Sunday, April 28, 2013

Deafula #4
PO Box 1665
Southampton, PA
19866, USA

So right now I'm in the process of looking for a job. Or rather "looking" for a job, because I'm not being that proactive. I don't really like working that much, or at least working for money. If given the option I'd rather spend my time volunteering for lots of different things and working on a million of my own projects than spending forty hours a week doing whatever so that I can pay rent and stuff.

But as much as I dislike the whole "looking for a job" thing, it clearly could be so much worse as I'm not deaf like the author this zine. Not that they let being deaf stop them from working, despite what many think about deaf people and disability payments.

The zine begins with a discussion of the different types of disability payments available in the USA, why deaf people are often not allowed to apply for these, and how hard it can be to receive these payments even if you do qualify. This seems really lame! I know from from some friends how hard it can be for the government to believe you actually deserve these payments, and our society seems to delight in exposing people who are "benefit frauds" and ignoring the vast majority of people who actually deserve the help.

The zine discusses the "reasonable accommodation" that employers must provide to disabled employees, different ways various employees and coworkers have either discriminated against or helped the author at different jobs, and the question of when the best time to reveal your disability to potential employers is.

I liked this zine because while it tackles a fairly simple and common subject, it came at it from a point of view I'm not really familiar with and was written in an enjoyable style. There were times where I wasn't sure what specific terms, like TTY, actually meant, and I was a bit puzzled by the way the text switches between computer generated,  written on a typewriter, and handwritten (sometimes in the same sentence!). But despite these minor problems I'm interested in reading more issues of this zine and learning more about the experiences of people with hearing loss in general an the author specifically.

(And that's more posts this month than in the first three months of the year, hurray! Let's hope I continue this time.)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Moon Hat 1400 Issue #8

Sex wizard? I love that band! No wait, I mean I love collage, which fill this that zine to the brim. (And the reason there's nobody credited as creating this is that the editor is listed as "Dick Awesome", and there's no internet contact for anyone involved.) (Edit: I was emailed some websites! They're included above.)

So yeah, I like both making and looking at collages, and some of the ones in this zines are pretty good. They combine hand drawn content with comics, text, photos, other stuff from a variety of sources. I like the chaotic nature of the content, where a box of Kraft Dinner is on the same page as pixel-art hunters or buildings have giant floating eyes in the sky above them. I also like the redialogued comic ad for Dungeons and Dragons that had a character casting an "adventure spell" so they can skip the boring stuff and go straight to the end castle.

But, at the same time a lot of the content here seems kind of juvenile and mean spirited. And while some of the content and humour is fine, I don't think it's really necessary to have "Santa (TM) touched by butthole." or whatever else. Maybe I'm just over-sensitive.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Heavy Flow

By Jen Vaughn

Jen is no stranger to creating comics about menstruation (in fact, that's how I first met her!), but she's clearly got it down to a science at this point, as this comic about menstrual cups is both informative and entertaining.

The comic opens with Jen remembering her early experiences with periods, and how our society deals with them (generally poorly). Then Jen makes a discovery, paying for disposable tampons and stuff is expensive! (Especially when you also have to buy birth control, "creepy hair removal products", and unicorn figurines.) So Jen gets a menstrual cup.

The then talks about the invention, history, and evolution of the cups, answers common questions about them, discusses the problems of initially getting used to using them (a topic other creators have covered), and more!

Through art filled with visual gags, and ridiculous humour (what sort of cup does a giant use?) Jen creates a.... (I'm trying to avoid the use of the word "entertaining" again, to the thesaurus!) absorbing comic that is worth checking out if you're thinking about getting one of these cups, or even if you have no idea what they are at all.

Plus this comic gives me an excuse to post this video.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Sorry Sheets

This comic makes me sad. It seems to be about the end of a relationship. A relationship that has actually been over for a long time, but the people involved in it are still living together (at least at the beginning).

The comic is mostly silent, and deals with really minor things. There's no big argument or major event or anything like that, but the absolute lack of positive emotions between the two characters is kind of distressing. I could almost feel the contempt and helplessness of the characters dripping off the page. It makes me sad that people stay in unhealthy relationships like this!

Of course I guess it's possible that I have completely misinterpreted this entire comic.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Delirium Issue No. 1

By Nick Calavera

Delirium apparently started as an idea called Kingdom of Monsters, but I think that the current title better represents what's inside the comic as I frequently had no idea what was going on. Well, that's a bit unfair, I generally understood what was happening in each chapter/story in this comic, but I really don't understand how they fit together or why they're happening.

Delirium starts with a naked girl (of course!) going to sleep and dreaming of a bizarre cityscape filled with monsters. She wakes up and suddenly monsters are in her room. Some are after her, while one seems to be trying to protect her (or at least is better at hiding their motivations regarding her). It might be a touch confusing, but more in the questions it raises about the world they're in than anything else. I'm curious and want to learn more.

