Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Inbetweens II

By Shriveling Press

I'm of the opinion that art zines live and die on their reproduction.

This isn't to say that an art zine has to be printed in colour on glossy paper, but that the presentation matches the intent of the creator. Sometimes grainy black and white photocopies are the best way to see certain types of art because that's how they're supposed to be seen.

"So," you may be wondering, "does the reproduction on The Inbetweens II portray the art in an effective and attractive way?". The answer is unfortunately "no".

The contents of this zine are mostly reproductions of colour paintings and photographs. And while the actual pieces seem, in some cases, pretty nice, it's hard to say for sure because they're printed in a grainy and blurry way with all the vagaries and limitations of an ink jet printer.

Even the black and white pieces suffer because they seem to have been scanned, and then printed, in colour. Instead of true black and white, they end up being made up of endless dirty browns and greys. While this can be used to good effect in some cases, here it seems more an accident of the process, and not a conscious decision.

I feel a bit bad saying all of this because someone clearly put a lot of care and effort into this zine. It's bound by thread, which even if it doesn't take that much longer than stapling (I actually don't know) certainly seems more personal that the zines I make.

In another format, with a more focused idea of the contents, and better printing, the pieces in here could be a lot more appealing, but as it is I just feel a bit disappointed at what could have been.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Gadgie #25

By Marv
PO Box 93
PE21 7YB

Ah, Gadgie zine. The perfect reading material for people that love page after page of tiny text with no paragraph breaks.

I'm being a little harsh, as some of the content here is quite good, but turning the page and seeing two solid columns of tiny text with no breaks is kind of daunting to start reading. I think the reading experience would definitely be improved by Marv starting to use the return key a bit more frequently.

Gadgie is a punk music zine, and like many zines in that sub-genre it includes numerous reviews of cds, records, and shows, interviews with people in the punk scene, rants, and general news about the punk scene in and around the town where the creator lives (in this case Boston, UK). It's probably far more interesting if you listen to a lot of punk music, and always want to find new bands that you'd never hear on the radio or see on TV, but that's not really me.

Of course, there is other content in here that is pretty good even if you have no interest in punk music or culture. Marv writes huge stream-of-consciousness pieces about traveling, his youth, and other things. They're filled with constant asides and distractions, and are a lot like listening to someone talk.

The best piece in here is, much to my surprise, a music review. But unlike short music reviews of a particular album, this one is a huge piece of Marv's attempt to listen to his entire record collection in alphabetical order. You see, after discussing with a friend their huge record collections, Marv realized he didn't really listen to most of it that often, so he began a quest to listen to all of it, discovering lost gems, and wondering why he even owned other albums.

For whatever reason, people seem to be into the idea of other people completing (or attempting to complete) marathons of popular culture. There's an entire book trilogy about two guys who spent a year watching every existing episode of Doctor Who in order, and I have a weird desire to read them even though I don't like Doctor Who that much.

Marv's account of his attempt to listen to all of his records is filled with asides and stories about how he bought the record in question, anecdotes about the band, and other random things. And thus in the two pages that this piece takes up Marv manages to get through the letter 'A'. However it did feature my favourite part of the issue:
"On a similar theme, the folks at work were reminiscing in the staff room about their youth, as people of a certain age are liable to (ahem) and someone started fondly recalling how you used to buy records! Someone piped up that the first record they bought was an Adam And The Ants single. I kept it quiet that the last record I bought was an Adam And The Ants single (20pence worth of car booty)!"
The last record I got (in 2009) was also an Adam and the Ants record. Stand and Deliver!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ollyollyoxenfree! #3

Edited by Cheyenne Neckmonster and someone else

I really like games. I run a gaming club, play videogames, have made my own copies of various games, and play Magic the Gathering (yes, I am that big of a nerd, I don't buy the cards at least).

Based on all of this though, you can probably see that I'm more fond of games that involve sitting down, and not too much running around. (While this makes me sound incredibly lazy, I'm not! I've played soccer and ultimate frisbee fairly extensively, just not recently...)

