Friday, June 28, 2013

Corporate Ghost

By Mary Karaplis/Mei K

I'm sure many of you have worked jobs you didn't enjoy. Whether they're customer service jobs where you sell stuff you don't care about, or office jobs where you do the same thing every day, or whatever it happens to be. It sucks! Especially when, as happens to the ghost main character in this story, you used to really enjoy your job (when it involved haunting grave yards and scaring people), but don't now that you've been reduced to a ghost consultant. Which seems awful!

You might remember from when I reviewed another of Karaplis' comics that she drew this sweet Spirit token for Magic the Gathering for me. Killer!

While this comic kind of makes me sad (I don't like it when people have to work jobs they hate), I do enjoy the artwork. Lots of adorable ghosts! Plus a terrifying one that is a huge boss ghost filled with tinier ghosts, kind of like a gelatinous cube.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

July is International Zine Month!

Did you know that July is International Zine Month? It is! You should check out the website and the facebook page to find out the full list of events, but here are some that I'm excited about!

July 2nd: Make a Top 10 list of reasons why your love zines, post them online if you would like.
(We're going to be doing this at the Zine Pavilion at the ALA conference in Chicago!)

July 13th: Zine Trade Day! Ask someone if they would like to trade zines with you.
(I'm totally going to do this at the Iowa City Zine Librarian (un)Conference!)

July 15th: Leave a zine in public for someone else to find.
(I do this all the time at the #UBCnoox!)

July 17th: Review a zine online or write a review of a zine to add to your zine.
(Okay, well this one is kind of obvious...)

July 27th: Organize a zine event! A zine reading or a zine fair or fest or even just for friends to get together and work on their zines.
(I think I'll be in Toronto on this date, and I'd love to go to a zine event! Does anyone know of any happening there?)

I'm also totally going to make a 24 hour zine at some point during the month. Exciting!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Panel 14: Panel of Horror

It's kind of crazy how influential old EC comics are. I mean, they're referenced constantly despite not actually putting out that many issues. The horror comics EC are known for only existed for a few years in the early 1950s, and none of those series even made it to 30 issues. It's possible there are more X-Men or Batman comics put out every month than original issues of Tales from the Crypt!

Yet, something about them has clearly stuck in people's heads, as they get referenced over and over again (and both of those examples are just ones I've made!).

This is an anthology comic that features several "horror" stories. The opening story by Craig Bogart is about a musician who is destined to learn the last new song ever. It features a Greek muse, people chained up in cellars, and a twist ending (of course!) that I actually thought was pretty good. The final story is written by Dara Naraghi and drawn by Andy Bennett, and is a little cliched, but also a fairly effective creepy story about a guy who thinks his dentist is out to get him.

The other stories didn't do that much for me. There's a werewolf story where I saw the twist coming on page two, a comic about various classic Hollywood monsters driving cars that just goes on forever and doesn't have an ending or much of anything (like backgrounds), and a weird story about a picnic basket that has art I enjoyed (see below), but not much of a plot.

Of course, the worst thing about this comic is that the giant ant on the cover doesn't appear anywhere inside. Boooooo.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Two Fisted Librarians Issue !

Two Fisted Librarians, the super awesome anthology zine I edited, is finished! It contains pulp adventure fiction stories about libraries and librarians. Awesome!

You can find out more info (and previews!) on the Two Fisted Librarians blog.

You'll also be able to get a copy if you go to the Zine Pavilion at the American Library Association conference this weekend (June 28th-July 1st), the Iowa City Zine Librarian (un)Conference (July 13th-14th), or the Portland Zine Symposium (August 10th-11th).

Plus I'll be in Kentucky, Toronto, and other places this summer, so if you know of any cool zine events (or just want to hang out), let me know!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Oak Linden Issue #1

You know, I don't usually talk about the cost of the things I review on this site, in large part because I either get them through trade or people send them to me for free. (They also pretty much all get given away, either to friends, to zine libraries, or to the #UBCnoox, in case you're thinking I'm sitting on a dragon-sized horde of zines.)

But this is a regular sized comic, with 24 pages (plus cover), and only 11 of those are in colour, for $6. I know that small print runs can be expensive, and I kind of doubt Barrett was making any/much money off of this, but at the same time I think creators should maybe think a bit more about the formats they're using.

