Sunday, February 28, 2010

List #13: moving on

List #13: moving on
By Ramsey Everydaypants

Seven things you learn about Ramsey by reading this zine

1. What she’s thinking about
2. Who she’s lived with
3. What television she watches
4. What vegetables she grows
5. How she goes through a breakup
6. What she does at work
7. What she looks for in a boy

Six things in this zine beginning with the letter ‘D’

1. Drawings
2. Differences
3. Dreams
4. Disclaimers
5. Dinosaurs
6. Dogs

Four reasons why List #13 is rad

1. It’s an insight into someone’s mind
2. There are revelations from the past
3. Guest lists!
4. It made me want to make my own lists (who have I lived with?)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Milkyboots 8

Milkyboots 8
By Virginia

One thing I find really interesting in the world of mini comics are the sheer number of autobiographic comics that are produced. I think I have way more autobio mini comics than any other genre. At times Milkyboots seems more like illustrated prose (lots of narration), but that doesn’t mean it’s not comics, or that I didn’t enjoy it.

I read this comic the night before I went to London to go to a zine event. I’d just printed off a bunch of copies of some of the zines I’ve made recently and was having a sort of crisis. ie. I thought they were all terrible and nobody would want them. While that did continue the next today at the actual zine event (where I did eventually trade away most of my zines), at least while I was reading about Virginia’s similar crisis of self confidence in (and about) Milkyboots I felt a little better.

And I guess that’s one of the appeals of comics like this, and maybe why there are so many autobio comics. You can say “That’s just like what I did/how I am feeling,” whether it’s getting really drunk at a party, trying (and failing) to find a job, baking cookies, or continuing a relationship that you know you shouldn’t but can’t stop yourself. In fact it really takes a lot of guts to put together something like this, and even more to give it to other people.

Last year’s Portland Zine Symposium was now so long ago I don’t remember the people I got zines from. Who were you Virginia? What did we talk about? Next time we can talk about our anxieties.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Pod Post Will Conquer Tokyo

Pod Post Will Conquer Tokyo
By Carolee-Pod
PO Box 170271
San Francisco

One of my big disappointments from last year’s Portland Zine Symposium was that I totally failed to get any Pod Post stuff (merit badges for sending mail!). I spent most of my first day volunteering, and by the time I got to their table they were out of a bunch of stuff. When I went back on Sunday (so busy that weekend) to get more stuff they were gone!

I did manage to get this one zine, though it was a bit of a disappointment.

Based on the paper size (a4!) and ephemera style contents I think this zine was actually made in Japan, which is something I never managed to accomplish during all my travels (or at least not entirely).

Pod Post Will Conquer Tokyo seems to have started as a diary/scrapbook more than anything else. It’s filled with stickers, ads, notes, stamps, coupons, and other papery stuff. Everything is taped, glued, paperclipped, or stapled into the book, and surrounded by (sort of hard to read) hand written notes.

Some of it is neat (sidewalk rubbings of weird designs! I wish I had thought to do that!), but having been to Japan (and spent two years in Asia) I guess I’m not as amazed by hamburger ads and pictures of hotel rooms. Next time Pod Post. (Except their site says they're taking the year off. Nooooooooo! That'll teach me to take six months to read a zine.)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Amusing Paper #2

Amusing Paper #2

I really want to have something to say about this comic, but I don’t. The comics themselves are competent enough, if predictable: ew chavs, ew hipsters, expressing your individuality through buying things is kind of stupid, TV is dumb but I watch it anyway, fast food is bad for you but I eat it anyway, I like that girl but don’t know what to do, let’s go to the pub, I wish something exciting would happen but I’m also kind of happy with my boring life.

However, I really enjoy the art. It’s cartoony, somewhat simplistic, and everyone seems oddly round, but I dug it for some reason. I’ll be on the lookout for AM’s other comics, hopefully they’ll have more in depth plots.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Love Zine #4

Love Zine #4
By Liberty

Is that the name of this zine? Is that who made it? I don’t know. There’s not really any information included here. It says it’s the fourth edition of “my Love Zine” so I dunno, is that the same as issue four?

The zine is filled with lots of different quotes and excerpts from various things in tiny tiny print (in an attempt to “conserve paper” according to a note made by the author). I’ll admit that I didn’t read all the stuff in here. I read most of it, but the several pages of massage techniques, tennis balls in a sock stuff, and lists of words were just too much for me.

