Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Wanderer #1

By Simon Parkin

Parkin says in his introduction that his day job is as a print designer, and upon opening his zine you can tell this almost immediately after opening it up and taking a look as, ore than anything else, this zine is clearly designed. Parkin has spent a lot of time creating the look of The Wanderer and what it looks like is a magazine: the titles, fonts, side bars, activities (!!!), photo credits, and everything else add up to show that he is clearly experienced with this sort of thing.

The content of this mini magazine is all centered around in Parkin's interest in walking, and is split into many different sections. He lists a "top 5 fantasies whilst walking", reviews books and movies, goes into why he likes walking, talks about his numerous sheep rescues, gives information on identifying birds of prey you can see while our walking through the countryside, has a diary of a walking holiday he went on, discusses photography and why he dislikes golf courses, and a number of other things. Needless to say there's quite a lot of content in here.

My only complaints with the zine are that it is a little over designed for a zine. The aforementioned holiday diary uses scanned pages torn out of a notebook as a background, yet the text over them is all in a computer font. This seems really "magazine-y", and actually writing it by hand and then scanning it in would have given it a bit more of a personal feel.

But tha's a small complaint, and if you're interested in walking this is probably a zine worth checking out, even if some of the text could have been moved a milimetre ot the right.

Monday, August 30, 2010

12 Poems

By CJ Reay

I don't really read a lot of poetry, and so can find it hard to judge on its own merits. I had high hopes for this zine upon opening it as the first page seemed nicely designed. A poem about getting old was surrounded by photos of the writer's grandparents in their youth (or at least people from that era). Unfortunately the rest of the poems don't follow the same pattern, and while they do combine images with words they are generally just the poem placed on top single images (sometimes repeated), that don't always seem to have a lot to do with the poem.

The poems themselves deal with consumerism, homelessness, poverty, travel, and modern society: the stuff zines of any sort deal with quite frequently. Two of them in particular stood out to me. The first (none of them are named) is about waking in an airport and seeing fearful people wearing surgical masks to protect themselves from swine flu. Airports are weird places, because they're all pretty much the same, and I liked the picture of the paranoid, scared people this poem painted, along with the images of escalators in the background.

The other poem I liked is quite short, and I'll just reprint it here:
I don't like long poems.
I have a short attention span.
Stop talking shit.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Last Bus Issue Two

By Patrick Lynch
3 Euro

Hey, what does Matthew love? That's right! Robots!

I'll be totally honest I picked this up for the awesome one page comic strip called "The Continuing Adventures of Paddy and Giant Robot". This page is supposedly episode six, but I think that's part of the joke and it's just a one off. I'd like to read more though.

In this comic Paddy wakes up, talks to the giant (four stories sitting down) robot chilling' outside his house, and gets the latest Facebook gossip from him. I really loved the idea of having a giant robot as a personal assistant and just using him for completely menial tasks like checking Facebook and warming croissants. Stellar.

The other comics are (sadly) lacking in robots. Instead they deal with a family that seems to be on the rocks relationshipwise. A woman has gone back to visit her dad and taken the kids (who don't really understand what's going on) with her, and it was pretty good even if there weren't any robots in it. Maybe I can pretend the grandfather was one...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

How Do You Feel About Your Friend?

(I got sick of terrible webcam images, so now there are slightly better ones!)

By Chella Quint and Sarah Thomasin

Sometimes I wonder about why there seem to be so many zines about menstration. But I've realized that one of the reasons is probably because there isn't much discussion of these things in most mainstream media, so people have to make their own stuff in order to have people actually talk about it.

And yes I said "it" instead of an actual term because this is a zine about menstrual euphamisms and I thought it would be kind of ironic (gah, is it?) to refer to it as such. The zine talks about how menstration is often seen as embarassing or shameful, and the need for other terms to use while discussing it with people. Yet, the zine continues, most of these euphamisms are now seen as "negative and potentially opressive" and raises the idea of creating 'newphemisms' for menstration.

That's a totally rad, and probably amusing, idea, but unfortunately isn't really followed through in the rest of the zine. Instead we get colouring pages to try and visualize existing terms like "Aunt Flo is visiting" and "surfing the crimson wave". There's also a text piece that says that the word "curse" is only used to mean swearing in America and I'm pretty sure that's not true.

