Monday, December 24, 2012

Halifax Casual Gaming Federation Annual 2012-2013

By me! (And friends)

All year long I've been running board game nights at the Roberts Street Social Centre, Sad Rad, and several of the places I've lived. We had a bunch of people show up and it was really fun (I love playing games!).

As I have now made a tradition, I made a zine (with contributions from some friends) that talked about all the different games that we played this year, had spaces for the stickers that were given out after every game, photographs of some of the games, and had a ranking table that showed where everyone placed (people got points for winning games or showing up).

Despite making it all in a desperate, last minute panic (ie. I didn't finish it until about an hour into the launch party), I think it turned out pretty well, and the people who got copies seemed pretty happy with them. I'm going to miss playing games with my friends, but thankfully some of them are interested in taking over and the Halifax Casual Gaming Federation will continue! Maybe I can start something similar in Vancouver. Anybody interested?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Brighton Bike Fest 2012 Zine

Recently someone emailed me requesting a copy of the zine I made about cycling from Vancouver, BC, to Portland, Oregon. How exciting! Of course, then I read this zine about a bicycle festival and realized I can't even remember the last time I rode a bicycle. Maybe more than two years ago? Crazy!

This collaborative zine mostly functions as the program for the bike fest in question. There are pages with the schedule of events, text about the event itself, and maps showing where various things take place. However, there are also collages, art, reasons why riding a bicycle is awesome, and other stuff like that.

Bicycles are awesome, bicycles festivals are awesome, and zines are awesome, but I would have gotten more out of this one if I'd actually been able to go to the events it talked about.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Teacups and Typewriters October 2012

By Amber Dearest and Stefanie

At the Roberts Street Social Centre* we run a zine residency every summer. We invite zinesters and artists to come and stay in our shed for two weeks, experience Halifax, and make awesome things. You should apply for next year! One of the residents this summer was Amber Dearest, who completed the first issue of her zine The Triumph of Our Tired Eyes while here.

But back in Montreal, before she came to do her residency, Amber decided to run her own zine residency inspired by ours. It was different as people went to her actual house and slept on the sofa bed in her living room, but it's still awesome to see more of these kind of things being created.

This zine is the newsletter for the Tulip Farm, the house where Amber and her roommate Stefanie (and the cat Sebastian) live. It tells about how they met, has a map of the apartment and descriptions of each room, some stuff about the residency program, letters from two residents who stayed there and made zines, and info about how you can come and hang out there and speak (bad, but improving) French with them.

It's cute and sweet, and reminds me of the newsletter I made for a house I lived in (in 2005! I wonder if I still have Blatch Breaking News somewhere), and how I sat in Amber's kitchen at "a chrome table with a turquoise top that [Amber] found at a flea market when [she] was thirteen years old, and have since moved with [her] to twelve different apartments" and played Bannagrams and The Best Game Ever, and ate cereal, and drank tea.

*I've just realized that by the time this review goes live I'll have left Halifax, my home of almost two years, and the Roberts Street Social Centre, where I spent a lot of time volunteering and having fun, and which was the reason I moved to this city in the first place. And, oh, that makes me feel sad, oh! I will miss you RSSC!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Maps of America

By Jessica Ross and Ben Gallagher

Maps! I love maps! I've made zines with maps in them! I've made zines that are maps! I look at neat pictures of maps online! There have been times when I've ended up hoarding maps to use in art projects. Why do I like them so much? I guess on maps covering large amounts of geography (like this one) I enjoy the potential for travel, while on maps of cities I love being able to see the whole of an urban environment (there's potential for travel there too!). And in both cases there's the combination of the artistic with the functional.

This is a map of the continental USA that fills a sheet of 11 x 17 paper. It shows the route that Jess and Ben took on their journey through America. The opposite side of the paper has some writing about their trip, and several smaller versions of the map that point out the locations of where they ate Mexican food, went swimming, went dancing, bought bread, and interacted with poets. Neat!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Radio CKDU 88.1 FM Colouring Book

CKDU is a campus radio station based out of Dalhousie here in Halifax.