As for what I did read? Uhm, I have to admit a lot of it didn’t register. Poetry is something that just generally goes in one ear and out the other, while the quotes (mostly context free) did much the same. It is mostly feel good stuff. There are a few pages (with tiny tiny print) with an essay/thoughts on gender politics and queer/trans issues, which I found interesting, though I’m not sure is worth picking the zine up for. There are probably other zines that deal with that issue with less tiny type.

One thing I did really like was the neat little insert. It’s done with smaller paper (2.5 x 4 maybe?) folded and stapled into the crease of the zine. It’s neat! I love it when people play with formats like that.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Bizarre Adventures of Gilbert & Sullivan

The Bizarre Adventures of Gilbert & Sullivan
By Ms. Laura Howell

You know, sometimes I really wonder how people come up with their ideas. I mean, turning Gilbert and Sullivan into super deformed caricatures of themselves who keep getting into fights with robots and monsters is one thing, but turning Gilbert’s wife Kitty into a cat girl? Bizarre.

I have to admit that I know almost nothing of Gilbert and Sullivan’s work (other than what has been parodied in Animaniacs and other cartoons), but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying this comic’s blend of late 19th century values, Japanese style/artistic sensibilities, and British weekly humour comics. In the various comics contained within Gilbert and Sullivan face ninjas and a giant robot (made up of Japanese girls) out for revenge because of The Mikado, that jerk Thomas Edison, magic curses, and women’s education, amongst others.

It’s strange yes, but the absurdity combining the various elements works surprisingly well. I even learnt some things about Gilbert and Sullivan that I hadn’t known before (though that wouldn’t have been that difficult). Apparently there’re loads more of these, I’ll have to check them out.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Kame Hame Ha!!

Kame Hame Ha!!
By Celso and Crosses

Energize! Psi Blast! Eye blast! No, it’s not a Dragonball Z fanzine (or at least not directly, though that would be awesome), it’s a zine explaining the rules to what is basically an insanely complicated rock-paper-scissors variant.

Directions on how to perform each move, of varying levels and complexity, are accompanied by illustrations of school girls, business men, policewomen, hobos, and construction workers (anybody can learn how to play!) executing them, and advice on the type of noises you should make when doing so ("Gzzaa!"). For the really complicated super moves there are photos showing you step by step how to complete them.

Even if you have no intention of playing the game (I, sadly, probably never will) this zine is still worth picking up just because of how awesome/ridiculous everything is, and how enthusiastic the authors are. There’s also a super sweet fold out. I love fold outs in zines.

I only wish the guy I’d gotten this from at the Portland Zine Symposium last year had done a workshop teaching people how to play this game. Then maybe I would have gotten to play.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Necessary Monsters #3

Necessary Monsters #3
By Daniel Merlin Goodbrey and Sean Azzopardi

The story really seems to be kicking into high gear this issue as The Chain tracks down their renegades and some of the main characters actually meet for the first time. Sure we’re also introduced to new characters (voodoo office workers), but it doesn’t stop the plot from moving forward.

There’s still a bit too much of characters sitting around being debriefed in a room, but it leads to a couple of good lines, and there’s plenty of time for the characters to be exposed to some weird stuff, and actually do things and use their powers.

Azzopardi still seems to be far more at home drawing all the non-human objects that show up, and the perspective is off a few times (look at the size of those chairs!), but he still manages to draw some pretty decent action scenes in here.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Future Primitive

Future Primitive
By John Zerzan

I don’t really get anarcho-primitivists. Yes, yes, I’m using the internet right now, and I enjoy having hot water and electricity, and I don’t want to live in a world that doesn’t have art or culture, but it’s not that (or at least not just that) that bothers me.

There’re more than six billion people in the world right now, and no way that many people could survive in a gatherer-hunter (the term this zine uses) way of life. Not because they’re stupid and don’t know what they’re doing (they are, and lots of them would die because of that), but because our world can’t support a population that large if we’re not doing intensive farming.

Now to be honest, I think the world is horribly overpopulated, there’s absolutely no reason for the amount and types of intensive farming we do, and we’re all fucked anyway, but I question the point of even writing about this lifestyle.