Okay! But that's enough about prices (and holy shit, I've been writing a lot about stuff that isn't the actual content of zines recently), what's inside the comic? Well, as you might have surmised, the contents of this comic is made up of a number of different stories. There's a bizarre sort of pulp sci-fi Abraham Lincoln time travelling space hero comic that was kind of fun. It's retro in style and even uses the old weird dot style colouring that used to exist because of the way things were printed. My favourite part of this one was when Lincoln turned off his "audio receptors" while the villain (in the future) is talking to him because "no man may know his own destiny!".

The next comic is a sort of "behind the music" expose about a rapping robot. It's pretty fun, though I can't say that I enjoyed the colouring that much, and Barrett's characters all have this bizarre bendyness to them that I find kind of horrifying. The characters don't have elbows or knees, but instead seem to be able to stretch like Mr. Fantastic (or any of the many other stretchy characters, I personally like the Elongated Man). While this worked fine in the Lincoln comic, it just looks weird to me in the more realistic setting.

There's also a kind of depressing and creepy comic about a guy and his girlfriend (who also lack elbow joints), and the bizarre baseball-related nightmare of a guy who has a film projector for a head.  Overall I enjoyed three of the four comics in here, and I'm curious about seeing other work that Barrett creates (well, not if they're like that girlfriend comic).

Saturday, June 22, 2013

you can't give it back

By Mary Karaplis/Mei K

Late again? What's my excuse this time? Why, Mass Effect of course, the science fiction RPG from years ago. I needed to finish it! Needed! (And I actually did, I am going travelling for the rest of the summer in just a few days, so if I didn't finish it now I wouldn't finish it until September. And I was right at the end guys! I had to stay up until 4am to defeat the evil aliens and help the good aliens and...)

I can't even give this comic a bad review if I hated it (though I didn't), because the artist was nice enough to draw a token for Magic the Gathering for my friend and I when we were at the Vancouver Comic Arts Festival a while ago. Corporate ghost!

I think it involves some sort of talent to get three paragraphs and an image into a review before even saying anything about the thing you're reviewing. Well, maybe "talent" is the wrong word. Sometimes I wonder why anyone ever reads this blog...

"you can't give it back" is filled one one panel/page comic strips mostly about the ideas of love and being heartbroken. While some of the comics are pretty funny, what I really enjoyed about this comic was the art style that Karaplis used. The illustrations seem simple, but manage to contain a lot of emotion and character with just a few lines. Plus they're really cute and there's a robot _and_ a sea monster _and_ a space pirate. Great!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Double Think

By Matt Aucoin

This looks like it's going to be a week of comic anthologies! This time it's a solo effort as Aucoin presents a number of pinups and comics with no apparent theme. The opening piece Godman (the one with the mermaid) is subtitled "A Wild Romp Through a Messed Up Dreamland", and doesn't make a lot of sense as I think it might actually be based on a dream. The main character just goes from event to event with connections that don't make any sense, and really weird stuff being treated as totally normal. It's kind of strange, but then dreams often are.

Next there are a couple of "teen romance" comics. One of which is about someone who's kind of horrible, and one that is about someone you think is horrible up until the ending. I preferred the latter, as I'm not really a big fan of reading about people doing jerk-y things. There are a number of other comics, from seemingly true worm rescue stories, to a bizarre historical piece about US independence.

One of the most interesting things about this comic is how Aucoin really varies his art style between each story. Some use thick lines and are incredibly cartoony, others use a thinner line, scratchier inking, and a more realistic style. It's interesting to see an artist do this, and I'm wondering if it was because Aucoin was still trying to find his own personal style, or if he thought each different story could be better told with a different kind of art. For whatever reason he chose, Aucoin manages to use the style differences effectively throughout this comic.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Dumb #0

Aw snap, I missed an update yesterday for the first time in a couple of months. And as I'm just starting to write this at 11:59 pm on Tuesday it looks like it's going to be two days late. Still! There will be three reviews this week. Promise : )

So why did I forget to update? Because of Magic: The Gathering. Yeah, super nerdy, but if you expected anything else from me I'm not sure if you've ever actually read this blog. Magic is super fun! And as I'm not interested in having "competitive" decks I can have totally terrible/ridiculous theme decks. My friend just sent a library-themed deck and it is pretty wonderful/hilarious/horrible. I played my roommate three times yesterday and I don't think I managed to damage her once. But it's still so great to play (I mean, I am in library school after all).

Um, so yeah, this comic! It's an anthology, but it doesn't list who any of the creators are. Showing my utter genius it was only the second time through that I realized that each comic was down by a different person. This is despite their radically different styles. Sigh. Did I mention I only got four hours of sleep last night?

