Wednesday, July 31, 2013


By Stef Bradley

That's a bow tied around the outside of this zine, and just based on the way this zine was packaged I cannot give it a bad review.

Inside the envelope I received was a brown paper package tied up with string. That's one of my favourite things! (Actually, here's a less depressing Bjӧrk track.)

Inside the package was this bag (it now holds all my pencils and pens).

Which contained zines and buttons/badges. Awesome!

Anyway, this zine is filled with cute little illustrated anecdotes (some sort of poem like): sitting in a bathtub (fully clothed) to read scary books, making an extravagant birthday sandwich for a friend who didn't like cake, working lame jobs, making blanket forts and plastic bag parachutes, and listening to thrift store mix tapes.

I enjoyed this look inside Stef's mind. It seemed as though it showed what sort of person they are, and the kinds of things that matter to them. Okay, so maybe I'm reading far too much into this, and maybe I just want an incredible birthday sandwich (with Monster Munch on it!), but I'm looking forward to reading the other issues of Today that I received. And if you don't know what Monster Munch is you clearly need to track down a copy of my zine Potato Maze.

Monday, July 29, 2013

If Nothing Else the Sky

By Dave Roche
PO Box 221041
Chicago, IL 60622

Okay, so I have a confession. Before I stayed at Dave Roche's house during the ALA conference in Chicago I'd never read any of his zines. Sure, I knew who he was, I knew what On Subbing (his book about being a substitute teacher) looked like, I might even have read the back cover when my brother distroed it, but I'd never (knowingly) read anything he'd actually written.

But after meeting him, talking to him, and hearing him read excerpts from his zines I realized I really wanted to read his zines, and was excited to start his newest one, about his travels in SE Asia and Australia.

I really like travelling (I'm sleeping on my friend's floor in Kentucky right now!), and I spent a bunch of time living and travelling in Australia and SE Asia a few years ago, so I was excited to read about Dave's experiences. Though while there is definitely the appeal of "I've been there!" and "I slept at that place!", the true appeal of this zine is Dave's writing style: humourous, informative, and a little bit self-deprecating.

Dave worries that he might be getting too old for the punk rock sleeping on strangers' couches style of living and travelling. At what point does he stop being that cool zinester guy, and starts being that weird old guy with a beard? (Clearly the answer is "never!".) Dave also has to deal with realizing how incredibly privileged and rich (at least comparatively) he is in SE Asia, mandis and squat toilets, getting bitten by a penguin in Australia. Dave goes on tour with a punk band, stays with an anarchist robotics scientist, tries to explain why he isn't married yet, and has lots of other adventures. There's a lot of content here, and I can't describe every story, but there are a number of excerpts on his website and you should check them out!

 If Nothing Else the Sky is huge for a zine. It's almost a hundred pages (perfect bound), mostly text, and will take a while to read,  but thanks to Dave's DIY-punk ethics/terrible business sense, you can order it for just $5. If you liked Dave's earlier books, enjoy travel stories, or just like reading zines by funny/kinda weird people, it's definitely worth checking out.

Friday, July 26, 2013

These Things Happen volume 3

This is a flip comic, with two different stories that are, in part, inspired by The Yellow Wallpaper. (Just reading that wikipedia article kind of depressed me.) One half of the comic (the one with the blue cover) features a story about an old man thinking about his dead wife. The other half features a cover that has nothing to do with the contents. Instead the story is about a woman who is confined to her bed by her husband for some unnamed malady. She attempts to hide the fact that she is writing, but according to him even that is too much strain upon her.

The story isn't that long and I wasn't sure if the woman actually was physically sick, if it was somehow psychological, or if it was being induced by her husband. It's not clearly spelled out, and I think that's part of Carbaugh's plan. It made me kind of uncomfortable as I wasn't sure what to think of the characters in here. So, um, I guess it succeeded on that front.

The art in both stories features people becoming totally overcome by their own negative thoughts. It's a cool way to show how isolated people can become inside of their own minds. It's also a visual effect that wouldn't be possible to do in prose, and so is a sign of how comics can do awesome things that other mediums can't!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Daily Doodles

By David Yoder

I totally appreciate it when people set creative goals for themselves and try to make/do something every day. Sure, maybe the content that is created isn't amazing, but just the act of doing something can be important for people.