The second story starts the confusion. Is that a different naked girl? Is this set before the previous story? What the hell is going on? And then there are pin ups of a naked girl (the same naked girl?) in front of ruined buildings and surrounded by bizarre creatures. Then the final comic features the girl (who now has a robot arm, wings and a facial tattoo) fighting a chainsaw handed monster.

More than anything else this comic reminds me of two things: the comics of Tsutomu Nihei and Heavy Metal magazine. Okay, so I guess those are in fact lots of different things, but if I say "Heavy Metal" style to someone (that knows what it is) they generally understand what I'm talking about: weird sci-fi/fantasy stuff with lots of violence and boobs.

The blank faced characters, the violence, the weird architecture, and the fact that I don't really know what's going on really reminds me of Nihei's comic Blame!. Now, I love blame, and I originally "read" it in Japanese and French and had _no_ idea what was going on. The fact that I still really liked it really says something about how compelling I found the comic to be. Comics appearing in Heavy Metal are also frequently filled with violence and weird architecture, and often print middle chapters or comics with no explanation of what's going on, but they are perhaps better known for being filled with boobs, and that is really where this comic reflects that.

There is no reason why the main character is naked all the time other than that the author wants to draw her that way. Up to a certain point I respect artists who draw what they want and don't care about external critics, but at the same time I think I would enjoy this comic a lot more if there was less nudity. I'm not opposed to nudity in my comics, but in this case it just seems really blatant and exploitative.

I generally enjoy the art style Calavera uses (especially for many of the background elements and settings), I like many of the aspects of the story (monsters, weird cities), and I'm okay with not really knowing what's going on in the story. But I still feel kind of uncomfortable with this comic, and I'm reminded of the guilty feelings I've had when reading stories (like Druuna) in issues of Heavy Metal. So what's the answer/solution? I have no idea.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Two Fisted Librarians

You know, I was so busy not updating this blog at all (and then writing reviews for it), that I completely forgot to post about the new anthology zine that I'm editing!

Two Fisted Librarians is a collection of fiction, comics, and art created by librarians concerning libraries and librarians. The deadline is April 30th.

We’re looking for stories that fondly recall the pulp magazines of the ’20s, ’30s, and ’40s, and comics of the ’40s and ’50s. Mad science, weird fantasy, occult horror, spicy mysteries, noirish romances, thrilling adventures, and whatever else.

Want to write about a library that uses steampunk technology, a cataloguing system so obtuse that it drives those that try to use it insane, or a librarian who has to track down a Nazi zeppelin in order to get an overdue book? Go for it! Send an email or check out the blog for more info.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Stranger Knights #3

 By Bill Volk, Casey Bohn, Mary Soper, and Bryan Stone

Good job Matthew, failing to scan the cover entirely...

Anyway! This is an anthology of sci-fi, fantasy, and super hero comics, and all of them are pretty good! Kind of surprising given I generally don't care for about half of any anthology I read.

In The Capsule's Promise by Volk, the world is invaded by a murderous alien who wants to kill everyone. Two of the Stranger Knights, presumably some sort of super hero team, are nearby and go to find out what's going on. There's Ninurta Frankenstein who is some sort of weird monster thing made of stitched together body parts (and what looks like half a giant baseball attached to his stomach) who appears to be at least partially based on a Sumerian god of war. However he's much more interested in welcoming the creature to earth and sharing culture with it, and isn't too impressed when they end up in a fight. There's also Little Headphones, the unpaid intern of the Stranger Knights who...shoots people? I think that's his only power. Anyway, I enjoy a healthy dose of philosophy in my fight comics, so I liked this.

The Orb of Shalla by Stone is a fantasy piece and probably my favourite story in the whole book. It features a robot and a cat girl who ride weird dinosaur/lizard creatures, acquire a treasure map, and head off to lands unknown in an attempt to loot abandoned ruins

I enjoy robots in fantasy settings, even if it doesn't make any sense or maybe because it doesn't make any sense. Stone's art in this story is attractive and uses good use of cross hatching and similar techniques to help create depth and contrast. Several pages of the comic are entirely silent, and yet they're easy to understand and follow. Plus there's a weird horned pig thing.

The other two pieces are another Stranger Knights story and a science fiction one, both of which are somewhat superhero-ish. While I enjoyed the stories in both of these, the artwork didn't appeal to me in the same way. But overall I enjoyed this, much as I did the first issue.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Peach Melba #s 35, 36, 37, & 38

By Pearl
PO Box 74
Brighton, UK

Yes! Take that January! I've already written more reviews than I did in all of you and March combined! Though that is saying waaaaay more about the lack of writing I've done for this site this year rather than anything else...

I met Pearl three years ago at a zine fest in England, and since then she has made a lot of zines. I'm horribly behind at reviewing these, so she's probably up to the mid 40s by now because she makes one every month. My gosh, I wish I had that amount of commitment to making zines.

