Thursday, September 30, 2010

Killing Days

By Hayley Wright

The first page introduces the zine as "A few drawings & bits loosely based around serial killers. Cool."

Uhm. I know that popular culture in the western world (and perhaps other parts), are totally obssessed with serial killers, but I don't really care for them. Sure there are some good pieces of fiction about them (that issue of Sandman for example), but I'm at the point where I just ignore anything that mentions Jack the Ripper or most other killers.

Inside this zine there are some drawings, a creepy account of impaling woodlice/carpenters on pins as a small child, and some other stuff. None of it really stood out to me, and the fact that it's apparently all based around serial killers kind of puts a bad taste in my mouth. The success of movies and stuff about them probably puts me in the minority on that one though.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I'll Never Again Dance

By Helen Flanagan and Alex Bailey

Poems and stockings and blurry images,
Pictures of skulls with their horns, teeth, and ridges,
Zines filled with photos tied up with strings,
These are a few of my favorite things.

(Based on a song from the Sound of Music, who knew?)

Okay, so you know I'm lying about poems being one of my favourite things, but I did still like this zine filled with strange, at times ghostly, pictures. The pictures here run the gamut from what look like spur of the moment snapshots to carefully framed and posed photographs to artisic blurriness.

The images are full bleed, printed to the edge of the paper (except for a couple of places where there's a bit of a white border along side where my copy was apparently miscropped). The full bleed images look really nice here, and make it apparent that, despite the occasional text, the images are what are supposed to be the main attraction.

There are some pixelation and contrast issues on a few of the photos, but they actually end up adding to what are some of my favourite photos in this zine. The photos show faded, blurry (like in really old pictures) images of what kind of look like ghosts. Actually, the more I look at one of these images the more I wonder if it's actually of a real person. However, even if it's just a digital image, or a piture of something that is not (or was never) a person, I still think it looks pretty good, just like the zine as a whole.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

no. 1 Fake

By Adam Lurchinstal
Facebook group

I'm not really the firest person you would ask to review a poetry zine. I guess it's my reading style, but most of it just goes in one ear and out the other. I finish a piece, and I can probably tell you almost nothing about it. I'm not really sure why.

So this is a zine filled with poems. The words were printed out from a computer, then cut out in lines, words, or paragraphs, and pasted over collage and art filled backgrounds. Some of them are hard to read (there's one that has a block of text cut diagonally multiple times and pasted down so they pieces don't line up that I gave up on), but overall the design is pretty nice.

There's a couple of pieces that actually managed to stick with me. One is a sort of question/response thing, with someone talking about certainty and life, while the other plays devil's advocate. The other was the first page of a longer piece featuring a dialogue between two people, one of whom asks the other for a cigarette. I thought it went on too long, but the first page was pretty good.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Sea Part Two

By Will Kirkby

I really enjoyed the first volume (issue?) of Kirkby's The Sea, and I was looking forward to reading the second one. Though, I will be honest, I had no idea there even was a second volume until I got it off Kirkby at a comics event, the first volume seemed to have wrapped itself up nicely.

So it makes sense that this comic begins with a completely new character and scenario. The main character this time around is a Japanese WWII fighter pilot. This can be seen as brave (ie. making the “enemy” the main character), or stereotypical (there were Japanese people during WWII who didn't fly planes, am I alone in thinking Japanese WWII pilots are overrepresented in fiction?). I'm not really sure what to think of it, and I guess there's no specific mention that it is WWII. But from the characters’ names, clothing, accessories, and the fact that the Americans are mentioned as the enemy you sort of have to surmise that’s what’s going on.

The story this time follows a character who has crashed his plane on an uncharted island, there follows exploration, mysteries, and monsters! The story is told using the internal narration and frequent close ups of the main character's face that filled the first issue, but now that we’re not spending weeks in a boat there are far more places to go and more people to interact with. There’re still weird monsters, a mysterious stranger who offers a choice, and the main character is left with much soul searching and a difficult decision to make, but while using some tropes similar to the previous issue this is still different enough to be interesting.

The end of the comic features some plot elements that begin to intertwine with threads from the previous issue, but it's not necessary for you to notice this to enjoy the comic. About the only complaint I have is that the comic doesn’t so much end as stop, leaving me desperate to know what happens next.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Wendy's Garden Volume 2

By Emily Davies

This is a really neat full colour zine filled with pictures of pressed flowers. Yeah, okay, so it's not something I would ever go and look at usually, but that's one of the things I love about trading zines: finding utterly random things that other people are really into.

Each page features two pictures of the same pressed flower. They're presented as though they're mirror images of each other, but if you look closer you can see how they're just opposite sides of the same plant.

There's not really much I can say other than that I enjoyed looking through this zine, so here's an image of one of the flowers.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ed of the Dead

This zine was sent to me by Zinemonger Distro, a distro that distributes free zines. Awesome! Go check out the site to find out how you can get some!

Evil Ed and Nasty Ted star in one of what is apparently a series of comics featuring them. Ed has a haircut I’m sure has a name but cannot describe (mostly shaved, two floppy “horns” at the front), wears ripped up clothing and is an idiot. Ted is a sentient teddy bear. Together, they fight crime!

Well actually, they cause it: beating up old people with a spatula, causing a ruckus in a supermarket, and being a problem for the police. It’s all a kind of ultraviolence that reminded me a little of something like Evan Dorkin’s Milk and Cheese.

