 pages each
Charming tiny comic zines that accomplish the difficult task of relating a narrative solely through visuals. In number 6, "Have Not," a seemingly indestructible flower passes from person to person. Number 7, "Work" features a young zinester laboring in a copy shop (question- has Davida Breier become such a zine icon that artists are drawing characters to look like her, or is it just my imagination?) In "The Bug," number 8, an office worker gets stung by an insect, setting off a chain of crabbiness and ill-will. In number 9, "Memory", the finest of the lot, a young man walking down a city street returns an ugly little animal to a man who looks just like it. Considering the scale of this comic, the amount of visual information contained within "Memory" is amazing, and it even spots a full-color cover! Each of these comics has its own visual style: 6 is high-contrast and very graphic, 7 and 8 employ a more spontaneous, nervous line quality, and 9, beautifully drawn, uses toned screens for a richer effect. Amazingly, these little treasures are virtually free- well worth checking out!
Stamp or SASE
Jesse Reklaw, PO Box 11493, Berkeley, CA 94712-2493, USA
Partially comics .
PUMPKIN BOY, A HALLOWEEN RHYME
Told in clever verse, with many thickly-lined illustrations, Pumpkin Boy is the story of a slightly too perfect pumpkin who longs to be a jack-o-lantern. Passed over because of his lack of any distinguishing malformations, he must determine what lengths he'll go to in order to present himself to the Crown Prince of Halloween. Strongly reminiscent of a children's book, I in fact found myself wishing Pumpkin Boy had a bit more edge or darkness. Maybe I've just grown too old and mean and crabby to appreciate sweetness.
Meniscus Enterprises, 1573 N. Milwaukee, PMB 464, Chicago, IL 60622, USA
SECRET MYSTERY LOVE SHOES
Number One (summer 2002); 44 pages
Two of zinedoms most revered, Maria Goodman and Androo Robinson, collaborate on a mini which is thoroughly delightful - how could it be otherwise? The contents are all over the place, but it's all good, little glimpses into the couple's life together, graced with Maria's unique writing style that blends equal measures sassiness and self-effacement. Both Maria and Androo contribute small illustrations and comics, the high point of which is their attempts to draw syndicated newspaper comic characters from memory (that this drawing project, coupled with grilled cheese sandwiches, was their means of dealing with insomnia makes me think they'd be fun people to hang out with. I was inspired to try to draw the mom from "Family Circus", complete with torpedo bosom. I am America's most breast-obsessed queer boy!) Best of all, Secret Mystery Love Shoes just glows with a sweetness, freshness and sharp sense of humor that is all too rare.
available from Maria Goodman & Androo Robinson, 2000 NE 42 Ave, PMB 303, Portland OR 97213, USA
Comic-free zone .
#1; (although it's numbered as 42 pages long, I only counted 18)
I love this kind of thing- a zine about a way of life so alien to me, it's endlessly fascinating. Holly and her companion Bert are naturists, AKA nudists, living portably. Although I know it's not the lifestyle for me (chairs are considered "effete", dwellings are heated only by human bodies, and, you know, people don't wear clothes), I respect a lot of the principles behind that lifestyle, many of which are represented within Abuff. Features anecdotes, ideas and various "Strip Strategies" such as "Sneak streak or jail wail?" and "Can nudists learn from homosexuals?". Reprints from similar publications, including Holly's other project Dwelling Portably, are complied: helpful tips on making bug repellents and bug barriers, how to shower using a plastic jug, how to deal with ticks and how to make warm footwear out of sheets of foam padding. The intriguingly titled article "Memoir of a Strip-Club Bartender", along with another piece on misogyny by the same scholar, unfortunately read like a chunk of someone's long-winded master's thesis, which in fact they are. More interestingly, Holly prints her rebuttals of the essays, and the author's subsequent defense. Not the most visually attractive publication, future issues may benefit from limiting content in favor of a less crammed layout and less eye-straining type-size (parts are actually in 4-point type. I got out my pica pole and checked!)
Holly Davis, P.O. Box 190-abf, Philomath, OR 97370, USA
(a Dwan presentation)
Dwan, the famed queer poetry zine, is my partner's publication, so you can't trust me for an unbiased assessment. Doble Sentido, devoted to Donny's translations of work by the Argentinean poet Fabián O. Iriarte, features a beautiful cover and crisp, spare design, not to mention some mighty fine poetry, in both English and Spanish. See for yourself why reviews of Dwan consistently state "I don't like poetry, but I like this zine". $2 cash, usually (though recent issues have been $4; always free to prisoners)
Donny Smith, Box 411, Swarthmore PA 19081 USA; firstname.lastname@example.org
LOW HUG #7, $2, 38 PAGES
Laundry Basket: Tales of Washday Woe, $1, 32 pages
Speaking Phairly (Growing Up with the Music of Liz Phair) Revisited, $2, 32 pages
A.j. Michel, editrix of Low Hug, a "popular culture perzine", appears to have been enviably prolific recently. In her words, the mission of her primary zine project Low Hug is "to merge the personal and the popular" The latest issue features three poignant essays on the intersection of private life, the media, and the events of September 11, 2001. A.j. writes about what she was doing that day, her response to the media coverage, and the media she sought out for comfort. Jack Perisco finds parallels between his response to the terrorist attacks and the plight of Tom Joad in John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. Jason Pankoke relates how the events affected his day to day life as production manager of an alternative newspaper and assesses other media coverage. Roughly half this issue is also devoted to reviews of films, television, music, and zines.
Especially enjoyable is A.j.'s one-off Laundry Basket: Tales of Washday Woe, an enchanting mini containing 17 very short laundry-related anecdotes by a variety of contributors. Most revolve around trying to make the best out of the unpleasant chore of visiting Laundromats of dubious cleanliness and suspicious clientele. Romance, humor, dryer lint, loose buttons, defecating infants, panty-stealing pervs, and the race to get that last open machine can all be found herein. Almost as good as the tiny tales are the clever names of Laundromats from across the country that appear at the bottoms of several pages.
Also in mini-form, A.j. has updated and reprinted Speaking Phairly (Growing up with the Music Liz Phair). I don't know why so many of us enjoy both reading and writing a hybrid of autobiography and music criticism, but this is a good example of how the marriage is supposed to work. Now that I think about it, why am I imposing some separation between music and life? There's very little more powerful than music, and how it colors and reflects our day to day lives. Regardless of the fact that I just don't get everyone's reverence for Liz Phair (I know that she's liberating female sexuality and all, but I just can't get into the music), I found A.j.'s writing on the presence Phair's music in her life experiences astute, interesting and highly readable. And I'm not just giving it a positive review because A. j. cites an old issue of my zine Boys Who Wear Glasses as an inspiration. (It's gratifying to know that of the 8 or so people who ever read BWWG, at least a couple found some inspiration in it. Maybe A.j.'s even inspired me to get off my slug-ass and do a reprint, too!)
(As I was finishing these reviews, we received issue #8 of Low-Hug, which includes, among other things, a comparison of the comic, film and screenplay treatments of Daniel Clowes' Ghost World.)
All available from Low Hug Productions, ;PO Box 2574, Champaign IL 61825, USA ; email@example.com
#8, 24 pages
The special little treat accompanying issue 8, an actual baseball card in a tiny plastic sleeve stapled to the cover, relates to the lead-off article, "Getting Rid of Clutter." Sean discusses his life as a recovering pack-rat, outgrowing childhood collections, trying to simplify life and deciding what to do with all those old possessions (guess what he did with his baseball cards?) This issue also features an interview with Greig Means, zine librarian at the Independent Publishing Resource Center; "A Tribute to Columbia", written on the cusp of moving away; and "A Return to the Living", thoughts on finishing a master's degree in library science. Being in a relationship with someone who just finished getting an MLS, a lot of this sounds all too true, and really makes me think twice about my own plans to go back to school. Themes of growth and making home run through this issue, of finding one's place in the world and partaking in simple pleasures. Thoughtworm is an unpretentious perzine with a refreshingly friendly tone.
Sean Stewart, 1703 Southwest Pkwy, Wichita Falls, TX 76302 USA [new address]; www.thoughtworm.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
1800 Ocean Pkwy. #B-12, Brooklyn, NY 11223
Hey, kiddies, remember me? I usually write reviews for this zine. But guess what? The Post Office wouldn't let me send the review packet back to Davida using media mail - although that was exactly how she sent it to me - then managed to lose the whole thing, anyway! Hopefully, this mail adventure won't re-occur when it's time for the next issue and in the meanwhile, keep readin' those zines.
The following zines and reviews were lost in the mail (issue numbers unknown, but at least had a list of the zines, right?): TYPICAL STUDIES, MARKTIME, RETAIL WHORE, CORVUS, PASSIONS, and HIERONYMOUS BUSH.
c/o SLC Zine Library, 209 E 500 South, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
I work for the Salt Lake City Public Library where I spend most of my time ordering zines for our very cool zine collection. I like long walks in the moonlight and bad fiction. I am a working for a futile history degree that will be used to go to more school and someday write romance novels. I watch an enormous amount of soccer, especially of the English variety. For a good time email me email@example.com
True love is neither pretty nor full of fluffy hearts and kittens. Love is an uncomfortable feeling and a gradual acceptance of one's partner, warts and all. Fred Argoff loves his hometown, Brooklyn, in just that kind of way. He writes about the city of his heart with equal parts joy, exasperation, and complete understanding. My favorite part about this zine is that it made me want to write about my own hometown so that Fred and I could compare local dialects. I have never been to Brooklyn, but when I read this zine, it felt like home. It is unfortunate that for me Brooklyn will forever be associated with the knowledge that English soccer star David Beckham and his wife Posh Spice named their first son Brooklyn after the place he was conceived. I don't hold this against Fred, but I still can't quite get over it either.
Send a couple bucks to Fred Argoff, 1800 Ocean Parkway, #B-12, Brooklyn, NY 11223-3037
CHICAGO ABC ZINE #1
Ahh! Nothing gets the blood moving like a little injustice. This comprehensive zine argues that "incarceration is criminal" (p. 32) using an impressive lexicon of anarchist party lingo. I have read more then a few zines like it in my day, and while this one certainly ranks in my top ten favorite rants against the injustices of the American penal system, I had a few problems with it. One glaring issue is the solutions offered to replace prisons made me laugh so hard tears came to my eyes. The idea of asking Ted Bundy to try "non compulsory therapy"(p. 18) seemed a bit weak. Another pet peeve is stating statistics without citing them. There may be countries "where violent crime is almost non existent" (p.10) yet without any idea as to what those countries are, or what information that statement was based on, I can't accept it as true. There are some very moving stories and worthy causes highlighted in the zine, like the information about court kidnapping. The saving grace of this zine is the few times it forgets most of the political jargon and focuses on individual people.
Send $2.00 to South Chicago ABC Zine Distro, PO Box 721, Homewood, IL 60430; firstname.lastname@example.org
SCATOLOGICAL THINK CAP ("S.T.C.") #3
The moral of the story kids, is that realtors are evil and some things are too good to be true. This is the charming tale of Josh and Brittany's move into a tres cher home in Georgia for free and the ensuing disruption it caused to their lives. The move upsets their cats, their walks, and their sense of order in this mixed up world. The image of Josh defending the home from evil-doers with an alarm clock will stay with me for years to come. I highly suggest a voodoo doll for the evil villain of the story, played by Jenny the realtor. Anyway, I liked this zine.
Send some cash to Josh Bowron, PO Box 13085, Macon, GA 31208
How cool is this guy? Maybe I would be able to draw better stick figures if I had ever had an art teacher like John Mejias. Some of his comics are amusing and a delight to read, while others are heartbreaking and stark. An unfortunate incident involving a friend and co-worker leaves John feeling particularly torn apart. While the subject matter is sad, there is cathartic feeling that shines through in his work that allows the reader to feel a sense of hope by the end of the zine. Paping also includes the work of other comics, some of which I liked more then others. (That is the point of art, no?) The art installation in the middle showing a winged bug playing the piano and a bear with a gun in its mouth gave me nightmares, but the other comics were less disturbing and had more of a narrative quality to them. There is even a story about a three-legged cat, what more can you ask for? Send$3.00 to John Mejias, 60 St Marks, NY, NYC 10003; email@example.com
FOR THE CLERISY GOOD WORDS FOR READERS VOL. 9, #46 JUNE 2002
Any zine with a mission and a manifesto might expect some idiot reviewer to question the abundance of proclamations of purpose. I am no idiot and I am pretty sure that Brant could ninja kick my ass with a dictionary and some yoga. Mr. Kresovich is much smarter then I am and a lot more well read, but that doesn't mean that I don't aspire to be like him one day. This zine makes me want to give up my embarrassing reading habits and just read the things that he suggests, even though I know I never will. For the Clerisy reviews books, zines, and movies in an informed kind of way that made me feel like I was learning while having fun. This gives me added bonus points when showing off my increased intellect to people who know even less about literature then I do.
Send $2 or trade to For the Clerisy Good Words for Readers, PO Box 404, Getzville, NY 14068-0404, firstname.lastname@example.org
Thoughtworm is the type of zine I would love to make but never could. It is simple in design, complex in ideas, leaving the burden of entertainment to words alone. Sean has perfected the essay form in such a way that he can give the simplest of pleasures added depth and meaning. Issue #8 has a baseball card on the cover (this one has the Twins third baseman in 1979 Greg Gagne) and deals with letting go of collections, finishing library school, and an interview with Greig Means who runs the greatest zine library ever at the IPRC in Portland. I want to be just like Greig someday. I liked all the essays in this issue even if I didn't always agree with them. As a history major I would love to one day debate the importance of collecting a personal history and tactile memories versus freeing yourself from your possessions with Sean, but this isn't the place to spark a cross-reviewer debate. Send $2.00 to Sean Stewart, 1703 Southwest Pkwy, Wichita Falls, TX 76302 USA [new address], www.thoughtworm.com; email@example.com
PO Box 106, Danville, OH 43014
Shameless Self-Promotion: I do a zine called TWENTY-EIGHT PAGES LOVING BOUND WITH TWINE and I sometimes write about child-related things. If you'd like to read about our ideas on childrearing and my wife's pregnancy, or the birth of our son, Herbie (at home with a midwife) then order issues #2 and #3 of 28PLBwT respectively. There will also be more Herbie-related writings in #5 which should be out by the time this is in print. My fanzine costs $2 per issue or 3 for $5. Trades welcome.
