Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Small World: A Friendship Network Map

By Pearl
PO Box 74

I really love maps, and this is an incredibly interesting one (that is an awesome fold out, in a format I’ve been meaning to use for years, but am too lazy to actually do).

To use a kind of lame analogy, it’s sort of like real world Facebook, showing all of Pearl’s friends, how they’re connected to her, and how they’re connected to each other. Some of the connections are really awesome, with my favourites probably being “[are] friends […] because they’re both scientists” and “is famous, he played Bungle the Bear in Rainbow (a TV Programme)”. But there’s also charm in “used to be in a band with”, “met at a party years ago”, and “lives in same street as”.

Part of me wishes that this was some fancy interactive flash thing or something so that I could click on people’s names and get more information, but that is because I am a huge technology nerd, and really there’s no reason for it, and the whole thing is really cute (though I will more than likely never read what all the connections say as they can be a bit hard to read).

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Halifax Comix Jam #11/12

It's the end of the month, and so it is once again time for me to "review" an old issue of the Halifax Comix Jam comic in order to promote the comic jam happening tonight at Roberts Street!

Honestly, I think jam comics like this are probably more valuable to the people that made them than to random outsiders. This is because these comics rarely make any sense at all.

(If you're not aware of what a jam comic is, they're comics where one person draws a panel, and then someone else draws the next panel, and so on. They usually don't have any real narrative flow, and the art styles can change drastically between panels.)

Still, I think they're neat because the jam sessions themselves encourage people to draw and be creative, which is something I think more people should be doing.

But yeah, go to the Comics Jam at Roberts Street Tuesday, February 28th (tonight!), 7-10pm. It will be fun! I promise. There will be cookies.

Monday, February 27, 2012

I See the World in Hipstervision #2

By Elliot Baggott

Last year I reviewed a comic that Baggott had created, and I thought it was pretty good.

Unfortunately, the best part of this art zine is the cover. While the name creates all sorts of ideas of what could be contained within, what we actually get are sketches of people and buildings, plus some drawings of people's heads.

While there are times when I enjoy looking at sketchbook material, it's generally for artists who I am a huge fan of and not for people still developing their style. Some of the drawings in here are nice enough, there's not really enough content for me to recommend this zine.

It's still a good title though, I hope Baggott manages to use it to its full extent some time.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Zine Fair at the Usurp Gallery, London, UK

I just got an email from some people who are the zine coordinators at the Usurp Gallery in London.

They're looking for zines to be sold on consignment at the gallery, and are organizing a zine fair in a few months.

If you're interested, you can check out their website at or take a look at their flyer below.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

There is a Danger
PO Box 1282
Fullerton, California

This is kind of strange thing to review, because it’s not one complete narrative, or a number of distinct pieces. Instead it’s brief pieces of writing, usually only a page or two, about travel. Not that these are traditional travel stories with a starting point and final destination, but rather they are mostly about the trip itself.

The writer travels by car (both driving and hitchhiking), train-hopping, bicycle, and even boat. The fact that this is just about the process of travel is interesting, and there are stories about, and by, fellow travellers, people met upon the road, and even people who pick you up while hitchhiking (is there a word for people that pick up hitchhikers? Apart from “nice”).

These stories really indicate to me how the creator of this zine has a very different personality than me, as he seems to be able to slip into conversations with total strangers incredibly easily. This is something that I’m not so good at, and has led to long silences during some of my own hitchhiking escapades.

There are also pieces about some of the small towns and places that you pass through while travelling, and how they never seem like a destination, but only a stop along the way.

A couple of bits stood out to me. There are a couple of references to breaking into buildings to sleep at night, which is a story idea I really enjoy. The idea of being somewhere you’re not supposed to be, while the owners don’t know you’re there appeals to me. Unfortunately this isn't explored as much as I'd like it to be.

The other was his account of cycling across a bridge from Washington State to Oregon. At first I thought he was writing about the same bridge I crossed on my bicycle trip in the area. His description of the bridge was very similar to my own experience. But then I saw that the bridge he crossed was considerably longer than mine, and as terrible as the bridge I crossed was, it could have been worse.

