Saturday, July 31, 2010


By Cav Bøgelund

At times in the past I've wondered if something I've reviewed on this site counts as a minicomic. I will admit right away that Sorte does not count in any way except actual size (it's small!).

Sorte is part of a series of small, square comics put out by Aben Maler as part of the 676 series of work by Danish artists. Lots of them looked pretty interesting but this is the one you should get because it's entirely silent and thus you need absolutely no knowledge of Danish to understand what's going on (I think every other book I looked at had at least some Danish in it somewhere).

Sorte features a soul stealing monster of some kind (who appears on the cover) traveling through a creepy city full of tall, dark buildings at night, and seemingly killing poeple and stealing their souls. What does this creature have in mind for the souls? You'd probably guess that it's not very positive, and while to be honest writing this sentence made me wonder if maybe it could actually be positive, all I will tell you about the rest of the story is that it features a body in a box in a tree, some sort of weird mystical magic stuff, and a costume change.

Bøgelund's art here is really fantastic. It reminds me of a number of different creators, none of whom I can remember the names of right now but at least one of whom is European. Everything is drawn in a stark black and white, the cities seem empty, the landscapes seem desolate, the creatures seem kind of scary.

The detail in each panel varies, with certain ones using more simplified character designs that still manage to keep hold of the character's apparent traits and have them be recognizable. Other panels manage to show the emotion of the cover character, which considering he only has a beak and huge pupil-less eyes seems like quite a difficult task. All of them manage to create a great sense of mood.

I kind of wish I'd used a page that featured multiple panels instead of the one below, but here's a pretty rad drawing of Batman that Bøgelund did.

Anyway, if you can find this somewhere it's worth checking out, and I'm certainly going to be on the lookout for more of Bøgelund's work.

Friday, July 30, 2010


By Patrick Ringsborg

Straight up, I don't really get this comic. A girl finds an animal skull and attaches it to a robot, which then runs amok. A magic flying turtle, some meat, and a baby trap also appear.

"Matthew", you are probably asking yourself if you were clever enough to look at the above URL and deciphered that it was for a Danish website "are you reading comics in languages you cannot understand again?"

Well, I am not. This comic is entirely silent, and presumably the weird goings on were all part of Ringsborg's plan, even if I'm not entirely sure what his plan actually was.

The art's good (a sort of weird goth style with both cutesy and realistic elements), and if you're at all interested you can go to the above website and check out a PDF in the publications section. I hope you do as it's worth the few minutes it'll take you to "read".

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mix Tape

By Allan Haverholm

If for nothing else this comic is amazing for it's packaging. It's the size of a cassette tape and comes inside a cassette case. AMAZING. Plus once you get to the middle/end you have to flip it over to read the other side.

But what's inside? Oh it's another of these visual poem things I seem to have gotten a lot of recently. Why? I have no idea, or maybe I've just been reading certain comics the wrong way for years and never noticed.

Each page has two different images on it. Do they relate to each other? Sometimes I think they do, sometimes I don't. I am almost certainly positive there is no continuous narrative here.

Instead I wonder if this is actually a companion piece to an actual mix tape of some sort. The more I look at it the more I think that Haverholm played a mix of music and drew whatever it made him think of. If so it's a really cool idea, though I do wish that I knew what the music he may have been listening to while drawing this was. Oh well!

Woo, check out my fingers.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


By Cliodhna Lyons, Maeve Clancy, and Philip Barrett

This comic features three different short comics about the number three created by three different Irish creators. Three three three three three.

None of them is very long. Lyons is about superstitians (presubably inspired by "third time's the charm"), and featurs some pretty cute artwork, though it is lacking in backgrounds (just what is that ladder leaning against?).

Clancy's is a silent tale inspired by the story of the three little pigs. The pencil only (I think) artwork is quite nice, but to be honest I'm not really sure what's gong on here and the ending just kind of confuses me. Maybe I am just dumb.

Barret's also confuses me a little as it jumps through time and I wasn't sure if there were multiple narrators talking. Clearly I am not good at dealing with non-conventional story telling right now! It does have some really nice inking and line work, and some incomprehensible future monster things.

I don't think this comic is the best examples of work by these creators, but if you alrady like them it's worth picking up, and it's possible that reading it will inspire you to go and find more work by one of them.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Freedom of the Press in Black and White

By Tobocman

Considering how often I've seen "Free Mumia" graffiti it's kind of strange that I had almost no idea who he was before I read this. Was I never curious? Did I never come across something discussing it? I guess not.

This is a (biased) account of Mumia Abu-Jamal live. It covers his early days as a young black man in America, his connections to the Black Panthers, his time as a journalist, the murder case he was involved with, and some of his time spent in prison afterwards.