The art is quite good, and there’s quite a lot of detail put into parts of it, even if Ed either has a giant toothy smile, or no mouth at all. So it’s a little bit frustrating to see that the lettering in this comic is so terrible. The fonts, the rectangular speech balloons. Urgh, it’s all pretty bad.
Still, it’s free, so you might as well check it out.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Text Message Minicomic

By Dan Berry

People send ridiculous txt msgs, a visit to Texts From Last Night will teach you that. But people also send incredibly boring text messages: “What time will you arrive?” “Your dinner is getting cold.” “Can you get some milk please?” These are hardly pieces of dialogue that will get you excited about reading comics.

But what if cats are saying them? Instant hilarity! Or if it’s some ghosts threateningly asking someone what they want for dinner. Or a guy singing a song to a bear about how he should give him a ride to shops because his car is broken. Or monsters that eat hats! Then the comics become amazing.

Sure some of the comics Berry has drawn are just two people talking to each other, but even then Berry’s sort of weird looking people are fairly amusing, and the text messages degenerate into people talking about lazers and punching cats. Are these real text messages Berry has sent and received? If so those ones are far more interesting than mine (most recent: “I will be late tonight”).

It’s a super cute idea, so congrats to Warwick Johnson who apparently came up with it. I want to read his next!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Zine in a Day

By The Birmingham Zine Festival
Printed by Foot Print and Get a Grip

Why have I not reviewed this yet? It’s been almost two weeks since the Birmingham Zine Festival happened! I have clearly been too awesomed by zines/comics and overwhelmed by illness to realize that I had this incredible zine to check out.

Why is it so incredible? Well because this is a zine made entirely on the day of the festival! Anyone who showed up could submit something (by two in the afternoon I think), then it was printed by Foot Print, while the covers were screen printed by Get a Grip, and for sale by the end of the day. Fantastic! It’s just too bad I was too busy/tired/overwhelmed to sit down for a while and create something. (Plus my handwriting is terrible, and I feel incapable of creating anything that is not mostly text. Please see this blog for exhibit A.)

However, lots of other people who attended the festival did have time to create content for this zine. There’s art by loads of people, and text pieces by people with much nicer handwriting than mine. It’s a nice souvenir for the day if you where there, and it’s actually a pretty cool zine. Check it out if you can find a copy.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Rickiti-Guide to Vagrancy

By Rickitinic

Maps! Yay maps!
The centrepiece to this awesome zine about becoming a vagabond is a huge map. And by huge, I mean huuuuuge. It is two big pieces of paper taped together. It is the size of four normal sized pieces of paper! I can’t imagine how long it took to draw something like this. The ocean is filled with wavelike objects, and loads of mountain ranges and deserts are drawn in. It is so big and impressive I can almost forgive them for leaving off loads of islands that I’ve been to (and not just small islands, but big ones!).

The rest of the zine features “what to pack” (I’d personally bring more clothes and less skateboards), a pretty rad picture featuring ten reasons why trains are the best way to travel (maybe not as good as bicycles), a step by step guide to planning your vagrancy, a poem about being a vagrant, and more!

I really enjoyed this. Now to find more zines with maps. Suggest some to me!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tales From The First 5 Years

By The London Zine Symposium

"This isn't a zine!" the voices in my head loudly proclaim. "It has a spine! And we all know how spineless zines are."

But the introduction says that it's a zine, and I'm guessing they just ended up with more content than they anticipated and so got it bound into a nice little book, instead of something with staples. Oh no! I shall review it anyway.

This is a collection of writings, reminiscences, and ephemera from the first five London Zine Symposiums, created to be sold at the 6th symposium earlier this year.

There's some pretty neat stuff in here, and it's probably worth reading even if you've never been to the London Symposium, as the information about how the event was started could be incredibly useful to anyone who is interested in creating their own event (hint: just say you're going to do it, and rope other people in to helping you).

Edd Baldry (who does Hey Monkey Riot), writes a text introduction, then does a much longer (22 pages!) comic about how the event was started, and how it's grown over the years. The comic's setting is kind of bizarre, in that it's an alternative reality talk show. What I find weirdest about this is that Baldry has choosen to draw his characters just sitting and talking about previous events instead of showing them to us. I'll admit that the comic is probably more interesting to read than a just straight up account of what happened, but I really do feel that comics should try to stick to the "show don't tell" rule. Mentioning that the first several symposiums happened in squats, then just drawing people sitting around in a TV studio seems kind of strange. There is one actual event shown as it happened, and it's much more interesting in that you can actually see what was going on.

After that we have reprints of the posters from the first five years, and lists of who showed up to table, and what workshops and other events happened. It's neat to see how the event grew and changed over several years, and could be a useful resource for someone looking for people to invite or things to do at their own event.

Then there's a number of pieces from other people about their own memories of the previous symposiums. Some of these are informal emails, others are comics, and Isy Morgenmuffel's includes a falafel recipe! Yum!

Overall it's interesting to see what people remember from past years, and to try and figure out how the event will grow and change in the future. Hopefully it'll continue for another five years!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Adventures in Menstruating #5

By Chella Quint

For whatever reason I'm having a hard time starting this review. Adventures in Menstruating is a well put together zine about, well, it says what it's about on the cover. You can probably guess from the cover if you're interested in this thing or not.

There's a page where Alison Bechdel shows off her reversable shirt (good for hot flashes!), a page on wanting to go back in time and tell '50s advertising execs to create ads that are less demeaning, some fake ads, an interview with the cover model Kitten von Mew, a piece on the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research, criticisms of modern adverts, a comic drawn by Sparky Taylor that had pretty cute art, some poetry I didn't really care much for, a fairly interesting piece on "friendly bacteria" yogurt and the way it's advertised (so much content about advertising!), and a couple of other things that are worth discussing a bit more.