This really seems more like an activity book you would use in a workshop. I think if you had a bunch of people answering these questions, doing the activities, and discussing stuff you could have some really good conversations. But (as a male) sitting by myself in my bedroom I guess I didn't get as much out of it as I could have.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Untranslated #1

(Thanks to the Decadence Comics site for the cover.)

By Lando

I've read a number of the comics released by Decadence, and I always feel as though they should be appearing in...not Heavy Metal as there aren't any boobs, but some sort of theoretical science fiction anthology that maybe exists in mainland Europe somewhere.

(Amusingly, when I was in Copenhagen (technically not mainland Europe) I saw a flyer that said that some of the guys from Decadence had been there doing a residency at an art gallery a few months earlier and had organized a zine/minicomics event. Unfortunately when I went past the gallery it was closed.)

So here you have this very nicely designed and drawn sci fi story about alien soldiers fighting a war and wandering around on a strange planet. There's no dialogue, or rather the dialogue and sound effects are all written in Alien so is not comprehensible to us, yet we are still able to understand at least some of what the aliens are feeling.

We might have no idea why the war is happening (though it is probably just "those people are different"), but the story isn't so much about the war as about the people who end up fighting wars despite not wanting to, and those who end up caught up in the middle. I don't know if the creator had any intentions of making you think about war in general when making this, but I suppose reading a lot of Naomi Klein stuff recently has made me think about things like this. Sigh, humans.

I like the art style that's used here, though occasionally I wished for a bit more detail in some of the panels, and I think some gray toning might have helped give more definition to the world instead of just the black lines used here. But yeah, good stuff.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Peach Melba Issue 13

By Pearl
PO Box 74

Okay, so the “point” of this site is to write a review of a zine or minicomic everyday for a year (which I have failed to do already). But the real reason I started doing this site was so that I would actually read the huge pile of zines that had piled up. So far it hasn’t worked so well; a quick look at my “pile o’ zines” indicates I have over fifty I still have to read, plus more that haven’t even been put into that pile yet.

Pearl really isn’t helping me much by putting out a zine every month. I mean, I’ve got several issues I haven’t gotten around to reviewing and new ones keep appearing in my mail box. Not that this is a bad thing (I really like Peach Melba), but I guess I’m realizing that this site may never end, and wondering if I should just spend a week reviewing all of the issues of PM I haven’t read yet. Plus she’s making me look like a slacker when it comes to putting out my own zines.

This issue of PM’s got lists of alcoholic drinks (someone just turned 13...), biscuits (I have no idea what some of these are, and to be honest I still always think of my cat when I hear that word, plus ‘hobnob’ is listed twice), people who wear fluorescent jackets, square numbers (yay math!), things that feature in tongue twisters (“the sea”), and more!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Yuck ‘n Yum Spring 10


It’s my birthday! So here’s a review I wrote a few days ago of an art zine.

This zine features mostly visual work from seventeen different creators. There doesn’t seem to be any sort of theme and the contents ranges from the fairly detailed (and neat looking) cover by Paul Milne, to drawings that appear to have been done by a child and don’t interest me much.

Among the more interesting pieces are “disagreeable media fucks to look out for part 1” by Skint. This piece features the names of various media figures (Murdoch, Coulter, Cowell, and so on) in a large, hand written, 3-d block font. Yeah, it’s not exactly cutting edge, but I still liked it.

I also enjoyed the centre spread by Iain Laurie, which was a comic featuring a guy trapped in a place filled with horrible monsters. I really liked the monsters which Laurie designed and illustrated, and the only problem with this piece is that it clearly wasn’t submitted with a high enough dpi and thus looks rather pixelated. Dang.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

mad cream

By Colm Wood

This is kind of weird.

The comics here are all one or two pages long, though there are a number of characters who are repeated in them. There’s Donkey Boy, who’s dressed in a donkey costume for no apparent reason, some ugly dogs, and “That’s the Spirit”, which was my favourite.