(Aside: A friend and I used to have a radio show on the campus radio station when I was at university. It was called Meanwhile, Back at the Comic Book Shop and we talked about comics for an hour every week! That was over seven years ago, and I still miss it. I really need to start podcasting. If you're really bored you can go look at the archives in the blog I created for it, and read reviews to see what I thought of comics back in 2005. Oh, and apparently I wrote a bunch of stuff for it in 2009 after the show ended, I don't even remember that!)

Every year (I think) CKDU has a fundraising drive asking people to help support the station. A few years ago they put out this colouring book as part of the drive. It's not really a colouring book, but instead just some old show posters photocopied and bound into a book. I mean, I guess you can colour them in if you want.

Some of the posters in here are pretty awesome (there's a pretty neat one by Kyle Bridgett, who has a weird furry animal fetish erotica comic, you've been warned), and some are kind of boring. But it's also cool to look at them as a snapshot of shows that happened in Halifax in the past (one of them is for a show my friend's band played at!). The reproduction on some of the posters is weirdly terrible though, and it looks as though they might have been scanned and blown up from handbill size, which is too bad. I also wish there were more!

Probably the best part of this book is that it includes bios of the artists that did the show posters. That's awesome! Though at the same time I'm not entirely sure who drew what, so I can't really say who drew the poster below. I really like it though.

And The Evens are a pretty awesome band.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Shotgun Seamstress #3

I've been hearing about Shotgun Seamstress for a few years, so I'm glad I finally managed to pick up an issue and give it a read.

Shotgun Seamstress is a zine about being black, queer, artistic, and punk. The zine uses interviews, comics, bios, and people's stories to discuss poverty, classism, racism, homophobia, and other related topics. This issue is all about money, and much of the content focuses on not having much/enough and why that's an issue in our society.

There are pieces on trainhopping, a photographer who didn't get any success until after he died, royalties in bands, and capitalism in general. My favourite piece was an interview done with Mick Collins (a member of the bands the Dirtbombs and the Gories). Collins is in his forties, and the piece discusses growing up in Detroit before hip hop, how that style of music has influenced black American culture, the co-opting of black culture by white people, how many blacks feel the need to conform, and why and how the black punk scene in Detroit was killed off.

I found this piece to be interesting historically, in part because I am interested in the way certain cultural aspects are co-opted by different groups, and the way sub cultures are created, grow, and shrink. The interview ends saying that they continued talking, and I wish that more of it had been printed!

Overall I found Shotgun Seamstress to be worth reading because it gave a different view on American society, beyond the one I am used to hearing (even from other punk zines). I may not have agreed with everything in here, but I guess it is important to see various view points on things and not just make assumptions.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Expeditions and Adventures

By the Radar Friends and the Sonar Gang
(Two comics collectives which are now defunct, or at least their websites no longer work, I got this at contributor Jordyn Bochon's yard sale.)

It feels kind of weird reviewing older works by people who are still creating. Older works done by people who aren't that old are almost by definition not going to look as good as their current stuff. Drawing skills will improve, story telling will improve, hell, even knowledge about how to publish things will improve.

So yeah, I'm reviewing a five year old comic I got for free. How useful! Clearly my reviewing skills haven't improved in the several years I've been updating this blog.

This anthology features six different tales of daring do and thrilling undertakings. Tim Carpenter's Adventure Comics #371 is a tale of an early 19th century adventurer. Of course, as you can tell from the title it's also one in a longer series of stories that I don`t believe exist. This means that there isn`t really any beginning or end, though as I've definitely written my share of stories like this I can't really complain. Art-wise Carpenter has some nice use of shadow and blacks, though there's not much in the way of backgrounds.

Lydia Fu presents a tale of the pirates Mary Read and Anne Bonny. I think by now this story has been done to death, though I`m sure someone will comment and say they've never heard of them before. Anyway, it features hard to read computer lettering (I`m guessing a font didn`t reduce/copy well), and full page lesbian sex. Woo!