The whole zine is kind of strange, and is written in a style that uses thoughts and descriptions in ways that don’t usually appeal to me. Actually, they still don’t, and for the first few pages of this zine I kind of dreaded reading the whole thing (it’s quite long!), but I continued, and eventually I got used to the style the author used. I didn’t enjoy everything in here, and I think I would have enjoyed the stories more if they had been written in a different style, but I still found enough to enjoy here that I could recommend this to people that enjoy reading about the process of traveling to other places.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Neckmonster Seven

By Cheyenne Neckmonster

I spent about two years living and traveling through various countries in Asia, and my brother has lived in either Taiwan or China for almost three years. So I have some knowledge of Asia, and am interested in reading other people’s experiences with the continent.

In this issue of Neckmonster Cheyenne writes about the six weeks she spent in China studying as part of a program offered by her university. It’s kind of strange reading this, as the Cheyenne involved is different (and six years younger) than the one that I became friends with. I haven't read all of her zines, but her voice seems a bit different here.

I enjoyed reading Cheyenne’s account of her trip, even if, or because of, some of it was like my own experiences in those countries (I also missed Mexican food). Of course Cheyenne got to go to some places that I never saw (I am totally jealous that she got to see the Terra Cotta warriors), and I laughed at her crappy experience at the Great Wall of China (pro tip, don’t go to the nearest section, it’s worth sitting in a cab or whatever for another hour to get to a part that isn’t filled with tourists).

I liked the part where she wrote about trains, as they're a form of transport I still find faintly exotic. (I've spent most of my life living in places where trains didn't exist at all, and large parts of the rest in places where it's not really a functional form of transportation). I especially liked the bit where she wrote about watching people and places flash by outside the windows, and the tiny glimpses into people's lives that you got.

In some places I really enjoyed Cheyenne’s word choice (even if the fact that she never used capital letters kind of annoyed me). I liked how she described the "bleak landscape of roast duck and warm beer", when talking about being a non-drinking vegetarian in China.

Overall this wasn’t what I expected from an issue of Neckmonster (if Cheyenne ever told me she’d spent six weeks in China I’d clearly forgotten), but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

You're the Best.....Around!!! #2


When I was first sent issues of Kids in Sport Films I was incredibly wary, I mean, it's not exactly a genre that has produced a lot of masterpieces.

However the author of the zine was able to allay my fears, first by writing an apology for being late in the introduction, not because the zine was actually late, or that anyone even wanted or expected a second issue, but because it's traditional that second issues of zines include introductions that apologise for their lateness.

(It reminded me of a Copy Scams song.)

The rest of the zine is written in similar style, making snarky and sarcastic references while theoretically discussing the movie. I laughed out loud in a few places, and read found some sentences funny enough to read to my partner who was sitting next to me on the couch playing Chrono Cross.

The zine describes the ideal way to watch Kids in Sports Films. First you drink too much, then you come home and sleep until the following afternoon, then you go and collapse on the couch and watch terrible movies on TV. Perfect!

Amusingly the author of this zine doesn't even seem to like this genre of films that much, he constantly indicates that the film featured in this issue, Rookie of the Year, isn't that good even by the standards of Kids in Sports Films, and it seems that whenever he references another film he insults it for being sexist or somehow terrible. Rookie of the Year reaches the mighty heights of "adequate", and I'm not sure if it even deserves that (despite my enjoyment of it as a child).

Then the zine breaks down the film into plot, how it does and doesn't work, and how it could be improved. Then it goes into each character individually, describing their role in the film, and how successful they were at this.

The strangest thing about this zine is the discovery that someone went and made a fan-sequel film, and blogs as the main character as this film. How strange! The zine includes an interview stolen from a website with the comedian behind the fanfilm, and it's so strange that this thing exists at all.

I found this zine to be well written, funny, and enjoyable, and much to my surprise I'm actually looking forward to reading the next issue.