“That’s the Spirit” is about a (mostly) silent girl who is haunted by a number of ghosts. The ghosts take the form of crazy looking masks and are all kind of dicks, demanding that the girl cook them a full English breakfast, and apparently were cheating on their ghost paramours. It’s bizarre stuff, and I wouldn’t mind reading some more of it.

The production values here are very high (nice paper, printed in colour), but the art inside is at times incredibly rough and sketchy. It’s interesting to see the blue pencil guide lines beneath the inked work in the art, and when the art is actually finished Wood has a pretty good style that seems to have been influenced by animation.

But the price of this thing is apparently £5 (including postage), and I don’t think the twenty pages here are worth that. You should probably just go to his website.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Misinterpreted Complications Book Two

(Dang, I need to start scanning covers again or something. These webcam pics are getting worse.)

By Nick Soucek

These are mostly one or two page gag comics, where the gags are usually something fairly depressing: Oh, you don’t actually love me? I’m lonely. I slept with your girlfriend! It’s amusing enough stuff, and while I don’t think I laughed out loud at any of them, I did smile a few times.

There’re also a few longer comics, one of which I found interesting and wish had been even longer and more in depth. It starts with a character about to appear on TV and having all of his possessions taken away from him for the length of the show. But afterwards they don’t give anything back, when people see him they seem to think he’s still on TV, and he’s not sure what to do. Okay, I’m extrapolating a little, but I like the idea and wouldn’t mind seeing it more fleshed out.

The art is fairly simplistic: nobody has a nose, and people only have mouths when they talk. But the style of art (now common to this sort of existentialist humour comics) works fine. Though I suppose it might have more of a punch if everyone was drawn more realistically.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Pobble eh Come? 2.5

By Emma

According to Emma this zine is nothing but nonsense. There's no deeper meaning to any of the "art" that she's made by combining images and text, she just did it because she liked it/thought it was funny.

Though I guess sometimes art is like that: it doesn't matter if there's a deeper meaning as long as it looks cool or amuses you in some way. It's the old "I don't know much about art, but I know what I like."

Emma combines different words and images to create surreal and nonsensical sentences ("You thread so many lions on to one man-sized babygro..."), recipes that I laughed out loud when reading ("Savoury Feta Cheesecake: 60g Edwardian pornographic dioramas, 1 multi-tenatacled treat..."), and other nonsense. I thought it was funny, and wished I knew where I could rent a singing monster. Lexington Road I suppose.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

City Sacker #2

By Ray K

This is subtitled "a short story", and I'm not sure if I would even call it that. A reminiscence perhaps, as Ray recalls a person he had liked, and who had liked him in return.

But nothing ever happened, and Ray wonders about what could have been if he'd been more forward, if he hadn't cared what other people had thought, if he just hadn't thought so much. The note on the final page that says "But I hear you eat meat nowadays" captures the way that people change, and how you can know someone really well for a while, but they can become completely different people.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Queenie #1

(This is actually a really small zine, that picture makes it look huge!)

By Rachel Lindan

Rachel has chronic fatigue syndrome and is often depressed. She tries to deal with both of these things through her writing, and reading this zine kind of catalyzed a number of things in my mind. For the last few days I've been thinking a lot about depression, anxiety, self worth, love, and other similar things that it seems Rachel is also trying to deal with.

Our society seems to create no end of depressed and self critical people (I just got an email from a friend of mine that, in a few short paragraphs, used the word 'depressed' to refer to three different people, and implied it (at least a little) about a forth), and yet to some extent I feel as though society itself is to blame for some of this depression. Movies and culture create the idea that if we are not happy all the time then we are failures. Yet if you think about it, who is actually happy all the time? Nobody. Depression (and anxiety, and all that other stuff) is part of life, but by thinking that we are wrong/not good enough/inferior/whatever because we exeprience depression, we only end up even more critical of ourselves ("Why aren't you happy like everyone else? Why can't you be more normal?") which only leads to more depression.

Rachel also talks about how she longs to be in a loving relationship again, but feels betrayed by both the people she has gone out with in the past, and by her own body. Our society/popular culture also seems to think that the only way we can be happy is to be in a monogamous relationship. Yet more and more I wonder about this. Why must I limit my love to one person? Why must love almost always seem to be sexual? Why do I feel as though I need to be in a monogamous relationship with one other person to the exclusion of all others? If I have friends to talk to, to hang out with, to care about (and yes, to have sex with), do I need to have a monogamous partner? I don't know, and perhaps I should just write about this stuff in my own zines instead of reviews.