ALTERNATIVE PARENTING PUBLICATIONS
Attention moms and dads! If you want to read stories and advice about parenting, you don't need to turn to those big fancy-pants glossy-covered parenting magazines. There are alternatives and here they are. I could have cared less about reading tales of babies and child-rearing until 16 months ago when my wife and I had our own little bundle-o-joy, now I can't get enough. Each of the following publications is a good read for parents or those expecting lil' ones. If you know someone who falls into either of those categories, a fun gift would be to write all these people and order them a big pile of parenting literature that'll be more fun and interesting than anything they could buy at Borders or Barnes & Noble. The only complaint I have is that none of these are written by guys. Am I the only guy out there who writes about his kids?
LONE STAR MA FALL 2001 & SPRING 2002
4-issue sub for $15 single issue ?$4?
Post Office Box 3096, Corpus Christi, TX 78463-3096
This "Magazine of Progressive Texas Parenting and Children's Issues" hails from the state I grew up in, Texas. Texas needs all of the "progressive" publications it can get. The Fall 2001 issue is the inaugural issue and Mariah Boone, a.k.a. Lone Star Ma, writes most of the articles, but the Spring 2002 issue has articles by a variety of folks. In her introduction to issue #1 Lone Star Ma writes, "Welcome to the inaugural issue of Lone Star Ma, the magazine of radical - excuse me, progressive - Texas parenting and children's issues. It far too often seems like we're living in the world of Big Oil and Gun-R-Us..." I know how she feels. My wife and I live in a very conservative, rural area and we're raising our son as a vegan, without TV, without vaccinations etc. Out here, breastfeeding is even seen as somewhat radical. But publications like this let "progressive" parents know that there are like-minded folks out there, somewhere.
This is a "reader written" publication and is looking for submissions. Although it occasionally focuses on Texas specific issues, most of the content should be of interest to parents who happen to reside in other, smaller states. Inside you'll find articles on breastfeeding, Montessori Schools, poetry, teen volunteerism, vegetarian recipes and more on breastfeeding. And both issues have a 1-page article by Tom Thomas, a.k.a. Lone Star Pa, so I guess I'm not the only guy who writes about kids.
THE FUTURE GENERATION: A ZINE FOR SUBCULTURE PARENTS, KIDS, FRIENDS & OTHERS #11/MAY 2002
China, Post Office Box 4803, Baltimore, MD 21211
The first issue TFG was put out in 1990 and this issue (#11) is the first new issue in three years. But that's what fanzines are all about. The first thing I noticed upon opening TFG # 11 were pictures of a group of six bikini-clad, tutu-wearing pregnant women all lined up in row with huge smiles on their faces. Upon reading the article I discovered that they're members of a pregnant synchronized swimming team! If that doesn't peak you're interest then you're just far too jaded. I love the thought of these moms-to-be floating on their backs~ bellies sticking out of the water, executing synchronized routines to cheesy music.
There are a few articles by contributing writers but my favorite part was by the editor, China. She writes about raising her "young teen". I'm guessing that means a 13 year-old. She has put aside a lot of her youthful idealism. Kids grow up and they aren't going to be what you tried to mold them to be. (Did you do what your parents wanted you to do with your life?) They grow up and have their own thoughts and ideas, and China writes about how she's dealing with this.
THE EAST VILLAGE INKY #13
$2 or $8 for a sub (no trades) Ayun Halliday, 122 Dean St., Brooklyn, NY 11201
This may be the most popular fanzine about parenting. TEVI is entirely handwritten with lots of little illustrations. The illustrations really make it a fun, easy read. The stories are all well written and interesting. It's a real page-turner. All the stories are personal tales from Ayun's life and most revolve around her two kids, Inky and Milo. This particular issue has a lot of September 11th content since Ayun is from New York and lives close enough to the World Trade Center that her husband saw them fall from the window in their apartment. But even the September 11th stories are purely personal stories with no dull, overdone political analysis. This is top notch fun to read, little light entertainment. If you want to read in depth features on parenting "issues" you'd best look elsewhere. But why would you want to read about boring issues when there's fun stuff like TEVI?
ZU-ZU & THE BABY CATCHER #1
Rhonda Baker, 2535 NE 46, Portland, OR 97213
This little fanzine looks suspiciously like The East Village Inky. It's small, handwritten and filled with little illustrations. She even acknowledges her debt to TEVI in a review of that publication: "It's probably obvious...or, maybe not...that I have been inspired mightily by Ayun Halliday, author of The Big Rumpus and that treasure of a zine, The East Village Inky." The format of both Z&TBC and TEVI (1/4 sized, handwritten with drawings) is a very simple and effective format and even though Rhonda is borrowing it from Ayun, it just works well for these types of stories.
Inside, there are plenty of fun, whimsical anecdotes about this and that. But along with the fun, Rhonda also writes about midwifery. There are plenty of illustrations throughout and although I must admit that I enjoy Ayun's writing more than Rhonda's, I do find that I prefer Rhonda's illustrations. And that's a sincere compliment because I really like Ayun's drawings. So if you enjoy TEVI, give this one a try.
MIRANDA #7 & #8
Kate Haas, 3510 Alder St., Portland, OR 97214
Of all of these parenting publications I feel most in sync with Miranda. Kate Hass writes stories that I can relate to. Most of the stories are about Simon, a.k.a. Mr. Baby. One of the things that makes me like Kate is that she is continually looking for little bits of time in which she can cram in a little reading. She bought her son a tea set (down with gender roles!) and he plays with it enraptured, for up to half an hour, just pouring the water from cup to cup. And during this time does she catch up on dishes or laundry? No! It's time to read! I'm the same way, I try to find something that will occupy my son for 10 minutes so I can sit down and read. Kate doesn't even own a TV! My wife and I gave our TV the old heave ho over a year ago. We did it partially because of our son. We didn't want him growing up spending countless sedentary hours in front of tube watching commercials and crappy kid shows. Kate was raised without TV as a kid and now lives a happy life as a TVless adult. It gives me hope that it's possible to raise or son without ever having a television in the house.
PUBLICATIONS THAT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH KIDS
ADULT RAMBLINGS #9 AND #? (MAY 2002)
$1 or trade (personal, lit or travel fanzines preferred)
Anastacia E. Zittel, Post Office Box 365, Douglas, MA 01516
It's stuff like this that keeps me reading perzines. The prose may not be that of truly great writer who has spent a lifetime perfecting her craft but it more than makes up for it in honesty and sincerity. Anastacia writes freely and openly about things that other folks would shy away from. She gives a very complete and moving account of a fight she had with her husband, Jon. There are so many personal details in this account that most people wouldn't want to publish it and although it left me cringing in spots because of the raw honesty, I was unable to stop turning the pages. There's a bit where Jon and Anastacia are fighting over who's stealing the blankets. It may be petty but it's so real - a kind of reality you don't often get outside of fanzines.
All of Anastacia's writing is personal and about her life. AR is all words- no pictures at all. I like it when a publication can stand on words alone and I enjoyed both issues of AR cover to cover. There are parts about her job (answering phones in a nursing home), her husband and her religion (paganism). There is a lot written about a long-time friendship, which is dying. Although this is the typical perzine subject matter, the most striking things are the little details that others would censor and not share, and that's makes AR stand out.
READ #20 SPRING '02
$4 $12/4 issue sub
READ magazine, Post Office Box 3437, Astoria, NY 11103
READ feels like it's put out by a bunch of friends having a good time and I like that. This issue has a theme of "Adrenaline & Crush" so there are lots of articles and stories about thrill seeking and puppy love crushes. There's an emphasis on geeky dorky nerd stuff like video game reviews, an interview with a porn star, Japanese anime and even an interview with the inventor of Dungeons and Dragons, Gary Gygax. While I have no interest in the first three geeky items, I loved reading the Gygax interview! Repressed memories of blissfully wasting away my adolescence playing RPGs (i.e. role playing games) came flooding back. They even ask Gary Gygax "Do you consider yourself the King of Nerds?" and he responds, "Nopers. I am just an avid gamer." But the nerdy, sex-starved bits can go a bit overboard like when the object of their misplaced, overabundant lust is animated, as when they ask an anime voice actor "which anime character have you had the biggest crush on?" But the absolute pinnacle of geekiness is when reviewing a video game called Final Fantasy X they write, "...Lulu the magic user is one luscious, gothed-out hottie with the biggest pair or [sic] mammalian projuberances [again sic] I've seen in a video game since Leisure Suit Larry. Man, I'd like to rub my Rod of Power between those magical orbs!" He goes on and even uses the phrase, "sweet pixilated ass".
And while I'm on the subject of geekiness, I should mention the band Rush. Somehow Rush and RPGs seem to go hand in hand. On page five is printed the following: "Warning: There is a Rush reference every 1.72 pages." I thought they were joking but as I read READ I was surprised and disturbed to indeed find a plethora of Rush references. I didn't count them and divide the result by the number of pages to check their figure. But I assume that they did count and that 1.72 is accurate, although it seems like Rush was on every single page. When interviewing the founder of a record label called BYO, they asked him what his favorite Rush album was and he replied "I can't stand Rush. I never understood the fascination of teenage boys' for skinny long-haired guys that look like girls singing with high voices..." To me, a healthy appreciation of Rush can only add to the charm of any publication. May I make a confession? I once went to Rush concert and I own 2 Rush albums, possibly 3. I kind of like Rush, Lord help me I do.
Overall, I find that the geeky goodness of READ more than makes up for its few flaws (please recall the "sweet pixilated ass").
Reading READ is like spending a long Saturday night with a group of your closest dorky friends, playing RPGs and video games, sippin' ice-cold Mr. Pibb, eating BBQ potato chips and listening to your favorite Rush album. My favorite Rush album is "Roll the Bones". I don't even mind it when in the title track, Rush indulges in a little white Canadian rap. I think I've revealed too much. Man, I'm looking forward to seeing another issue of READ.
224 Moraine St., Brockton MA 02301
Howdy folks. Well, I'm here once again. For the second issue in a row I am waiting to the very, very last minute to get these reviews done. Last night I actually had a dream about these damn reviews. In the dream Davida kept on sending me zines and I kept on reviewing them, but I couldn't keep up because she just kept on sending them. I took this as a sign that I'd better get these reviews done before I am driven insane. Though the dream wasn't nearly as bad as a few days earlier when I was literally making myself sick because my zine wasn't done yet...I think I need help. But help can wait. What's more important- my personal well-being or zine reviews? Exactly. So on with the reviews.
THE URBAN HERMITT #14
I know I reviewed UH here before, but a while ago it all of a sudden occurred to me that Urban Hermitt just may be my favorite zine in the whole world and if that doesn't warrant a second review I don't know what does. The last few issues have been about Sarah's travels to Hawaii, Australia, and Maui (is Maui part of Hawaii? I dunno...) and it's just great reading. Sarah tends to make big fat zines that take a while to read and that's a good thing. She also tends to put out these big fat zines on a regular basis, which is also a good thing.
Send $2 + postage or a fair trade to Sarah O' Donnell, 1122 E Pike #910, Seattle, WA 98122; Alienpeapod@yahoo.com
First of all, a round of applause for Elizabeth's first attempt at a zine. Yay and hooray. And I gotta tell you, for a first attempt at a zine it's pretty damn good. Hell, even for someone who's been at it for a while this is a damn good zine. I was quite surprised to see that Elizabeth was new at this because her zine has none of the trappings or roughness that first attempts at zines usually have. None of that "I'm clearly making this up as I go along because I just have no idea what I'm doing" quality most new zines have. Not that that's a bad quality to have in a new zine, but Elizabeth just seems confident a sure of what she's doing. This zine is mostly about Elizabeth's experience's playing fiddle on the NYC subway (or "busking" as we in the know like to call it) The busking journals are especially entertaining and amusing with her descriptions of various patrons, how much money they leave, various anecdotes, etc. It's great insight into something I'd never thought too much about. We've all seen people on street corners or in subways playing music, but have we ever actually thought about them? The few pages on her favorite Irish music are just sort of... there. But I've never been a big fan of reading about music I've never heard so take that with a grain of salt. Overall a very good zine and a great first issue. Send a buck or 2 (no price listed, but it's 40 half sized pages so use your best judgment) to Elizabeth Genco, PO Box 22722, Brooklyn, NY 11202-2722; firstname.lastname@example.org.
POWER TO EXPRESS PASSION VOL. 1 ISSUE 1
Hey, another first zine attempt. Another round of applause. First of all, one really weird thing about this zine is that is the fact that Kimberly only uses one side of the paper. Why? The only thing that makes any sense at all is that she couldn't afford to pay for 2 sided copies, but even then I'd think the money you're wasting on postage would make up for the money you'd have to spend on photocopies. Kinda weird. But still, there's something I really liked about this zine. The look is kinda rough, there are a few too many spelling errors/ typos, and all the pieces are pretty short. Still, I see a lot of heart in this zine. She obviously feels what she's writing and that counts for a lot. The pieces on her deceased father were especially moving, much better than the typical teen angsty material she also writes about. Sill, there's a lot of potential here and I'm curious to see how her writing and zine mature from here.