If you read this account you will no doubt think that Mumia was set up, or wrongfully tried, or at least that the death penalty shouldn't exist. But that's what the comic is trying to convince you so of course you would think that. Is it true? I really cannot say, it seems as though something fishy was going on with the whole proceedings, but what exactly I don't know. I also feel that some seemingly important information I saw on the wikipedia page about the whole incident isn't included here. (Also, MOVE seems like some sort of cult.)

But enough about that, how good is the art? I think it looks pretty good. The artist has chosen to use a blocky style that at times looks like woodprints. It works well with the type of story being told (political propaganda) and the huuuuge amounts of text that are jammed into almost every panel.

Speaking of which, there are a few places where the text is a bit confusing and I read things out of order, but for the most part I knew when to read each piece of writing.

If you already know about Mumia this won't give you any information, but if you're as clueless as I was then it's a good starting point. Though as with all political propaganda it's probably worth reading some other sources too.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Kunsthæfte nr. 8

By Jesper Fabricius

Okay, I guess this is another art book thing, as it has an ISBN and everything, but if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it's probably a zine.

So this is the "visual poetry" zine I mentioned a few entries back. Sure the cover calls it "space poetry", but as it's not actually about meteors or astronauts I'm more comfortable with the term I just invented.

Inside we are presented with full colour pages which present images, or parts of images in new forms. One of the earliest presents a square with a blue design, a horizontal rectangle with a hand, and a vertical rectangle with a different hand holding a bottle of soda that seems to be from an old advertisement. The images are presented more or less in a vertical line, and leave a lot to wonder about. Why these three images? What is the connection between them? Did the creator cut them out specifically, or just find them and combine them? Why do all of my reviews now consist of unanswerable questions?

The rest of the zine is similar, some of the pages have a few more pictures (pretty much all of them are small squares or rectangles), and a few have less (these ones present larger full page images, or at least the borders and outlines of them), but all of it made me wonder what the artist's intentions were.

I've never really been a big poetry fan, but this zine actually made me rethink the entire concept of poetry, both visual and written. I suppose when I'm presented with images I have to think about I realize that poetry is often trying to create the same thing, only with words, and that perhaps I should start reading poems in the same way that I "read" this: studying each image that is presented to me and wondering what the author's intent was. Though usually I'd probably rather make bad puns about "intense intents in tents".

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Jeg Ser En Mand

By Claus Handberg Christensen

I have no idea what the title means, and the contents are almost as mystifying. They consist of six photos, with no captions or text of any sort, of a man in a suit walking down a broken and decrepit street. He looks up at something we can't see, then continues walking.

There are so many questions raised here: where are the photos taken? Are they part of a larger set? Who is the man and whey is he walking through such a grimy area? What is he looking at?

None of them have answers, so I'm left to try and think up some of my own. (Okay, there is a street name sign visible in the photos so I could probably figure out where it is, but I'm not going to, and I'm just going to assume he's looking up at a pterodactyl fighting a giant robot.)

All the photos are shot from the exact same height, angle, and whatever other photography terms I have forgotten. The shot itself is really interesting, as part of a wall is so white it looks almost like a margin, separating the photo into two parts. I'm not sure if this was intentional or is just something that I'm creating with my mind, either way it looks interesting.

Finally, this was part of a set of small books that were also designed as postcards. There's space for you to write an address and message on the back, and the orange bit on top actually sealed the book close (until I tore it open to look inside). Neat! I'd love to get something like this in the mail.

(And yes, I guess this is an art book, but it's basically just a zine.)

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Inside this paper bag there is a letter addressed to you. Probably not actually you as the letter recounts a very specific incident that certainly doesn't apply to me (I don't even drink milk!) and more than likely doesn't apply to you (I bet you don't even have a can of wasabi peas in your house).

The letter is not an apology, but rather recounts a discussion which had happened earlier. The original event isn't really delved into in detail (although maybe there is no detail), and no explanations are given.

This is all incredibly vague isn't it? I'm kind of doing that on purpose because there isn't much to this and I think it's worth reading if you ever see a copy. There is one mystery remaining though: I'm sure I've read this before somewhere, but I have no idea when or where I would have. Also, I dislike the way the word 'diagram' is used here.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Strip For Me 22

By Douglas Noble

I'm not really sure what to make of this collection of short comic pieces. Most of them are only a page long and don't really look like traditional comics. A page of four rows of four small, square images, with paragraphs of text with vague connections to the images above each row doesn't really fill my idea of a comic. What are they? I'm not too sure.

The images are kind of interesting, and I just finished reading a zine of visual poetry (review soon!), and I kind of ended up viewing this zine along the same lines. The text can certainly be seen as narrative poetry of a sort, as the brief snippets of text describe ideas or actions without really going into them in depth. The images are then there to help create a mood for the text to be read with. Hmmm.