The first is an excerpt from the novel Rose of No Man's Land by Michelle Tea. It features a couple of hitchhiking girls throwing a bloody tampon at a creepy boy who's offering them a ride. I showed this to two different girls, one of whom thought it was funny, the other thought it was really gross. I'm somewhere in the middle. I mean, yeah it's kind of funny, but at the same time it seems to create a double standard. I can't really imagine a piece of fiction about boys throwing any sort of bodily fluid at a girl presented in the same positive light. I mean, I can only imagine it turning out as "boys are immature jackasses/incredibly sexist". Do you think otherwise? Let's discuss!

Then there's a piece by Dr. Brooke Magnanti/Belle de Jour about oral sex when you're on your period. This piece make assumptions about guys I find kind of frustrating ("They even eat supermarket value sausages [...] they're not squeamish."), and then discusses proposes the idea of sex as a reward. Now, I know some people are into relationships were one person has power over the other, but I'm really more about equality and respect in relationships. I mean, some of the stuff here is fine and good, but other bits makes me wonder what the response would be if it was about guy's trying to get anal sex or something. ie. I'll go down on you if you let me fuck in you in the ass. Hmm...

Surely having an understanding partner is better than trying to trick them into doing something they don't want to do. Yes, we should discuss sex, menstruation, and so forth, but I guess I'm not really down with the whole style of this zine. Still, to each their own, and lots of people do seem to like this sort of thing.

There's just two things I'd really wish the creator(s?) of this zine would do. The first is learn to use paragraphs, they are awesome. There are entire pages here that are just blocks of text. This is hard to read!

The second is also to do with the text, as some of the fonts used are hideous. Belle de Jour's piece is difficult to read because it uses a font that is terrible for articles. Headlines? Other short pieces of text? Yeah, fine, but urgh, it looks awful here.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Uptown Girl #41

By Bob Lipski

For whatever reason, I was all ready to not enjoy this comic. There was something about the cover that made me start with low expectations. The colours? I really cannot say.

Whatever it was, I'm glad I persevered and read it anyway, as it turns out that Uptown Girl is a cute and funny little comic. This is issue 41 (woah!), and by this point Lipski seems to have gotten his characters personalities, and his drawing style, down pretty well.

Uptown Girl works for a newspaper (just like Spider-Man!) and she has a new horrible jerk for a boss (just like Spider-Man!), who's demoted her to food critic since she complained about him parking in the handicapped space (just like, uh...). Her coworkers include Ruby Tuesday, the newspaper cartoonist who seems reasonably sensible, and Rocketman who does...something, wears a helmet all the time, appears to be an complete idiot (he forgets to pay his electricity bill, and somehow sets fire to a kitchen while making a salad), and yet is still somehow likable enough for people to continue talking to him.

This issue has Rocketman taking over a pizza place run by the King of Spain (hmm, I think I've seen that before...) despite his utter ineptitude. Ruby Tuesday ends up helping him because she doesn't want the pizza place to burn down, but it's not going well and oh no! Uptown Girl has to review the restaurant for her newspaper. What will they do?

Each scene is only a page or two long, and most of the time the pages themselves seem pretty self contained, featuring either a joke or a cliffhanger. I found this interesting as I don't believe that these comics were serialized anywhere, so Lipski was presumably trying to make each page work as a whole for some other reason.

Lipski's art could be described as 'simplistic', but apart from the occasionally background character it's all well done. The character's emotions are expressed well despite their limited facial features, and Lipski is capable of having the characters move, and even hold things, something some professional comic artists have yet to accomplish (and while Lipski avoids drawing feet most of the time, it seems at least in part because each page is filled with panels).

My only complaint about the art would be that the smaller details in some of the panels aren't that well drawn, making me think that Lipski drew this at actual size (instead of the larger size most comic artists use) _and_ in a hurray. I know that Lipski can draw hands, so when I see one with weirdly huge fingers it stands out.

Overall though I really enjoyed this. I laughed out loud a few times, and grew to like the characters. Plus I totally have a soft spot for female journalists, both real and fictional.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Pictures Issue 3

Underground Film Zine
By a bunch of people

This is the second of the zines I found after the end of the London Zine Symposium. Was it yours? I'll send it to you.

It's 11:53 in my time zone, and it's so tempting to not do a review today. But I did finish reading this earlier with the express intention of reviewing it earlier. Then I fell asleep.

So I don't think I'm going to get it done "today" (at least in this time zone), but let's see! (If it does get done, this will possibly be the most rushed review ever).

Most of this zine is made up of interviews with, and articles about, various indie/underground filmmakers. I'd never heard of any of them, and for the most part their films (weird art shorts and the like) really don't seem like things I have any interest in seeing. This is not to say that the zine is bad, just that it is aimed at someone with different interests than me, if you like underground film you will probably find some interesting stuff in here.

The whole thing is actually fairly nicely put together. There's lots of images: a colour cover, a colour insert with movie stills, pieces of art (?), and movie stills in black and white. There's also some thought put into the layout, and ads (what?!!!).

It's just too bad the quality of writing isn't that great. There's an editor credited, but I think it needed someone who was willing to rewrite some of the articles. I'm willing to overlook the spelling mistakes, text being repeated, and stuff like that, but there are instances were the question being asked is both longer than the answer given by the film maker, and sort of incomprensible. Not that it's all bad or anything, it's just the bad stuff jumped out at me.

