Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Flash, I Love You, But We Only Have Fourteen Hours to Save the Earth

Yeah, I've totally fallen down in getting reviews up here again. That is in part because I was completing this zine!

Oblast #15: Flash, I Love You, But We Only Have Fourteen Hours to Save the Earth contains:
- Personals from mythological figures
- Potato chip reviews
- Letters to a dead friend
- A fake wikipedia article
- Random scifi nonsense

Plus, I've been working on a top secret project that should hopefully come to fruition soon!

Monday, July 23, 2012


By Piotr Nowacki

When I was sent some comics from Poland I was initially a little unsure about if I would be able to review them. If they were entirely in Polish I wouldn't be able to read anything! Thankfully, Moe is a silent comic, and thus doesn't suffer from my lack of ability to speak Polish.

Instead I grew concerned with some of the character designs. There are many characters in this comic (or perhaps just the same character in different guises) that look an awful lot like early twentieth century racial caricatures (I didn't scan any, so you'll just have to trust me, I did get ask some friends what they thought, and they agreed with me). Of course, this doesn't quite look out of place because the entire comic is reminiscent of early twentieth century cartoons, with a main character who's a funny looking dog, weird slapstick humour, and a storyline that is less coherent narrative, and more just a series of things that happen.

And if the whole comic was telling a story about that time period, or using parody or satire to create some sort of message I'd be okay with the (possible) racial caricatures appearing in this story. But it's not, and so I'm just generally left with a sense of unease, even if the art is good, and I could easily imagine the whole thing as an animated short. I just wish that some of the character designs had been different.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Peach Melba #s 29, 30, & 31

By Pearl
PO Box 74
Brighton, UK

I haven't gotten an issue of Peach Melba in ages, so a recent package included a big pile of them! I won't review them all separately, as that would take forever.

Peach Melba is a list zine made by a... 15 year old? I think she's 15 now. That would be impressive enough, but she's been making this zine for three years! It has over thirty issues! I wish I could be that prolific.

These issues feature lists of things that oscillate, different types of rackets, Pearl's favourite books, and more. The book list is probably the one I liked best, partially because I really like books, and also because I have read and enjoyed several of the books on Pearl's list! I'm going to have to look up some of the others and get them out of the library.

I do have a feeling that this book might have inspired this zine originally. Though not all of the lists in Peach Melba are useless.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Bottoms Up

I went to a pirate themed murder mystery on Saturday, and it was lots of fun. Thus infected by piratical ideas I decided I should read this zine. But it's not just about pirates, it's also about burlesque!

When I lived in Vancouver I had a friend who was really into burlesque, and thus I ended up going to a lot of burlesque shows with her. The shows were generally pretty fun, and now that I'm moving back to Vancouver in January for school I'm kind of excited that I'll be able to go again. Plus, they only cost $5 and happened on Sunday evenings. What else was I going to do at that time for that price?

Bottoms Up was made for a pirate themed burlesque show by the, now defunct, Halifax Burlesque Society. For a zine about burlesque there's a surprisingly small amount of pin-up art and photography. It's not entirely absent, there's just less than you might expect. Instead there's a burlesquefesto, rebuttals to anti-burlesque propaganda (apparently people put up posters in Halifax specifically telling people not to go to burlesque shows), a bunch of information about lady pirates and general pirating (including a Marxist examination of pirates), information about STIs (educational!) and more.

Overall I thought this was a pretty neat package featuring two things I enjoyed (pirates and burlesque), plus I really love the long skinny format.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Spectacular Times

Compiled and edited by Larry Law
Production by Liz.

While this particular copy of the Spectacular Times probably doesn't count as a zine (it says it's a pocketbook right on the cover!), I feel that the original version might have been (this is a later reprint). And it is the same size as, and covers many of the same topics as, many zines.

This is issue three of the Spectacular Times, and it's made up of press clippings (articles, advertisements, cartoons, etc.) and commentary about them. The subject as a whole is the place of media in our society, its use as propaganda, and the way it puts its own spin onto events.

Coincidentally I just got The Influencing Machine out from the library, and it seems to be taking a much more in-depth look at the same stuff (though from the point of view of someone who's actually part of the media). The value of the Spectacular Times is not really in its commentary on the media, but rather its use as a historical document to see what people thought of the media in 1980, when this was originally published (this is by far the oldest thing I've reviewed on this site, it's older than I am!). However I don't think many people are interested in reading about that sort of thing.

Friday, July 13, 2012


By James Stephen Wright

While the cover of this zine didn't photocopy that well, one awesome thing that you can see is the price: "1 x EGG or 1 x MELON". And while I think an egg and a melon differ a fair bit in value, it still kind of awesome to see things like that. (I fondly remember the day I traded one of my zines for an orange.)