Send $1 and a stamp or trade to Kimberly 53768 Kingbird Ln., Center, MO 63436; www.geocities.com/kimmymay03.html
SHOT BY A RAY GUN #1
Man oh man, do I love Billy McKay's drawing style. I've never dropped acid (is that the proper term? I hate to try and use hipster drug lingo and then get it all wrong.) but I think that if I did the resulting world would end up looking a whole hell of a lot like Billy's drawings. Not that his drawings are psychedelic at all, they just have an LSD sort of look about them. This zine contains no story at all; just a series of drawings Billy drew on envelopes. If most people did this it would come across as a lazy way to get a zine done, but when Billy does it - it works.
Send $1 or a trade to Billy McKay, PO Box 542, N. Olmsted, OH 44070
FURRY TIMES #1
When I first saw the title of this zine I got a little nervous. See, a while back I saw this documentary type show on MTV about these people who refer to themselves as furries. Apparently what these people like to do more than anything is dress up in big furry animal costumes and engage in sexual relations with each other. Now far be it from me to pass judgment on anything anyone chooses to do in the privacy of their own bedroom, but I think having sex with a guy dressed as Snoopy is a little weird, though at least they were doing it doggie style. If you're gonna do that type of thing you may as well stay in character. Anyhow, I saw the title of this zine and thought to myself "Oh no. If this zine has just one mention of dressing up as a kitty cat and doing the nasty I am just gonna burn the bloody thing." So imagine my shock and pleasure when I opened up the zine and discovered that it was really just a cute and funny little zine edited by Melinda Smith's cat Lucky from a cat's POV. Included are an interview with Monica Lewinsky's cat Humberto, a piece on a vegetarian cat who teaches mice, and an interview with a trans-species dog. Cute, funny stuff. If you like cats you'll love it. If you don't... I dunno. Maybe you will, maybe you won't.
Send $1 or so to Melinda Smith 3037 Woodland Hills #35, Ann Arbor, MI 48108
ZEN AND THE ART OF SMALL CLAIMS
When I was a kid my favorite show in the world was the People's Court and my hero was Judge Wapner. It seemed that every case he had to deal with was pretty much black and white, at least in legal terms. If everyone was forthcoming and told the truth as they saw it (which is different from the absolute truth) ol' Judge Wapner would have an easy day. But then folks would get into these little half-truths and "forget" to mention certain details and start injecting all these shades of gray into a simple black and white situation. But the reason I loved the show was because Judge Wapner always would get to the bottom of things. Someone would always get caught in a little lie and he would lower the boom on these chumps. As an 8 year old I learned a lot about human nature from watching this show and most of it stays with me to this very day. None of this has much to do with the zine, but I felt the need to share. This zine is about Ben Livingston's attempts to sue "telemarketers, junk faxers and e mail spammers for fun and profit." Now I'm sure you're reading this and saying, "Holy crap, I didn't know you could do that!" Well, unless you live in Washington State you really can't. However, it's quite inspiring to read about Ben's attempts to take care of these pests. I admit, when I first started reading the zine my first thought was "Great, that's all we need, some self righteous twit with a bunch of nuisance lawsuits." but in reality the guy truly does care more about the fact that he and other people are getting being wronged legally than he does about his own personal gain. (Which is a good thing because he goes through a lot of trouble and doesn't get much in the way of money. Very interesting zine. Read it if only to see these telemarketer types at least get some of what they deserve.
Send $1 or 2 to Ben Livingston, PO Box 95227, Seattle, WA 98145; email@example.com; http://smallclaim.info
I gotta admit, when I first took a look at this zine and saw the newsprint and ads I thought "Crap. This zine is gonna suck." It looked just like a small scale version of the copy of Maximum Rock & Roll that Davida also sent me and MRR didn't exactly tickle my fancy (the most fun I had reading MRR was counting the ads to see how many of these punk bands use skulls in their logos. I lost count, but I'm not sure whether these bands are indulging in such a lame cliché to be ironic or if they just like skulls. Actually, some of the columns in MRR were good, but overall I found the whole zine to be pretty dull.) But I started reading and gave it chance and found that this zine was actually pretty damn good. No band interviews are a plus in my book. A piece by Christoph Meyer (28 Pages Lovingly Bound in Twine) on his favorite Russian novel was a pleasant surprise. Quite honestly, I have no idea what the piece even had to do with anything or why it was there, but it was fun to read so I can't complain. (In case you're wondering, his favorite Russian novel is The Brothers Karamazov, which is also DC comic's super hero the Blue Beetle's favorite book.) There's a short piece on punk teachers, which was interesting but way too short. Just when it started to get good it ended. The reviews are all informative and well written. My favorite part of the zine was Cultor, which is sort of Taylor's per zine within a zine. Quite good. Send $2ppd or trade to SOREzine c/o Taylor Ball, PO Box 68711, Va. Beach, VA 23471; SOREzine@aol.com
SUPREME NOTHING #12
This zine here is gonna get the short shift. I was gonna just try and toss it in at the end of the reviews, but I figure if this is gonna get the sort shift in terms of the written review I should at least give it decent placement. The reason this zine gets the short shift is because it's the last of the zine stack Davida sent me that I read and I read it right after finishing the new Fish with Legs so when I read it I was pretty zined out and certainly not in any mood to analyze anything. This is Denny's journal zine. Parts of it are funny, parts of it are sad, all of it is very well written. I remember Davida sent me a copy of this zine before to review and it was just too tiny. I have good eyesight (at least for reading) and I could barely read the damn thing. Happily, Denny has increased the size of her (?) zine and all I can say to that is "thanks."
Send $1 or a trade to Denny Lewalk, PO Box 211, Burton, OH 44021
BIGGER ISN'T BETTER
Another zine that is sort of a punk zine, but has enough stuff completely unrelated to punk to make it worth reading for anyone. First of all, we have interviews with the Muffs, the Vandals, Mr. T Experience and Bouncing Souls. If you are a fan of these bands you are happy right now. If you are not you will be happy to know that these interviews are short enough to skip over and amusing enough that if you do happen to read them it will not be a painful experience. There's a lot of material in here on a New Yorkers view of L.A. which is pretty interesting. The longest and my favorite piece is a "Travel Journal of Southeast Asia," which is sort of out of place, but good enough that you won't care that it's out of place. I also greatly enjoyed the water haikus, which should be a lesson for all you budding young zinesters out there- if you must include poetry in your zine please, stick to haikus. The only down part of the zine was the "Super Karaoke Girl" stories. I'm sure they're cute if your boyfriend is writing them and they're about you, but I just didn't dig it. Still, it's an overall good read. Send $2 to Bigger Isn't Better c/o Read Magazine, PO Box 3437, Astoria, NY 11103; firstname.lastname@example.org
Biff! Bam! Pow! Comics aren't just for kids anymore! I dunno, I just always wanted to write that. But these comics probably aren't for kids with all the boobies and willies and what not. This zine collects all (or most) of the comics featured in the 9 issues of Meniscus zine. It's always pretty funny to watch artist's styles develop as they go along- from the rough drawings of the early years to the somewhat slick style he'd later develop. Funny stuff and of you're not offended by drawings like a crucified Jesus wearing Gap jeans ("Jeans to Die For") I'd wholeheartedly recommend it.
Send $3 to Matt Fagan, 1573 N Milwaukee, PMB 464, Chicago, IL 60622 and while you're at it throw in another buck to order his mini comic Point of Purchase which is also good.
JUNIE IN GEORGIA #10
I really enjoyed this zine a lot, but by the time you read this review she might be off in Africa making any review I write or any mail you send to her in Georgia pretty useless. But this zine is a lot of fun with really cute, roughly drawn comics (bordering on badly drawn, but I'll be nice and call them roughly drawn) Good zine, but e-mail her before you send her anything because she might be in Africa.
$2 to Julie Dorn, 590 L Seminole Ave, NE, Atlanta, GA 30307; email@example.com
2000 NE 42nd Ave. #303, Portland, OR 97213
MY EVIL TWIN SISTER #4
Notta Lotta Love Stories
$5, 43 pages, paperback digest
By Amber Gayle; design and photos by Stacy Wakefield. Evil Twin Publications, PO Box 1318, Cooper Station, New York, NY 10276 or PO Box 1373, Jacksonville, OR 97530; firstname.lastname@example.org
After I read this, I wanted to ask Amber to marry me. Who else can write this beautifully? Why isn't she famous? Her honesty and perception - god, she must have knives on her eyes and skeleton keys hanging off her heart because otherwise I don't know how she fights so far into understanding situations, people, and herself. It's startling to come in contact with people like this, who make you feel you are a total stranger to yourself in comparison, and that you're only absorbing about 10% of your experiences. I only feel thus jealous and exasperated with myself when I'm reading books by geniuses. But also: hopeful and inspired.
How could I not envision Amber as this prince or pirate, rescuing the valuable conversations and soul-touchings and flirty sexy prizes we all live for, brining back the descriptions of them like treasures? Man, this is stuff that's hard enough to fathom in the abstract, let alone to identify this precise temperature of powerlessness and that exact shade of erotic, with words assigned to them so other people can feel those magic situations and remember. Miss. Want. Recognize. Amber, you cannot be from this planet! And you cannot ever stop writing! On my knees I say these things. I'm sorry to embarrass you, but I've become a fool.
Not a Lotta Love Stories is a group of stories/essays/memoirs - personal word-films? - about the men and women Amber has loved. She writes on the last page, "I think maybe my body likes to want, likes to love, likes what becomes familiar and good, metabolizes quickly and wants more." Isn't this you? Isn't it all of us? Doesn't that feel good to know, and to have someone say it perfectly for everyone? I'm not joking when I say that every sentence is like this. Weakness: "I ought to hate this boy, but if he pulled up right now I would give him everything and anything." Strength: "As easy as it might have been, as long as it might take, I was going to have to wait for something more." Weirdness: "So now I walk into some pub and there he is and we're vague acquaintances. Can you imagine? I would blush to describe the things we've done together, secrets, fights, the intensity of the intimacy we shared. But now we nod politely and sit at different tables. We have succeeded in becoming strangers all over again." Rationalization: "I will learn all the cool things that Gnat knows , like about the shapes of tree species and rocks and insects. I will be the smart one. Then there won't be any use for him anyway." Girls: "Or she'd bring me a gift or a flower and dare not look at me while I stood holding it, outrageously happy, struck dumb, smiling a smile she couldn't see because she was looking out the window." Curiosity: "I was afraid of the unspoken, unshareable world of Ben and everyone else who was polite and unapproachable."
Well, thank god for THAT. If we're all here on this earth to connect, screw those robots who won't tell one personal thing. Meanwhile me and Amber will be having coed slumber parties every night.
MY EVIL TWIN SISTER #1:
Greetings from the Endless Highway
$5 (a guess), 31 pages, digest
So time passed, and I thought maybe I should leave Amber alone, and I returned the ring and resigned myself to just loving her from afar. And I knew there was more Amber writing out there, but I was afraid to even look for it or read it because after I had, it would be over - nothing else to look forward to - and I wanted to savor the yearning for as long as I could. Of course, I was too rabid & impatient, and when I saw #1 at the zine store I grabbed it and took it home and read it as slowly/fast as I could.
This issue is about Amber trying to manage an American punk band on their tour through Europe, and again she brilliantly and gorgeously describes the delicate, complicated lines between her and the band members she hates, likes, and loves. More reasons to admire her: She doesn't fight, she debates; trying to sympathize with even the most ignorant and annoying people. She isn't guarded. She lets herself become attracted to people & places & situations - she wholeheartedly LOVES. These rare and important moments are sacred, and thank god Amber's immortalizing them. She's tough. She stands up for herself. She defends people and beliefs. Again: is Amber saint or human? Again: How can I live without her? If I had a million dollars, I'd pay her to write a page a day. Also: Scary / dreamy / emotional drawings by Stacy. They're twins! And that is quite enough fawning from me. Wait, one more! Listen for the sound of tinkerbells, and that will be me reading all the other issues.
REJECTED BAND NAMES #7
$2.00 or trade, 36 pages, digest
By Jerianne, PO Box 330156, Murfreesboro, TN 37133-0156; email@example.com
When you're consoling a friend who's lost a member of their immediate family, you never know, really, what to say or what might be too painful or tactless to ask, especially if you've never been in that situation. So mainly you don't say much, but you wonder a lot, guiltily, and you feel sick with sorrow, and the wall between you and your friend makes both of you distant.
Jerianne's sister dies last year, and in this issue she writes about the entire situation (compounded by other tragedies) with such strength and brave honesty that you marvel at her ability to employ sensitive and clear reporting when she's so close to the subject. She discusses her relationship with her sister and she gives practical advice: how to write a will. What to say and not say. I think Jerianne is amazing. People write in order to share and communicate, but rarely is it as touching and successfully documented as this.
"$1 or a trade or nice long letter from you," usually about 22 pages, digest
by Ellen Adams, 5025 Thacher Road, Ojai, CA 93023; firstname.lastname@example.org
Have you ever met someone really cool and smart and funny and not only that but WISE and INSPIRING, and you think, "Man, I hope I am like that one day" and them you find out they're like fifteen and you want to kick everybody's ass in the universe? I met Ellen last summer via email and we had a fabulous correspondence. What blew me away was her instant friendliness and sweetness - none of that playing-it-cool-to-be-on-the-safe-side crap, which I hate. AND she wrote long and frequent letters, AND they were usually so effortlessly smooth/colorful/intelligent that I started printing them out & saving them in an envelope to keep forever. And I'm not a saver! When she said something about school I assumed she meant college (already covetous of her young brilliance - I am 31); perhaps grad school - but not high school, for crying out loud! Not even a "gifted" program could do Ellen justice. She needs to be on a "Blazing Brain" track. When I was in high school I wrote a poem about how crying is like rain on a window, and I thought I that was pretty much genius.