However, I'm not that big a fan of people creating things along the lines of "I can't think of an idea" (please ignore my award winning play written in highschool) or "I'm a whiny jackass", and hell, I understand that people can be depressed and that creating something can be a way of helping to deal with that, but I guess I just don't want to read them.

That isn't to say that all of the comics in here are like that, only a few of them are, but it happens that the last one in the comic is all about that so it kind of stuck in my mind. But there are several comics in here that I really liked. There's a comic about a girl finding Iron Man's gloves which I thought was cute, the jellyfish comic below, and one about a werewolf in a grocery store. (What? One of my favourites features a monster? Who would have guessed...)

I also dug how each page has it's own "Daily Doodles" logo in a different hand drawn font style. Neat!

Monday, July 22, 2013

O Woe!

This comic begins with a giant, space-faring, "stegosaurussed", god sperm flying through outer space. An auspicious beginning for sure! The story then becomes about the evolution and societal progression of a race of "wee scummy men".

The society that Volk creates is pretty neat, and I especially liked the incredibly decadent concept of "doubling" that was done by the incredibly rich people in this comic. Doubling is when someone, in order to prove their wealth, has exact duplicates of everything they own created, and then never uses them. The society goes to pretty insane extremes in their pursuit of showing off how rich they are, and how other factions of society respond.

While I liked this idea a lot, I wish more time had been spent on it and maybe the personal experiences of some of the people in this world. Also the ending is a total cop-out. Lame!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Roctober #50

I originally wasn't going to review Roctober. It's the size of a magazine! It has a colour cover! It's full of ads! But, they were invited to be at the Zine Pavilion at the ALA conference a few weeks ago, and they do only have a print run of 2,500 (though when does print run determine if something is a zine or not?), but what finally changed my mind was that this was an anniversary issue filled with content from every issue of Roctober up to this one, including when it was just a small photocopied thing (I think...).

Roctober is primarily a music magazine, though it's got a pretty eclectic mix of stuff. This issue features loads of reviews (most of which I didn't read, though I did check out the one of Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, which terrifyingly made over $400 million dollars internationally, and seems to be in the top 150 grossing movies ever...), interviews (such as with the White Sox organist and a member of the New Monkees), in depth bios/retrospectives of artists, and way more.

There is _a lot_ of content here, and I didn't actually read all of it as that would have taken forever, and a lot of it I wasn't that into. There were some pieces I didn't even try to read due to the formatting (I think I've read enough huge walls of text with no paragraph breaks), but overall the layout works pretty well. I wasn't super fond of the way font sizes and faces sometimes changed from page to page, but I understand that this is reprinting older material, and that other people like it when that sort of thing happens (I generally prefer a more consistent look throughout zines I make). If you're into music more than I am (which honestly wouldn't be hard), you might want to check this out.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

(over)heard in a library

I made the cover and put together this collaborative zine that was created at the Zine Pavilion at the American Library Association conference in Chicago. It's filled with stories of weird things people have seen or heard in libraries.

If you go to the tumblr, you can download some PDFs. Check it out!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

No More Touch! A Love Story

By Mary Karaplis/Mei K

The cover and title of this comic make it seem like it's going to be a lot more...confrontational than it is. As though most of the comic is going to be about someone incredibly bitter and jaded about relationships. And while Karaplis might be bitter and jaded, it doesn't really come through in the comic. While it starts with her heart being broken, she soon (or at least a short number of pages later) finds another person, and eventually falls in love with them.

While some of the comics in here are kind of cute, I think my disconnection from them probably says more about me and my past history of relationships (ie. I have not been in many long term relationships) than the creator. Of course, I'm sure it doesn't help that I don't think the people in this comic seem like people I'd want to go out with. (Really? You need to remind your partner to shower?!)