Colleen MacIsaac does a comic about the Bathyscaphe Trieste, which is something I'd never heard of before! It's a neat story about undersea exploration in the 1960s, and the artwork manages to convey things pretty well. There are definitely some problems with the reproduction, but I'm glad I read this one.

Heather Verdin contributes a brief, almost wordless, tale about travelling by train, while Jordyn Bochon's story about rescuing a cat up a tree had some charm but definitely suffered from "I know your art gets better than this"-itis.

The final story by Kim Hoang and Mark Lee is a D&D inspired fantasy tale of a party of adventurers getting to a town and splitting up to get more supplies. Most of the story is about looking for hats, and I thought it was cute and funny. I liked the cartoony nature of the art, and the use of zipatone in the background. This was probably my favourite.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Fury No. 20

Mark Novotny
5413 6th Ave
Countryside, IL
60525, USA
One dollar

To some extent I feel kind of weird reading punk zines and writing reviews of them while listening to Bjork. It's like my headspace and the headspace of the person working on the zine are completely different. Can I appreciate hot, crowded punk house shows, and the search for '90s emo records at the same time? Sure, but it seems so much more...theoretical than maybe it should.

But The Fury is a zine that perhaps encourages readings such as this. There are pieces on language and words that discuss the works of Derrida and the Deconstructionists (amongst others), and Novoty wonders how much of our society and culture is based around the language we use. How language can be changed to change the way that people think.

And so when reading the rest of the zine I became aware of the word choice that Novoty used. The zine may be typewritten, but I got the feeling that it had been through multiple drafts before this final version was put together. Novoty knows about the limitations of language, but is doing his best to convey his own feelings and thoughts to others in the best way possible/only way he knows how.

There are stories about drunk singers at punk shows who try to stab their band mates. About walking unfamiliar streets and sleeping on unfamiliar floors. About potential and obscurity. About presence and sentimentality. About nerves and melancholy. About the deaths of friends and what they'll never be. About how those deaths can change what you are and what you become.

I often say that I think too much about many things, and this zine didn't help, but at the same time I like thinking about many things, and I like reading about how others also wonder about word choice and perceived negativity. I thought about dead friends while reading this zine, and also people I haven't seen in years (and probably will never see again). I felt sadness over what could have been, and joy for what is and will be.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Rum Lad Issue 3

Just the other day I got an email from a 16 year old girl asking if punk was dead, and if I knew of any punk zines in the UK. One of the first to spring to mind (after thinking this email was one of the most adorable I'd even received) was Rum Lad, a zine of which I've enjoyed every issue I've read, and that I wish I'd read more issues. So I was excited when I recently found a copy of an older issue in the Anchor Archive Zine Library at the Roberts Street Social Centre.

While I would describe Rum Lad as a punk zine, it might not be what those words cause to immediately spring to mind. There are no record reviews, no band interviews, no political rants. Instead the main feature of Rum Lad are Steve's illustrations, which I really enjoy! Each page features one illustration and a bit of text jammed into it somewhere. The illustrations in this issue cover about six months in 2007, and it seems like Steve had a pretty busy year.

There are pictures from various towns and cities in England (including "the bleakest place I [Steve] I've ever been to"), Reykjavik in Iceland, Oslo in Norway, and Hoogeveen in the Netherlands. That makes me incredibly jealous, and a little sad that I live in Canada which is so big and unpopulated. 

There are also pictures of bedrooms and record players, statues and punk shows, ferris wheels and grave yards. I really like Steve's drawing style, though struggle to say what it is about it that I enjoy so much. There are aspects of photo realism to his art, but also an organic element as there are rarely (if ever) straight lines, even if you might expect to see them on a shelf or a street sign.

The lack of continuity between the different pieces of art will leave those looking for some sort of coherent narrative disappointed. We don't know why Steve went to Oslo (or any other place really), and rarely know what he's really thinking when he goes to these places. But I find that I don't care, as the tiny snippets that are revealed help give some context, and with Steve's art that's enough for me.

Plus I found these amazing videos by DJ Scotch Egg and White Mice because of this zine. Hurray!