I'm getting off topic. The games in this zine are very much the type I remember playing as a kid at summer camps and friends' houses. There are hide and seek variations, circle games, games were you have to jump on people's shadows, games about music, and more.

(As another aside, do you remember when you were a kid and would just make up games? Like Calvinball? I walk along a path behind some houses every day on my way to and from work and I think it's rad to see all the chalk games and pictures kids draw on the ground when it's nice out.)

I'm not sure if I'll ever actually play any of these, but some of them sound pretty neat. There's Electron, where the goal is to run around a player you've chosen as your nucleus, while they try to run around theirs. It sounds super chaotic, but also pretty fun.

The next is called Moose, and features players pretending to be moose by having full antlers (both hands held up above their heads), or half antlers (only one hand). I won't explain all the rules, but it sounds like it'd be pretty hilarious to play. Plus the winners get to "graze on snow or whatever it is moose do".

Even if you have no intention of playing any of these games it's neat to read about them. Maybe you'll be inspired to play them yourself, or even create your own. And at the very least you'll know what's going on when you see a bunch of punks in the New York subway pretending to have antlers.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Billy the Dunce

By Jason Week

I really love it when a comic or zine I don't have high expectations for is really awesome. And Billy the Dunce is one such comic! (I wasn't going for a fake out with that opening line.)

This comic features an all to brief look at the world that Week has created. Billy is a not so bright guy who ended up at an incredibly prestigious school after he aced an IQ test entirely by luck. He's stuck hanging out with a few super geniuses, a magic user, a baby succubus, and a surprisingly friendly zombie.

In the few brief strips in here the characters that appear seem to be fairly one-dimensional (the idiot, the genius, the stuck up guy), but I think it's important to note that there isn't very much space to explore each of the characters.

Also (and more importantly), the comic is funny. While Billy may be a dunce, it's only compared to the other people he hangs around. He even seems slightly brighter than your average little kid, as he's capable of cooking pancakes by himself (and even manages to clean up afterwards). It's just that he isn't going to be curing cancer any time soon. The situations Billy ends up in, and the reactions of himself and the other characters, manage to be both amusing, and, in one case, kind of sweet. Awwwww.

The art is clear and manages to capture the emotions and traits of the characters who appear. Looking at Week's website it seems as though his art has gotten even better since this comic was printed. If you go and check it out you can see the sheer size of some of original art for this comic. It's huge! I certainly wouldn't want to draw that much.

The humour and talent involved in these strips has led me bookmarking Week's website. I'll definitely be back sometime soon to read this comic from the beginning. I can't wait!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Black Sea Sickness

By FJ XA (I think)

This is one of those zines that I thought looked really cool on first impression, but the more time I spent with it, the less I actually enjoyed it.

The cover seems really neat, using harsh blacks, with zipatone style shading (which I love!). The same style is continued inside, and at times it reminded me of art by Nikki Stu and Warwick Johnson Cadwell. (Both of whom I've utterly lost track of since moving back to Candada, dang.)

But while the art looks fine for all those huge solid blacks, any time it goes into more delicate linework a major problem arises. It's really fucking pixely and ugly. And not awesome pixel art, but just that the lines are incredibly jagged. I think the art work must have been scanned in at too low a resolution, as I can't really imagine the author wanting their work to look like this.

The art itself still looks pretty damn awesome when I look at it from a distance. It features monsters, magic, and some imagery that is kind of frightening (though I guess I find the idea of solid black tentacle-entities moving around scarier than other people might).

There's no real story to speak of, I mean, I guess things happen on some of the pages, but that's really all it is, things happening. There is no dialogue and what little text there is features the same style as the cover (which it took me about a million years before I realized said "Black Sea Sickness", and not just "Black Sickness", for whatever reason I just couldn't parse it).