So there are lots of different comics, but there doesn't appear to be any theme or anything. I liked the one with a kid wondering through a destroyed city (see below), the one were a bat bites a dog and turns it into a vampire, and the one were the fairy godmother creates a horrible amalgam of man and horse that I think poops diamonds for Cinderella. Sure there were some that I didn't care for, but there always are even in the strongest anthologies.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


So it seems like for the last little while I've been reviewing a lot of things I don't really care about. I'd say it might be reflective of my mood in general, but then along comes a comic like this and I remember why I have this blog in the first place: this comic is great and I never would have heard of it if someone hadn't sent it to me.

Archer's work falls into the history/journalism section of comics that seems to be rarely used, and even more frequently ignored. I guess maybe left wing political comics aren't going to have a huge audience (but I can always hope). These comics all succeed on what I assume is the point of their creation: they educate the reader by telling them about something they (or at least I) didn't know about before. I learned about real events, different types of organizations, political viewpoints, and more.

There are comics about political lobbyists in the USA, farming, "The First 9/11" (the coup d'etat in 1970s Chile that was backed by the CIA), gun shows (terrifying), Raging Grannies, and living in Nigeria. The one about Chile even includes source material! (Declassified US government documents.) My only wish is that the comics were longer! The title page of the comic about Chile says it's just part one, and I want part two as well. Plus, I desperately want to read more about Archer's experiences in Lagos, as I found the brief one set there both moving and fascinating. Really, I can't wait to read something really huge and dense that Archer creates.

Shortly after finishing this zine I read Archer's comic about human trafficking in Nepal. I thought it was good (though short), and awesome that it was on the BBC's website and apparently got over a million views. Awesome! Hopefully we can all make the world a better place, one comic at a time.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

For the Record I Know this is a Bad Idea

By Eroyn Franklin

I can't say for sure why this zine is named as it is, but I feel it reflects the content of the comics inside. Not that they're about characters doing things they know are bad ideas (well, some of them are), but more an admission from the author that even making these comics is a poor idea in the first place.

The comics inside here seem so...negative. And I guess they're supposed to be funny (and some of them sort of are), but I'm clearly not in the right mind set for this sort of thing right now. Comics about how nobody cares about you, drunk people passing out on the sidewalk after throwing up and making out, pregnant kids getting kicked in the stomach, laughing at someone saying "I love you", a character talking about giving their wife black eyes; It's all just...not what I want to read right now. Or ever for that matter.

Urgh, where are the comics about dinosaur robots shooting laser beams?

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Westside Angst 10

By Ianto Ware (this zine is like eight years old, so who knows if that email address works)

Huh, it's been a while since I've reviewed a perzine. So many comics! I went back to the UK to visit my parents at Xmas, and one of the things I did while there was look through a bunch of boxes of stuff I'd left with them. One of them contained the remnants of all of these comics that my friend Jen had sent me a few years ago. Clearly that would not do! I have to review everything! So I put them in my bag to bring back to Canada, and a fair number of the reviews over the last few months have been of those comics.

But this (despite being old) isn't one! No, I picked this up at the Roberts Street Social Centre because I thought the way it was bound with a giant metal clip, and designed with multiple layers of different cardstock for the cover made it look really neat. Weirdly, I ended up reviewing another zine earlier this year that was also by Ware and from what seems to be about the same time as this one.

This zine is designated the quarter-life crisis issue, and is split into two main themes. One is about gender and sexuality, and how being a straight white male is deemed "normal" in our society. It says some interesting things about media's portrayal of gender, and raises some ideas that I've thought of before.

The other section is the quarter-life crisis bit, and is about Ware being upset with his job (which he doesn't like), wanting a better job and career (despite also not wanting a job or a career), and how society pushes us towards certain ideas of what counts as "success". Ware doesn't want to buy into the system and have a career, but at the same time he doesn't feel like he's left with many other options. He'd rather spend his time working on his PhD, but to pay for that he needs to work, and his attempts to get a grant to pay for university have so far failed. (I had a realization that the amount of aid money most students want is pretty small, and even the debt many graduate with is basically nothing compared to how much rich people earn. Just another reason to dislike our economic system I guess.)

I think I've approached many of the same ideas that Ware has, but at the same time I found this zine a little...complainy? Bitter? I mean, I'm sure that I've felt/thought/said many of the same things, but I don't know if I want to read about them. Maybe the most important thing this zine made me think about was my own thoughts and actions. Positive thinking!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Lei Li: The Rage of the Tiger #1 and #2

By Ertito Montana

I'm generally a pretty big fan of "fighting fiction" as I call it. I've read a lot of super hero comics, played a lot of video games where I shoot (or otherwise fight) other people/things, and enjoy watching action films. One style of action film I enjoy quite a bit are the ones that come out of Hong Kong and China. I've enjoyed these for years, and have watched a bunch in the last month. (Also, Vampire Warriors is kind of hilariously terrible.)