And then there's the "Movie Stars Who Won't Sleep With Me" column, that features Lindsay Lohan. What is this? I can't even bring myself to reread it because I feel I'll be losing braincells. If it's some sort of satire on the vapidness of celebrity, then whatever. I don't care. If it's serious, what the hell is it doing in a supposed "underground" film zine? Isn't "LiLo" some sort of big star? Blah.

It's technically tomorrow as I finish this off, and if I've learnt anything from this it is the danger of reading and reviewing a zine that I found. They could be about anything!

Friday, September 17, 2010

City Sacker '8

By Ray K

I'm still sick. I hate being sick. I miss my friends. Sometimes I don't want to update this blog. I have a zine half read, but I really don't think I can deal with reading the rest of it right now (sample article "Why Lindsay Lohan Should Sleep With Me").

Instead, we have this short, one page, zine about New Year's Eve of last year. Ray decides he's not really in the mood for the party he's in, and starts to go home. But on the way he sees someone hit, and kill, a cat with their car. Aaaaaah! Sad.

The rest of zine is about him dealing with this, trying to find out who owns the cat, who can take care of the cat's body, and what the hell is up with English bureaucracy. (Actually, he doesn't learn this, but dang it's screwed up. Hell, I can't even spell that word without looking it up.)

It's really more of an anecdote than a full story, but these zines are really more about random glimpses into Ray's life than anything bigger. I just wish he could line up the photocopies so that the folds on the paper worked better.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Monstress 00111000

By Una Crow

Monstress was one of the first zines I ever bought. I remember exactly where I bought it and the weird double take I did upon walking into a shop in Toronto and recognizing the guy working there. It was also the first zine I ever bought through the mail after I realized I needed all the issues. I kept up to date with new issues for a while, but then I moved to South Korea and while I stayed in touch with Una Crow, I didn't get any more issues until this year, when I realized she'd kept putting them out.

So it was with some amusement that I opened up this issue and discovered a letter I'd written five years (and how many countries) ago was printed inside.

But there are reasons to read this other than that I have a (terrible) letter printed inside. Monstress is one of my favourite zines, and each issue takes one specific type of monster (in this case robots, which isn't technically a monster) and builds an issue around them, using a number of different recurring features. There are random "chapters" (1-2 pages) of weird genre fiction stories (this time it's a noir detective story featuring Mecha-Godzilla), some comic strips, "Ask Wiremother" (which is just depressing and kind of scary, read the graphic novel "Wire Mothers" by Jim Ottaviani and Dylan Meconis if you want to know more), and the "What I remember movie reviews", where Crow writes what she thought about various movies (from the '20s to the present) featuring the title monster, regardless of how well she remembers about them.

This issue also has an account of a trip to Tokyo written by one of Crow's friends, how to count in binary (though for whatever reason I can't use it to understand that the issue number on the cover is 8), a pretty interesting piece on Thea von Harbou (Nazi party member and writer of both the novel and screenplay of Metropolis), drawings of robots reciting poetry, an account of going to the Toronto International Film Festival, and memories of one of Crow's friends (the creator of Infiltration, another zine I really like) who had recently died.

There's lots of good stuff in here, and the idea of taking one specific thing, and building a zine featuring lots of different content about that one thing, is one that I've been meaning to steal for years. I'm working on one now!

All the issues of Monstress that I've read have been good, but if you're looking for one from Crow's Etsy to pick up, I'd go with the Godzilla/kaiju/giant monster issue. It was the first I bought and got me hooked all those years ago.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


By and

Since I've actually been getting quite a lot of hits the last couple of days I wish I had another awesome review. However, I'm sick and feel kind of awful. So it's back to webcammed images of the cover (my digital camera was stolen over the weekend, and I don't want to use the scanner right now), and a not very indepth review! Better stuff tomorrow!

This was a zine that someone at the London Zine Symposium either left on my table, or left on the table next to mine at the end of the day. Is it yours? You can have it back if it is! I have another one someone left too.

Anyway, it's big (like, standard letter, or whatever the a-format is), and is held together with those wierd little metal things you poke through holes and fold back. My discriptive abilities are terrible!

Inside are weird photos, some sort of weird stream of consciousness text piece (maybe? "...goodbye to the sweet cherry suicidal parachutes that fall from your eyes."), poetry, a strange one page play about time and clocks or something, and a bunch of pieces of art, none of which really impressed me much.

Actually, I kind of like the childish/child-created drawing of a cat that's in here. Miaow!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Out of Control #3

By David Drexler

(Note, this took way too long to write, and I still don't think it's that good a review. Scroll down to look at the pictures at least. Click on them to see bigger versions.)

How do you review a zine by someone who seems completely insane? This is a question I have been wrestling with since about midway through this massive (70 pages!) zine that is, as the cover says, about parasites and the blind idiot god.

Since I'm not sure how to review this, I'll just start at the beginning: with parasites. The zine opens with quotes from a variety of sources about parasites, and how humans are filled with them. Lovely stuff. Then Drexler actually starts writing his own stuff, and he begins with something that might as well have been ripped from the first Matrix movie, namely that humans are an INFESTATION.

He continues, questioning our very ideas of consciousness, suggesting that computers are using us, and then changes tack and begins page after page about parasites. Drexler discusses different types, how they've evolved, how they feed, how they breed (some of them can lay up to two million eggs a day), how they survive, and how to define what a parasite even is. It's kind of gross to be totally honest, I never need to be told about botflies ever again.

"Let us linger here a while on the subject of tapeworms."