Before I even get into what the essay in this piece is about, I must address a complaint I have with its form. Throughout the essay there are citations saying where quotes and ideas come from, except they are completely useless. All that’s given is a last name and a year. Are these articles? Books? Speeches? I have no idea, and it doesn’t seem possible to figure out as there’s no bibliography or reading list included. (And it’s not like there wasn’t room, there’s a blank page at the end.) If you’re going to try to write something scholarly and then not bother to actually include your references, why write it in that style in the first place?

Anyway, back to the content. There’s two essays, the first one is 36 pages on how awesome primitivism is and how we were so much better off before we all settled down and started living in houses and growing crops, and the other one is a postscript (only seven pages long) that begins by asking how to actually achieve a primitivist world. It encourages destroying the thing that is society, and just generally ignores that doing that will kill off most of the population of the world in a slow and horrible manner (ie. starving to death).

And really, if that’s the result you want, we might as well just keep going the way we are now. At least then we’d still be able to look at art and listen to music for a few more years.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Reet #37

Reet #37

It’s too bad that this was the last issue of Reet, as it’s a pretty neat idea. Sure, it’s just a comic anthology, and some of the pieces could have fit anywhere, but most of the comics here are more like the comic strips you would find in a newspaper. Except considerably stranger of course.

I really like the idea of creating your own version of a newspaper comics page, and what better way to get submissions from all those lazy artists then only requiring them to draw three or four panels! You could get them to do whatever they wanted, continuing strips, humour strips, anti-humour strips, action strips, political strips, basically whatever appears in an actual newspaper. You could even do it weekly (okay, maybe not).

Alright, so the idea that exists in my head is different than the actual execution of (at least this issue of) Reet, but this is still worth checking out. Not only is it free, but it’s got a fantastic cover, and some of the strips inside aren’t bad either.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


By Aidan Koch

I looked at this zine over and over again, trying to figure out if there was a narrative. Was I supposed to understand a story that connected the images? Was Koch trying to communicate something to the reader that I just wasn’t getting?

I don’t know. The same people show up in different images. The same things (hats, eyes, houses) show up repeatedly, but maybe these are just things that Koch likes to draw.

Do two lonely people meet and become united in their love for hats with eyes on them and plant life? I think so. Maybe. And even if that’s not what’s going on the artwork, sewn spine, and awesome cover make for an attractive package.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Menstruation Station: “Menarche Aboard!”

Menstruation Station: “Menarche Aboard!”
By Jen Vaughn
PO Box 141
Hartford, VT
05047, USA

The creator of this comic actually apologized to me when we were trading, because the only one of her comics she had left to trade was the one about girls bleeding, and boys hate that because it is icky and gross. I thought that was funny, and traded with her anyway (despite girls bleeding being icky and gross, ew).

The comics and art here are all related to, eep, periods. And some of them are gross, though probably not in the way you expect. There’s a “wimpy uterus” that you can cut out and wear like a menstrual mask (you too boys!), a comic about a rock band that almost makes me throw up a little in my mouth, and something about an “engorgement charm” that I don’t think I really want to know any more about.

Not that it’s all about that, the opening strip is a romance set at a circus, and while it does kind of tie in to the overall theme, you can just ignore the last panel and read it as a straight story.

So maybe I would have enjoyed one of Vaughn’s other comics more, but it probably wouldn’t have caused as physical a reaction, and that has to count for something right?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Portland, Oregon Hip Hop: Four Essays on Style and Place

Portland, Oregon Hip Hop: Four Essays on Style and Place
By Martha Grover
PO Box 14871
Portland, OR
97293, USA

This fantastic zine takes a look at each of the four elements of hip hop (graffiti, break dancing, deejaying and emceeing) and how they’re represented in Portland.

Grover’s well written essays discuss how each of these elements exists in “one of the whitest major cities in the [USA]”, and how those involved in the scene there struggle with “keeping it real”. Through interviews, explorations, and memories Grover tracks how hip hop culture has grown, and in some cases thrived, in her city.

The first piece, on graffiti, originally appeared in “The Raven Chronicles” (whatever that is), and is presumably the inspiration for Grover to go out and find out about the other parts of hiphop. She talks with graffiti artists and discusses the idea of graffiti as a type of hidden conversation between multiple parties. She gains, and communicates, an understanding of tagging that I had never comprehended before (I love graffiti, but have never gotten the quick tags people put up). Plus she wanders around an abandoned building. Awesome.