I don't have the answers, and neither does Rachel, but she does have a recipe for chocoalate chip cookies, and a list of the top ten fringes, both of which are supplied in this zine. I recognized maybe three names on the list of fringes, and would only actually recognize one of them if you showed me pictures, but I still like the idea. Just like how I like this zine.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Lucid Frenzy Digest 2010

By Gavin Burrows

I guess it's not that often that I read zines that are all about stuff I already know about, yet here we have a zine where I am familiar with three of the four things covered. Guess which ones!

Actually, I'll just tell you. If you knew me and were trying to guess which of these I was familiar with the first one you would guess would be the Superman cartoons, and I am a little, though not as much as Burrows is. In his essay he discusses the Superman cartoons made by Fleischer and later Paramount in the 1940s. It's an interesting piece on how fans often want the original version of things (ie. Spider-Man comics instead of the movies), but that in the case of Superman the original comic version (or even the '60s version) isn't what people think of when they think of him, while the version from these cartoons ("faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive") is.

Burrows continues to discuss the way Superman seems to defeat all of his adverseries solely through punching things, and how he shows that man (or at least a man-like humanoid) is the most powerful thing. To be honest I sort of don't want to go too far in depth into what this essay talks about, because I'll just be repeating it. It's interesting, takes information from various sources, and creates new ideas as well. If you're at all interested in the cartoons it's worth reading.

Okay, so what's next? Girl comics right? This essay discusses some of the comics reproductions that came free with the Guardian newspaper last year. And indeed I read most of those and even wrote about a few, though not the ones in question here. The discussion of the girl's comics from the '70s is interesting, focussing on class struggles, the Cinderella theme, and the kind of weird sexual politics evident in a lot of them. It's a good read, but only if you've actually read the comics in question, otherwise I guess there's no frame of reference.

And now the finale: music or art? In this case it's art, as I went to the same exhibit on revolutionary Mexican poster art that was on at the British Museum earlier this year. From what I've written above you can probabaly tell that this is another well researched piece that discusses the art in question in both it's artistic and historic dimensions. I think I got more out of this piece than I did while actually at the art show, and I wish I could have read this while looking at the art on display.

All told this zine features carefully thought out and researched pieces which I guess I don't always expect from zines, but always love discovering when I do find them. I should probably check out his Burrows' blog, but I always find it easier to read things like this in print. So I'll just have to seek out the other occasional issues of this publication.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


By Charlotte Cooper

This zine takes the odd decision to use the paper size of...A3? Whatever the UK version of 11 x 17 paper is. It's odd because there's no real reason to do so. The zine is folded down to half size, and all the pages are laid out as such. On the flip side there's some art in the margin, but the pages could have been rearranged so you didn't need to do that. Strange. Perhaps Cooper just didn't want to staple anything.

But enough about the design, what about the content? In her intro Cooper says that she's been writing zines for years and that this one is a collection of stuff from previous zines. I'm not sure if they're from zines that were actually distributed, or ones she made but never gave to anyone. I guess it doesn't really matter since I've never read any of them before.

The pieces come from all the way back in 1997 up until May of this year when this zine was made (though it took me ages to figure this out, I really had no idea what the numbers next to the titles meant. 5.10? 10.00? What on earth do those mean? Oh wait, month and then day in a nonsensical format, of course...), and talk about Cooper's band (where they members had "no intention of practising or learning musical craft", removed the strings they didn't need from their guitars, and learned a grand total of one song), old pets, relationships, the perfect day, and some weird art piece in the middle of nowhere in Norway.

I like the idea of reprinting things from older zines, especially if they represented important parts of your life. But the pieces Cooper has choosen don't seem to be presented in any specific order, and as there is no additional information (except in one case), I kind of wondered why she choose these pieces and what happened after each of them (did her band ever perform their one song?).

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Dust/Leopards in Leotards

(Thanks to Lizz's site for the images.)