But some of the stuff in here is more like actual comics! There's a four pager about someone with an illness that seems to raise more questions than it answers, a one pager about a wolfman, and an excerpt from what I assume is a longer piece. What most of these have in common is that they don't really seem to give the reader all of the information. There always seems to be more of the story that the author isn't telling us. However, I don't believe there is anything else to read, and the way the excerpt was run ended up annoying me more than drawing me in and making me want to go and find more.

I guess I view some of the stuff here as narrative experiments. I don't really think that they succeeded, but I guess it's better to try for something big and fail than to do something mediocre.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Revolutionary Women Stencil Book

By Tui

The cover (and woah, that is a terrible photograph up there, sorry!) and title of this zine are a little misrepresentational: there are lots of stencils in here, but there are also bios on twelve different women revolutionaries that are pretty interesting.

Who's included? Harriet Tubman, Emma Goldman, Lucia Sanchez Saornil (pictured below), Angela Davis, Leila Khaled, Comandante Ramona, Phoolan Devi, and more. The zine apologizes for having a Euro-American bias, but only five of the women included are white, which seems like a much better ratio than you'd usually find, and probably indicates who you can actually find information about in English.

While I don't agree with all of the politics and beliefs held by all of these women, I think it would be hard for someone to list twelve different people who's politics they do agree with entirely. I also found the zine interesting in that it raised the question of "what is revolutionary?" in my mind and made me think and reconsider what the word means to me and to others.

The zine says that a lot of the research was done by "cutting and pasting stuff off the internet", and I'm not exactly sure what that means. If it means that the text was taken without permission and not credited than I'm not really down with that (I'd be pretty pissed if someone took some of my writing and reprinted it without giving me credit).

The stencils themselves look good and there were a couple of them that I would totally be up for using if I was into stenciling (someday...) both because of their design and because of the ideas that the women represented.

My copy had a few of the pages out of order, but it was easy enough to figure out which bio went with which stencil.

And now a terrible photo of one of the stencils.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Shit Starter #2

By C.N. Thompson and others

Trust me to write a dozen reviews for this site and then do nothing for two weeks. Go me!

But here we go, late but still one more day of updates.

This is a zine about sex, sexuality, and identity. Near the beginning there's a list of black feminist authors and books, which makes me think that the author of this zine is black, but maybe they're just really interested in viewing how different races/cultures view concepts like feminism.

The first piece is the punk sex theory, which is a "serious analysis" of "punk love" zines that are made. Thompson disses all perzines for being about 'love', says they're all about failed relationships and disappointing sex lives, and wonders if "the only punk kids that are sober or literate enough to actually publish themselves ... are the socially awkward ones".

There are some interesting thoughts on sex as a taboo and the idea of sexual repression in society, but I feel that at the absolute minimum Thompson is ignoring travel zines, which I feel are a significant part of the perzine scene. (Or do they not count as perzines?)

There's also an except from David Wojnarowicz's "Close to the Knives" about public grief and funerals, an account of getting herpes by Bastian Ryder, which is kind of gross, but also an important issue to discuss (sometimes I think that for something to be important is has to be a bit gross and uncomfortable for people to discuss), and a guide to making DIY sex toys.

It's all stuff that matches the proposed theme of the issue, but then we get information on complex proteins/amino acids, a recipe, and record reviews. It's kind of a weird change of pace from the rest of the zine.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


(Argh, unfortunately this image isn't the best quality. My camera was basically dead and I had a hard time even getting this before it shut off.)

By Johanna Skoog

Hurray! An actual Swedish comic, how exciting! Okay, so the scene on the cover doesn't happen in here, nor does anything even close to that happen. Instead we're presented with something that's sort of like a cross between Gon (that manga about the tiny dinosaur) and Bone (though mostly cause Demo kind of looks like a bone creature).

There's a number of comics in here of various lengths, but throughout them all Demo wordlessly (the only dialogue is in pictograms, so everybody can understand) wanders around having various adventures. The first long one is kind of strange as he encounters a bunch of goblin creatures while walking through a forest and is saved by some elves who take him home and nurse him back to health. Okay, it's not that weird (for a comic), what is is the contrast in styles between Demo (drawn very simply and cartoony) and the other characters (lots of detail and the elves have big anime style eyes). It's kind of strange and really succeeds in making Demo to look utterly alien in his surroundings.

The other long comic is rather strange, and seems to be about Demo's childhood. (I'll note here that I have no idea if the character is called Demo, but I'll call him that anyway.) Demo's parents clearly love him a lot, but Death (yes with a capital, it's the skeleton guy) is always lurking somewhere nearby. Demo's parents decide they're going to go into the sea, and swim around eating fish. They want to bring Demo with them, but he cries a lot, so they leave him on shore while they disappear into the ocean. After being abandoned a depressed Demo starts wandering the earth and has some adventures including fighting a really well drawn giant squid thing. Hurray!