The next piece focuses on break dancing, or b-boying, and continues in the same format. She goes on a trip with a long time break dancer, who has played an influential role in getting Portland on international break dancing maps, to tour the many practice locations his crew have gotten kicked out of, interspacing it with information gained from interviews and research.

She discusses the idea of break-dancing as an incredible technical thing where slight variations and difficult moves can only be appreciated by people who know what’s going on and breakdance themselves. (I experienced this last summer when I saw a battle in San Francisco. Some of the other people watching would ooooh and aaaah over things that didn’t look that impressive, but were presumably difficult to pull off.)

The other two pieces are similar: she interviews people who are involved in different parts of the scene and tries to understand why they have committed their lives to them. I won’t go into them too much here, as otherwise I will just go on forever.

Near the end Grover asks questions that I, a similar white hip hop fan, cannot answer: why do we (white people) listen to, and connect with, white rappers like Aesop Rock and Sage Francis while ignoring tracks by black musicians? By asking this question I feel she disregards the many, many white people who do embrace black music (look at the music charts to see), but she was probably thinking of the hipster/indie/alternative people who don’t listen to pop music.

My only complaints are fairly minor, there’s some typographical and punctuation errors that only stand out because the rest of the package looks so good, a few photos, especially in the graffiti section, would have been nice, and the piece on emceeing doesn’t go quite as in depth as I would have liked. But as Grover admits that in the piece I can’t really complain.

This zine is well worth checking out if you have any interest in hip hop or even subcultures in general. You might even discover some new artists to check out, I did.

(Look! An interview I did with a break dancer in Thailand. Seemingly one of the only of my print journalism pieces that's still online.)

Monday, February 15, 2010


By Tim Batiuk

Nasrudin was a real historical figure (maybe) who lived in the thirteenth century (probably) in what is now Turkey (possibly). Since then he’s become legendary figure, famous around the world, with thousands of stories being attributed to his life.

So of course I’ve never heard of him before.

The stories about Nasrudin are usually told as a satirical form of folk wisdom style, comedic but with a moral. Not all of the stories are long, and many of them are quite short, more like anecdotes then full on fables. In them Nasrudin pokes fun at people, frequently giving a voice to rebellious feelings people held against the ruling class, but the stories also tell how you should live your life in a better way.

In this comic Batiuk combines a number of different tales about Nasrudin into one continuous narrative. Several of the pages could work entirely by themselves as one page strips, but the way in which Batiuk weaves the different stories together is quite effective.

Nasrudin walks around his village telling stories and making fun of the people that he meets. However, as he is an old, respected man, and his comments are usually both true and told in a light hearted matter, he generally gets away with it.

I’m reminded a little bit of The Rabbi’s Cat by Joann Sfaar (though probably just by being a humourous comic set in desert with a cat), and perhaps more so by Groo the Wanderer by Sergio Aragonés and Mark Evanier. This second comparison may seem a little weird, but Nasrudin is about a man who wanders around saying things that other people don’t want to hear (though in his case for educational purposes instead of Groo’s stupidity), and is usually accompanied by an animal who can think (a donkey for Nasrudin, a dog for Groo). If Nasrudin got into a fight and killed everyone by the end of the issue they’d be more or less the same character. (Or maybe I just have read any Groo comics recently.)

Batiuk says that he had intended on painting this comic, but because of time constraints wasn’t able to. He asks people if they’d like to see a painted version in the future and I’m not sure. I have no idea what a painted version would look like, but I think the art here does its job in presenting the story. It’s not super flashy, but Batiuk’s grasp of facial expressions and body language helps to get the various characters personalities across to the reader. However, I’m not as keen on his hand drawn panel borders.

Anyway, it’s good stuff, and well worth picking up.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Picofarad #16

Picofarad: The Zine of Little Capacity #16
Edited by Petréa Mitchell

This is a real live science fiction fanzine! I didn’t know these were still made. Considering that to many people the word “zine” still conjures up “fanzine,” the relative rarity of them today is kind of interesting.

Anyway, there’s a lot of what you’d expect a scifi fanzine to contain: reviews. The zine starts with a whole lot of incredibly short reviews of manga, movies, books, comics, and anime, of which my favourite is “For god’s sake would everyone just pick a set of genitalia and stay with it already so the plot can get moving again.” (There’s slightly more to the review than that, but that seems to be all you need to know.)

There are some longer reviews, an account of a trip to Disneyland (which I don’t really see the appeal of), and fairly amusing account of the New Carissa running aground on the coast of Oregon, but what this zine is really about is cons.