Gumshoe Monkey is just like Ellen's great letters - chatty & insightful & earnest, which is so satisfying in contrast to all the bitterness and cynicism out there. Boys. Family. Friends. Advice. Questions. And dare I say, luminous spirit.
I'VE BEEN FORCED TO GET TO KNOW YOU AND PUKE STORIES
?$1.00, 18 pages, 10 pages, digest
By Kelly Froh, 1317 Boren Ave., #206, Seattle, WA 98101; email@example.com
So, my smart aleck friend. For all the times you've joked about placing an "I saw you" ad, how many times have you done it? Zero is my chicken total, too. Luckily Kelly did it, described it in her story comics, and left in all the cringy awkward parts so we can wince vicariously. Ooh! Ouch! Kelly, you got guts up the BUTT.
Also if vomit is one of your favorite topics, like it is mine, you will be thankful for Puke Stories, featuring more of Kelly's drawings (including accurate portrayals of childhood hairstyles).
THE URBAN HERMITT #9 (HAWAII), #11 (SOUTHERN OREGON)
$2.00 each, about 58 pages, digest
By Sarah O'Donnell, 1122 E. Pike #910, Seattle, WA 98122
Some people have fun with life, and some forget or never knew in the first place that fun exists. The Urban Hermitt will remind you that even when you are penniless or hungry or lost or cold or lonely, our foolish amusing crazy world still offers some job. And in case you never knew, the Hermitt Sarah has a language specialty matched to such descriptions, and can show the way. The joys of melancholy! Of freakish people! Of confusion! She's a traveler and reporter, camping in Hawaii and southern Oregon and more places I can't wait to read about. I feel a little scared reviewing her zines, my writing sounds so square and subdued in comparison, and she could with one deftly-crafted word zap me as the street-dumb person I am. Allow me to lure you instead with some examples: (2 hours go by while I look for good quotes and end up reveling in re-reading both issues I'll just pick a sentence without looking! Dang it!) "i dramatically whip off my boots and socks!! now that my feet are naked, i plop them up in the air and start lavishly singing folk music about "birds and redwood trees." for hunger, i bust out organic trail mix! this has to get the most gorgeous hippie girl's attention. As I keep vibing "look at me, i swear i'm down godammit!" i get no response. instead a perverse old man comes up to me and my EGO. he touches my stinky feet and yells "uh uh uh, better put your feet down naughty girl!" "rollin' thru the jungle sippin on mangoes and exotic fruit, with my tent on my tummy and my tummy on my mind rollin' thru the south pacific slummin' the good life sippin' on weirdness and yo's with my yo on my awe yeah and my awe on my yo " No one comes close to the one-of-a-kindness of The Urban Hermitt.
$1.50, let's say about 36 pages on average, various sizes
By Cindy, PO Box 1734, Asheville, NC 28802
So. Doris. Probably my favorite zine of all time, yet I've never reviewed it before. I am a scaredy-cat? I am a possessive brat who wants Doris all to myself. Yes and yes. Yes to more causes of paralysis, too.
Doris to me is like the paragon of zines. That's a strong word, but I almost said bible. The writing is about everything important: sex, secrets, epiphanies, cake recipes. It gets me so fired up. I've wanted to copy the style (those scratchy drawings! That choppy typewriting!) and content, I've wanted to BE in Doris, because it represents so much of what I want to do & say and don't do or say. It makes me think and feel. I have been moved, angered, comforted, contented, impressed, inspired, amused, hypnotized. I realize this is too generalized a review to be of much help if you've never read Doris. I have 4 or 5 issues; the latest one is #19. She calls it The ABC's because she wanted to talk about one topic per letter of the alphabet, but there were so many that she limited herself to the first 3 letters - "Next, I guess, will be DEFG. It'll be the Doris encyclopedia set." Some of the topics in here: anarchy, abortion, boats, boogers, books, bugs, Caty's farm. In #17 there is a short story called "Ice Cream" that is one of the best short stories I've ever read, with my persnickety jaded eyes. Other issues have writing about dreams, breakups, crazy & smart adventures, the importance of women, things hard to admit and beautifully confessed, things passionately researched and helpfully reported. Doris is another zine that has to speak for itself, because I CANNOT!: "In Chattanooga there's Mick's diner, where they're always out of biscuits and gravy and the waitresses call you sweetheart and the sky is always gray when you're looking out the window and you can sit there for hours watching the traffic jam on 124." (that was from "Places that make places make sense.") Or how about this, from "Ithaca": "and not only that but I was going to meet the artists and activists and do everything I've ever wanted to do. Fucking study and paint and be friendly with who the hell knows I was going to have sinks in my room full of goldfish and people were gonna start doing fanzines and they weren't gonna suck and we'd all pile in the truck and go to NYC or Massachusetts and tear up town after town." And this is from "One time 2 Times": "One time year ago, I ran away to Miami, drove down there chasing a boy I liked to kiss, liked to like, liked to be near and hear his voice. We had promised each other never to talk about anything important, and he would drag me into the bathroom at parties, into the bathtub, too drunk to even undo one button. He had that way about him, you felt blessed, picked out, when he gave his attention to you. He was the drunkest, the worst one around, celebrating it, relishing it." I think maybe you now see what I mean.
PO Box 2235, Fredericksburg, TX 78624
Hi, everybody; nice to see you, glad you could make it. For those who don't know me, some of the things I publish now and again are: POOPSHEET JR., the no-frills version of the POOPSHEET info/review zine/website; I AM WHAT I AM, a journal/personalzine; and my latest, THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT!, a full-color mini-zine of dirty poetry and perverse humor by yours truly.
I'd like to encourage you all to post your zine (and other indy media-related) news at the Poopsheet News site: http://azure.bbboy.net/poopsheetnews
Many thanks to Davida for (1) publishing the mighty Xerography Debt, and (2) allowing me to contribute.
ALL ABOUT FUCKIN' #8
(36pp digest from Josh Simmons; firstname.lastname@example.org)
All About Fuckin' is, well, all about fuckin'. The title is surely a testament to truth in advertising. I wouldn't exactly call it porn (well, not good porn, anyway), but all things sexually grotesque (or grotesquely sexual, if you prefer) are certainly on the menu. Contributors include Simmons himself (his cover is beautiful), Marc van Elburg, Bruno Nadalin, sub-zero permafrost, Haley Lou Haden, Claudio Parentela and others. And if you think the project sounds reprehensible thus far, get this: Thirteen pages are devoted to a fumetti (photo comic) featuring two lovely ladies getting it on with a cartoon character straight outta the '30s (courtesy of Simmons' pen, of course). This zine is beautiful. Get it while you can.
CINEMA SEWER #9
(44pp digest w/ color cover, $4.00 from Robin Bougie / #320-440 East 5th Ave. / Vancouver, BC / V5T-1N5 / CANADA) Cinema Sewer is definitely one of the best film zines I've ever read. Published and mostly written by cartoonist Robin Bougie (Deviant), the issues are handwritten (legibly) and littered with great illustrations and cartoons by Bougie (as well as Rebecca Dart). Under a beautiful color cover by Dart are 44 pages of attitude, expertise and humor. Features include: suicides on TV, an interview with director Jack Hill (Spider Baby), an overview of Hill's work, racial overtones from the 2002 Oscars, Mario Bava's Rabid Dogs, exploitation kung fu flicks, favorite war films, a rant about Hong Kong DVD/VCD cover art and Well, you get the picture. There's lots more, but my hand is cramping. #10 is also out now and #11 will be soon. Check Tower Records and if they don't have it, stick some dough in an envelope pronto! Highly recommended.
(52pp digest w/ color covers, $3.50 - plus post., I'd imagine - from Meat Haus Press / 184 Kent Ave., Apt. 322 / Brooklyn, NY / 11211 USA; email@example.com) Gardenhead is the latest from Dash Shaw and is an examination of gender identity and roles. It's really quite beautiful and sad and expertly done. This is the first work by Shaw that I've read (although I'd heard good things about his Love Eats Brains! series) and I'm now a fan. Gardenhead will make you think. In fact, Shaw forces the reader to think in order to get through the thing with some understanding. As artists, or otherwise "thinking" people, I think most of us can relate to the issues of gender that Shaw addresses and the ludicrousness that often surrounds them. In other words, get this; I think you'll be glad you did.
(16pp mini-comic from Sean Bieri / 12033 Lumpkin / Hamtramck, MI / 48212 USA; firstname.lastname@example.org) Sean Bieri is one of the funniest people in comics and his cartooning ability is something to be envied. This particular issue is a little more "family-friendly" than most due to some of the content being strips originally done for a local paper, but the quality certainly remains. These comics are funny, charming and sometimes even, yes, cute. Trust me, though; you won't regret ordering it (ask about back issues). Sean also has available Jape's polar opposite in Judith, an adaptation of the biblical story with striking illustrations and hand-printed pages.
SNAKE PIT ANTHOLOGY #2
(108pp digest, $3.00 from Ben / 2100 Guadalupe #138 / Austin, TX / 78705 USA; email@example.com)
Every day of his life, Ben draws a three-panel diary comic. He then collects bunches into zines that he publishes throughout the year. Then at the end of the year, he collects all of those into the annual, which is what this is. Ben works a lot, drinks a lot and gets high a lot. Fortunately for the reader, he also has other stuff going on such as roadie-ing for Those Peabodys, playing in his own bands, falling in and out of love, traveling, etc. Fun stuff.
1573 N Milwaukee Ave, PMB #464, Chicago, IL 60622
It's so nice to see this whole big Xerography Debt family back together again. I think I see a few new faces out there, so let me introduce myself. Hello, I'm Matt. I'm the scruffy one in the back that didn't shower this morning, and obviously ran out of the house without changing the clothes he'd been painting in all day, and probably slept in them too.
When I'm not reading zines for XD as a thinly-disguised excuse to read zines just for fun, I do my own, MENISCUS. It's the scruffy zine in the back, with the bad attitude and caustic humor and frequent lapses of good taste. But you don't want to hear about my zine (unless one of the other fine reviewers is writing about it). You want to hear about what everybody else is doing. And they're doing a lot, so let's get on with it!
PLATFORM Issue #1
digest sized, 40pp, no listed price
P.O. Box 22722, Brooklyn, NY 11202
This is exactly what a great zine is able to do: come out of left field with a topic that I had no interest in, engage me completely, and make me want to know more. The power of the underground press is that anyone, out there doing something interesting with her life, can create a fascinating chronicle of her work and share it with the rest of us.
In her introduction, Elizabeth Genco writes that Platform will be her "love letter to Irish music and New York City", and for my money there is no better impetus for starting a zine than to be boiling over with passion. She is a fiddler who developed a deep interest in Irish music when she moved to New York eight years ago, and recently has begun taking steps to overcome her stage fright. These efforts have manifested a personal and social experiment in the form of "busking".
To busk, she defines on the first page, is "to play music or perform entertainment in a public place, usually while soliciting money". Elizabeth felt that busking on New York subway platforms would provide a sense of enclosure combined with exposure, and the safety of a constantly rotating audience that probably wasn't listening too critically. Throughout the first issue of Platform she gives us daily journals of her busking experience, broken into segments: date, time, and location; the "take", in dollars and cents; favorite patrons; least favorite (or creepiest, or weirdest) patrons; and summaries of the whole performance. Elizabeth does a good job playing social scientist, turning her experience (which is not always a comfortable one for her) into an entertaining and consistently thoughtful look at the social dynamics of busking.
Besides these journals, Elizabeth includes stories about her background in music and glimpses of the life she leads outside of the subways, lots of information about Irish music and why it holds particular sway with her, and places to go to hear great live Irish music in New York. The whole thing got me interested, and whenever I read the title of one of her favorite songs I wished I knew what it sounded like. Luckily, she provided some information about distributors and albums that can help me out with that.
Overall, Platform is an exciting first effort, and I hope she keeps it up. This zine represents a journey for her, and you can see so much progress taking place already in her first issue that I eagerly await the second. I don't know how much she wants for a copy, but throw a couple of bucks in her violin case and check it out. Be generous.
PAPING Issue #5
Half legal size, $2
60 St. Mark's Place #4, NYC 10003
The theme of this collection of comics is "life lessons". With varying degrees of pathos and humor, the nine stories in this issue present lessons that everybody faces at one time or another - well, mostly. Not everybody faces the Apache Manhood Test, but I think you'll a find a way to relate.
I liked this zine, and I'm not exactly sure why. None of the comics was especially proficient, though a couple do stand out. Some of the stories were muddled or hard to read. But I think what stays with me is that there was a lot of ambition and charm to them, and most of the authors went with their strengths. If they were not the best artist, then they took more care with the authorship, and vice versa, you know? I was sometimes moved, and never bored, and it made me wonder what else these people have done that I haven't read. If you like underground comics, not for the discovery of some untapped savant cartoon talent but for the raw honesty that can be found on the margins, then I suggest picking up a copy.
FUN WITH ZOMBIES
quarter size, no listed price
12033 Lumpkin, Hamtramck, MI 48212
This is a wee 8-page riff on one of my very favorite subjects: the living dead! Here you'll find an instructional page on how to draw zombies (as you'll see, it's deceptively simple), a "know your zombies" guide to some big names among the deceased, and a couple of truly inspired cartoons. Send some stamps or a trade or some damn thing and get your lousy warm-blooded hands on this, and remember: "Zombies were people too!"
digest size 8pp, no listed price or anything else
What a wealth of comics Davida has sent to me this round! Here we have a short, playful story about a bodyguard in the year 3000, protecting a lady from a tentacled freak. It's very fast, funny, and all rendered in that crisp, twisted-woodcut style of Billy's. If you haven't seen his work before (come on, you've at least seen the drawings in Xerography Debt, right?) you gotta give this a try. This comic has no contact information on it, but I bet you can find it somewhere in this issue of Xerography Debt (ed. - P.O. Box 542 N. Olmstead, OH 44070).