I really like the cartooning on display in this comic. Skoog has kept the design of Demo very simple, but there are quite a lot of details in the backgrounds and other characters and items he interacts with. There's also a really good page with drawings of thirty different animals. That must have taken ages!

The end of one of the stories is very "to be continued"; who is that character and why do they look so much like a Pokemon? I hope that means there's more of this to read somewhere out there in the world.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Ouija Interview No. 3: Naomi

By Sarah Becan

Okay, you're probably wondering why I keep reviewing these, since they're basically all the same, but there are two reasons.

1. I think they're really good.
2. I only have so much time in this Swedish library (I'm in Malmo!), and don't really want to read some of the really long comics, or the ones that don't immediately grab my attention.

This issue manages to combine the styles of the two previous stories: it's both fun, and a little depressing. Naomi misses her friend, but doesn't know how to find him. Awww, adorable. Of course there's the not very nice reason why Naomi is dead in the first place, but you kind of have to accept that in stories about ghosts.

The art continues to be the right combination of cute and ghoulish, and I really like the haircut on the ghost in this one. Plus the little squiggly bits at the bottom of the ghost...torso. I don't know how to describe ghost body parts.

One thing I didn't mention with the others in this seriesis that I really like the lettering. The font used for the ghosts looks blocky and kind of old fashioned, and presumably is similar to the type found on ouija boards. At first I thought it was done with some sort of inkstamp letterblock thing, but comparing words that are the same it looks like it unfortunately wasn't. Still, I guess that would have taken forever, and it does still look quite good.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Tips on Applying for Welfare

By Bill Volk

Well, this comic is what it says on the cover. While the disclaimer inside says that the advice was written specifically for residents of New Hampshire, most of it can be used by anyone as its all pretty general.

Volk talks about how applying for welfare can be pretty scary, and that the welfare officers will just question your motives and sometimes outright lie to you so that you won't apply (and probably make more work for them).

The crucial things are "don't let them stop you applying", even if you think you're not eligible let whoever makes that decision decide, not you or the person at the desk, and you have a right to that decision in writing. I guess that's possibly the only bit of advice that might not apply everywhere, but it's been true in my experience.

The art features a giant, cartoonsihly ugly welfare officer, and an applicant that is just a vague outline of a human with eyes that makes them seem oddly anonymous, which probably isn't the best message you want to be giving to people who are on/applying for welfare who possibly already feel anonymous and ignored by society. But perhaps I just put too much thought into this type of thing.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Why We Call Them Robots

By Sarah Becan

If you've read this site for more than five minutes you know that I Love (capital intentional) monsters. However it may just be possible that you were unaware I also Love robots, it's just that there seem to be more monsters in the zines and minicomics I seem to review than there are robots.

This comic is all about robots! Hurray

Becan tells about the origin of the word "robot" and how it came to mean what it does today. She tells of Karel Capek, a writer from Eastern Europe who wrote the now-famous play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots), how he created the new meaning of the word, a description of the plot of the play (I really need to get around to reading it at some point), and information about Capek's life and death (he was "vehemently anti-Nazi", hurray!).

The art is mostly photos that have had their contrast increased so there is only black and white visible. It works for a comic such as this which is basically just short bio about a specific person, though I've found photo comics to be annoying sometimes when used to tell narratives. Also, I'm not totally enamored with the design of Unit 09011-2, but it's still better than all those fleshy meat bags.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Whims of a Marquis

By Casey Bohn

Okay, I really have no idea what's going on here. In four pages we are told that the king needs a man to guide him (specifically a marquis), a marquis mysteriously appears, demands an elixter made by a monk, drinks it, gets super powers, and then it ends. What?

I think it might have been created to use as many M words as possible, but even then it doesn't succeed that well as Bohn could have used loads of other words to make it more magnificent (or whatever).

The art is nice enough, I really like the marquis' hair, and the bottomless black pits for eyes the king has, but I'm just kind of confused by the existence of the whole thing.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Wooo images! Yeah, they're pretty low quality (hastily taken photographs), but it's better than nothing right?

For the record, here are the reviews that now have images:

The Tortoise Enters Tough Races

Ouija Interview No 2: Chip

Pair It

Read It

Open It

Ouija Interview No. 4: Mack, Agatha, and Samantha

Plus some more in the coming days!

10 Things To Do With a Fake Moustache

By Leah Riley and Will Woods

You can probably see on the cover (if I managed to actually get the image online) this zine originally came with a fake moustache on the cover, a genius marketing move if I've ever seen one. Unfortunately the problem with libraries is that you can't really lend out a fake moustache to everyone, and even if you could I wouldn't want it...