That is science fiction conventions, not ways in which to con people (though that would be a neat zine).

There’s a review of Orycon 30 (discussing some of the panels and a play about multiple continuums, robotic masters, and filk), a letter talking about cons, some news about cons, and nine (9!) pages listing cons going on around the world from March to June of last year. Holy crap that’s a lot of cons, and it doesn’t even include the two fairly large ones (Emerald City Comicon in Seattle and Anime Evolution in Vancouver) I went to!

All in all it’s an interesting look into a subculture that I don’t really experience much, despite being a massive nerd. Who knew that people still used usenet?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Morgenmuffel no. 17

Morgenmuffel no. 17
By Isy
PO Box 74
Half sized.

I guess I’ve spent so long living in places that nobody would ever want to visit that actually reading about other people going to the same places I’ve been kind of blows me away.

That was the way I felt reading the comic that makes up the largest part of this zine, as Isy travels to the west coast of America, and goes to Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and some other places I’ve been to. I was in that restaurant! On that train! I might have met that person! It was interesting to see how people who have gone to the same places as you can experience them differently, or will do completely different things in those places that you never even contemplated doing.

(I think this most struck home with me when I was in Japan a few years ago, and my guidebook said that in Kyoto I would encounter the Japan of my imagination, namely geisha girls and temples. As I’d just come to Kyoto after hitchhiking several hundred kilometres to go to a robot museum (that had closed down forever the previous week) and was in Kyoto primarily to see the manga museum there, I realized that the writer of the guide book and myself had very different views on Japan, and that next time I should actually look at guide books before I buy them.)

So yeah, Isy goes to America (and a little bit of Canada). She goes to punk shows, she is amazed by vegan Oreos, she sees some bears (I have never done this), she drives a car for the first time in twelve years, she encounters bureaucracy; it’s UK punks in America.

There’s also a comic about the Climate Camp 2008 protest, where she again spent a lot of time cooking food for huge numbers of people, and one on charting your girly cycle thing, which was actually informative and not as ick as I feared it would be (yes I am afraid of girls’ bleeding bits).

There’re also more of the hate lists, which I’m still not interested in (though at least this time they’re illustrated with drawings of the people who created the lists), and Isy’s panel to panel storytelling is still whack, but I enjoy Morgenmuffel anyway. Time to start reading the book!

Friday, February 12, 2010

A Character Sandwich

A Character Sandwich
By Robin Layne

This is a collection of short pieces of fiction, and by golly are they ever short. None of them is more than two pages, and the shortest is just over one hundred words. That’s short!

The pieces were mostly written, and the zine made, for classes given by Write Around Portland and the Portland Community College. I don’t think I could republish anything I wrote for school, as I’m sure it is all awful. I recently reread the final history essay I wrote (on the history of Canadian comics) for my degree, and wow, I thought the writing in that was pretty terrible. Time passes I suppose.

As I said above, most of the pieces (Layne calls them sketches) here are really short. Too short to really get a handle on, or even see how competent Layne is as a writer. Some of them seem like they could be interesting and lead into larger works, but I won’t be checking them out, as the longest piece in here is four pages on how Layne found god as a child and great religion is. Anyone with a world view like that isn’t someone whose work I’m actively going to seek out.

I did like the table of contents though, which referred to different parts of writing as different ingredients in an actual sandwich. Cute.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Fanny Cake the Swan

Fanny Cake the Swan
By Terra

I was halfway through this before I realized that there was a narrative connecting all the pictures. I guess I’m just dumb. And took the “colour me in” and “add your own text” on the cover to mean that it was just an activity book.

Instead, it’s the story of one of those swan boats that people ride around in going on an adventure and meeting the ghosts of some dead moles of weasels or something who require booze. Yes, it is really strange.

Unfortunately I think this zine really suffers from, well, being a zine. Being photocopied really hasn’t done the art any favours, and I’m really curious as to what the originals looked like. The murky grays, the fact that it’s all been created on graph paper, the blank speech balloons that look like clouds, and the lettering that’s hard to read all combine to create a very frustrating reading experience. I like the art, the story interests me, I just want to see it presented in a better way, perhaps online?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Blink Vol 2

Blink Vol 2
By Julia Lipscomb

I very almost didn’t read this zine. Or rather, I almost didn’t bother to finish reading it.