Inside we have weird collages and art, some maze-like drawings, comics that are barely comprehensible, and lots of hard to read text. This zine is strange. There is some cool stuff in here (I enjoyed the page showing various rat dances), and some of the art is pretty good, but overall I just found the whole thing kind of hard to comprehend.

Still, I guess that's what art can be, and whether or not I understand it isn't necessarily the point of the whole thing.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sightings of Wallace Sendek

By Sean Azzopardi and Douglas Noble

When I started reading this comic I thought the pages that the pages were in the wrong order. Each page is dated, and the dates jump around backwards and forward through time. But each page can be taken as an independent whole and this seemingly haphazard order is the one in which Noble wanted this comic to appear (I guess some of the pages could be in the wrong order too, there's no real way for me to tell!). Taken together the pages begin to tell the story of '70s rock musician Wallace Sendek, his disappearance, and his later possible appearances.

Reading it in chronological order (yes, I did bother to do that) leaves me even more confused as all the dates don't seem to match up properly. But this could even be done on purpose, as the entire point of this thing is to make everything mysterious and ambiguous. Was Sendek killed? Was there some supernatural element in his disappearance? Is he still alive? None of these questions is answered, but that's not the point of this comic.

Instead this comic is all about creating an atmosphere and mood of mystery, and it succeeds admirably. (I'm a little jumpy and creeped out right now due to it being 2:30 am, reading this comic multiple times, and reading about Lord Lucan and other people who have disappeared.)

Artwise Azzopardi does a good job, using different styles and techniques on various pages. Some pages are quite sketchy, while others are considerably more detailed, and one even features edited photographs (is there a better term for this than "photoshopped"?). Azzopardi also switches between using solid bordered panels (often using a tight nine-panel grid to fit in the necessary dialogue and narration), and pages where various images meld into each other with no border in the way. Combined these two techniques help to add to the atmosphere of the stories and the events surrounding them, confusing the information and making the reader question what truth there might be in each story.

Overall this is worth checking out, if you're into ambiguous, frustrating works that have no real ending. I want to know who this person was, and what was going on with their disappearance, and hopefully one day, if Azzopardi and Noble decide to release another comic, I'll find out. If I don't though, that's okay too, as this comic has succeeded both in its narrative goals and in being entertaining.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Toasty Cats #6

By Magda Boreysza

Despite the title being what it is, this comic contains no cats, toasty or not. It does contain a number of short comics about other animals, some amazingly awesome drawings of monsters, and even a letters page!

Both of the comics in here are entirely silent, and sort of remind me of Masashi Tanaka's Gon series, if the animals in that acted slightly more like humans, and they were drawn in a less realistic way. Wait, I guess these have nothing in common with Gon, except they're both about animals not interacting with humans in any way. (And they're both good.) My comparison skills appear to be rusty.

I went into the first comic somewhat biased against the small, weird looking mammals with huge mouths and entirely too many teeth that star. Why? Because I have clearly been watching too many sci-fi horror films that feature horrible monsters eating people. Wait, what am I saying? That's clearly not possible, you can't have too many of those.

The dog-like creatures in this are, when they have their mouths closed, pretty cute. They live in some sort of forest society, playing with bugs, sleeping down holes, and mourning their dead. The story itself is pretty much just "nature happens", but it's drawn in a really lovely style that somehow manages to combine lots of small details, with a general cartoony style.

The second story is about a fox's life as it waits for a comet to pass by through the sky again. It is a tale of loss and longing, and kind of makes me sad. But, um, it has really nice art?

Both tales in this issue are good, though I hesitate to look for more, as while I enjoyed reading this comic there's definitely a morose feeling throughout, and I'm not sure I want to read more stories like that.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

You're the Best.....Around!!! #3

By dumbbunnynz@hotmail.com

I remember when the person who made this zine offered to send me some copies. I was wary to say the least: a zine about kids in sports films? That sounds kind of horrible. I mean, I'd watched my share of them as a child, and while I think I enjoyed them at the time, I have no interest in watching them again as they are probably all terrible.

But style can be everything, and it turns out that I actually really enjoy this zine! The author accepts that these films are predictable, formulaic, and not very good in general, but they still enjoy them. By writing about what is problematic in these films in an amusing and sarcastic manner the author makes reading about the film actually enjoyable!

Combine with interviews with incredibly obscure actors who appear in the films, the most in depth looks at these films probably ever written, recipes (this one has fudge!), and generally humorous asides, and you have a zine that I now actively look forward to reading!