Monday, March 26, 2012

Taking a Break

I'm going to take this week off from reviewing, I have a bunch of other stuff going on that is higher priority right now. I should be back next week with some new reviews though! Hurray!

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Robot's Cat

By Jen DesRoche

I recently helped my partner print her first minicomic. It's a really sweet and funny series of stories featuring a robot and its cat, told entirely without words.

While I am slightly biased, I think it's pretty awesome and that you should check it out! You can see some of the artwork for the comic, plus lots of her other drawings and comics, on her tumblr. She'd really appreciate it!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Roberts Street Social Centre Fundraising!

(Photo by Krista Leger, and taken from this article.)

I volunteer at a place called the Roberts Street Social Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It's a pretty awesome place, with a zine library (where I volunteer as a librarian), a screen printing studio, a rad summer residency program for zinesters and artists, and a space where we run games nights and comics jams, hold movie showings, and do lots of other fun stuff. It's an awesome space and I spend a lot of time there doing stuff.

On May 1st we're being evicted from our current space, and we're hoping to collect some money for our new (yet to be determined) location! We've created an indiegogo fundraiser page where you can donate money to us in return for some prizes. It may say that we've exceeded our goal, but we're actually trying to get more money than that (as $500 wouldn't even pay a month's rent in our current location) and apparently can't change the amount.

If you're interested in donating, please do! If you'd rather donate in another manner you can send us an email and we'll work out the details. If you don't have any money, I encourage you to spread the word, and tell other people who would be interested in donating about the fundraiser.

Thanks for reading this, and thanks for reading my blog in general.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Bring on the Dancing Horses

By Shaun
PO Box 1282
Fullerton, CA
92836, USA

Bring on the Dancing Horses is another zine by the author of There is a Danger, which I reviewed last month. It covers much of the same material as that zine (bicycle trips, exploring, abandoned buildings), but is much longer, and perhaps because of this is able to have more of a narrative in places.

Specifically there's a lot written about a giant squat Shaun stayed in while in New York City, the people he met while he lived there, the adventures they had, and how they were eventually evicted. As a person who enjoys abandoned buildings, urban exploration, dumpster diving, and adventures, this stuff really appealed to me, and Shaun's accounts of hiding in dark rooms filled with junk while the police walked by, or sleeping in a cleaned out elevator control room successfully managed to paint pictures in my mind.

I read Shaun's zine at a very specific time when it may have had more of an impact on me than even a week ago. I have a full-time job I find to be (while somewhat worthwhile) incredibly boring. My plan was to work until August, visit some friends and family, and then start a new chapter of my life in another city in September. I have recently discovered that this new chapter will not be what I had planned, but will instead be something currently entirely mysterious to me. While some find this liberating, I've spent the last seven years of my life feeling fairly rudderless, and had hoped to have a goal slightly longer than "pay this month's rent". While I can work my boring job if I have something to look forward to, I now wonder why I should even bother with my job, and whether I should, like Shaun, give up on the capitalist society we exist in, and become more outside it than I already am, rejecting societal norms, and existing as a scavenger. This was only cemented by the sudden onset of spring, and days with 20 degree weather (to all the Americans that read this remember that I live in Canada, so this is actually warm).

PostScript: Included with Shaun's zines I received a letter that described what his zines were about. One small piece really stood out to me. It was about how part of this zine was about "a girl (always a girl...)", and really, that's kind of true. For a certain type of person, there is always a girl. One that you find, one that you leave behind, one that you remember.

Excerpt (I don't usually do these, but thought I should for this zine):

I woke up early and set off into the building, flashlight in hand and a feeling of vertigo from the sheer size of the labyrinthian halls, the multiple wings and adjoined church left eerily empty and bathed in dust and stained-glass light, and so much detritus from its past lives as a community center. On the third floor was the main room, lined by open windows whose glass had been removed, now letting light, noise and breeze flow lushly throughout the room. Most other windows in the building were boarded up, allowing in only a small sliver of light through the triangular wedges cut from the bottom of each plywood sheet. This made nearly every room dark, menacingly silent, and possessed of so many odd and curious details of which one could mine a litany of scenarios and theoretical explanations for.