The opening piece of writing is presented in huge blocks of text lacking in capitals and looks like

datta. dayadhvam. damyatta. to give. to sympathize. to control. you lost control of who you are, so you try to control me, so i am trying to control you but i know that i can never control you because you can never control me you can’t assume that i will automatically adapt to your empathy.

and so forth. I put down the zine and dreaded reading more. Did I really want to read more than thirty pages of this stuff?

The second piece was fiction. This time it had capitals, and was considerably clearer to read, though it still featured passages such as

...he stared down, a definite integral is computed by any of its infinitely many antideriviatives: zeroes, no zeroes, there are always the non-zeros. But what is in the non-computable, and why is she still looking at him? It was longer than infinitesimal.

What. The. Fuck. This is a story about a boy liking a girl or something.

(And what is the proper way to pluralize “zero”?)

The zine continues, with page after page of text written in this strange, verbose, detail oriented, repetitive, stream of consciousness, conversational style. Some pieces seem to be fiction, some seem to be reminiscences, and I can’t really tell which is which. However as the zine progressed they become more readable, or my brain became attuned to their style.

A piece on the impossibility of reading Achebe in the sun by a pool became almost self referential as it stated how I felt when it said that the “maddening theoretical analysis ... became synonymous with a deafening insanity.” I felt like I was reading the words, but not absorbing anything.

And then things clicked as I read the final two pieces of the zine (which I read as one long piece because they seemed to meld into each other).

The first of these pieces is written by a narrator who is drunk, and becoming drunker. She repeats what she says, she goes off on tangents, she defines things, and she tries to think ideas through to their ends. It reads like a drunken arts student who has read too much theory, and suddenly I had a point of reference because that drunken arts student had been me. I had done the same things, I had rambled and talked about things nobody else cared about or understood, I had done things I later regretted doing, I had remembered half forgotten memories unconnected to everything that came before, I had vocalized my fears and dreams. It was all there.

If the piece was written while drunk it was either edited afterwards to make everything comprehensible or the author is the best drunk speller I have ever encountered, either of which is commendable.

In the end I came out of the zine thinking. I had felt a connection with the author that I hadn’t expected, and was glad that I’d persevered to the end.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Square Eyed Stories #21

Square Eyed Stories #21
By Arthur Goodman, David Goodman, and Jim McGee.
Half sized, £2, €3, $4, ¥500

I dug this little anthology comic zine, even if the weird chair monster/vehicle on the cover doesn’t show up inside.

The short strips inside by the three different creators are in a variety of different styles, but are all pretty funny, usually in a mean spirited way of some sort (that poor jetpack monkey!).

Jim McGee’s strips are the weirdest out of the three creators (though it’s kind of hard to say that when one of the other comics is about a zombie baby panda). His strips frequently have a sort of desperate, Hunter S. Thompson-y nonsensical style (I am probably wrong in referring to it as such, but I don’t know how else to do so really), or feature organs that walk around. And just what are the Banana Brothers? Are they actual bananas? Strange.

The strips by the two Goodman brothers are more linear if nothing else, though they still contain the same weird humour found in McGee’s strips (the aforementioned jetpack money and zombie panda amongst others). I have to wonder if it was a conscious decision to run the strips featuring normal humans doing normal (ish) things next to each other, while those featuring violent little girls also ran on opposite pages. Hmm....

There’s also a couple of jam strips, that seem more coherent than most. Which is probably the result of the creators doing them for agggges. So, overall it’s pretty good.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Zine Libs Issue #2

Zine Libs Issue #2
By Caroline Paquita and Erick Lyle
PO Box 40272
San Francisco, CA
Half sized.

Mad libs! Those stories from when you were a kid that were missing words that you filled in to create amusingness. Except these ones are about punk houses, protests, and the end of the world.

The stories work pretty well and there’s even a grammar guide in the back explaining what all the different grammar terms mean. So if you can’t remember what an adverb actually is, then there’s a handy definition plus examples!

My only complaint is that the stories are way too long. After about two pages of asking my friends for adjectives, nouns, and places, most of their enthusiasm disappeared. So it was sometimes hard to get people to keep listing off words for up to four pages before being able to hear the story. I think a larger number of shorter stories would work better.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

People I Know: Beardy

People I Know
By Timothy Winchester
Quarter sized.

Winchester does another comic of cutely/simplistically drawn characters (is that guy wearing footie pajamas?) doing horrible things to each other. This time it’s one member of a couple confessing something to the other one. Oh the hilarity.