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Fan Zine

By Sarah Cai

This is a short, cute zine that is based around a pretty good pun. Fanzines have been around since the 1940s, and the zine scene of today grew out of those early science fiction fanzines. Sometimes I read an actual scifi/fantasy fanzine, and it’s strange, though kinda neat, to see that the same type of things is still being made almost 75 years later.

This zine however is not about science fiction at all, instead it is filled with pictures of fans. There are a bunch of different fans (such as "ceiling" and "desk") included in this zine, and the drawings and text on each page combine to be pretty amusing.

I’m just sad that fan death wasn’t mentioned.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Photocopier Music Playlist

Last weekend at the Roberts Street Social Centre we had a launch for our brand new photocopier! There was cake and games and you can see some photos on our website or facebook group.

I was in charge of music and managed to create almost eighty minutes of photocopier or zine related music. Awesome!

One of the bands I included are The Copy Scams. They're a pretty rad band that is mostly made up of zinesters. You can find out some more info on Alex Wrekk's blog. There's info on how to download their EP, and an announcement that they'll be touring the UK in November! Exciting!

I've made a youtube playlist of most of the tracks from below, though The Copy Scams songs and a couple of others aren't up there. The playlist is located here. Let me know what you think!

One of the coolest tracks I discovered was this one by Nigerian singer 9ice. He's apparently a big star in Nigeria, and I have absolutely no idea what he's singing in this song.

Here's the full playlist:

1. 9ice - Photocopy
2. Daft Punk - Technologic
3. Kill Me Tomorrow - Xerox My Hand
4. Fujiya and Miyagi - Photocopier
5. monsters are like that - echoRiotPop
6. Junkie XL - I've Got a Xerox to Copy
7. Xerox Girls - rammle
8. Cleveland Bound Death Sentence - Rumble Seats & Running Boards
9. The Copy Scams - one one one one
10. Simon Bird - Xerox Waveform Godless Ocean
11. Atom And His Package - Undercover Funny
12. Cut Copy - Hearts On Fire
13. Client - Zerox Machine
14. The Copy Scams - this is the intro
15. The Church Of Hysteria - Photocopy
16. Man Made Noise - Photocopy Machine
17. Mascot Fight - That's A Photocopier Not A Chair
18. The Copy Scams - 24 hour zine challenge
19. Yemi Sax (Photocopy (Original by 9ice)
20. Adam And The Ants - Xerox
21. Rosa - Scan To Print
22. The Copy Scams - list of stuff n' things
23. Private Eleanor - Photocopy

Can you name some tracks I missed?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Adventure Journals of Sin Cat #2

If nothing else The Adventure Journals of Sin Cat isn't a quick read. It takes quite a while to read it all, because every page is filled with huge amounts of tiny text.

The comic itself is confusing. While each page looks quite nice as a whole, and I quite liked the art in some individual panels, reading it as a comic is pretty damn confusing. It's not always obvious what panel to read next, text can be too small to read (and frequently makes no sense when you can read it), and the plots (or whatever passes for plots in these comics) is frequently just ignored for bizarre jokes and other things.

Sometimes when the way the plots go into completely random places it reminds me a bit of Jamie Smart's Bear, but that has much more comprehensible art, and is far more enjoyable over all.

On some pages it seems as though the comic is an attempt to create a narrative around doodles that were already on the page, while most of the time it seems as though the creator is just making it up as they go. It's kind of funny how some of the pages reminded me a bit of Chris Ware, as his pages are incredibly over designed, and the only real similarities are lots of small panels and each page looking nice as a whole. And that, while I can appreciate them both as "art", I don't really like them that much.

Confusing, at times hard to read, but still at times interesting. I can't really say much more than that.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Q for Treason #13: Building on Land on Prince Edward Island

By Reece

I've enjoyed the previous issues of Q for Treason that I've read, with their stories of exploring ghost towns and abandoned buildings. So I was a little disappointed to start reading this one, which is all about building a cabin in rural PEI, which is a combination of words that is almost completely uninteresting to me.

The first part of this zine is full of semi-technical details (at least to me) about building stuff and my eyes began to glaze over as I forced myself to read it. Needless to say I didn't find most of this part that interesting.