By Lizz Lunney

Why look! It's a comic by my favourite person who I know is also a character in Bad Machinery. This is a flip book (as in you flip it over and there's another story, not as in you flip through the pages and there's animation) featuring leopards and dust!

In the Leopard side we are presented with a sort of TV nature show style narration telling us about these specific leopards, why they do change their spots, what they do with their days (tai chi and pilates mostly), and why they piss off the other big cats.

While there is some gratuitous use of words begining with the letter 'l' here, I kind of wish there had been a lot more, as it would have turned it into something so terrible it was good again (not that this is terrible to begin with).

I think my favourite part of the Dust side is the cover. It seems like it must have been really annoying to draw all those little dust mites to make the text, but I think it makes for a really good image. Inside we have a similar style to the leopard one, pictures matched with a TV documentary style narration. We're told about different types of dust (radioactive dust is bad!), where you can find them, and what you should do with it (clean it up of course!).

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sans Bras

By Rachel Edidin

For months this zine had been taunting me. I had a scan of the cover, but I couldn't find the zine to actually review. Every time I went to scan another zine the image file would sit there taunting me. "Imagine if you could find me," it said. "Then you wouldn't have to do this work and could be more lazy."

However, within a couple of days of returning to England from my prolonged European trip I finally found this zine. Of course while I was gone the computer with the cover image saved crashed and I may have lost everything I had saved on it (including all of my zines).

But here we go! At least/last I can review it, though I didn't bother getting a new copy of the cover for this review, since it's just a white background with the title and author name.

The comic itself is about a "minimalist line drawing" walking along a blank 'landscape' before stopping and having a conversation with their omnipotent creator. The single panel per page, and the style of the whole thing (minimalist), actually reminds me quite a lot of animation and I can really imagine the weird, armless, character in motion in a cartoon.

The one thing that couldn't really be done in animation is the lettering. Sure you could have actors speak the dialogue in here, but I quite liked the various font styles that Edidin used. It all seems to be hand drawn and there's some quite good stuff here, even if it suffers a little because of the reproduction. Of course maybe I'm just jealous since my handwriting is completely terrible.

(Oh, and the title means "without arms" in case you were wondering.)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Cidade Solar #38

By Fernanada Meireles

I'm feeling rather lazy today, and thus a review of a zine not in English is called for.

It's too bad really, as that cover image is awesome, and I'd definitely want to read whatever happened to be inside something displaying that. What is inside are various drawings by other artists (none as good as the cover), a bunch of text in Portugese (I think), and a photo of an interesting looking room.

What I do know about this zine is that it was part of a project to create a zine every week for a year. Woah! That is pretty intense. They're pretty tiny, and they're not very long, but that is totally an awesome project to work on. Maybe I'll try doing it for next year. I mean, I was managing my one a month goal pretty well this year until I went off travelling. How do you manage your zine making?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

People I Know #10

(Thanks to Timothy's site for the cover image.)

By Timothy Winchester

Ooooh, a flip comic! How exciting! This one takes the interesting idea of taking the same story and ending it in two different ways: "How it was" and "How it should have been". What this means in the simplest terms is that there are actually quite a lot of repeated panels. In fact the first two pages of both comics are identical. However, that's not a deal breaker as the rest of the comic diverges quite a lot and we have two very different endings.

The story starts off with the cover character hanging out in her space ship, talking to her robot, and trying on various outfits for the bounty hunter awards (as she is a space bounty hunter, no I did not guess that from the cover either). Soon she gets some sort of space-video-hologram-phone call from her boyfriend and she rushes off to see him on the planet Platurn for one of two very different reasons depending on which side you're reading.

I actually read the "how it should have been" ending first, and I'm kind of glad I did, as the "real" ending was far more exciting and violent! The "good" ending had more robots and monsters though, a conundrum.

I think part of the appeal here is that Winchester's character designs are quite cute and the characters seem excitable and happy, so seeing them (or at least imaginging them) be bounty hunters and do horrible things to people is kind of shocking to the reader. Even if that's not the reason, it's pretty amusing.

Oh, and if you go to his site there's lots of comics featuring Thundercats, Lady Gaga, and other weird popculture things.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Mainshill - Stories from the Woods

(Apologies for the crap picture, I am currently without scanner.)