Up to now it all seems fairly straight forward, it's just a zine by a guy who's really interested in parasites and kind of hates humanity (which is fair enough to be honest). There are diagrams copied from books, and lots of scientific facts, backed up by references, and footnotes. How accurate all this stuff is I don't know (for some reason Drexler seems to believe echinoderm's lack parasites), but most of it seems reasonable enough, if not something I'm usually into reading (and there are a few references to Egypt and India that seem a bit racist).

There are even some bits that are pretty amusing. Drexler refers to a type of tapeworm with hundreds of thousands of sets of genitalia as "the sexiest animal on the planet". At least I hope that was supposed to be amusing. If not this zine just got a whole lot stranger.

"...but I should expect, even hope, that most readers would baulk to accept this heretical divagation into occult territory."

But it was about to get strange anyway, as then the discussion about unseen psychic entities begins. Drexler's ideas here remind me a little of Arthur Conan Doyle, someone who seemingly wanted to believe in supernatural agencies, but knew that most people who claim such connections are absolute charlatans. Yet, like Doyle, Drexler eventually embraces these things that most people think of as nonsense. Sure he outright dismisses every claim of ectoplasm and levitation reported by various people, yet at the same time he claims that poltergeists exist because look! There’s all this anecdotal evidence from around the world.

To be honest, I kind of enjoy Drexler's ideas about poltergeists; namely that they are insectoidal sub-intelligences that are just flailing around at random. It's kind of fun, and I think it would work well in a piece of fiction.

However, Drexler doesn't dwell on this; instead he heads off to another idea: astral projection. Drexler begins by saying that it's feasible to dismiss the concept as lucid dreaming, but that it is a real thing, despite the fact that he recounts that during one his own personal experiences he "floated downstairs and saw cats driving cars in the street in front of our house". That’s not really something I would take as proof that what you experienced wasn’t a dream. Drexler also dismisses the idea that information gained from astral projection is "just" information gained from some sort of ESP. That's crazy talk.

"...thuggish minions of the parasitic astral megafauna"

Continuing on, Drexler discusses the strange entities that he believes exist on the psychic plane: shadowy monsters, old hags, and things with insect-like intelligence. It is at this point that Drexler makes an observation that I found fascinating. When commenting on another writer's experiences with astral projection and the astral denizens who are preventing you from progressing spiritually he notes that "All these phenomena are strangely reminiscent of the harassing delusions of schizophrenics, suggesting the possibility that the consciousnesses of those sufferers may have bled into the astral."

The idea that the maybe the schizophrenics are right (or at least that just because you have similar experiences to those claimed by crazy people does not make you crazy) reminded me of Philip K. Dick's struggles dealing with his own sanity after his experience with VALIS. I wonder if it ever crossed Drexler’s mind that perhaps the people experiencing these psychic phenomena are also suffering from schizophrenia.

Drexler then goes off on an attack against the Christian church, claiming that it strives to keep its followers in the dark so as to be better able to control them. (Hey! That sounds pretty reasonable.) But we haven't even gotten to the really crazy part yet.

"...humanity has all the appearances of a farmed animal."

As well explained as that quote may be (we're confined into small structures, our waste goes everywhere, there's too many of use, we're dead stupid), it leads up to the idea that we're farmed by drone-like astral drudges to be used by "unimaginably bloated demonic overlords" or "gods" as Drexler explains them to be.

Of course Drexler is quick to point out that we shouldn't think of divine beings as superior to us. Instead he goes on to explain that the ones we encounter are primitive parasites that cluster around us because we have what they need (some sort of psychic energy presumably, it wasn’t explained that well), and that there are lots of other more "pure" entities out there that we never interact with. I kind of liked this bit as it countered an earlier comment about Egypt, and made Drexler less of a racist jackass.

Drexler then segues into a discussion of Gnosticism, an area I will admit I know almost nothing about, but which seems to be based around the idea of an imperfect god (though whether totally, amorally evil, or just not all-knowing is up to the sect). Drexler again makes some pretty good criticisms of modern religion and society here ("In our physical plane, there also exist beings desiring to be worshiped. Down here we call them assholes.")

"I can just see this titanic committee of high-ranking astral parasites, reclining in thrones worn smooth by the bulging of flesh, the chitinous plates of their exoskeletons now mere islands in a burgeoning sea of fat. The faint, satisfied clacking of their mandibular orifices alone mars the regal silence of the vast halls, where the withered and disjected husks of their most devoted acolytes are swept up by timorous minions."

Drexler believes that religion (mainly Christianity, though most Western writers will think solely of this when writing about religion) is destroying civilization, yet clearly a lack of belief (atheism) won't counter the horrible monstrous things either, because they can feed on us even better when we don't know they're there. So what can you do? Well, we're back to analogies of The Matrix, as Drexler claims that spiritual progress forms a type of "revolt against the very basis of our reality", and that we must fight to expand our awareness.

Oddly, perhaps, the last page drops the ideas of the supernatural vampire beings, and instead questions the idea that morality only comes from religion and obedience. Drexler continues to say that we must rid ourselves of parasitical religious and political systems, and do good ourselves. And then it just ends.

"But let me restrain for a moment these delightful spasms of vitriolic hyperbole."

Unlike some zines, this one is full of pictures, with almost every page featuring at least one. From scientific images that fill the section on biological parasites, to the bizarre and wonderful collages that Drexler creates from combining Victorian images with tentacles and other monstrous appendages, to Troy Hansen's rune covered drawings of horrifying cthuloidesque tentacle monsters, this zine is filled with interesting images, even if you don't bother reading the text.