Inside this zine are the titular ten things you can do with a fake moustache, none of which is actually wearing it as a moustache. The things range from the sort of sensible ("Accentuate your eyebrows"), to the absurd (I'm not sure how well a moustache would stick to an octopus). Each of the suggestions is accompanied by a drawing, which is usually self explanatory, but at times needs the text to explain it. I honestly would never have guessed those things on the robot were moustaches if that wasn't the name of the zine.

So if you are seeking out things to do with your fake moustache you should get this zine.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ouija Interview No. 4: Mack, Agatha, and Samantha

By Sarah Becan

More ghost stories! This one is pretty brutal and sad, and if you liked how fun and lighthearted the previous one I reviewed was then this one might not be for you.

A tale of murder, depression, and incest is brought to life through the three ghost characters introduced here. It's pretty brutal stuff and made me kind of sad to read it, because I know that things like this happen in real life and there's not really anything I can do about them. Boo.

The writing here is kind of strange and considerably less linear than the straight question and answer style of the previous issue I read. The ghosts respond with answers that don't really answer anything, repeat the same word over and over again, and I guess act more like what a spooky ouija board encounter is supposed to be like.

As for the art, Becan continues to draw really rad ghosts and gets a lot of expression and feeling out of their limited features. Plus this time she has three different ghosts to draw, and is able to have them interacting with each other a little.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Open It

By Jason Week

The third of these weird comics that clearly have some connection, but what it is I cannot figure out. (Are they all by people who went to the Centre for Cartoon Studies? That's probably it.)

This one is about the Schrodinger's cat experiment, and a group of kids, including one who has bat wings, and at least one (and probably several) who is a super genius, actually performing the experiment.

Most of the comic is them arguing over whether they should open the box or not, what the experiment means, and stuff about probability. I sort of feel as though all the kids in this comic have clearly defined personalities that I'm just not aware of. I mean there are seven of them, and you clearly don't need that many to tell this story. So I think this would probably work better in a collection of stories about these characters instead of taken in isolation.

The art is fairly cartoony and I thought it was pretty good over all, though the fate of one of the cats at the end was initially lost on me.

I guess the "big idea" here is the multiple endings that exist, creating both possibilities of the experiment. While it is an awesome idea I found the execution a little lacking. Week has chosen to cut the last few pages in half and you are able to turn just the top or bottom of the page to see what happens. The problem I had with it is that the first page that is split already features both possible options: one has the cat living, the other dead. I think an additional page was needed, perhaps giving the reader the choice of whether they wanted the cat to live or die, or even just something that isn't a panel of a comic, as turning the top page and then ignoring the bottom is kind of awkward.

Still, I love physical experiments like this in zines. Hurray!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Postcards and photos

Photos for the revıews are ın the works! Honest! I am currently one step closer to gettıng them up.

In other news check thıs out.

You are invited to take part in our exhibition of postcards, where each postcard will be a unique work of art. At the end of the exhibition, all of the postcards will be randomly ‘swapped’ and you’ll receive someone else’s original artwork in the mail – yours to keep!

Ooooh, exciting!

Read It

By Josh Rosen

This appears to be part of a series or something with the comic I reviewed yesterday (in that they all have similar covers, and are mounted on a weird cardboard square). However this one I don't have the proper name for, as it's covered up on the back by a barcode. I'm sure someone will be along to correct me soon enough.

This one is quite different from yesterday's in that it is actually about "Rex Manface (and his plucky sidekick Sally)" journeying through a pyramid in search of its secrets! Adventure! Exploration! Monsters!

Of course we can't have the traditional adventuring man and useless female represented in fiction any more (or at least we shouldn't, I definitely don't want to read that shit any more). So here we have Sally dragged along on an adventure she didn't want to do, but constantly being more competent than Rex, saving his life from traps, sword-fighting skeletons, and certain death multiple times before they finally get to the treasure.

Of course it's not that simple. The evil, lisping mummy guardian of the treasure tells them that they must inexplicably spin the dreidel of death (did ancient Egyptians even have dreidels?) to see if they get the treasure or not.

I really liked this. I love adventure fiction with all its ghost fighting, treasure finding action, but to be honest the "traditional" stuff is kind of boring and horrible. (Oh my goodness some of those old pulp sci-fi things I've read have been so racist and misogynistic, eek.) Here the characters are portrayed in ways that are cliched (ie. guy is stupid but lucky, girl is smart and competent), but at least they are modern cliches that aren't really demeaning.

The art is a bit lacking in detail, but the small panels used for most of the comic don't really allow for that much detail to be included. Overall it's quite good and the action flows well throughout. I will admit that the design for the lisping mummy didn't really click with me, and when viewed front on, in its full lisping glory, I kind of wondered what exactly I was looking at.

But overall its good stuff, and I hope that Rosen has written some more of the adventures of Sally as I'd like to read them.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Pair It

By Jen Vaughn

While the cover may feature a bunch of sperm, the actual contents are less about the sperm themselves, and more about what they can cause.