There are a few bits in this section that are nice, for example Reece's fear of climbing a rickety ladder he'd built, and how he "expected it to be one of the most terrifying experiences of [his] life, along with watching the movie The Grudge or driving in Montreal", but generally it didn't appeal to me that much.

Other parts of the zine are more interesting, and give examples of rural PEI life (and why I would never want to live there). The story about visiting a realtor to buy land and having him be over an hour late and incredibly drunk when they finally meet is kind of hilarious, while the mention of the gay couple getting firebombed is really depressing.

I also enjoyed Reece's stories about stealing a stove from an abandoned church, and some of his interactions with the local people, but overall I was a bit disappointed by this issue, and at the very least thought it could have included some pictures of the finished cabin, if not the actual process.

If you're into rural living and building cabins though you should probably check it out. Maybe you can tell me why Reece thought it was a good idea to build a cabin almost entirely by himself, because that was one thing I really didn't understand.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Stranger Knights

By Bill Volk, Casey Bohn, and Mary Soper

The introductory page of this anthology says that it's a collection of comics about "brave men, women, gods, and radiation beasts who venture into an unjust world and punch those things that need to be punched", so you can probably already guess that I'm going to give this comic a good review.

Despite reading lots of zines and minicomics for this site, I still read a surprising amount of superhero comics (I'm currently rereading Ed Brubaker's Captain America run, hurray libraries!), and I still _like_ superhero comics, even though most of the stuff from mainstream publishers is pretty awful. One thing I do enjoy are indie comics creators versions of superheroes. I've dug the Strange Tales collections that Marvel has put out, James Kochalka's SuperFuckers, and similar books.

Of the three stories in here, the first (pictured below) is written and drawn by Bill Volk and features the god on earth Shamash as he fights infinity robots (yes, that many), teams up with other superheroes, and travels to other dimensions. It really combines a lot of my favourite things about comics, mostly that it is full of bizarre creations, humour, and fighting. This story reminds me of superhero comics I enjoy like Incredible Hercules, Atomic Robo, SuperFuckers, and Invincible (I cannot believe that Robert Kirkman hasn't created a character called Jillhammer yet).

The art is mostly good, and while one of the gods that appears is kind of weird looking, it didn't detract from my enjoyment of the story.

The second story in this anthology is also written by Volk, but is drawn by Mary Soper. This one is a sort of space-fantasy hybrid whose interstellar princess hero reminded me of some of the magical girl anime and manga I've read. The comic features the princess fighting both dinosaur-men and sexism, and has her using her powers in a pretty cool way to avoid a major battle. My only real problem with it is that I'm kind of sick of rich and idle superheroes and/or royalty being the focus of stories. Screw them! Even if they are fictional. Also the story ends on a cliffhanger, and I don't know how to find out what happens next.

The third story is about a guitar player who's probably into transcendental meditation and stuff like that as he says that "The echoes from that planet are all wrong." The art style in certain panels was interesting to look at, but the overall piece didn't really come together.

But still! Two out of three stories is pretty good for an anthology, and I'd be interested in reading future issues.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Butt Dilly

I almost feel as though I can't review this zine because I just don't get it.

It's written in some new-age self help style, except it's all about poop (or rather "anal dirt") and how you should sleep all the time. Or at least I think that's what it's about.

I'm guessing it's supposed to be satirical, but I frequently found the style to be incomprehensible, and the content was just weird and kind of gross. There's a bunch of collages inside which, I guess, could be funny in another context, but here they just add to the "WTF" nature of this whole thing.

Um, yeah...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Decadence #7

By Leon Sadler, Lando, Daniel Swan, Tsemberlidis, Jon Chandler, Dan Hallett, and Alex Payne

While there are a number of different comics artists in this anthology, my two favourite are the ones whose releases from Decadence Comics I've read before.