According to the date on the front, this story is two years old. Dare I hope that there is a sequel?
GET BenT! Issue #9
Spring 2002, digest size, 24 pp., $3
Ben T. Steckler
PO Box 7273 York, PA 17404
The new issue is dominated by "A Fay Zone Leah", the first installment of a story about a deformed man with a speech impediment, written in the main character's phonetic vernacular. Not an easy sell, to say the least, but it won me over, and when Ben followed it with another comic that explained the real-life origin of the story I liked it even more. The narrative that he begins in Get BenT! #9 has interesting promise. And the background about the man in Ben's childhood neighborhood, how his appearance scared the kids but his time was devoted to these very charitable acts, was extremely poignant. The issue is capped off with some palindrome panel cartoons that I really enjoyed - but then, I've always been more into palindromes than hydrocephalus.
INFILTRATION Issue #18
digest size, 28 pp., $1
PO Box 13, Station E, Toronto, ON, M6H 4E1; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.infiltration.org
I've read this zine on and off for a few years, and if any of you haven't run across it before you're in for a real treat. Infiltration is "the zine about going places you're not supposed to go", written by an intrepid staff of urban explorers. From tunnels to highrises, from ships to factories, this zine dares to ignore the warnings, the signs, and the closed doors, to go beyond the public arena and bring you the secret spaces that exist within our modern cities. After six years of publication, Infiltration has developed a certain notoriety, attracting attention especially in Toronto, their base of operations. Our gracious host (code name: Ninjalicious) is something of a wanted man, but his actual identity still remains a closely guarded secret. Security in his favorite haunts has been increased. But worst of all, more and more completely unqualified would-be explorers have abused the information that Infiltration has brought to the public. Heedless of Ninjalicious' countless warnings about the dangers of tackling big projects without proper experience, these folks get caught or get hurt, which brings negative attention down on the whole Infiltration organization.
This issue revisits some of the classic locations explored in the past, documenting the way that things have changed. He reflects on the way that his zine has helped to effect those changes, and on the current state of urban infiltration as a hobby or sport.
Throughout, we also get to peek into plenty of off-limits areas. If Infiltration is something you've read before, this issue will be a fun flashback for you. But if you haven't, this is still a great place to start.
Homoeroticon presents: WEIRD QUEER FANTASY
16 pp, digest size, price: one stamp
Bobby Tran Dale
7932 Winthorpe St., Oakland, CA 94605
From the poison pen of Bobby Tran Dale comes this sampling of the wealth that is Homoeroticon. As you might guess from that name, Bobby's zine is definitely an adults-only affair, a fetishistically queer comic extravaganza that is often deeply rooted in the horror of old EC comics. This little zine presents the story "Corrective Measures", from Homoeroticon's "Haunt of Queers" issue. It's a bleak, alternate-future tale about a fascist homosexual police state, a rubber-and-gas-mask fantasy of nazi queers and public torture, straight out of the back room of the video store where I work. No, it isn't for all tastes, but you don't have to be into SMBD to enjoy the dark, overblown theatrics of these stories. If you've ever been curious about Homoeroticon, this sample is the perfect chance to see what you might be getting yourself into.
TURBOCHARGED FORTUNE COOKIE Issue #1
May, Year of the Horse
digest sized, 40 pp., $3
329 Bellair Dr., Cocoa, FL 32922
What we have here is an upstart little literary magazine which, like so many upstart little literary magazines, is attempting to push the envelope and break down some boundaries.
This always heralds a penchant for what the literati call "experimental fiction". Unfortunately, that usually means that they publish the sloppy, disorganized ramblings of their friends from school. I always approach these things with trepidation, and my fears were definitely not soothed by the misspelling of "Turbocharged" on their own cover. I know, I know, in the DIY world this should be no more than a charming mishap. But I'm judgmental that way, and I opened TFC expecting to see pretentious doggerel, thrown together by somebody desperate to see their own name in print.
So imagine my pleasant surprise when I found myself in the presence of some experimental fiction that actually has something to say, and straightforward stories that come from a real live, beating human heart. The folks behind Turbocharged Fortune Cookie aren't just some kids who decided to be writers; they are clearly people who love writing, who love words, and revere the power of the mighty pen.
TFC also has poetry (or things that verge on poetry), and an interview with author Patricia McKillip. This zine is well worth the cost of admission, so help them keep it up!
Seriously, to the good people behind this zine, I'm sorry if I sounded like I was coming down on you. I'm plenty guilty of lazy proofreading. It's just that, the zine is arranged so attractively, I feel that you're aiming for a certain amount of legitimacy. And if you misspell your own name, people probably won't take you so seriously. Yes, I may be harsh, and I know you didn't mean to do it. But the world is not a forgiving place, and I want you to succeed, so I can't sugar coat this. It's like when a friend of mine who had a degree in journalism, applying for a publication job, handed in a resume that said her BA was in "juornalism". She may be a fine journalist, perhaps even the best candidate for the job, but it would be hard to convince them with that resume.
See what I mean? I only have your best interest at heart.
I'm glad we could have this little talk.
letter-size paper folded the long way
$1? $2? Send something right now!
Points north: c/o Corina Fastwolf
PO Box 300152, Minneapolis, MN 55403
Points south: c/o Phlox
1174 Briarcliff, ste 2, Atlanta, GA 30306
Everybody likes candy, even if they don't want to! Sugar Needle is the ultimate candy zine, packed full of reviews, philosophy and jubilant celebration revolving around the best (and worst, and most unusual) confections. Besides the wonderful items they find at dime stores and obscure grocers, folks around the world send them the bizarre little nummies that make Sugar Needle into something like the Beer Frame of sweets.
In the double-issue #19-20, they cover everything from Chocomilk Drops (chocolate dog treats), a variety of intriguingly named candy cigarettes, strange Asian treats that involve shrimp and seaweed, and Opal! This last candy, Opal, is one that I sampled myself when in Iceland, and the ingredients include chloroform. Sounds weird, I know, but I actually thought they were really good. I saw and tasted three varieties, but the best were the ones in the blue box. Very much like licorice-flavored Jujubes that somehow left your mouth all hummy.
There is also an interesting article on candy "rework", the process of taking leftover bits from the manufacturing process and turning them into a new product of their own. Inspired by the new "3 Musketeers" product which is essentially like flat chocolate taffy (which they guess was just some candy bars run over by a truck), they come up with some imaginary reworks of their own. Edible riot bullets made from Boston Baked Beans? Hilarious! Send cash or trade to check this zine out for yourself!
PROOF I EXIST Issue #2
digest-size, 36 pp., $1
The Minneapolis Issue
Billy, 1357 W. Augusta #1, Chicago IL 60622
The stories in this issue are close to my heart, and not just because I kind of know Billy and admire him for starting up the local Loop Distro of his own volition. These stories are largely about First Times: Minneapolis is the first place he went when he left home, the stories take place in the first place he lived, and that house was filled with all those first-time people. The first gay guy he ever really knew. The first black guy he ever really knew. Proof I Exist is a celebration of all the early experiences that help define ourselves once we have broken away from the people who try to do it for us.
Accordingly, reading this issue teleported me back to my freshman year of college and all those things that are, objectively, a little mundane. But at the time they were the most amazing, subversive, wild events I could have hoped for, and they will always be a big part of who I have become. Billy tells the stories in a way that does more than simply evoke nostalgia; I felt really involved, and carried away, just like when I was a wide eyed, 18-year old hillbilly, off at college in the big city.
Billy introduces us to the revolving cast of characters in his Twin Cities life, then lets loose with the hair dye parties, the almost spontaneous art events, the effects of Wal-Mart on a human boy, and the tragic death of a pet eel. He includes a bizarre confession about stealing socks from other people's laundry and then trying to figure out what to do with them. Billy does a great job of taking us along for the ride as he makes friends, learns a little about himself, and then has to deal with leaving it behind.
In perfect keeping with the title, Proof I Exist is a testament to a period in time that Billy wants to preserve forever. Each of the ensemble in the Minneapolis issue will have moved on to something else too, but here in these pages, these moments will always be just as they were.
GENDER-BENDING IMAGES AND VOICES in Art, History, Music and Culture
280 Durham Pt. Rd., Durham, NH 03824
Yes, that is the title as it appears on the cover, and it sounds like somebody's thesis. Indeed, the zine itself seems to be little more than Nicki's reading list for a thesis, and I suspect its creation served as a way for her to organize her thoughts on the title subject.
(To avoid having to write out that title again, I will henceforth refer to the zine as "Jennifer") Jennifer consists of excerpts from a number of scholarly and autobiographical texts on subjects such as Stonewall, butch-femme, drag and gender bending. She has information about queer music, drag identity, and a timeline of important events in transsexual history.
Frankly, I wasn't really sure what to think of Jennifer; some of the articles were interesting, and I sometimes wished I could read the whole thing. But it was just bits and pieces, and didn't seem to really amount to anything. Jennifer was probably more useful to Nicki than it would be to anyone else, but since it reprints sections from some pretty good sources, at least it makes for an engaging read. If you have a particular interest in gender-bending, though, this might give you some idea of the history, and of the resources available.
OK COMMUTER Issue #4
John Solo c/o OK Commuter
99 Park Ave. #361-A, New York, NY 10016
Here's the second zine in this set of reviews to focus on the New York City subways. Unlike Platform, though, OKC parks its ass on the train, rather than sticking to the platforms.
I discovered this little gem a few months ago when I was doing some work at the Zine Guide headquarters, and the second and third issues appeared in the stack I was cataloguing. Unlike most of the zines, which really just required having all the pertinent information entered, I was compelled to read each of these from cover to cover, and then maybe once or twice again.
The premise is this: author JJ Solo is a big gay punk, but spends his life in corporate disguise, slaving away in some NYC office where he performs ill-defined tasks for monetary compensation (and the privilege of stealing office supplies). He gets to this job on the train, and the zine in question was born out of the commuting experience. JJ is an urban anthropologist who never stops thinking about what is going on around him, analyzing the effects that his fellow commuters ("co-muters") have upon each other, the effects he has upon them, the social dynamics of misbehavior in an urban setting with clearly-defined parameters, and the creation of a lengthy glossary of his own terms for these people and their activities. Reading OKC enlivens the misanthropologist within me, and makes it all tingly. You want to feel a tingly misanthropologist inside you? Well then you just better get yourself a copy of OK Commuter!
In this fourth, supersized issue, JJ breaks from the commuter-centric format of the previous two I read, increasing his scope to include other daily experiences, but never wavering from his critical view of himself and his surroundings. Offering up advice on efficient commuting, kernels of wisdom reached on the train, seatmate reviews, competitive Scrabble-playing, and "A Complete History of My Ass", JJ has fashioned another smart and savvy document of life as a high self-monitor. This zine comes highly recommended!
COMIXVILLE Issue #3
quarter-sized, 24 pp., price: a stamp!
PO Box 697, Portland, OR 97207
This is a handy resource and darn cute, too. "A Quick, Little Guide to Self-Published Comics", Comixville devotes each page to one self-published comic, arranged alphabetically. It's more like an informative brochure than a review zine. They reproduce one page from each listed comic, along with contact and price information, and a brief (fairly noncritical) description. Since last spring, they've adhered to a self-imposed quarterly publication schedule, and they only list comics that were made in the past year. So Comixville is a useful, up-to-date way to see some of the stuff going on in the world of underground comics. Send them a stamp to keep on top of things, and if you have a comic, send them that too.
Bobby Tran Dale
7932 Winthrope St., Oakland, CA 94605
Woohoo! It gives me great pleasure to chop it up this time around about comix, comix and nuthin' but more damn comix. The following publications are by creators who are obviously putting some change into their work and are more than deserving, from this reviewer's eye at least, of some good words and some hen pecking of my keyboards (and trust, I hen-peck these keys, people!). And now, I humbly present for your perusal...
JACK AND LUCKY #1 "Forlorn Soul"
24-pages b/w, 6 5/8" x 10 1/4"
$3 ($2 for book + $1 for postage/handling) to: Anthony Hon, 245 2nd Avenue #2, San Francisco, CA 94118 Check/money order payable to Anthony Hon. Paypal payments accepted.
The Joint: You're going to need to take a stop over at Hon's website to really see the range of work that this guy is capable of. When I finished reading JAL #1, I went over to get ordering info for this issue to place in this review (for it WASN'T PRINTED INSIDE THE ISSUE ITSELF *ahem!*), then was quite surprised to see that not only does Hon knock out comix like he's just moonlighting in zines as a pasttime in between his *real* job at some *real* comic book company, but he's also pretty damn accomplished fine artist. But this review is about JAL #1. This joint follows Jack, your typical bohemian type with a giant cat-thing named Lucky for a pet and I suppose, roommate (I suppose when your cat is a bipedal and larger than you, it becomes your roommate, no?). Jack can't seem to make it with the chicks, and time after time he strikes out, succumbing even to such depths as watching virtual porn with cat-pet-thing-roommate, Lucky. Finally, Jack stumbles upon the brilliant idea to go trudging into the park with Lucky in hopes that his monster pussy will be a magnet to the same...err...well. So what hijinx follows? As usual, you'll need to find out for yourself, dear readers.According to the liner notes in the back cover, this is Hon's first comic book excursion. That said, I hafta admit, by looking at this production overall, I want to think that this is just some sick little joke that he's playing on everybody. It would seem for a creator's first time out that there would be a lot of flaws that were indicative of such fledgling activity. I honestly can't find anything to gripe about. JACK AND LUCKY is humorous and engaging in its story, sequentially it flows quite well, the illustrations are just expertly rendered and just feels like a total pro product that could hold guns against many of the established alternative comix that are available. But if we're to believe that this is a maiden voyage, I say more power to you, may you keep on sailing for quite awhile...just put some ordering info inside your comix!