It only takes like twenty seconds to read (I just timed it). But what twenty seconds! And I’ve read it multiple times, so I’ve gotten entire minutes of entertainment out of this comic. Though that might include writing this review.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Guide to Timefighting

Guide to Timefighting

Well this certainly isn’t what I expected.

What did I expect? Some sort of bizarre, rambling, nonsensical guide on how to organize your life and stop wasting time maybe. Or possibly some sort of bizarre, rambling, nonsensical narrative about travelling through time and fighting against agents of order/chaos and oh no the government is out to get me and you have to know the truth before I am killed and they’re coming for me you have to get out of the house right now.

(Why did I think this? I have no idea. I got the zine from some nice kids at the Portland Zine Symposium last year, and, while I didn’t talk to them much, they didn’t seem insane.)

Instead, this zine is the product of a collective that strives to create stories, media, and projects that hope to help create a sense of community amongst those who experience them.

It starts up with an introduction to what timefighting is, and what a timefighter does. It seems that timefighting is all about documenting what’s going on around you, so that others can learn from your experiences. Or maybe it’s something to do with sub-atomic particles, magick feathers, and time machines (yes, it does mention those things, which, combined with a page entitled “What to do when you find yourself stuck in a past life,” makes me wonder if maybe my second guess about what this zine was about wasn’t that far off the mark).

After the introduction, the zine goes on to give a number of examples of how you too can become a timefighter (!). The first is possibly the most interesting/inspiring. “Become a news source,” it says, “one of the best ways to get the news you want is to investigate it yourself.” In today’s world where the news we are presented with is frequently sensationalist garbage chosen by corporations in order to sell ad space, while the stories that you care about probably aren’t covered at all, this, unfortunately, rings incredibly true.

The rest of the writing projects are less revolutionary, though not necessarily less fun: revisit a place you’d discovered and see how it’s changed, write a story as both true and false, investigate the mundane.

The example given for writing a story as both true and false features possibly the most typically “zine-like” part of this publication. The true story tells of someone wanting to find out what is on the other side of some portholes that are installed in the bathroom of a restaurant. I’d totally want to know too if I’d seen them, and someone exploring things like that is the kind of thing I like reading about, so I’m glad someone went and found out. However, I won’t tell you what was discovered on the other side of the port holes, as that helps fulfil the goal of the final project.

That final project is creating mystery for the person reading what you’ve written. It features a story about someone building something. What is that something? I have no idea, as that’s blacked out every time it’s mentioned. I feel like I can almost see what it says, and that perhaps with a scanner, and some time spent with image programs I could figure it out. But do I really want to? Part of the appeal is trying to figure out what’s been created from the context, though I have to say I have no idea what it actually was (or if the story was even real).

There’s also a comic that is half how-to guide for timefighting, half battle with a giant clock. And really, what more do you want from a zine?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Shorts vol 2

Shorts vol 2
By Emily Block
Fortune Cookie Comics
Half sized.

This is a collection of two short comics, which you could probably tell from the title. Though I suppose it could be a comic about the clothing item.

The first story is entirely silent and is about a person trying to return some library books and the increasingly ridiculous ways they try to avoid some canvasers standing on the street asking people to donate to a specific charity. I worked as one of those people for a while, and you can just say “no thank you”! Honest! Though I suppose the fact that I would take “no” for an answer explains why I didn’t work in that position for very long.

The story goes kind of insane with the canvassers sending out waves of pure guilt, and pens and pencils being used as offensive weapons. It’s pretty funny and I liked the cartooning in it. It also uses grey tones effectively, adding an extra element to the black and white work.

The second comic is a short (two page) Pokemon parody that made me laugh. Oh violence, you are so entertaining.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Amber the Arsonist #14

Amber the Arsonist #14
By Rebecca
P.O. Box 1582
Piscataway, NJ

This was a quickie zine made on the day of the New Jersey zine fest a few years ago. Rebecca goes to Pittsburgh with her (now ex-) girlfriend and seemingly everything that can go wrong does. It takes ten hours (instead of four) to drive there because of a snow storm closing down the highway. She can’t find anything to eat. Everything is closed both that night and the next day. They get lost and can’t find her ex’s friends’ house. They fight. They freak out. They’re asked if they love each other by a different friend of the ex, which seems like an incredibly awkward question.