Cari is your typical bitchy, only cares about money and her career type person. Her grandmother dies, and after missing the funeral (typical) it is discovered that her will stipulates that any babies Cari or her sister have during the next two years will be compared and the most beautiful will get millions of dollars.

Cari is determined to win, and sets about gathering lots of different genetic material so she can figure out the best possible match with her DNA and create the best possible baby through (dubious pseudo-) science!

Of course it all goes horribly wrong, and her sister finds true love (through Piers Anthony novels, really Vaughn aren't those supposed to be pretty misogynistic?), and you probably knows what happens next. Still I enjoyed Cari's ruthlessness and utter distaste for other people (she can't even remember her boyfriend's name), I just dislike ever meeting people like that in real life.

Vaughn's art is pretty good, and you can get a sense of what types of people Cari and her sister are just from the way they stand. I also really liked some of the transitions between panels and pages, and the use of a hospital curtain as a panel divider. Clever!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Ouija Interview No 2: Chip

By Sarah Becan

Okay, I know I've been alternating between comic and noncomic reviews on the site, but now that I have a big stack of minicomics to read that's what you'll be getting for the next little while. Thankfully, this one is pretty awesome.

I know I've seen some of these before, but I'm not totally sure where, and for whatever reason I didn't buy them (unless they are secretly hiding in my "to read" pile, but that is hundreds, if not thousands, of kilometers away).

I don't know if these are really the result of using a ouija board or not, but they sound fairly authentic as far as that thing goes (as in completely made up, but in the right format). Each page has a narration box on top that poses a question, then a single panel below that features a picture of a ghost responding to the question. I really dig the way Becan draws the ghost (who's name is Chip), with creepy eyes, and a stitched up looking mouth. Creepy! And yet still smilling and looking really happy.

There's not that much for Chip to do in each panel, but Becan makes the most of it. Chip flails around, changes expressions, and Becan somehow uses his limited facial features to imply that the person asking the questions is a total moron. Awesome!

So what questions are asked? Chip tells how he died, what the afterlife is like, what he the point of life is (getting laid), and tells a disgusting, but still funny, joke. He seems like a pretty rad guy.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Tortoise Enters Tough Races

By Bill Volk

I was worried I was going to run out of things to review on this blog, and then on a day trip to Malmo I discovered the awesome library there and all the zines (well, mostly minicomics) that they had. The site was saved! Hopefully

(Note, I actually have images for this and a bunch of the following ones, but have no way of getting them online yet. Hopefully soon!)

Anyway, you know what I totally love in zines? Fold outs! And this one totally delivers.

But first there's the comic, which is a retelling of the fable about the Tortoise and the Hare. You already know the story, and you can probably guess that there's going to be a twist of some sort, and there is. However I thought it was a good twist, and I enjoyed the mean spiritedness of it all, especially coming from the really cute animals that Volk has drawn here.

And then there's the fold out, which is really awesome if whoever has read the comic before you has refolded it correctly (less awesome if you have to refold it properly yourself first). Each unfolding (is that a word?) reveals a larger space for an image and dialogue to show up on. Hurray! The only problem with it is that it reminded me of those immortal jellyfish things, which in turn reminded me of one of my greatest fears: flying jellyfish. They (thankfully) don't exist, but eeeek they are horrifying, with their tendrils floating through the air and stinging things that get to close to them. I shudder just to think about them.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Cidade Solar #51

By Fernanada Meireles

One of the things I almost said I could do to keep this site going if I couldn't gain access to more zines was to start reviewing zines in foreign languages. Sometimes that's okay, I own comics in more languages than I can remember, but it's less fun when you're "reviewing" a political zine of some kind.

This one falls somewhere in between the two. It's part of a project to make one zine every week for a year, which is probably even more insane than me trying to do this site. I mean, at least I'm not wandering around various European countries desperately trying to find a long arm stapler.

The content seems like it'd be interesting if I could actually read it and it wasn't in what I believe to be Portuguese. What I content I can understand includes a drawing of a wall with barbed wire on top that is compared to Auschwitz, a hand drawn map showing where something called Boemia is, a few photos who's quality is very much what you expect from photocopied photos (sometimes I love this look, here the graininess looks pretty good), a recommendation for a vegetarian restaurant of some sort, something about a music show, and a drawing of a person made out of envelopes.

If you can understand Portugese and those things sound kind of interesting to you I'd say check it out. I think I'm going to keep it in case I run into someone who understands it, or get really bored and try running some of it through babelfish.

"in my hand it tava the document of the car and my recemtirada wallet of motorasta. mine cabels was grating, I used muiro black."

Oh babelfish.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

WJC Comic No 1


Urgh. Writing this stuff on a computer in Sweden that is underlining almost every word I type is frustrating. I predict this will be my most spelling-mistake filled review ever. Plus I am tired.