TITILLATING TALES #2
Wahab Algarmi and Sherwin Viray
30pp, 8.5x7, (Price?)
Email for ordering info: email@example.com
The title to this comix compilation is rather misleading. Nothing remotely steamy, but rather a fairly compelling auto-bio tale of a tight knit group of friends who set up one of their unwitting homies for the disintegration of his relationship with his girlfriend. Although I have only seen this issue which presents the second part of this particular story, "Where Balloons Go To Die", this chapter still holds its own pretty well to this casual observer. Wahab Algarmi chronicles friend Sherwin Viray's recovery from an accident. During Viray's recovery, his girlfriend Yen drops a semester of school to assist in looking after him and in the process, their relationship grows even closer than before and begins to encroach upon the relationship between Viray and his pals. Let the backstabbing begin. What follows is a quick but calculated study on how to fuck up someone else's relationship and trust with an ending that ensures that there ain't gonna be any backpeddling for anyone. It's a "to be continued" piece that really did leave me wondering what would transpire next. Wahab inks this story with embellishments by Viray, though I'm not at first glance able to tell who did what, which is a good thing that the merger be so seamless. At times Wahab feels a little shaky in spots with his inking/panel composition but quite often throughout the piece brought to mind a little bit of Alex Toth in the thick line work and noire-ish feel. That is of course, if you can imagine Alex Toth if he had ever done an alternative, Berkeley based comic. What might appear to be yet another comic about superficial personal drama quickly reveals itself to be one of substance. The inks were complimentary to the equally good story. The lines are all chunky, angular. Everything just feels just a little off and fucked up in this strip, and if you read the piece you can see for yourself why it all seems to work together, as it should.
QUAGGA (Ugly Tales) #3
$2.00 (Quagga #1,2 $2.00 each), 30pp digest size
Trevor Alixopulos, PO Box 524, Fulton, CA 95439; firstname.lastname@example.org www.alixopulos.com
In QUAGGA #3, Trevor Alixopulos presents an enjoyable medley of comix work that gets almost cerebral with its kinda-sorta autobiographical observations, in "Stays Cruddy In Milk", to an obsessively detailed account of the life of blues singer Kid Thomas. I'd have to say, under normal circumstances, I'd probably not give a toot about a piece such as "Kid Thomas". But as credit to Alixopulos's writing, the encapsulation was scripted well with just enough tidbits to make the piece interesting and quite easy to swallow. Think "Big Book Of..." type of strip. The strongest piece this issue was "Stays Cruddy In Milk". Supposedly this started as an auto-bio sojourn meant as a submission to the autobio anthology "NOT MY SMALL DIARY" but ended up here instead as a now mostly fictional narrative. Regardless, it is strewn with those little daily profundities that we think to ourselves as we move about in our funks as well as humorous quips that read like scary small press fortune cookies: "...trying to succeed in minicomics is like trying to succeed in failure." and ""I might as well be photocopying my ass and mailing it to random names in the phone book." Amen. You just testify there, m'bruthuh, I think we can all relate those words. Narratively, QUAGGA is pretty densely packed and is a pretty good read for 2 bucks, I can hardly complain. Alixopulos's strength is in his writing. The linguistics professor in him is just lurking under the surface waiting to burst completely into his comix work and jack all of us ghetto folks up with verbal wit, and syntax complexities. The only thing is, the writing overshadows his illustrations to the point that it might be considered glaring to some. In my humble opinion, there's too much overall content here to foolishly dismiss the artwork outright. Instead I'd suggest Alixopulos focus and brush up on his confidence with his apparent, existing inking style. It doesn't quite feel like it's coming from his gut, but it appears it could be headed there. Because of that, QUAGGA #3 gets one of those smiley face emoticon thingamajiggerz.
WONDERELLA CATALOG OF PAMPHLETS
18pp, digest. FREE by request.
Wonderella Printed, 1204 Neilson Street, Berkeley, CA 94706; email@example.com; www.wonderella.com
Retailer? Phone: 510-558-7448
Let me preface what is about to be a lame ass "review" by saying that I'd met the publisher of these fine "pamphlets", Clint Marsh, at a lil' get together just recently. And I hafta say that he didn't make me feel like the near stupidass that I felt in trying to read thru, for example, the heady THE NATURE OF AETHER pamphlet that is offered within this extensive catalog of zinely goods. Since this particular review was squeezed in at the last minute, I didn't have the time to research this really cool line of products as I'd have liked.
In 'THE NATURE OF..., we are treated to "A Course of Study for Aspiring Mentalists". Just that line paired with the title should let you know what kind of text and content you are in for, folks. It's definitely not an easy read for Ebonics scholars such as myself, so be warned. If you're not used to using your brain to think, this will hurt you. Luckily, Marsh has seen fit to include some cool illos by Jeff Hoke to snare us picture whores into continuing our "studies". This title as well as the catalog, in fact the whole line of products has that old Almanac, even that Penny Dreadful type of retro feel to them. The art is funky, derived from what appears to be old woodcuts and provides a great effect for the aesthetically inclined. Titles such as GOBLINPROOFING ONE'S CHICKEN COOP give those of lesser literary skill some respite from the deeper topics without ever once stooping to a storybook level (while still giving invaluable advice on Goblinproofing that problematic chicken coop you'd always wondered about, dammit!). I've included this because, these don't quite rank as traditional zines, or at least like most of the ones that I've seen here, and are worth a peek. Hell, the catalog is FREE and a website visit is FREE, so check 'em out and decide for yourself!
Mini, 60pp, $3.00
Sean Bieri, 12033 Lumpkin, Hamtramk, MI 48212; firstname.lastname@example.org
How cool is this? It's quite cool. This is a fat mini (oxymoron alert!) collection of Bieri's work "One full decade in the making!" and represents his mini-comics Fix, Jape and 5 O'clock Shadow. Works for me. Inside there are a bunch of comix worth a simple chuckle to those that'll make ya laugh out loud. Pieces such as "Star Trek- The Next Muthafuckas" was the perfect juxtaposition of all of that space-speak bullshit and ghetto ying-yang that was quite a crack up. Sitting right on the next page is an ode (Ha!) to poetry readings that might scream the truth for some and burn like red hot pokers to others. I just thought that damn piece was funny as hell, it can be so true when in the wrong hands, that poetry thing. "Poetry readings...are the last bastion...of bad acting!". Oooh uh uh...no he didn't. Bieri defiles a comic Holy Grail by including the Peanuts gang....Conan style in a bunch of strips that emulate the original yet totally twists them into something new....and so wrong, along with bunches of other stuff far too many to list here. Overall, this is a super cool collection of comix in a number of registers by this witty artisan. I'm gonna regret having to ship this one back to review headquarters when all is said and done.
JOIN GOD'S CIRCUS, and SUGAR OR SATAN?
HK Ministries; email@example.com; www.hawkkrall.com
These are little folded leaflets that don't quite qualify as zines or comix, but were interesting enough I'd wanted to mention them, not to mention, James's overall work is pretty cool. These little dinky pamphlets are but a drop in the bucket in terms of what he is able of creating as you can see if you pay a visit to his website. As far as these pamphlets go, they're like some funky text Chick tracks that expound on the Satanic links of sugar as well as the joys of joining god's circus to battle the ever growing forces of evil that have multiplied even more so since the 911 attacks. It's funny shit and worth a peek. The suggestion box says drop a note to the artist and check their availability and current price. They're quite simple, but really quite UN-pc. The more twisted might enjoy these.
And thus, this concludes this episode of Sequential Debt. Granted, not everything reviewed here was a comic as originally stated, but hey folks, these are changing times. Even the articles ya read might POOF! Switch right under yer nose! 'Til hex time, this is yours cruelly, signing off!
P.O. Box 647547, Chicago, IL 60661
If you really have money to burn you can buy copies of my book SAY IT WITH SILENCE from seventenbishop.com. You can order a dozen different cds from there also including RONG (an association with XD contributor Androo Robinson) and AUTOCAUST (a collaboration with author Dan Nagelberg). Enough already. Keep your socks in place and continue on pace. The more research you do the clearer the picture will be. You will be impressed eventually.
The charm and beauty of zines is their ability to communicate the smallest arena of information to its audience. They travel far and wide and never return with their little messages intact. A snowglobe of history told in obscure journals. A time capsule composed of zines would paint a mundane world to some and a fascinating and diverse world to others. The sources of inspiration seem limitless when people independently decide to dedicate themselves to the endeavor. As cave dwellers traced their handprints on the walls zine authors/composers/designers leave behind this legacy as proof that they tried.
EIGHTEEN STREET STENCILS - Number Three
Certainly there are many predecessors to this type of mini (Applicant comes to mind). This is a collection of predominantly unknown street art sprayed or otherwise applied to an outdoor surface. Interesting social subject matter and entertaining variety. Some stencils you may have seen if you live in Chicago, New York City or Mexico City. There is also a very useful tip section if you are an aspiring stencilist or outdoor artist.
P.O. Box 476971, Chicago, IL 60647
The Suckass CDs I've Traded Issue
Though this title may appear to be an anti-review issue it is more. This mini tells a tale of catharsis, renewal, and best of all redemption through honest personal scrutiny. The author takes responsibility for the failures of human nature and how they manifest themselves when presented with emotions or marketing. Interspersed with the text is entertaining objects of clip art. Who doesn't like clip art? Everyone with more than 200 CDs really ought to write themselves zine like this one as a personal exercise.
P.O. Box 476802, Chicago, IL 60647
MR. PEEBODY'S SOILED TROUSERS AND OTHER DELIGHTS #15
A journal style zine. The minutiae of life day after day in Los Angeles. It makes sense on paper why people flock to this vacuum of humanity but . . . It is important to have moments with little mags like this one to get much of the fascination of the southwest coast out of one's system. There are some adventures here and some doldrums too. There is a section of reviews of films that have yet to be made. You decide. All told, this is a solid book and Jason means well to the community of perzine authors.
P.O. Box 931333, Los Angeles, CA 90093
CHAINSAW TEDDYBEAR: Poems by Blair Ewing
Do most people share the same prejudice against the word 'poetry'? To me it suggests a little withering person scratching at a sheaf of paper by lonesome candlelight and drifting in and out of consciousness when the words won't come. Clearly Blair Ewing is not withering. From Black Hole Lipstick: "Bitch, what do you mean/ I remind you of gasoline/ gun blue and bleach?/ After this, no reading or writing/ for the rest of the day, I mean it./ We're going shopping, then to the beach./ Now keep your telescoping fingers./ out of my hair." There are many types of form here. We have slim and obscure work and also dense and intense dynamic pieces. The poem "Elegy for TS" won the 1999 Randall Jarrell Prize, awarded by the Southeastern Regional Poetry Society. This is a good looking chapbook (complete with definition of chapbook on the back!) with a b/w glossy cover. Give it a shot.
Published by the Argonne House Press
P.O. Box 21069, Washington, DC 20009
28 PAGES LOVINGLY BOUND WITH TWINE #4
This book arrives precisely as advertised. There are amusing anecdotes and some healthy reflection. Of most interest is the series of correspondences with manufacturers of foods. The author includes his original grievance letter with marginal commentary and also the corporate reply. I had a good time reading this collection and so will you.
P.O. Box 106, Danville, OH 43014
"This anthology contains works written from 1993-2002." I like this author's attitude. I don't know how much this book is but it is certainly worthy of your collection (ed. $2). This is a good grassroots type of publication. Solid construction and clean layout. The cover boasts "a collection of poetry and wandering thoughts." That's what you're in for. If you are in the mood for that sort of thing look no further. This book contains short form pieces on the topics of disassociation, dissatisfaction, surreality, anal sex . . . This book is worth your support.
P.O. Box 1444, Beach Haven, NJ 08008
DIRTBAG #s 6&7
O.K. I admit that this book creeped me out. These are extremely obtuse and dense collections of thousands of humanoid characters playing, crying, longing or flying (etc.) in a universe exclusive to the artist. There are several stories going on here but this is no Goodbye Chunky Rice. These crude vulnerable and delicate creatures are almost within the realm of the believable. There is little or no campy referential material here. These drawings will provoke a second or third look. The books also retains a semblance of the artist as he has decided to portray himself. Heck of an effort. Check it out.
"free to you but not to some. I don't know what I'm doing."
568 Grandview Ave. 2nd Fl., Ridgewood, NY 11345
PO Box 13085, Macon, GA 31208
Josh Bowron does Scatological Think Cap, still celebrating it's third issue. Zines are the fruits of our intellect, the meat if you will. I hereby announce the genesis of my review zine, Swap Meat. This is for zines that only accepts trades, so send them in, I'll send you three copies in return.
Sunburn is a showcase for comix, each of the half-legal pages has a sample comic of varied talent. A good resource for those interested in comix. As a supplement to sunburn they send out Zinehead, a zine resource. P.O. Box 2061 Winnipeg, MB, R3C 3R4, Canada.
WAR HYSTERIA! or, various manifestations of panic
Digest size, $2.00
I think I ordered this through The Death Ship. War Hysteria is just what the doctor ordered. It's a collection of vignettes showing the people involved in perpetuating the blood cult, from the security people at the airport to Dick Cheney. Highly recommended.