While I find this an intriguing zine, I'm not sure if I could ever recommend it because of the problems with the art reproduction. I would be interested in seeing more work by the author, but a google search for the title just leads to a spam site trying to sell drugs.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Financially Hard Times #10

By Tom Casson

This issue of the Financially Hard Times tells of the far flung future of 2022. The world has avoided total economic collapse by allowing Facebook to run everything, TV no longer exists because everyone just watches YouTube, and the only shops left are Subways (which sell alcohol!), Tescos (a supermarket chain), and Apple.

Each page features an illustration of the world of the future. There are Hollywood style signs promoting Facebook, corporate logos on everything, and general urban decay as every shop closes down.

The best joke is on the final page. It says that gravestones have been replaced with giant iPads which show your Facebook timeline: "Passers by can view past status' and browse through pictures of happier days". Terrifying, because it seems so possible.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Momo Samples

By Mo

This comic features 13 comic strips. That's right, comic strips, like you would see in a newspaper or, more likely, a website like Penny Arcade. Okay, this is definitely more like something you'd see in a newspaper.

The main character is Momo, a small, slightly overweight, silent child. While Momo is completely uninterested in school, and seemingly everything that is not cookies, cakes, or some other kind of sweets, he does have vibrant imagination. Even if that is often reflected in his thoughts relating to baked goods.

While the comics are mostly amusing, there's also a sadness that exists in some of them. Other kids at Momo's school call him "fatty", which lead to him both not enjoying school, and drowning his sorrows in more cookies once he gets home. It seems like a vicious circle, one that is unfortunately reflected by the experiences of real life people.

The comics are drawn in an attractive style, and feature some nice looking and varied lettering. The lettering is all done by hand, and the different fonts used in speech balloons and sound effects is awesome.

It also features a mystifying number of blank pages. I definitely would have laid this out differently.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Bear With a Chainsaw issue #2

By Devin Renshaw

Devin's introduction to their monster zine is pretty amusing. It begins by claiming "Let's just get this straight. I have never done acid.", and goes on to say how people always seem to think that Devin's done a lot of drugs whenever they see the artwork from this zine.

Of course Devin says that these people can't really be blamed, as the art in these zines does look pretty weird. Plus most people tend not to draw lots of impossible looking monsters that feature strange details and textures. At one point Devin says that they like to think that the reason the monsters look so strange is that they are created by bizarre arcane magic, and that's a good enough reason for me too.

Bear With a Chainsaw is a zine that is just filled with drawings of monsters. Really messed up monsters that if I somehow came across them in real life I would almost definitely throw up and cry before being eaten by them. However, in the drawings themselves the monsters are aallmmmoooossssttt cute. Actually, that's probably the wrong word, but for whatever reason most of Devin's monsters don't look that scary (okay, there are one or two that are pretty terrifying).

I think this is because the many of the monsters don't look like they could actually support their own weight (at least under Earth gravity), and all of them are pretty ridiculous. One of them is even a maze!

Of course, I'm really just telling myself this in an attempt to avoid having nightmares tonight. Because if I convinced myself that these monsters actually were scary...well, I guess I'd probably just be hiding under my blankets and freaking out a little at every random sound outside my window.

Wait, what was that? Oh shit, whatever just went by my house didn't sound like a human or a car...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bear Pit Zine #1

This is an anthology of Bristol, UK based comics artists and features work by several comic artists who's stuff I've read, reviewed, and enjoyed before (namely Lando, Simon M., and Nick Souček).

The lead comic by Simon M is a simple idea, but executed well. It features a single scene of a bridge and a town, but presents it at various intervals throughout time. What happens to the bridge and the town in these pictures may not tell a full story, but it does gives hints of bigger events in the surrounding events.

Souček's comic focuses on the absurdity of trying to live each day as if it were your last. Would you go to work? Of course not! Would you plan for tomorrow or have long term goals? By definition you couldn't. Souček decides that while he may not have been making the most of his life before, he can focus on working on smaller things, as long as they succeed in making him and his friends lives slightly happier lives. (Of course as he's currently cycling across Australia by himself, I guess he decided to work on larger projects too.)