So! WJC! I read one of his comics in the 2000AD fanzine I reviewed a little while ago, and it's good suff. The comic here has absolutely nothing to do with the cover, but is about a helicopter getting shot down, and the pilot trying to escape from some strange, unstoppable soldiers who are chasing him. It's almost entirely silent apart from sound effects, but you don't really need dalogue to understand what's going on here.

At the end of the story there's some ultra violence that kind of comes out of nowhere, but it all looks pretty good, even if the reproduction on my copy isn't the best. The artwork inside is a lot "cleaner" than on the cover in that the lines are more solid and less messy, but the same sense of design can be seen. Plus there is a weird squid-armed monster with a knife and a meat cleaver on the back cover. Result.

I'm really curious as to if this is part of some longer story or world, as there are questions raised here that I want to know the answers to!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Out of Step #1

Compiled by Richard Cartwright

Dear people putting website addresses in print,
I know that sometimes you want to change your url, it's perfectly understandable. But when the old one is just a blogspot address, there's no reason not to leave it up with a link to the new one instead of erasing it entirely and leaving me to wonder if I typed something wrong.

That out of the way, this is a zine asking people to name, and talk about, three records/albums that changed their life. It is, as you could probably predict by it being a zine, full of people talking about indie rock, punk, and some more classic rock stuff. There's like two electronic albums (one of which is chosen for it taught the writer that electronic music didn't have to be dance stuff) and one hip hop.

I really like the idea, but felt that the albums became kind of predictable as the people asked (white zinesters) all basically listen to the same type of music, and I would have liked a wider range fo musical tastes on display.

Anyway, here are mine.

Rammstein - Sehnsucht

I remember just before the beginning of grade 10 (ie. the start of high school) seeing part of the music video for Du Hast, and just being "What is this? I need more." However, I didn't manage to see/write down the band name and for days afterwards I watched MuchMusic as much as possible in the hopes of seeing the song again (does much even play music any more?). Eventually I did, went out and bought the album and listened to it on repeat as I read Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere (which I also bought that day). Then, high school! Where for basically the first time in ages I met people who had the same interests as me (computers, reading), and who knew Ramnstein, and lots of other cool (and better) music that was electronic based. Hurray.

Blink 182 - Dude Ranch

I never actually owned this album, instead it was one that my brother owned. He discovered it through much the same way as I discovered the above album (ie. MuchMusic), and it began his journey through punk, indie, post-punk, noise, and whatever else he listens to that continues to this day. So why does it affect me? Well, my brother was always more into music than I was (perhaps due to there actually being a punk scene where we grew up, while there wasn't an electronic music scene outside of people's bedrooms), but I discovered loads of bands I really like from music he downloaded/bought (Xiu Xiu is the only one I can remember right now, but there were others), and we both evolved along parallel political paths.

Something by Buck 65

I never owned this either (I spent all my money on comics and video games), but there was the internet, and my brother owned some of them (so why should I buy it too?). I haven't liked some of his recent stuff as much, but at the time it taught me that hip hop could actually be good, that it didn't have to be about bitches and bling, and you could be from Halifax and still make awesome rap songs about centaurs. Hip hop is awesome and you should listen to more of it.

(A 4th is the song "Out of Space" by the Prodigy, which I heard while a babysitter was driving my brother and I home from school one day. She put it on a tape for me and I listened to it over and over. I had no idea who it was by, and it was only a while after the Prodigy became big in North America that I learned that it was by the same group that did Firestarter. I don't know if it "changed my life" or whatever, but it clearly made me an early advocate for more beeps and bloops in my music.)

What are your top 3?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Trixie Biker Vs. the Time-Wastral

By Matthew Craig

This is a kind of strange story where the titular character Trixie Biker rides a motorcycle and talks to fairies, that I believe only she can see, to defeat a mad scientist and his time traveling shenanigans.

In between the scenes of motorcycle action are scenes about Trixie's alter ego Jane, who works in an office, does all the work with none of the rewards, and looks basically nothing like Trixie. I mean, yeah yeah, glasses are a pretty terrible disguise, but the hair looks completely different, going from straight in a pony tail, to this weird poofy, curly looking, beehive-like thing. After the opening scene with Jane we jump over to Trixie, and as for a second I was thrown as to what connection the two characters had to each other. There are a few other awkward storytelling moments in here as well.

However, the dialogue is quite good for the most part, and the story takes a traditional reason for someone doing crazy time travel stuff and twists it a little so it seems more original. The art isn't amazing (I don't think the motorcycle on the cover could actually drive anywhere), but it tells the story and there are some places where it works pretty well.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Ricochet Ricochet Ten

By Jenna and Emma (I think)

This is clearly made by at least two people, but exactly how many, and who, I'm not entirely sure. I do know that one of them used a not very good typewriter for most of her parts meaning that it is quite hard to read the sections where the text was very light in the original.