What I do like is the artwork, which is really cute. I didn't scan the image, but there are some pictures of drunk owls in here that are totally adorable.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The ICZL(u)C

So this past weekend I got to attend the Iowa City Zine Librarian (un)Conference. It was a pretty awesome experience. I got to meet a bunch of librarians who deal with zines in their collections, participate in some great discussions, and volunteer to do more work. Yay! (Wait, more work? Yay?)

If you didn't get to attend there should be notes on each of the sessions up on the wiki (check the schedule page), and there are youtube channels with recordings of at least some of goings on too.

One of the things we decided on doing was putting more content on, so hopefully in the next few months you'll start to see photo tours of zine collections, zine reading lists on various topics, and more. Awesome!

I can't wait until the one next year. Hopefully I'll be able to attend!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Docs Issue 1

PO Box 26183
Baltimore, MD

I'll admit, I wasn't really sure what I was reading until I got to the final page of this zine and read the guidelines for people who want to submit to future issues. So what is Docs? Well, it's brief three topic/page biographies of people: living, dead, or entirely fictional.

And by "biography" I'm speaking pretty loosely, there are pictures, and sheet music, and weird stories, and to be honest I really didn't have any idea what I was reading the first time through. Where these true? They didn't really seem to be...

But then I hit the final "biography" in here (Hrtumt Slitte by F. L. Smith), and even if it still confused me to some extent, it read like the sort of collection of ephemera that I love and I didn't really care that I didn't really "get" the rest of the zine". Each page of Hrtumt Slitte is clearly part of a larger piece that does not exist. The table of contents (with footnote) seems to have no relation to the other pages. The first page is a description of Kid Kinney ("a loathsome creature") from someone who hates him. The second page is a series of TV show proposals that all finish with everything unraveling. But the final page was what clinched it for me. A description of someone exploring an abandoned building that features a hidden message amongst the text _and_ stops midway through a sentence with no resolution? That sounds like something that I'd write! (No wonder nobody reviews my zines...)

I'm not sure what the next issue of Docs will contain, but I hope it has more content like that final biography.

Friday, July 12, 2013


By Pete Jordan

Hey! This isn't a zine! It's a book! What gives? Well, parts of it were originally published as zines, so it totally counts. Dishwasher is Jordan's tale of his life and the decade plus he spent washing dishes all over America in his quest to wash dishes in all 50 states. That sounds kind of horrible, but Jordan has a writing style that is incredibly enjoyable to read, which can be seen in the fact that I read this book in two days, and that the 16th issue of Dishwasher (which was never released) was going to have a print run of 10,000! (And I thought it was good that I'd printed almost 100 issues of Two Fisted Librarians...)

Throughout Dishwasher we follow Jordan from job to job, starting with his earliest teenage ventures up to, well really just dishwashing and more dishwashing. Jordan doesn't want any other jobs because he likes dishwashing. His reasons for liking this much maligned job are many and varied, and range from the free food he gets to eat (which in one place was actually written into the dishwashers' contract that had originally been created decades before), to the fact that he can quit at any time and get a new job doing the same thing somewhere else. Because while dishwashing is a job that nobody wants, it is a job that needs to be done, and so even when a dishwasher shows up to work late or drinks on the job people generally don't mind because any dishwasher is better than no dishwasher (or having to wash the dishes yourself).

In between tales of his own dishwashing jobs, Jordan tells about famous people who washed dishes in America, the early days of labour organizing and unions for dishwashers, and about his experiences and romances. From oil platforms off the coast of Louisiana to fish plants in Alaska, Jordan has covered a lot of ground in his travels, and has an incredible array of stories to tell.

One thing I liked about this zine is that it made my current travels seem totally tame in comparison. Some of my classmates were horrified when I said I was going to travel around for a few months this summer, and wasn't totally sure where I'd end up at various points. Sure there are events I've planned to go to, but it's not like I have a super strict itinerary. I mean, in the place I'm currently staying I've got my own room and an air mattress! I think it's actually nicer than the last place I was living because there I was subletting and the room was filled with things I didn't own, now this room only contains things that are mine. It's great!