But the text is the main thing here, and it creates one of the strangest (and longest) zines I have ever read. It mixes up complete nonsense with things that can make sense, combines scientific facts with paranormal ideas, and ends up with a result that is both fascinating and depressing. The page of sources at the end (including everything from William S. Burroughs to Richard Dawkins to Friedrich Nietzsche) makes you realize how much work was put into this thing, and fuck, I don't know what else to say.

I have written almost 1500 words, and I’m still seriously unsure what to write about this. Either it is completely serious and the author seems to be suffering from some sort of mental issues, or it’s the greatest satire I have ever read.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Peach Melba #9

By Pearl
PO Box 74

So after the insanity of yesterday, here is a review of a more sane zine. You know I love Peach Melba. You should be reading this zine. I am giving it a positive review despite the fact that I can't even find my copy. Where did it go? It was right here earlier today before I fell asleep.

Oh there it is! It was crushed under one of my pillows somehow.

This is one of the shorter issues of Peach Melba, consisting of just one side of a piece of paper. Yet its intricate folding method will surely confuse and amaze you. I'm going to have to take a picture as I can't really explain how this works.

Okay, so you see on the top pages? They have the beginings of lists, and the lists continue down onto the lower page. The amazing thing is that you can turn the upper or lower page and the lists will still make sense. So "three word phrases that have for as the middle word" and "names of plays" are laid out so that the responses can match up. While "zines that I have met the author of" and "zines that I got at the zine fest" also coincide (though this second one was surely easier to accomplish). It uses the paper format in an interesting way, which I love. Also, it doesn't hurt that some of my zines are listed. Hurray!

The rest of the zine also features lists of really cool zine names (mine is not included), shapes you can make with tessellating tiles, a list of pseudonyms that people have used, and more.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

City Sacker #6

One of the things that exist in England that I haven't really experienced very much in other places are the incredibly cheap bookshops. Not second hand bookshops, because, other than charity shops and antiquitarian stores, I haven't really seen many of those. But shops where all of the stock are remaindered items, and you can buy loads of books for £2-£5 each. They're everywhere. I've bought graphic novels, good novels, and loads of other stuff from these places.

Okay, so they are also filled with crap, but so are most shops in general. This zine starts off with the exciting cheap bookshop find of a really good vegan cook book. Hurray! Ray even buys multiple copies of it because he figures he can just give them away to friends. Good on him.

Then we have a list of "vegetarians we don't need" most of whom I cannot identify as they are celebrities of some kind. I mean, I can identify that they are celebrities, just not what they do, nor could I identify them if I saw them walking down the street. I view this as a good thing.

We also have stories about someone who was totally, yelling in the streets about Satan, insane, listening to records, and how much Ray hates socks. Though I must admit that I like socks. They keep your feet warm.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Cidade Solar #9 (of 52)

By Fernanda Meireles

I'm currently working on an epic, 1500 word review of the craziest zine I have ever read. I'm also writing this a few days in advance and desperately trying to get my zine finished in time for the Birmingham Zine Festival. So today you get another review of these zines I cannot read because they are in Portugese.

There's something about going to a carnival, an ugly person, and a bunch of other stuff I can't understand, and can't be bothered to put through babelfish to get disjoined, unintelligible translations. There's also a bunch of photos of people pulling weird faces. These are kind of amusing.

Since this was a project to create a zine every week for a year it seems it became sort of a public diary or journal. The creator wrote about what they did and what theyt hought about, and then published it for the world to see. This is clearly very different from my current plan of making zines, which is to plan them for months, then frantically try to get them all written and laid out in time.

Anyway, do you speak Brazillian Portugese? Do you want these?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Smoo #2 1/2

By Simon M.

This issue, according to the back cover, features "odds, sods and discarded ideas" and is filled with seemingly random pieces of art and short comics. It's kind of unfortunate, as I enjoyed the art, but the content seemed a bit light. Also: no skeleton doctors inside. Disastrous.

What we do have is an autobio comic about eating horrible food in a hotel room instead of going outside, some reminiscences from childhood and holidays, and a piece on guilt that has some amusing drawings of simon dressed in clothing from varous historical eras and an awesome picture of a judge that kind of reminded me of the Alice books for some reason.

There's also a reather strange piece where Simon's head is filled with either nothing or ghosts. Odd.

But still, I enjoyed this, the pieces with plots were enjoyable, and the art is really quite good. Simon draws a lot of lines in his artwork to give his pieces more details. Sometimes the lines are used in a way similar to grey-toning, creating shadow and depth, while at other times they add texture to the images. Also there's lots of drawings of cute ghosts, and a pretty rad robot. Congratulations all around.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Deary Beloved

By Amy

My history of relationships isn't great. Not that the people I've gone out with haven't been awesome, and I still talk to most of the people I've been involved with, it's just that my longest (consecutive) relationship ever was about six months, and that was years ago.

I've never been dumped or dumped someone, in fact most of the relationships have ended by mutual agreement or because someone was moving somewhere else. So reading about someone's five year relationship, and the way it ended is both kind of intense and kind of confusing.

Here Amy tries to deal with being "just Amy" instaed of part of "Amy and David" after her relationship of almost five years finally ends. The zine is a collection of random thoughts and memories. Thinking about the good parts of the relationship, wondering where it went wrong, and hoping that the other person is as miserable as she is.

It's not the happiest of stories to read, and when it turns out that Amy was basically dumped so that her boyfriend could go off and be with someone else it makes him seem like kind of a dick. Though with only one side of the story I guess you never know everything that happens.