Lando's comic is similar to many of his others, in that it is set in a seemingly post-apocalyptic/alien setting filled with tiny details, snake people, skeletons, and giant floating credit cards. It doesn't really make a lot of sense, but it makes me incredibly curious about the world, and just what the hell is going on in it.

Of the remaining pieces Dani A. does a pretty neat piece on graffiti artists and their interactions with the police in late 1980s Bristol, while Deemo's features giant mutated sea monkeys (see below).

There are some things in here that I didn't really enjoy, but that is to be expected with anthologies, and for the most part I liked everything in here. If only more anthologies focused on urban decay and existentialism.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Two and a Bit Songs: My Open Mic Adventure

By Jimi Gherkin

Years ago the band that some of my friends were in decided to go on tour. But as we lived on the most Eastern tip of Newfoundland (look it up), getting to other cities was rather difficult and required both more time and money than any of my friends had.

So instead they decided to go on a tour of all the open mic nights around town. They played in some bizarre places, had an awesome time, and even printed up some tshirts saying the date they played in each bar.

Why have I told you this story? Well, you can probably tell based upon the title of this comic to be honest. Several years ago (at Easter!) comics creator Jimi Gherkin decided that he wanted to play some songs he had written in front of other people. For the first time.

As anyone that's ever performed in front of other peoples knows, this can be pretty frightening, but Jimi seems like the type of person who is willing to do things that might scare him a bit.

So he looked up some open mic nights, invited his friends along, and headed out to rock the house. The venues where Jimi played seem pretty varied, ranging from weirdly formal to kind of cruddy. But he managed to have a good time at all of them, and even managed to play a Dead Kennedys cover. (Hurray!)

In addition to the comics that show how each performance went, Jimi also illustrates the first verse of one of his songs, which features a lot more violence and vomiting than the rest of the comic.

Overall this is a nice, and in some ways sweet, comic about fulfilling your ambitions and meeting new people. If only every zinester could be this positive about life : )

Sunday, April 8, 2012

"dotdotdash" Callout

I recently received this call out for zines. It might be more appropriate for people in Australia, but it still sounds pretty neat!

Hey there,

I'm from dotdotdash (, a literary art journal from Perth, WA, and we're doing a zine collaboration project called Fingerprint which I wondering if you could pass along to your mailing list or callout list at all? Or if you yourself would like to contribute that would be swell!

Basically for this edition of dotdotdash, instead of a magazine, subscribers will receive a package of 20 or so zines. Each package will have a different combination of zines, and will be unique, like a fingerprint. But for this we need thousands of zines and that's where we need you! Feel free to start on a zine project for us straight away (but let us know if you are, so we can include you in the count and not freak out about how few submissions we have!). Submissions are due May the 7th but let us know if you have one coming and we might give you a bit of leeway.

If you have any leftover copies of your old zines that you'd like to send along, we'd love to have those too, just don't forget to mark them with a fingerprint in some way so that they can be a part of the project :)

I've attached a flyer if you wanna pass along the project info to anyone, also this page from the dotdotdash website ( explains Fingerprint a bit further.

Warm wishes, and thanks for being an awesome zine-maker (and/or distro) anyway :)

Shamini J

Friday, April 6, 2012

Help Salford Zine Library set up its new home

I got this email the other day, and figured I'd reprint it here. You can contact them at

You can help Salford Zine Library set up its new home by sponsoring
the project here:

Since the exhibition came to a close at Salford Museum and Art Gallery the library has been homeless. I have been desperately seeking a new place for it to reside. Looking for a pleasant and safe environment where people can comfortably read and peruse the archive at their own leisure. After much toing and froing looking for the right space I have been offered a permanent room at the Nexus Art Café in the heart of Manchester’s Northern Quarter.

In its new home the archive will be accessible seven days a week from mid May but as you can see the space needs work. With your help and the skills of master craftsman Andy Yates – a man who says he can drill through anything - we can transform the space into the ideal new home we have long since dreamed of.