Even when they're terrible I kind of enjoy them for existing in a world completely unlike reality. The only people who exist are people who can fight, and they fight all the time! And they're so serious about it, as though who is the better fighter is the only thing that's important in the world.

I've also read all 28 volumes of Lone Wolf and Cub (someday I want to go back and find out exactly how many people Ogami Ittō kills throughout the series), a lot of fighting manga, and even some manhua from China. (You can see some of the art from Chinese language manhua I've cut up in the ATCs I've made.)

Anyway, I dug this comic by Montana that is apparently an adaptation of a screenplay by Ni Kuang (I couldn't figure out if it was based on an actual movie). It features people getting chopped in half, all out fighting action, people who feel the need to fight just upon meeting someone they've heard is good at fighting, and all the ridiculous miscommunications and misunderstandings that mean that they _have_ to fight. Plus the dialogue uses words like "pusillanimous".

I liked the stylized perspectives and askew proportions of the characters that feature in Montana's art quite a bit. The hand drawn borders (none of which are completely straight), and the awesome sound effects really add to the style of art that's used. In fact, the only real problem I have with this comic is that it was printed so small! I wish the art was bigger so that I could appreciate it more.

If you're a fan of Hong Kong action films and samurai comics you'll probably get a kick out of Lei Li: The Rage of the Tiger. I want to know what happens next!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


This is a brief art zine that features drawings of the ground and landscape from a four day, 45 mile (72km) hike along trails in Washington state. Let me begin by saying "that sounds like something I never want to do". While I enjoy nature a lot, and really hate when it is destroyed by ever expanding human settlements, I am generally okay with it existing somewhere else and never (or rarely) visiting it. Sometimes I think that's probably better for the environment in general. For a really awesome and moving documentary about how humanity effects nature you should check out Bear 71. It kind of blew my mind, both in regards to its content and the way it told its story.

On a much smaller scale Vantage also impressed me with the way it presented its content. The zine is a tiny square enclosed by a paper band featuring information about the zine printed on it. The zine itself doesn't contain any text, but does feature a lot of awesome fold outs! You turn the first page of the zine and are presented with an image spread across two pages, that you can open up to show a different image. I'm describing this really poorly, but suffice to say it's really neat! The drawings are more or less what you'd expect from a four day hike, but I enjoyed the photorealistic style used to portray the close ups of plants and rocks.

Plus there's a message printed on the inside of the band that goes around the zine. I didn't see it at first so it seemed like a secret hidden message! Awesome.

(This is one of the fold out spreads with only the right-hand side unfolded.)

Monday, June 3, 2013

Paper and Ink: Broken Hearts and Broken Bottles Vol. 1

Edited by Martin Appleby

Reading the introduction to this lit anthology I realized I was the wrong person to review it. Appleby writes that "The theme of this issue is heart break. A subject that most people can relate to and empathise with. I find something extremely cathartic about tales of lost love, of hearts being ripped out and shattered into a thousend [sic] peices [sic]."

And sure, I can relate to heart break, I've been in relationships, they've ended, sometimes sadly, sometimes not. But that doesn't meant I want to read about relationships, functional or not. Romance in fiction generally bores me to tears, and I frequently try to avoid it. I mean, it's not like the concept of romance is a complete anathema to me, I've read stuff that I've enjoyed, but I generally find it trite and banal.

I'm sure all of this makes me seem like a horrible person (or at least a horrible person to be in a relationship with), but it's not like I ignore the idea of romance in my own life. I guess I just find most portrayals of it to not connect with either my experience or my ideas concerning the topic.

Layout-wise I found the fonts that changed for each piece somewhat jarring. I personally prefer zines to have a more consistent design style throughout, though I can understand why people might feel otherwise. Some of the margins are too close to the edge of the page, but I did think the cover was pretty good.

So yeah, this zine has some poems and short stories about heart break. They're fine I guess but, as I've said many times in the past, poetry isn't something I'm really a fan of reading, and I find it pretty impossible to judge its quality. If you're into catharsis and heart break maybe you'll like this zine, but I can't say it did much for me (which is perhaps more of a failing of my own interests and views than the zine in question).