Tsemberlidis (who drew the cover) creates another of his bizarre, beautiful, silent comics. The story (as much as there is one) is about an astronaut who lands on a seemingly abandoned barren planet. He wanders alone amongst rocks and mountains until he encounters a geometric object and the story starts getting weird (as many of Tsemberlidis' stories do). People start shape changing and bizarre shapes start emerging from foreheads, eyes, and penises. The ending is reminiscent to 2001: A Space Odyssey, both in what actually happens and that I have no idea what it means.

But none of that matters because I love Tsemberlidis' art. His pages are filled with tiny lines and details that somehow manage to add so much to the characters and their backgrounds. Mostly I'm just glad I don't have to touch anything that appears in the comic, because it all looks incredibly disgusting. Technology seems to be encrusted with the remnants of something, while his nature scenes can mange to exude a feeling of humidity and dampness.

At times this reminded me a little of Tsutomu Nihei' Blame, but mostly in that they're both about a silent adventurer wandering through bizarre, incredibly detailed backgrounds.

Lando's comic (see below) is part two of an ongoing story about a guy living on an abandoned island with a bunch of robots. This story seems seems to be more about showing what parts of the island are like, and how they robots act and react to certain things the main character does.

The main character is riding his bicycle, while accompanied by a robot. He goes on a different route than the robot tells him to go on, and almost dies. The robots of the island end up saving him and helping him afterwards. The story raises a lot of questions and makes me curious about what's going on. Who is this guy? Why is he on the island? What's with all the cyborg implants? Is he even human?

The art and themes remind me of Japanese science fiction like Akira or Ghost in the Shell, not so much in how the characters look, but rather the designs of the setting and pages. I think Lando does a good job of pacing the cycling, changing angles to create some cool visuals, and managing to convey the speed of the character. I also love seeing the strange architecture in the background, which makes me even more curious about this island and what was happening on it.

While I didn't like the other stories in this comic as much as these two they do feature some cool visuals. But, for me at least, the selling point of this anthology are the two comics I wrote about, and they both deliver exactly what I wanted.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A collection of black & white photographs taken while walking through a ghost town.

By Jason Niebauer

I was kind of excited when I saw the cover to this zine. A ghost town! How cool! I’ve enjoyed the other zines about ghost towns that I’ve had a chance to read.

However, inside I was kind of disappointed. The black and white photographs are the only content, and there is no text or explanation of where the town is, why it’s a ghost town, or how the photographer ended up there.

The photos, for the most part, seem like they could have been taken in any kind of run down town or neighbourhood. I’m pretty sure I could find some places in the city I live in that are more interesting and “ghost town like” than these ones.

I can’t really criticize the quality of the photographs themselves, as the small size in which they are reproduced, and my disappointment of their subject matter makes it difficult to do so.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Here. In My Head. Issue 9

By Cath Elms

This perzine isn’t actually that personal, it focuses on things that Elms is interested in, instead of things that are happening to her. (Wait, is there a definition of perzine? I have no idea how to categorize things it seems. Some zine librarian I am.)

There are pieces on how technology is creeping into every aspect of our lives and how the internet makes us less productive (which I think says more about the person than the internet), feminism and how people in theology courses are not very progressive (shocking!), and female gods.

I was initially going to complain about how Elms says that her knowledge of Christianity is "shaky", as she just graduated with a theology degree, and apparently didn’t study any other religions (why you would want to study Christianity specifically when you are, as the author claims, not a Christian is kind of beyond me, but generally most people’s interest in religion is beyond my understanding). But then I realized that I graduated with a degree in Russian literature and I’m clearly not an expert in that area. I may know more than the average person (and some of the references Elms' uses show that they know way more than me about religion), but I definitely don’t know it all. As the saying goes, experts are people that know more and more about less and less, and it’s cool that Elms can admit that they're not an expert.

The piece on female religious icons is pretty cool, and I wouldn’t have minded if the entire zine was just profiles of female gods. Some of the pictures used to illustrate the write ups are kind of weird (really? That’s what you choose ti illustrate Freya?), but I thought it was kind of neat to read about these…characters? Entities? Mythological beings? My only complaints would be that the piece only mentioned stories from Europe and Asia, when there are lots of religions from other parts of the world.