Overall I found this kind of hard to get to grips with, and to be honest I hope I am never able to properly understand the opinions and views that Amy has here. Lets keep our fingers crossed for that one.

Bonus Review! Birmingham Zine Festival 2010

Okay, this really can't justify a full review, but I clearly need to use this space to help pimp this event more.

Tomorrow! The Birmingham Zine Festival starts tomorrow with events going on for the rest of the weekend. You should really go!

This zine/program was created by the fine folks who do the Atta Girl dance night things and make zines to go with those.

Inside we have information about what a zine is, the full schedule of events (movie nights, zine fairs, picnics, art shows, drawing events, dancing, workshops, music!), a map showing where all the events are happening (useful!), and some pieces of art that were done to promote the festival.

The reverse is the full image of the cover in poster form! Rad.

Anyway, I'm totally looking forward to the event, and should have a new zine by the time I get there. Plus lots of old ones. Come by and trade with me!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Mild Peril #9

By Deanperil and Sausage Punk Pete (and others)
£1 half sized.

Somewhere in here amongst the 40 or so pages that make up this zine there's a reference to it being used as bathroom reading. Not something I'd have mentioned in this review if I hadn't managed to accidentally drop the zine into the (thankfully clean) toilet and then snatch it out again without it getting even a little bit wet. My quick reflexes, combined with the weight and solidity of the zine, and the way it fell into the toilet meant that it barely even touched anything at all.

Despite all that, this zine really doesn't belong in the toilet, being a totally solid punk zine filled with record reviews, band interviews, rants, tour diaries, show reports that start off as factually inaccurate accounts of viking history, bad spelling, and recipes (I really want to try the caramel shortbread recipe but fear it would be all I eat for the rest of the week).

Reading through all the reviews and everything here I'm struck by two things. First, none of the bands seem to be able to take being interviewed seriously. Their answers to the questions are constantly filled with brutal honesty, stupid jokes, and outright lies. It's kind of strange to read an interview with a band and have them say that at the last show they played nobody showed up, and yet they still had a good time.

And that's the second thing that struck me, the repeated references by various bands and reviewers about bad turnouts, promoters disappearing, nobody showing up to shows, or the people that do being assholes. And yet they keep doing it because they love it and when they do have good shows they're amazing, and even the ones that sucked they're able to laugh at. One of the bands talk about how on the last date of their first tour the bar didn't even seem to know the show was supposed to happen, so instead they all piled into someone's car and drove off to another show and had an awesome time. Being able to create positive from negative situations is a way of living that should be adopted by more people (including me). Hurray!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Intricate Dwellings

By Philippa Rice

This collection of Rice's drawings might as well be called "Impossible Dwellings" as she draws countless cities that could not exist in real life. There are a bunch of different drawings here, ranging from medieval to futuristic.

There are cities that exist suspended from something we can't see, made up of square and spherical unites connected by ropes, ladders, and string.

Cities that are built precariously on top of themselves, each level seeming to be bigger and heavier that the one below it, held up by sticks and pillars.

Cities created below the waves, with the pods and the connectiosn between them looking almost organic, and the entrances making me wonder what type of inhabitants live there.

And in the final piece, a city filled with people (unlike the rest of Rice's strangely empty cities) travelling by train, car, bubble ship, and strange helicopter pods.

I love the detail that Rice puts into each of these drawings. None of the cities really seem like anywhere I'd want to live, but I do want to visit all of them and explore their many buildings, rooms, tunnels, and towers.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Dino Punx

By Rio Safari

Everyone loves dinosaurs don't they? I certainly do. Some of them are basically just monsters that existed in real life, how could I not love that?

This zine combines dinosaurs with punks (as you could probably judge from the title) with a page of text talking about what dinosaur punks do opposite a drawing of the dinosaurs doing something related. So we have dinosaurs with face piercings and wrist bands singing in punk bands, dumpster diving, working shitty jobs, disliking fossil fuels (it's made of dinosaurs!), and becoming vegetarians (or heribovres) because "it's only practical".

I found this zine amusing, and I loved some of the drawings, like the one of a dinosaur putting up show posters using a staple gun. Go go D-I-Y-nosaurs!

Oh, and what are your favourite dinosaurs? I like the dimetrodon and the styracosaurus. RaaaAAAaaaaAAarrrrRrrrrrRRRRrrrrr.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Gender Fuck What issue 1

I enjoyed this zine about genderfucking and genderqueering. The author discusses sexuality, gender, conforming to society, sex, and language in a personal way, comparing their own views to what they imagine other people might think or do.

It made me think about what I consider myself to be, why I sometimes act the way I do in relation to things like gender and sexuality, what I find attractive in other people (created in part by a list of "girls and female types I like..." that includes "tall or short girls", which I thought was awesome), and how I conform myself to society. Why do I wear eye makeup when I do? Why do I wear dresses when I do? When do I keep thinking girls with short hair who turn out to be lesbians are cute?

And then there was a piece that I find quite depressing. It talks about how when, as a teenager, the author was walking home one evening when a middle-aged man walking the other way asked "Wanna fuck?". I wonder what this reveals about our society that there are people who would do that, and that it seems you have to live with that sort of thing if you are a female in today's world. How can I make it better?

Of course, I must admit that I wasn't totally aware of all the various definitions of terms used in this zine (what exactly was 'genderqueer'?), which led me to look some of them up on Wikipedia. I'll leave you with this quote from when the article on genderfuck was up for deletion. I think it is completely hilarious.

"This articlefuck is a neofuckologism. Wikipedia is a not a fuckslang dicfucktionary."