Wenclas, P.O. Box 42077 Philly, PA 19101.
MY VIVID BLANKET
$2.00 or trade, digest size
This is Corey's first zine and it's a fine effort. My Vivid Blanket is classic zine: cut and paste, travel, and trash. There's a great expose on the corruption in McDonald's.
Corey, 6408 N. Central Ave., Tampa, FL 33604.
The Attitude of Anarchism Toward Industrial Combinations Benjamin Tucker.
Benjamin Tucker is long dead, this is one of his essays that is The Owl Press has reprinted. This little production is for those interested in Anarchism but aren't interested in college kids "tearing shit up." Jonathan Simcock told me this is about $4.00, steep but he's in the U.K. postal rates are very high over there.
47 High St. Belper, Derbyshire DE56 1GF England.
Mail Art listings, zine reviews, and sci-fi book reviews. The book reviews are some of the best writing I've even read in the underground press. There is also an ongoing lamentation in the zine about how sci-fi nerds should get along with zine dweebs, I agree.
Dale Spiers, Box 6830, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2P 2E7.
THE BLUE (LIGHT) COLLAR WORKER
This is pure crusty goodness from the land of shit work. Makes me sorta glad that I'm part of the salaried evil machine.
Jeremy/Allthatcreepeth , P.O. Box 15988, Tampa, FL 33684.
28 PAGES LOVINGLY BOUND WITH TWINE #4
Christoph has probably put a new one out more recently than #4, he's most prolific, and a heck of a nice guy. Christoph has the best thing going in my opinion. Each issue of 28PlBwT is so much better than the last, Christoph is actually trying to write a decent zine, how refreshing.
Christoph Meyer, P.O. Box 106 Danville, OH 43014
THE DEATH SHIP
There is no listed price but I'd say at least four or five dollars.
This big ole labor of love has been keeping zines honest for two issues now. Mucho zine reviews and a great letters column. A must for all the zinesters.
P.O. Box 55336, Hayward, CA 94545
PULLING THE STRINGS
Fred says donations welcome so send him some cash or stamps.
This a small book that Fred Woodworth, of The Match!, fame. The subtitle is How Businesses and Institutions Attempt to control the Small Press, it also talks about how our local papers and, by extension, local news is controlled by supply groups like the Associated Press. You'll never read the paper the same again.
Box 3012, Tucson, AR 85702
A WHOLE MESS OF STUFF FROM BILLY MCKAY:
$ just send him some money or a trade, Billy satisfies!
Invisible Robot Fish I'm not sure if Billy's still doing this one or not , but he sent it to me, so it gets a mention. Invisible Robot Fish is a creative project whereby Billy tries to snatch an idea from the ether then transpose it to paper in one hour. A noble effort, he does give an "honest time" at the end.
Spook-i-est, indeed. Billy has found a perfect format for his cute/grotesque creations. Totally bitchin'.
Shot By a Ray Gun, #1, Billy mixes media a little to tell about a nice trip down to the Sunshine State. #3 is something else entirely. This is not a zine at all, or a comic, but a bunch of Billy's critters on card stock. It comes with rules for a game called Bamboozle, you can also play memory. But I just hang on to the cards and hold them up to my wife as answers to her questions. "Did you feed the cats?" I just hold up the portrait of the timid turtle demon with the hearts on his shell.
P.O. Box 542 N. Olmstead, OH 44070
Gavin J. Grant
360 Atlantic Ave., PMB 132, Brooklyn, NY 11217
Gavin J. Grant runs Small Beer Press (which just published two books by Carol Emshwiller) and almost always puts out Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet (www.lcrw.net/lcrw) twice a year. He's about to move to Northampton, MA, where he'll have more space for zines. And maybe a letterpress. He'll need help with that real soon.
Subtitled "motherhood and other adventures," Miranda is a great zine. Easy-reading, great for the train, and surprise! Miranda's got a baby! Baby stories are either going to float your boat or not, I thought they were hilarious. What the baby says to her in the bathroom...I only stopped laughing when the poor sod on the seats across from me dropped his laptop (he was politely standing up to let someone out) and the cd player dropped right out and smashed. Oops. Dived back into the zine and read about Miranda's occasional search for relatives, as far as she knew her family was tiny (she has no cousins) and if her grandparents had siblings, they never mentioned them. Reason you must get this: the baby stories, the mother stories, it's great.
$2, half-letter, 27pp., Kate Haas, 3510 SE Alder St., Portland, OR 97214; firstname.lastname@example.org
Read this while doing my laundry at the sort-of local super-laundry (the one 20 yards from my door closed down, why?). Bruce's stories about his house really made me look forward to the day when I'd have a house of own. This is the first zine Bruce has done in a long while. Zines showed him there were people like him when he was a teenager. Now he's in a place and time where he's much happier, where he has friends and family...he's put down roots, bought a house, has a son (whose footprints appear on some of the pages!), and is a pretty happy guy.
Reason you must get this: pizza dough recipe on the inside back cover.
$?, half-letter, 32pp., Bruce L., 3510 SE Alder St., Portland, OR 97214
I think you can tell a book by its cover, but it's harder with zines. I was still at the laundry (why local shop, why?) when I read the Reglar Wiglar and I admit to being a bit put off by the Wiglar's screamingly bright yellow cover - the basic comic didn't help. But it was either this or soak up some daytime TV with the rest of the guys washing their socks. First up was a surprisingly funny and generous interview with a guy who didn't bath or shower for 18 months (glad I didn't have to do that interview). I calmed down, stopped watching the spin cycle, and read the zine. Hugely funny pieces on the White Strokes (not a mistake) and fast food reviews followed. There are also loads of record reviews, some in haiku, some are one-word reviews, and I liked the amount of comix here, including a couple by Stepan Chapman and half-a-dozen Slow Wave by Jesse Reklaw - those comix where people (like Davida for instance!) send in their dreams to be drawn. I'd read the Wiglar again. I won't even wait for laundry day.
No.17, $2, letter, 48pp., 1658 N. Milwaukee Ave., #545, Chicago, IL 60647; email@example.com home.earthlink.net/~wiglar/
"The Power of Youth" issue, and, damn, but it's true! Don't let the government and media machine distract you: you can make a difference. There's a great piece by an 8th grade teacher on what she did when the librarian tried to remove the Harry Potter books from the school library. This doesn't sound as important as the articles on prison newspapers or the connection between the Nazis and Bush family fortune, or interviews with organizations who are putting media tools in the hands of the disaffected (that's you, dear reader!), but it's the thin edge of the wedge: no matter your opinion on the quality of the Potter books, passing over our freedom of speech (or expression) to the government or to those who feel the government will back them up in their choices is the first step down a long down a scary path. Clamor is trying to make enough noise to stop that happening, it's a good read and a whole lot more.
No.14, $4.50 (6/$18), letter, 74pp., PO Box 1225, Bowling Green, OH 43402
ALL YOU CAN EAT LONDON: a Buffet Review
Although the Introduction almost put me off with tales of overeating to excess and pain, the underlying philosophy ("there will always be more buffet") caught and held me until I was under the Phred and Jesse's spell. After reading all you can eat London I have a new appreciation for buffets, a renewed interest in a style of food and restaurant that I'd given up on. These guys look at a buffet and see not wilting pasta and scary meat, but delicious possibilities. They're not trying to fool you (or themselves) that the food at buffets is truly fine, but they want the reader to remember that it is in fact usually good, and sometimes great. Next time you go to London (any day now? Me too.), you could do worse than check out the Royal Indian (it's even vegetarian!) or Cactus. $4, half-letter, 36pp., Phred Chao & Jesse Post, V52 Press, 52 Mt. Vernon St., Somerville, MA 02145; www.v52.org
Letters about mail art, mail art listings, and the kind of zine reviews I love - all about zines I haven't read. Best part: "The Colour of Algae" on why red algae blooms happen, their effects, and a little on their history. No.51.1B, $3, half-letter, 16pp.,Dale Spiers, Box 6830, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2P 2E7.
THE DIALOGUE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR, Mark Wisniewski
Nice production. One poem on various papers with a drawing of the titular door by Deborah Fusello. Who is your neighbor? What are they doing?
$2, 1/4-letter, 10pp., Showerhead Press, c/o Josh Filan, 9430 Claire Ave., Northridge, CA 91324
POSTCARDS FROM THE VOODOO SEX CULT
Veronica states it plainly on the back cover: "I want complete control." It's her first zine and she goes at it full throttle with a couple of poems heavily influenced by sex and The Clash, a spooky short story, "How to Bring Someone Back from the Dead," and a manifesto against realism. Postcards has a strong voice, the punk DIY spirit, and a bright pink cover. Very cool start.
No.1, $1/trades, halfletter, 16pp., Veronica Schanoes, Mean Girl Click Productions, PO Box 2140, Philadelphia, PA 19103; firstname.lastname@example.org
"Welcome to the last issue of Get Bent" it says at the start and who are we to argue? Sid Ska is in prison building a bridge (over the River Kwai, of course) when a giant robot piloted by his mother busts him out. Flip Get Bent over and you get Unshaven Chi no.0. Six years after his last sighting, Ben can once again see his chin. This was probably quite a shock at the time. Why did he do it? The usual reason, a paying job demanded it of him. What we do for money. Not zines, that's for sure.
No.5, Summer 1999, $2, half-letter, 30pp, Ben T. Steckler, PO Box 7273, York, PA 17404; email@example.com.
Stephanie is not at all impressed with the buffoons that have somehow (calling the Florida Supreme Court) ended up in power, nor what they are doing here and abroad, nor with women's position in the world. Fortunately she can write and draw well and get her point across without being preachy - and so far without being jailed for it although I'm not sure how long that will last given that Ashcroft is in favor of putting people he doesn't trust (uh, most of the population) in camps. Anyway, she says it better and funnier than me. Send copies to your local politicians today.
No.2, the usual, half-letter, 16pp., Stephanie McMillan, PO Box 460673, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33346-0673; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.minimumsecurity.net
Also: My Body is a Glorious Manifestation of Nature, Not a toxic Waste Dump, 13pp., half-letter, same address as above. Thirteen mouth-watering vegan recipes, including Hummus, Thai Red Curry, Spicy Tofu, and more. Mmmm!
A CHARMED LIFE
Portrait of a zinester as a young man: Pete goes to Canzine and the Underground Publishing Conference in Bowling Green, OH, sits in bars, transcribes from his journal, and generally drinks and smokes his way through various road trip
No.5, $2, half-letter, 20pp., Checks, money orders, or concealed cash to: Pete Trudgeon, Rubber Suit Comix, PO Box 1514, Royal Oak, MI 48068
Candy reviews, candy reviews, and writing about candy. National, local, and international candies are eaten and written about. It's colorful, it may even be educational, and it's certainly mouthwatering.
Nos.19&20, half-letter, 20pp., $2+60c stamp, trades selectively for zines or good candy to review. Corina Fastwolf, PO Box 300152, Minneapolis, MN 66403
William P. Tandy
PO Box 963, Havre de Grace, MD 21078
There are not enough hours, day or night, for William P. Tandy, but he captures what he can with his Eight-Stone Press publications, which include Haircuts Abroad, Practicing for Solitude, and Smile, Hon, You're in Baltimore! (Baltimore! now accepting submissions; contact for further details). His online column "Only This & Nothing More" appears biweekly by the good graces of Atomic Books (www.atomicbooks.com).
THE MIDNIGHT-SNACK HOLD-UP
"If you feel you belong to things as they are," Nelson Algren wrote in his essay Nonconformity, "you won't hold up anybody in the alley no matter how hungry you may get. And you won't write anything that anyone will read a second time either."
For the greater part of his life, Algren was shamefully neglected by Middle America. The one-percenters would have nothing to do with him; none in American letters ever "belonged" less to "things as they are," as evidenced in his seminal portrait of post-WWII urban decline, The Man with the Golden Arm. And those that did not return to his pages for a second look passed up more than another glance at the man and his work; they passed up a closer look at themselves, and their own roles in the forthcoming atomic age. That they shunned Algren after the first pass attests not to shortcomings on the part of the author but rather to his own validation, and the way he managed, with such brutish and beautiful lyricism - seemingly effortless - to make those born on the "right" side of the billboards uncomfortable.
Discomfort may not be en vogue, and Algren may be well nigh forgotten, but his children are out there. Taking a second look.
The poems contained in Daniel Joshua Nagelberg's MAN FALLING BACKWARDS DOWN STAIRS (SevenTen Bishop, 710 N. Bishop, Chicago, IL 60622; email@example.com; www.seventenbishop.com; $12) demand nothing short of a second look, a second read. For his stage, like Algren, Nagelberg turns to their shared home of Chicago, and in walking and staggering and crawling through the evening streets of despair turns up a few next-morning alleys of promise.
Like an election-year precinct, Man Falling is rife with indictments. "She brings me down/ To a level/ Of second-hand smoke," he scrawls in "Perhaps a Little Later, You Goddamned Nympho." Warrants are freely issued by titles such as the suburban "Head Ass Man" ("His signature, a shovel, digging for debt") and "The Sports Fuck at the Bar," which, alongside "From the Curb," scrutinizes bad men and the good women who inexplicably stick by them.
But Nagelberg, like Owner, gives everyone a square count, good or ill, avoiding the usual pitfalls of the "blame game." He knows that people, as often as not, are their own worst enemies. And never is the guilty face so clear as when it's staring back in the mirror. In "Ray Charles, What the Hell Am I Doing: Another Night Alone," he writes, "The women left us/ Because we were convinced/ There was a better way/ Of living/ Even though they/ Were it."