By loads of people

I’m back! I returned to the grey skies, cold nights, and wet days of England yesterday. I also arrived back to a pile of mail and a number of requests from people who wanted to trade zines with me (do you want to? Let me know!), so it’s time to get reviewing!

This is perhaps a good place to restart as it is a zine that is, at times, about being cold and wet in England. It is about a protest site set up in Mainshill Wood in Scotland in response to developers wanting to cut down the forest and then dig a big coal mine. My first thought upon reading this was “Really? A coal mine? People are still building those in first world countries?” I was kind of shocked, because for some odd reason I had optimistically (and foolishly) thought that people didn’t do stuff like that anymore. Sigh.

The zine takes a pretty neat way of talking about the months long camp and actions that happened, giving a page or two to lots of different people that participated in one way or another and allowing them to talk about what they want. This means that you get lots and lots of different view points and information about the protest.

There are drawings, maps (yay!), comics, timelines, stories, advice for running your own protests, faqs (how do you capitalize that word? Hell, how am I supposed to spell ‘capitalize’?) that explain what a bender is and how you stay dry while living in a tree house, songs, pictures of dinosaurs and horrible tentacled monsters, recipes, definitions (“Primativist, n. People who live in trees, reading Derek Jenson by the light of their iPhones (just kidding!)”), and lots of other stuff.

This zine is really packed full of things, and it’s a good and interesting read. Taken individually each piece doesn’t actually tell you very much about the camp as a whole, but the combination really gives you a view into the camp: how it was run, what it was like to live there, what the people who lived there were like, and how they dealt with the seemingly inevitable police visits. Sure there was stuff I wanted to know more about (tunnels! I want more information about the tunnels, and maybe general tree house construction techniques), but at the end I felt I had a pretty good grasp of what went on during the months that the camp was in existence.

I really wondered what it would be like to live at a camp like this for an extended period of time. Would I have the commitment to deal with living in a place like this? Could I interact with many other people I didn’t know every day? Would I be able to lock myself onto a tree for hours so that the authorities had to climb up and get me down safely? I’m still interested in visiting one of these camps, but I haven’t managed to yet. I guess I’m kind of afraid of going by myself.

I’m not sure if this zine leaves me optimistic that there are people out there who are willing to fight for the environment and a better society, or that (in this instance) they failed. I’ll have to think about it.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Peach Melba #12

By Pearl
PO Box 74

Peach Melba is a zine made by my favourite 13 year old female atheist (admittedly this is a list with one person on it). It's a single sheet of paper, printed on both sides and folded in an ingenious way I can't even really describe, let alone reverse or duplicate without the instructions included in this issue.

The typewritten words on a strange honeycomb background are mostly lists of things that interest Pearl in some way. The first one is a pretty awesome list of "Things that are lies" and include "My typewriter isn't broken in 3 different ways". Plus there's a shockingly long list of pink and yellow desserts. Who knew there were that many? (My favourite is totally rhubarb crumble with custard. Mmmmm.)

The flip side of this issue of Peach Melba are some of Pearl's favourite lists from previous issues. Included is the truly fantastic "Things I have learnt from watching Scooby-Doo" ("All the episodes are the same really."), and the always useful "Things to do on a rainy day".

I'm sure I could make zines filled with lists of things, but as they would just tell you what a nerdy boy is thinking about (mostly robots and comic books) they probably wouldn't be nearly as interesting.

Oh, and since Pearl will probably read this I'll answer some of her questions:

Scooby Doo is a great dane.
It's "Jason and the Argonauts" (the Argo was the ship they sailed in), though I was sure "and the Astronauts" was the name of some old cartoon (apparently it isn't).

A sabbatical

And so we come to the end for now. I'm in Greece (and about to head to Italy), and I have run out of zines to read. I suppose I could go and read some PDFs online or something, but I think I'd rather just take a break for a couple of weeks before I get back to the UK and can start working my way through the stacks of zines I still have back there.

Later today I'll post a review of the newest (or at least newest I've gotten) issue of one of my favourite zines, and I'll be perfectly happy to leave it at the top of my blog for a while.

Oh and look, someone actually reviewed one of my zines! I don't think that's happened before. Take a look.