On the lower floors were the large performance theater and basketball court. Chairs were scattered about the floor, a painted set remained standing on the stage, and a tall laddered-platform on wheels sat in the middle of the room. It was hard to know if these all were left in carless [sic] abandonment or if they were the remains of some squatter-party, as Bowery Manor at once appeared both the elegiac remnants of a once-bustling community space forced out by the city of New York and a boundless playground for those who stumbled upon the shell, determined to breathe life back into it. Unfortunately, the building being closed off meant that it was illegal to be anywhere on the property, and anyone coming or going or inside Bowery Manor had to be ware of any police of HPD presence around the building. Thus, besides the metal door installed by the kids and secured with chains and padlocks, the first floor also had a large metal beam wedged between the stairs and the rollgate, the only accessible entrance to anyone who did not want to squeeze through the sledgehammered hole beneath the tarp or climb through a second story window.

Debris lined the floor nearly everywhere you looked - phone books, paper, clothes, boxes full of completely useless objects, nearly any imaginable functionless item could probably be found somewhere on the floors or shelves or in the drawers or in any of the other nooks and crevices in the building. In some rooms, you were not stepping on any floor at all but on the slippery and unstable mountains of old magazines, computer equipment, kitchen tools, CD cases. The swimming pool in the basement was filled to an even six inches below the brim, not with water but with junk.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sorry vs Sausage

By Bernard Boulevard and Gordon Gordon
PO Box 20204 Seattle, WA
98102, USA

This incredibly short (one sheet of folded paper) is pretty odd. It combines random pictures with text about the words in the title. There is no actual vs, unless you read about both and decide one is better than the other based upon some arbitrary rules.

The "sorry" section seems like a tirade against Canadians. "You say SORRY way too much. [...] you tell me you're SORRY?! That is so lame, you meek prick. You should be in my face yelling "In Your FACE!!"". Um, yeah.

The sausage section is kind of amusing ("The Best Sausages are Fat and Juicy [...] And Slam Your Throat With Pleasure!"), and mentions vegetarian sausages, so I guess it wins.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Three Zine

By Squid

One of the first thing you notice about this zine is the way it's printed. I have no idea how Squid did this, but the blacks on this zine are incredibly black and shiny. There are a couple of pages that are mostly black, and they just feel thick with ink. It's really neat.

As to the content, Three features drawings (of monsters!), comics, and recipes, but the majority of the zine is made up of "interviews with cool females".

Squid talks with one of the organizers of the Women's Autonomous Nuisance Cafe (WANC), and female members of the musical groups Lilies on Mars, Seaming To (okay, a person rather then a group), and Creatures of Kontrast.

I enjoyed reading all the interviews, as they range across a fairly wide variety of questions and talk about some cool stuff and actually made me go and listen to the bands online. The WANC interview discusses lady DJs, squatting, and other neat stuff, while all of them feel more like conversations than some of the interviews you read.

There are also reviews of concerts by a couple of the bands. The first of which seems to degenerate into a fever dream ("AAAAAAAAAAAAGH! Giant cockroaches with TV's for brains and temporary bus stop signs for noses!") before returning to talk about the music. Though considering that one of the band members say that they like "confusion, paranoia, and craziness" I think this is probably appropriate.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Skillshot 16, 17, & 18

I recently (ie. about an hour ago) finished reading Yeti Researcher, a fake scholarly journal devoted to the study of crypto-hominids. Its humour lies in its combination of reality with fiction, and how you're never quite sure how seriously to take any of it. I really dug it, and it reminded me of a piece I once wrote in a zine for the (fictional) Canadian Journal of Kaiju Film Studies about the Very Hungry Caterpillar vs Godzilla film.

I bring this up, because if I didn't know any better I might think that Skill Shot was an equally fictitious zine, chronically events that never happened, and people that didn't exist.

Except that they do exist, despite the fact that I don't think I've ever met anyone who's (admitted to being) into pinball, and before I read this zine I didn't even know there was a pinball scene.

These zines cover events that have happened, news and gossip about what machines might be coming next and which are broken, techniques, question and answer sessions with pinball players ("Do you listen to music while playing Pinball?"), high score challenges, the locations of every pinball machine in Seattle, the Seattle Pinball Museum, and more.

Honestly, it still seems kind of like some elaborate scam, but since there's a website, and more than 18 issues I have to accept that it's a real subculture that I've just never encountered.