One of the problems I had with this zine was that Elms is constantly referencing stuff, but not actually writing about it. Here are some examples:

" a future issue..."
"I could talk about..."
"...I can't write about [it] publicly..."
" my next zine..."
"...(long story, too personal)..."
"...Maybe in a later issue..."

I understand if you don’t want to write about personal experiences, but constantly saying “I can’t write about that” draws more attention to it. And if you want to have a “next issue” page or whatever, that’s cool, it’s a fine tradition of serialized publications. But dropping references to things, and then not explaining them? That just seems weird. Perhaps it would be better to spend the time now and expand upon those ideas, instead of saying that maybe you’ll get around to writing about them in the future.

But I guess that's just my opinion.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

People's Photocopier Launch Party Playlist

The Roberts Street Social Centre recently got a brand new (used) photocopier! It's very fancy, and we're having a launch party for it in a few weeks.

We're hoping to create a playlist of songs that are about photocopiers, can you help us out by telling us some?

So far we have:

Adam and the Ants - Xerox Machine

The Copy Scams (featuring Alex "Brainscan" Wrekk and Steve "Rumlad"

Rosa - Scan to Print

Fujiya & Miyagi - Photocopier

So what else is there?

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Roberts Street Casual Gaming Federation 2011-2012 Yearbook

This is my newest zine, it's all about the board game club that I organize.

There are writings about all the games we played last year, comics and drawings about games by my friends Jen DesRoche and Nik Hill, and some other stuff.

If you live in the Halifax area and are interested in playing board games with some people join our facebook group or get in touch with me. We play a couple of times a month and it's pretty low key and fun.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Alas Fair Sailor All is Lost

By Lee McClure

This is, oh gosh, this is an incredibly depressing comic. It’s well drawn for sure, but I really cannot recommend you read it as it just seems to be existential despair.

The story follows a sailor, and his pet monkey, as they sail through a seemingly unending sea. Though, I guess if you’re in a small boat the sea is going to seem unending because it’ll take you ages and ages to get across it. Storywise not much really happens (unless I spoil the ending), but it’s all about setting a mood. A mood of terrible depression.

Artistically this comic is much more inspiring. Each “panel” is actually a circle without any distinct border. McClure has filled the panels with cross hatching and lines so as to create the idea of a circle without actually drawing one. The art is really detailed (it must have taken ages!), though isn’t in a photorealistic style or anything like that. It also manages to accomplish a lot with a very limited setting. Plus there are some really good drawings of monkeys.

Um, so yeah, if you really like the art below, or enjoy being depressed by the futility of existence, then check out this comic. If not, well, I don’t really blame you.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Peach Melba #25 and #26

By Pearl
PO Box 74

Pearl somehow manages to make a zine every month. At this point I’m lucky if I get one out every six months. Sigh. Sure Pearl’s lists zines aren’t that long or complex, but they’re still there every month, which is admirable in and of itself.

Through these lists we discover what’s been on Pearl’s mind, what she’s been doing, and what she plans to do in the future. It’s an interesting view into someone’s life, and tells you more than you might expect.

My favourite lists in these two issues are “Places That I have slept” (this sounds familiar to another zine…), “uses for spoons” (“picking locks”, “hitting irritating people”), and “Things that you should “never trust”” (“the kickstand on my bike”).

Issues 26 also introduced me to the idea of a Zocalo. I don’t know if this is a thing local to Brighton, or if it’s more international, but it sounds pretty neat

The word comes from the name of the plaza/square in the centre of Mexico city. City squares are really rad things that don’t really seem to exist in North American cities, unfortunately. They act as meeting and event spaces, allowing people to gather for art, music, political events, other activities, and just casual socializing.

The one mentioned in this zine is a sort of street party that is all about meeting your neighbours, which is a pretty awesome thing to do. I really wish neighbourhoods had more interactions between the people that lived in them, instead of most people just hiding in their houses all the time. Of course I’m not really helping very much, I don’t know any of my neighbours (in my defence, it is cold and snowy outside).