Our aim is to raise one thousand pounds by the end of April 2012. The money raised will go towards the building of shelves, comfy seats to sit down and read, lighting and giving the walls a nice lick of paint.

When the space is clean and safe we can deliver workshops as part of our educational programme and you can read you favourite zines in calm creative comfort.

You can donate in these amounts:

For £5! You get an invite to the opening launch night.

For £10! You also receive a freshly burnt DVD of the Salford Zine Library film ‘Self-Publishers of the World Take Over.’

For £20! Add to it a guided tour of the 3 x 5 metres room with head librarian Craig John Barr.

And for £50 and upwards! You get all of the previously mentioned plus you can pick an original piece of artwork listed from my website portfolio.

Please be generous and give today!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Busking issue 1

By Celeste

I think busking is pretty neat, and to some extent I envy people who have the skills and personality to successfully perform in front of other people (and make a living from it! I don't think I'd make much money busking by offering to edit things)

Celeste has been playing accordion for several years, and makes her living from it. Of course "her living" is far different from what most people would consider: she eats from dumpsters, doesn't own any new clothing, and doesn't really buy anything. Of course she's perfectly happy doing this, as not having a regular 9-5 job means that she can spend her days doing what she loves: playing accordion, volunteering, making art, and other fun things. She actually pities people who have deadening office jobs, and as someone who has one of those jobs I kind of envy her life.

This zine is filled with stories and anecdotes from Celeste's times busking across Canada. Some are told in comics, while others use text. She also has an FAQ of questions people ask her while she's busking like "Are you on drugs?" and "Are you actually rich?". The whole zine is told in an upbeat and appealing way that makes me wish that I was friends with Celeste and got to hang out with her.

I recommend this zine, and am excited to learn that she's almost finished her second issue. Check out her tumblr for some of the comics that will be in issue 2!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Panel: "Sweet" 16

Published by Ferret Press
600 Markview Road
Columbus, Ohio
43214, USA

I reviewed one of these anthology comics last year, and while I found the stories of varying quality, there were a couple that I enjoyed.

While that issue was about superstition and bad luck, this one is about a substantially different subject: romance and relationships. This is an area that I am less interested in. Or rather, the ways in which it is presented here didn't appeal to me.

Several of the pieces were about marriage and children, concepts I generally find boring and dull, while another shows a relationship that seems to be based mostly on material wealth (it's supposed to be comedic, but instead succeeds in making me sad). I also took issue with one of the comics that said that the alternatives to "monogamy over a 70-year lifespan" are "really awful". This person might want to look into monogamish relationships.

The best story in here was by KT Swartz and Brent Bowman (who illustrated the comic I liked in the other issue I reviewed). It's more about the titular sweet sixteen (a concept that both mystifies and terrifies me) than relationships, and is kind of Hunger Games-y. I don't think it really works as a complete story by itself, and functions more as a Future Shock type story, but I found it more interesting than the other content in here.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Halifax Comix Jam Number 13

It's time once again for me to "review" one of these jam comics and tell you about this month's Halifax Comics Jam!

This month's is tonight (Tuesday, April 3rd), from 7-10pm, at the Roberts Street Social Centre, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. You should come! No artistic talent is required, and there are usually cookies or some other snack. Here's the facebook event.

For those that don't know, Jam comics are comics where one person starts a page by drawing a panel, and then another person draws the next panel, and so on until the page is finished. They usually don't make a lot of sense, but they can be pretty funny at times. This one actually has a remarkably coherent, and amusing story about the adventures of a soul. Hurray!

Here's a video you can watch that possibly explains it better.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Chicken With Penis
PO Box 20204
Seattle, WA

[The images at the bottom of this review is NSFW, just letting you know.]

I've reviewed a couple of issues of this series before, and I really didn't like them. So when faced with the idea of reading more issues I hummed and I hawed about reading them as they sat in my review pile.

Eventually I decided I'm not going to review them, or even read them. I'm sure they're much the same as earlier issues.