In one way Skill Shot really succeeds: every time I finish reading an issue I want to start playing pinball. Apparently there's a Halifax Pinball League, maybe I'll check it out next month.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Gadgie 24

By Marv
PO Box 93
PE21 7YB

Gadgie is another of those big, thick (over 30 pages) punk zines that covers music, zines, complaints, and whatever else is running through the creator's mind.

Gadgie's been coming out for ages, and its creator Marv is now in his late 30s, married, and even has a child. Old punks don't die, they just (pro)create the next generation.

In this issue Marv talks about the punk scene in Boston, England (both current and its origins), going to Loch Ness for a holiday with his partner and kid, misheard lyrics, a pretty epic account of every injury he's ever acquired while playing soccer/football, and loads of other stuff.

I like how Marv seems really enthusiastic about everything, and how being injured bothers him because it means he can't go and dance at punk shows. However, his nonstop style of writing was kind of exhausting, as you don't really have any idea when the longer pieces are going to end or what's going to happen next.

Marv has a really distinct style of writing, a sort of stream of consciousness "I did this, then I did this, then this happened" type of thing. If it appeals to you you'll probably be happy to read anything he writes, but if it doesn't then I'm not sure there's any topic he could get you to read about. I think I fall somewhere in the middle.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Enter The Barefoot Lone Pilgrim: Origins

By David Blandy and Inko

I've reviewed a couple of Blandy's comics on this site in the past. If you read those reviews you might understand why I have a hard time thinking what to say about this comic that mixes James Brown lyrics with Shaolin monk cliches.

This is, I think, the comic by Blandy that I've enjoyed the least. Whereas the others had more concrete topics, this one is much more vague in what it's about. The cover blares "Discover the true origins of the barefoot lone pilgrim!", and is made up in several ways to look like an old fashioned superhero comic. Yet inside we only get a single person sitting inside, reading, drawing, and thinking about philosophy. Actually, I guess that is the origin of Blandy's alter ego.

Blandy's books are usually very attractive packages and, apart from a lettering font I didn't really care for, this continues that trend. The story is well suited by Inko's art, and I enjoy the style in which he draws people. A person just sitting in a chair could be boring to look at, but Inko uses a number of different angles and varying degrees of close-ups to create some really nice looking panels. While there aren't that many background, the fact that he draws multiple panels that just consist of feet puts him miles ahead of many superhero artists for whom creating comics is actually a job.

I really like the idea of combining philosophy with the trappings of superhero comics (and video games). These are media that generally don't focus on philosophical thought, and I definitely feel that Blandy could create a really cool comic based around this idea. While I don't think that this is it, at least it made me think about some things.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Trixie Biker bootleg

By Matthew Craig

I've reviewed a couple of Trixie Biker comics in the past, and I kind of wish I'd read this one first, as it's a brief origin story for the character. Now I know the vague, and not really important origin for this magically-powered, motorcycle-riding superhero.

The art's not the best, but at least part of that is down to the not great reproduction. Plus it's like five years old, I'm pretty sure Craig's art has improved since then.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Beauty Patrol

By Cody Roder

I recently read something online somewhere (on the Comics Reporter maybe?) that talked about graduates from the Center for Cartoon Studies. The person (whoever they were) wrote about how the center was turning out comics graduates who may know something about putting together a comic, but are still just making minicomics and webcomics with the hope that something will catch on and they'll have a career.

This comic really reminded me of that idea, because while this comic may have a pretty cool cover, the interior is generally confusing and not particularly coherent. At least part of this is because the comic contained within is at least partially a "daily diary comic" (or at least that's what it says on the final page), but I never would have guessed that.

Instead we have characters who wander around doing not much, and spend a lot of time thinking about and discussing various philoso-physics concepts. There is definitely a place in comics for discussions about entropy, particles, time and space, and similar things, but I don't think its place is in comics that use nine panel grids where the art barely changes between panels, and the dialogue is disjointed and sentences are strung out across pages.

I think ultimately I just don't understand why this comic was printed. Not why it was made, because making any sort of art can help you get to grips with your thoughts and you have to work on your art to get better. But I just don't really know who the audience for a comic like this is.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Lost in the Jungle

By Jason Niebauer

I reviewed one of Niebauer’s zines a while ago, and was a bit disappointed. This one however is basically review proof. It’s just some drawings of abstract shapes in a 1/8th size zine. I really don’t have anything to say about it at all.