It seemed like a pretty terrible trip. But I, and probably most other people, can relate, and it’s nice to read about something like this presented with this much honesty. Still, two backpacks and a duffel bag worth of luggage? For a two night trip? I will never understand girls.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Rum Lad #4

Rum Lad #4
By Steve Larder

While some of this zine counts as comics, most of it is just illustrated prose. But what illustrations! I really enjoy Larder’s art, whether it’s a desolate railway station in Germany, bands and punks rocking out, or just the collection of stuff someone has in their house, it’s all done with skill and a style I really enjoy.

In between illustrations Larder recounts going to Germany to attend a zine conference, going to a punk picnic, interviews another zinester he really likes, and wanders through life wondering what he’s doing (though don’t we all?).

The trip to Germany is the longest part of the zine, and it seems Larder experienced many of the same things I’ve felt when travelling to other countries. He says the experience brought to mind the song “Petty Problems” by Defiance, Ohio (such a good band, and I’m listening to them right now), and how getting lost in a foreign country or not knowing what to do with your life are kind of meaningless worries when he can travel to another country on holiday just because he wanted to. In comparison to people with real problems, his seem minuscule. If only everyone had access to the luxuries we do. Sigh.

I felt I really got a sense of who Larder was by reading this zine. His interests, his fears, his expectations: it’s all in there. Though to be honest you can tell a lot about him just from the list of music he listened to while making this zine. J Church, Dillinger Four, and Jawbreaker*? Hmm, I wonder what type of person he could be... One that makes really good zines of course.

*Admittedly these are almost the only bands he lists that I’ve heard of.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Month One: Complete!

So January is over and I successfully posted a review every day. Go me! How long can I keep this up? Hopefully until I run out of zines (several months from now) at the least.

What else (zine wise) did I accomplish this month?

I wrote a piece of fiction for a group zine some friends are making called "The Other Wo/Man" about being the "other person" in relationships. The zine's not finished, so I haven't even seen a copy.

I finished Oblast #2, the new issue of my zine about a bicycle trip I took last summer form Vancouver, BC to Portland, Oregon for the zine symposium I went to there.

I made a bunch of artist trading cards and then traded them.

I sent mail to some people and, even better, got some back!

I completely failed to work on any of my own zine projects as all my writing time was taken up by this site. I guess I just need to read fewer websites.

Though about choosing my favourite zine and minicomic from those I reviewed in January. But so difficult!

Sugar Needle #34

Sugar Needle #34: The (Almost) Vegan Issue
By Phlox Icona and Corina Fastwolf
P.O. Box 66835
Portland, OR
97290, USA
$2 and a stamp, tall half sized.

Sugar Needle is a zine that reviews candy. That idea alone makes it pretty rad, but when combined with the format (I love that tall size), hand colouring, imaginary candies that the writers wished existed, and candy sent in from all over the world you have an awesome package.

This issue focuses mostly on vegan candies, which I was excited about. As a vegetarian I am frequently frustrated when I discover candy (or anything) has gelatin or some other animal product in it. Why are you putting that in candy? I do not understand!

There’s loads of reviews of different candies and chocolates in here that will probably make you hungry (I want to try the grapefruit parrots), plus images of the packaging so you know what to look for, and an interview with a vegan chocolate truffle maker in Portland. What more could you want? Well, other than answers to who comes up with these candy flavours (Elvis peanut butter and banana crème Reese’s), and why chocolate covered bacon seemed to be everywhere last year. Ew.

Monday, February 1, 2010


By David Wynne

This comic is a lot of fun.

Theodore Sweeper is the Ideasman. He uses his wits and his gun to keep a transdimensional space, known as the gutter, swept clear of those who are against IDEAS (Interstitial Department of Eternal Affairs).

Sweeper fights his way through a wall of text into the zoo illogical to discover that his nemesis Hellvetika (“a rogue linguistrix banished from the Bibliosphere for Dewey Decimal deviance”) is stealing a Thesaurus Rex for nefarious deeds.

Before he can save the day Theo must face a thrown “EXPLOSION” which explodes, an octoplus, internet trolls, and bad puns before using italics to save the day.

Yes, it’s loaded with word play and puns, and maybe you have to be a font, design, and layout nerd to get half of the jokes, but as I’m clearly in that demographic I really enjoyed this. It even manages to insult the BNP, always a plus for any publication.