Each of Pearl's zines is a single intricately folded piece of paper that is filled with a multitude of lists. I always smile when I read Peach Melba because some of the lists are so completely ridiculous,. But I love reading about what Pearl thinks are "unreasonable commands to expect a dog to follow" ("solve food crises"), jobs she would hate to have ("olympic fencer", "bee eater", "police officer"), or "Useful life advice" ("eat soup"). Issue 35 even has a list of rejected lists!

The content isn't particularly deep or anything, but if you read enough of them you start to get a picture of what Pearl is like as a person, and the things she comes up with for her lists always succeed in cheering me up if I'm feeling a bit down.

Friday, April 12, 2013


By Piotr Nowacki

Shit, this has an ISBN? Should I even be reviewing this? Well whatever, let's get to it.

OM is a comic from Poland, but it's told entirely without dialogue, so not understanding Polish isn't actually a problem. (Well, the back page is in Polish, but it's unrelated to the story inside.)

Nowacki has created a story about a weird dinosaur/lizard type creature and his best bud who is a giant egg. The dinosaur guy eats pretty much everything except the egg, which is pretty amazing. Alarm clock? Eaten. Toothbrush? Eaten. Chess set? Eaten. A pirate's hand? Eaten! In fact, the "eat everything" aspect of the story continues throughout the story with the main character actually getting eaten in the second half of the comic.

One day the lizard guy wakes up and his egg buddy is missing! He quickly puts on his detective outfit and sets out on a mission to find the egg. His quest takes him through many lands (and under the sea!), and he encounters many other creatures like ninja and fishmen. The story isn't anything super original, but the way it's told is pretty cute and there's some nice humour. The ending is kind of sad and bittersweet, and I wish that it wasn't.

The art is pretty simple, but Nowacki manages to get a surprising amount of emotion out of his wide-eyed lizard guy. Most of the pages are laid out in a simple six-panel grid, but some of them break from this, and when they do you know it's for a reason, something big is happening!

Overall I liked this, and could definitely see myself reading more adventures of this silent lizard guy. Though hopefully they'd end happier than this one does.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Basements and Living Rooms #1

Edited by Shannon Connor

So you know what I'm really bad at? Updating this blog when I'm in school. Have I seriously only written five reviews so far this year? That's crazy, and I am letting down all of the people who keep sending me zines to review (there are so many...). But now class is over for a bit, and let's fucking hope I can update this site more frequently.

You know what else I'm not very good at? Going to see live music. This zine is all about DIY shows that people (mostly in the punk community) put on in their houses, and I realize I can't remember the last time I went to a house show. For whatever reason I'm not as into music as some of my friends. Sure I like it, but I'm fine listening to it at home a lot of the time. Maybe that's because I like music made on computers a lot. (I told a friend recently that if someone described an album or song as sounding like a computer slowly dying I'd really want to listen to it, so clearly my taste in music is pretty questionable.)

So I don't go to house shows very much, and I also don't go to anything shows very much. I'm pretty sure I haven't seen any live music since I moved to Vancouver, and I think half the time I see live music it might be because I'm at a lindy hop event and there's a jazz band playing. And for that I'm going for the dancing, not the music. (Oh wait, there were some live performers at some of the electro-swing shows I went to, but apparently they were incredibly forgettable. There're probably others I've forgotten...)

But four paragraphs into this I realize that (in addition to clearly liking writing zine reviews because I can't shut up, why do I avoid it so much?) I'm jealous of the people that go to house shows with their friends and go on tour and generally have a good time doing that sort of thing. I have friends who go to house shows, and who put on house shows, and I've lived in houses where they happen. Yet, I think that frequently I've felt kind of uncomfortable at them. Possibly because for a long time (and still today to some extent) I felt uncomfortable and awkward in social situations were there were a lot of people I didn't know and a lot of noise and I wasn't that into the music and and and.

I miss living in punk houses. Or at least houses where I had lots of roommates and we hung out and talked and played games and watched movies and did stuff. This two bedroom basement apartment with a guy (who is fine) that I never see (because we're mostly on different schedules) is not the same. But Vancouver and I have not exactly been best buds when it comes to me finding places to live, and I have to find a new roommate for next month anyway since the other guy is moving out, and I have no idea where this paragraph is going.

I think that maybe the zine residencies that I helped host at the Roberts Street Social Centre in Halifax are similar to some of the experiences that people write about in here. Meeting new people who are only there temporarily, and getting really excited about the act of someone creating something cool. I kind of wish it was possible for people to go on writing or art tours in the same way bands go on tour.

The content of Basements and Living Rooms is photos, comics, and articles from various people about shows they've organized, hosted, played, or attended. They cover good shows and bad shows, and similarly some of the content is good and some of it is bad. Up above I credit Shannon as editor, but there's not really any editing going on here. I understand why you might do that, but it also kind of drives me crazy a little when a piece is super filled with spelling mistakes. Yet overall I liked reading this, even if it led to this terribly long (and just generally terrible) review.