Sometimes the discussion pages are the best part of Wikipedia.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

I like bicycle

By Shawn Granton

This tiny little not-quite-a-zine features art that Granton has done for various bicycle related things. There are poster and flyer illustrations, art from an ad, and art created for a bicycle shop.

I guess this is more of an advertisement for Granton's art, but I do like it (yay bicycles), and at least I learnt about the filmedbybike festival, even if I can't go and see it. Sigh, I miss having a bicycle.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Burn Your Friends #1

By Julia Eff

When you open your zine with how your job working for an alt-weekly sucks I kind of lose sympathy for you. You're 18 and your job is to write stuff, surely that's better than most jobs, and especially better than what most 18-year olds are doing. I'd love a job like that.

Reading this zine I felt like there was an immense sense of entitlement, combined with massive amounts of vitriol. There are things here that I find interesting, there are others that I agree with, but the style it's all written in just seems incredibly mean spirited.

There's a bunch of pieces written about bands. Eff tears into Gerard Way for being a poser about his musical inspirations. Now I honestly have no idea about his music, though he has written some good comics (The Umbrella Academy), but calling him a "geetard" and a motherfucker because he claims to like Iggy Pop when he hasn't said that before? Um...

Then she spends several pages insulting Pete Wentz (who?) based solely upon his physical appearance and that people want to sleep with him. It's filled with rage, and kind of strange.

Even the content I do understand and agree with (there's a piece on concert etiquette where I believe I agree with every single thing written) is still written in a style that just makes me feel uncomfortable.

I guess I get the feeling that the writer has created a sort of persona of "extreme" to hide some sort of personal inadequacies or anxieties. Though I also feel as though I'm reading too much into this and my problems with this zine are really just that I'm not 18, and have never really cared that much about what music is hip or popular or whatever. Still, there is a good drawing of Morrissey.

Edit: (Days later I remember this.) Some of the pieces had "tl;dr" with a brief one sentence summary at the bottom. That was amazing.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The year is two thirds over.

It's kind of crazy to think that I started this blog eight months ago and have so far written almost 250 reviews. Crazy.

So! Today is the start of the Birmingham Zine Festival, which will continue in some way another for the next few weeks.

Today (Thursday) at 5pm is the launch of the Zine Art Exhibition, which I wish I could go to, but won't see until next week.

Then, tomorrow (Friday) at 7:30pm, is the launch of the Postcard Art Exhibit, which I have art in! Hurray. I also won't see it until next Friday when the festival kicks into high gear, with a movie night, a zine fair, a club night, and a picnic. I can't wait!

In other news I was asked to link to this Pop-Up Zine Reading Room, that's happening in London on Monday, September 20th. It's in support of a book about zines by Teal Triggs (here's an interview with her on the Birmingham Zine Festival site). However, the book has caused some controversy amongst zinesters over the use of their zines.

Larry - Spring '10

By Lee

I got the second issue of Lee's zine months and months ago, and as I think I'm going to get issue three at the Birmingham Zine Festival next week, I thought it would be a good time to actually read this one.

Despite being an art student Lee fills his zine with loads of text. Anecdotes about feuding accordionists, complaints about how the bus system where he lives is terrible (it certainly sounds awful), and things he's overheard at the barbershop.

There are also longer pieces dealing with social anxiety, which is certainly something I can identify with, relationships (or rather a lack of them), and a "how to" I will ever do (anything with ingredients that "will burn through your hands and corrode your bones into dust" isn't coming near me, even if it is for art).

While's Lee's zine isn't entirely personal, there are aspect that are. I find these zines kind of strange as they can allow you into a person's personal space, and know some of their fears and internal confusions. Considering how often zinesters seem to be somewhat awkward in social situations I wonder if they feel as though writing, isntead of spoken words, is the only way they can properly express their emotions. Strangely I think I'd rather tell people about my feelings in real life than print them in a zine.

Oh, and if you're at all interested in this zine you might want to check out the zine I made about the first Midlands zine meetup for which Lee wrote about desperately trying to finish his zine before hand.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Apartment 307

By Josh Blair, Pete Borrebach (w/ Nick Marino), and Noah van Sciver

This comic anthology is based around a pretty neat that unites three cartoonists based on the one thing they all have in common: they all live in aptartment 307. (Not the same apartment of course, they live in different cities across America.)

But before we get into the actual comic I have to mention that contributor Noah van Sciver is the younger brother of Ethan van Sciver (who draws Green Lantern and stuff for DC and Marvel). Crazy!

The three different comics are about living in apartments, or rather about living on the third floor of apartments (there are lots of stairs involved). Blair's comic uses a combination of text and simple images to tell about how he hates walking up all the stairs to his apartment. And yet, it's not really that many stairs (only 42!), and he kind of hates himself for not being able to go up them easily.

Borrebach's comic starts off kind of strange and gruesome (roadkill and vultures), but continues on to more reasonable topics about living in an apartment and the ideas of "community" that some people try to create there (creepy ones, not good ones), before veering off into fantasy and violence.

Van Sciver's comic is not really what I expected from someone with that last name, but it's also the best drawn comic in here. Noah's style is very different from his brother, but he's creating very different types of comics (though I'd kind of love to see a Green Lantern comic he created) and it works well. I especially liked the filthy self-caricature he draws.

Van Sciver's comic deals with his quest to find a roommate, and how he feels as though he's turning his room into a womb from which he can hide from the world. It's kind of depressing, but it's told with enough self-deprecating humour that it's still enjoyable to read.