The content is rather strange. Well no, that's unfair, the content is what you expect: book reviews, zine reviews, event reviews, a scene report, the experience of eating a frozen, microwavable burrito, anecdotes, queer stuff. It's all fairly basic zine fodder.

It's just the writing style is...hard to describe. It's as though you crossed a bubbly teenage girl with a vegan, queer activist.

"Like I started to feel that I needed to engage with films outside of the homo ghetto. But oh my god, literally everything I read makes me mad cus it's stupid heronormative shit that doesn't relate to my life."

To be honest, that's not the best example but I can't really bring myself to reread this entire zine with half of it written in badly reproduced type writer, parts of it written in a back and forth which is incomprehensible as it doesn't say who is saying what, and all of it written in a style I do not really enjoy.

I mean, the content isn't all horrible or anything, they recommend some good comics (anything that tells people to read Stuck Rubber Baby is at least a little good, though I wonder about the inclusion of Junko Mizuno in their queer comics section), there's a very frustrating piece on a pizza place that offers vegan cheeze on their pizza, but uses milk in their crust (wtf!), an amusing overheard quote about Beyonce being a witch, and the idea of a "sex attic" instead of a "sex dungeon". Awesome!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Guilty As Charged

By Patrick Brown

No more images it seems, as while there is a scanner here, I can't seem to get it to work. Sorry! You can just go to his website and read this comic though. Hurray! Found a scanner.

This is a short comic about people participating in some bizarre gameshow. If they lose a round, they get killed. What's the prize? An opportunity to kill someone on death row. It's satirical, but I'm not really sure what it's saying other than "people are kind of horrible". Hmm. The comic is actually incredibly old, it's from 1996! Yet the content doesn't seem that dated. I guess people are still horrible and there are still lots of stupid gameshows on TV.

The art's not amazing or anything, but it does manage to tell the story. However, I don't really like the computer lettering style which is used, which is kind of unfortunate as I do like the written/drawn sound effects.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about it is the format, which is like a pamphlet or brochure: a single piece of paper folded twice. I'm not describing it very well, but you probably know what I mean. It's something I'm more used to seeing used for informational pamphlets and stuff, so it's interesting to see it used for a comic.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Ont Road #12

It's perhaps fitting that the first zine I review while traveling through Europe (I'm in Copenhagen right now!), is this collection of writing about Luke's trips to various places.

This one's a bit different from the last issue as Luke goes on a bunch of trips that I can't imagine going on. I mean, I guess I understand that the only reason he went to St. Kitts and Nevis was because his mum was getting married, but I guess I can't imagine either of my parents doing that. (Though I suppose that's true for pretty much everyone.) Still, reading about him meeting the Prime Minister was kind of neat.

Also the trip to Portugal just to get drunk for a stag party is weird. Why spend all that money going somewhere else just to drink?

But, of course, there are the more usual type of travels: a tour with some punk bands around the UK and Ireland, and touring with another band around Germany and going to some big festival in the Czech Republic. There is also an article on the Manic Street Preachers, a review of a "travel pussy" by a guy from a Finnish punk band, and a load of record and zine reviews.

Luke has a distinct writing style, and while I do enjoy it, I desperately wish that he edited this a bit more, the spelling mistakes and errors frustrate me to no end, but I guess I am just obsessed with that sort of thing. Still, if you like reading about someone else's travel adventures this is worth checking out.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


By Joe List

Joe List is probably best known for doing The Annotated Weekender, where he draws weird monster people and doodles all over the Guardian’s weekend magazine. It’s cute and I kind of wish I’d had a copy with me when I got this off of him so that he could have drawn in mine.

This is a collection of sketchbook drawings and comics that List has done. The art work is quite similar to the stuff he does for The Annotated Weekender, but for whatever reason I feel that some of the charm is lost by having the art by itself.

Some of the jokes are still fairly amusing, but I didn’t find any of them super hilarious. Oh dang, looking through this again I clearly should have scanned the one about the ghost hole. I liked that one quite a bit.

Anyway, go look at his blog, and if you like what you see it might be worth checking this out too.

Half way there

Oh my goodness gracious me. The year is half over! Amazing! And yet I still have lots of zines to read, people sending me messages asking if I can review their zines, and events being planned (look look! I am helping to organize the Birmingham Zine Festival).

However, there comes a problem. Namely that I am currently gallivanting around Europe (I'm in Copenhagen!), have been for several weeks, and don't know when I'll be "home" again. I brought some zines with me, but so far haven't really managed to pick up any new ones, so there is the fear that in a couple of weeks I will run out of zines to review. Oh no! What will I do?

I'll figure something out, as to stop doing it right when people actually seem to be reading this thing would be kind of depressing.