Likewise, Nagelberg recognizes that those who "have it coming" have earned it on their individual merit. While the despicable shoe-selling ex-Marine of "Daddy Loves You" doesn't necessarily owe his indictment to his former occupation, nor does it exempt him from the line-up, nor excuse his crime. Like the head Rabbi of the Hebrew school who pulls from the second-grade class the title character of "Joseph," a self-proclaimed vampire whose response invites the poet's admiration. "I had never seen anyone kick/ A Rabbi in the balls/ Twice."
Beneath the blood and the booze, however, Nagelberg's humor never falters. Not even in the ring, in "Jesus H. Motherfucker," in which he recalls a bout with the Son of God. "There is a room in hell/ Reserved for you/ He mouths to me."
"Well/ Of course there is," the Captain retorts. "I made the reservation/ About two weeks ago."
"But no one should worry," he adds, looking up from the charge sheet. "There's enough space/ In hell/ For us all/ So let's box/ Motherfucker."
Yeah, I know the bell rang, kid, but you ain't goin' nowhere. I gots somethin' ta show ya
For those for whom pull quotes like "Toot your pooter!" and "I'll run up your ass and fuck you in the heart!" aren't enough, don't get your panties in a bunch: Androo Robinson's THE BEST OF DINGOBABY FUNNYS (Ped Xing; 2000 NE 42nd Avenue, #303, Portland, OR 97213; 8.5"X3.75"; $1.00) has the pictures to prove it, each worth a thousand four-letter words.
What else can be expected from a man named for the actor who portrayed the serial killer "Scorpio" in Dirty Harry? A man not content to merely tackle the profane: he throws it down on all-fours and puts it to the test.
But never without a smile.
For the Dingobaby Funnys, subtitled "A Treasury of Lowbrow, Mean-Spirited, Third-Grade Biological Humor", are the cartoons you yourself might have drawn in the third grade - if only you'd known then what you know now. What might have happened had R. Crumb spent one too many childhood nights sleeping over at A.A. Milne's: a sleepless, youth-fueled binge of Sears-catalog lingerie and late-night, blue-light reruns of Benny Hill.
Robinson's Dingobaby Funnys stand as a foul, scatological testament to how far we've come, and what we actually do with it.
And wait 'til you see what he can do with it
Davida Gypsy Breier
PO Box 963, Havre de Grace, MD 21078
Hello, I am the editor (editrix?) of this fine publication and I have a gripe to share - it is about trading. Back in the sepia-toned old days of 1995 when I got into zines, it was all about trading for me. I'd publish my crappy little per-zine and send it to a few people and they would send me their zine in return. I liked that. I met some very cool people and we corresponded as well as traded zines. Now, I admit that Xerography Debt has begun to dominate my zine time, but I still publish that crappy little per-zine and it ain't seeing new trades these days. I like the currency of ideas and experiences. I finished a new issue Leeking Ink (#26) a few weeks ago, so if you are interested PO Box 963, Havre de Grace, MD 21078; firstname.lastname@example.org. One last thing, if you do a zine and send it in for review, please mention if you trade somewhere in your zine or on an attached piece of paper.
BURN COLLECTOR #12
Commiserating. That is what I felt like I was doing when I read Burn Collector #12. I read most of the issue on the day I resigned from my job. I felt like I was talking to a stranger about his problems, as mine played over and over in my head. Fine writing, as always.
$3.95 (available at Atomic Books and Stickfigure Distro)
Stickfigure, PO Box 55462, Atlanta, GA 30308; www.stickfiguredistro.com; email@example.com
Atomic Books, 1100 W. 36th Street, Baltimore, MD 21211; (410) 662-4444 firstname.lastname@example.org; www.atomicbooks.com
CONTESSA'S TOME #7
"The focus and main goal of this zine is for educational purposes and to have fun while learning." That is exactly what DB does! For this issue, DB looks closer to home and investigates his area and the town of Waterford. He discusses the original inhabitants of the area and how the Pennsylvania Population Company later charged $1 an acre to encourage people to settle in the area. If history interests you in the slightest, you'll enjoy this one. $2
DB Pedlar, 25727 Cherry Hill Rd., Cambridge Springs, PA 16403; email@example.com (note: I know for a fact he prefers real mail)
Trash History for the Gentle Reader
Cali became frustrated with the lack of response the paper versions of his zine were getting but was encouraged by the animated response he was getting on the web and decided to release this issue as a PDF file. This issue exposes Ante Pavelic, the brutal leader of Croatia, who eluded justice after WWII. Cali has gone on to expose Pavelic and the Ustase in a website: www.pavelicpapers.com. He says, "PavelicPapers.com was launched in October, 2002 as an educational resource about the Ustase movement, one of the most resilient terrorist organizations in history. A recent renewal of interest in the Ustase and Croatia during World War II has not yet made up for more than fifty years of ignorance on the part of journalists, academics, and government officials on the history of the movement, from its founding before the Second World War to the present. PavelicPapers.com is a non-profit effort to make available to the public documents which have surfaced due to the tireless efforts of a new generation of Nazi-hunters exploring the connections between post-war Croat extremism and the wartime administration of the Independent State of Croatia, as well as the powers which sheltered the fugitives from prosecution on war crimes and facilitated their escape to South America, Canada, Australia and the United States."
Also from Cali is Sobaka, which is one of my favorite zines. Read about places you'll never likely go and the people you'll never likely meet. His contributors are top-notch and offer the kind of reporting Time, US News and World Report, etc hope to when they turn pro. And it is beautifully designed!
100 E Walton #31H, Chicago, IL 60611
THE HILLBILLY GHETTO - Issue #1
There is something both understandable, but vaguely disconcerting about this zine. Mandy hates her neighbors and has written a zine about them. With just the first issue it is hard to get a true sense of what is going on in her neighborhood. I've lived in my share of places with lousy neighbors, including the kids who placed a bowling ball under my mother's car and then let the air out of her tires. Destroyed the transmission. Now, truthfully, they did this because we stole their neglected pit bull puppy. So there was some cause and effect. Is there cause and effect here? I don't know. Perhaps she has redneck psycho neighbors and is well within her right to complain about them. Perhaps they dislike being looked down upon and have reacted to that. At the moment I don't know enough to make a clear distinction, if one is to be made, but I would be willing to read a second issue to find out. $2/Trade
Mandy Willeford, PO Box 412, Greensburg, IN 47240; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.hillbillyghetto.com
I HATE CARTOONS #1
This is a slick, professional book 'o comix, which should be reviewed by one of the reviewers who are down with the comix lingo (heck, I'm countin' on that "x" in comix to cover my ass), but it bounced back into my box, so here I am. I enjoyed reading and looking at this odd concoction of retro and modern design, faux toy ads, and surreal talking animals. It is witty, vulgar, and clever.
Attaboy, www.yumfactory.com; email@example.com
INDEPENDENT #1 May 2002
A zine for liberals who love someone in the military
This is another zine that appears to be inspired by East Village Inky, but the nice thing, like with ZuZu and THE Baby Catcher, is that each of these women bring with them very individual experiences. Kathleen is the wife of a Marine, who says in the introduction, "The assumptions tend to be that I am a Christian, Republican or at least conservative Democrat, blindly patriotic, homophobic and a pro-Promise Keepers type of wife. When they find out I am none of those things, they tend to assume that I am some sort of unhappy, misfit of a military spouse." She introduces herself in the issue, her life and son, where she has lived, knitting, and more. She is also looking for submissions.
$2/trade (cash only)
Kathleen, PO Box 15622, Chesapeake, VA 23320; firstname.lastname@example.org
THE INNER SWINE - Volume 8, #3 (Sept 2002)
Reading an issue of The Inner Swine is like taking a seat at a bar or bus stop and having the guy next to you turn and launch into a breathless, wild-eyed account of how he sees the world and how the world revolves around him. Sure it sounds like you've sat down next someone clutching copies of Watchtower instead of a zine, but Jeff manages something that religion generally fails to do - he makes his bullshit compelling! He is making this nonsense up as he goes along and he knows it. Better yet, it is well-crafted nonsense. In this issue Jeff discusses "The Joy of Owning Things," complete with last will and testament. He also spouts off about zines, advertising, online zine forums, writers, dancing, and an article on women's possessions that caused me to envision a bloody scene on the train involving stiletto heels and his once smart-mouth should a female straphangers get a hold of the issue. He did a book signing in Washington, DC recently, one I had hoped to attend, but somehow didn't and neither did anyone else. Wow, Jeff actually made me feel guilty, imagine that! Just one short piece of fiction, which makes this issue all the more Jeff-o-centric. Recommended
Jeff Somers, P.O. Box 3024, Hoboken NJ 07030; email@example.com; www.innerswine.com
JACARE - Issues 1-9
These are charming little zines by Clint Marsh and Heather Schlegel. Travels, recipes, daily wanderings, exploring the Bay Area and more. I got a few from Violet Jones and contacted Clint for the back issues I missed. Nicely designed too.
$2 each/ set of 9 for $12
Wonderella Printed, 1204 Neilson St., Berkeley, CA 94706; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.wonderella.com
MENISCUS - Issue #9
This is one of my new favorites. So much so that after weeks of searching and trying to figure out where my copy of Issue #9 had disappeared to, I went to Atomic Books and bought a new copy. This is a great per-zine. Matt takes what could be standard zine fodder writes some really tight pieces. He discusses his dental problems, his love of horror movies, his paintings, and more. This is all intermingled with decent fictional pieces and comics. My favorite part of the issue is where he tells the story of Ted Raimi's pants. He owns two pairs of Ted Raimi's pants. I got to meet Ted Raimi a few months ago and the whole time I kept thinking, "I know someone who wears your old pants." He also does mini comics, such as Smiling Dan, The Ice Cream Man, who serves brains to the kids after the zombie apocalypse. Recommended.
Matt Fagan, 1573 N. Milwaukee Ave., PMB 464, Chicago, IL 60622
SLUG AND LETTUCE #72
A Zine Supporting The Do-It-Yourself Ethics of the Punk Community
I hadn't read a copy of Slug and Lettuce in a while and it is still an amazing resource. Lots of columns, classified ads to connect people and projects, comics, photos and artwork, and tons and music reviews. The only complaint I have is the tiny font size. I understand needing to squeeze in as much text as possible and the whole ad/print cost ratio, but it took me several days of picking it up and putting it down to finish the issue and I have 20/20 vision.
Free in person or for postage through the mail (60 cents)
Chris Boarts Larson, PO Box 26632, Richmond, VA 23261
SMALLER THAN THE POSTMAN #47 February 2002
2001 in Review, Tiny Steps and Big Disasters
Ken discusses the last year in short vignettes. His wife becomes pregnant in the spring and it is harrowing to read of how Mary delivers the baby by c-section far too early. Francesca is only 2.5 pounds and is finally able to come home after six weeks in the hospital. Also in the issue they attend a wedding and reception, "It was dreaded because we had been told that we would be forced to (and I shudder as I write this) Line Dance. For the uninitiated, a 'Line Dance' is where a group of white people in western garb show their unwavering conformity by standing in a grid-like pattern and stepping about in exactly the same pre-determined way. In addition, line dancers are required to tuck their thumbs into their pockets, lest someone do something spontaneous and rhythmic with their arms. I'm sure that if Hitler were alive today, he would heartily approve of the soulless conformity of the line dance." I thought that bit was very funny and worth sharing.
1 stamp, 2 IRCs, "or something cool in trade"
Ken Miller, ASKalice Art Exchange Network, PO Box 101, Newtown, PA 18940; email@example.com members.aol.com/satpostman/
THE SPECIAL PEOPLE'S CLUB - Issue #2
I immediately caught and liked the "Welcome to the Dollhouse" reference in the title. In the introduction Jasmine introduces herself as, " 22. queer. In search of a pronoun 'he' makes me giggle with joy because it's rarer, though no more 'right' than 'she.' 'ze' makes me cringe because of my irrational dislike of the letter z." I enjoyed this friendly, rambling perzine.
No price listed - ? $1-2/?trade
Jasmine Hoover, 5700 N. Tamiami Tr., Box 13, Sarasota, FL 34243 firstname.lastname@example.org
STOLEN SHARPIE REVOLUTION
A DIY Zine Resource
This thick mini-zine is a goldmine of zine advice, tips, tricks and more. New to zines? This will help answer you etiquette and production questions. Been around a while and want to shake your design up a bit with some blockprinting? Look no further. There is also information on making copies, layout tips, promoting your zine, running a distro, crafty ideas, and contact information for distros, stores, and review zines. An obvious labor of love and well-worth your time.
Alex Wreck, PO Box 14332, Portland, OR 97293; email@example.com; www.microcosmpublishing.com
TO HAVE AND HAVE SHIT
This book (75 pages, perfect bound) reminded me of Good and Plenty's. Wait, now hear me out. Traditionally, I have disliked licorice, just as I have disliked experimental, non-linear fiction. It is often hard for me to let go of my own rigidity to get into words that flow all over the place with an unclear source or destination. However, like with Good and Plenty's, I tried a few pieces and then tried a few more and a few more until I realized I actually liked them and had eaten the whole box. I read a few pages, then a few pages more, then started to get into it and was sorry it was over so quickly. Nicely done. Good cover design too.
$4 pp US/Can/Mex, $7 World
C/o Iowa Killed Buddy Holly
114 ½ E. College St., Suite 10, Iowa City, IA 52240; firstname.lastname@example.org
THE ZINE YEARBOOK #6
This 6th installment of Zine Yearbook is, in my opinion, the strongest yet. The variety of articles and artwork shows a great cross-section of what zines can be. In the past, I've enjoyed the issues I read, but tended to skip over articles here and there. I read almost everything in this thick compilation of the "the best of 2001." $12
Become the Media, PO Box 1225, Bowling Green, OH 43402