Dishwasher is a really good read, and I can't wait to check out Jordan's next book, which is about cycling in Amsterdam.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Zine Pavilion

Recently I got to help run the Zine Pavilion at the American Library Association annual conference. It was in Chicago, and the conference had about 27,000 people attend. Wow!

Overall the conference was really cool, I met lots of awesome librarians, got to interview some comic book creators and zinesters, ran a Call of Cthulhu game, and helped educate a lot of people about zines. You can check out the Zine Pavilion tumblr which has photos and videos and other stuff on it.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Guts Power #1

Unemployment seems to be a bigger part of culture in the UK. I mean, I've had plenty of friends who have been unemployed, and who have collected unemployment benefits, but people seem to make less of a deal about it. Perhaps that's because it's harder to actually collect. I've never had an opportunity to collect unemployment in Canada, but was able to get it in the UK despite never having worked there. (Hurray!)

But going "on the dole" seems to show up a lot more frequently in UK media, I mean, I've already reviewed comics about it, and the fact that it can show up in this bizarre science fiction comic really shows how the aspects of attempting to collect unemployment are part of the national consciousness. 

Guts Power exists in a bizarre alternative Scotland (I think) where weird aliens/monsters with strange names (Lovelaffs1820) seem to be casually accepted into society and end up trying to get jobs along with everyone else. The main characters in this are a weird monster and their roommate, a sort of fetishy transvestite. They go to the DOLE (Department of Limited Earning) office, are forced to wait forever (despite people having figured out "that all times happen at once", which prevents people from being late), and have to go through the rigmaroles of soul crushing interviews about why they haven't found a job yet, and horrible mandated group discussion sessions.

Thankfully everything turns out all right in the end (up to a certain point) as some people are debrainwashed and various characters are allowed to go and do what they actually want to (write a novel, plot revolutionary action, etc.) instead of sitting around in offices wasting time. There are several more issues of this, and I wonder what the future has in store fore these characters.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Buy My Zines?

If for some reason you are interested in my zines and happen to be in Chicago you can purchase some of them at Quimby's and The Boring Store.

Quimby's has the Roberts Street Casual Gaming Federation 2011-2012 Yearbook, Ten More Videos I Watched On YouTube (not pictured), Autonomous Oblast (probably never to be reprinted as it uses UK paper size), and Flash, I Love You, But We Only Have Fourteen Hours to Save the Earth. All of these are $2 each.

Plus! Both stores have copies of my newest zine Two Fisted Librarians! Only $2.50!

Quimby's can be found at 1854 W. North Avenue, Chicago.
The Boring Store can be found at 1331 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Archer

If you just looked at the cover of this comic you might think that it was a medieval or fantasy tale about a Robin Hood type character. And you'd be completely wrong.

This is a comic about a major event (a death) in the modern day, the steps that led up to it for the various people involved, and the resolution. It could definitely give more background about the characters and their motivations, but what is there is presented in a really interesting manner. In the first part there is no dialogue, and the character who appears is never shown to speak. Yet through their actions (both in the present day and flashbacks) we get a look at who they are and why they're doing what they're doing.

In the second part of the story there is dialogue, and a conversation in a car is portrayed using many small panels with no gutter between the border, a large contrast to earlier scenes in the comic which occurred outside and lacked any sort of panel border at all! This succeeds in making the car seem cramped, and showing the speed at which things happen. The third part again lacks dialogue, but this time we're inside a character's head and we're able to see their internal thoughts.

Artwise Doyle uses a style that features a lot of lines to give definition and texture to the characters and the scenes. The variation between styles of panels I mentioned above really shows the amount of thought that went into this comic, and I really appreciate that. The one problem I do have with the art is that sometimes the portrayal of motion is not successful, and instead of moving the characters look stiff and posed. Still, I ended up enjoying this comic far more than I thought I would based on the first part of the story.

(I feel as though I've been reviewing too many minicomics and not enough zines recently. Hopefully that will change in the near(ish) future?)

Friday, July 5, 2013

Brain Parts

By Holly Foltz

Huh, so Americans like fireworks a lot. (Guess what day I'm writing this review on!)

This brief comic features a bunch of reasons why Foltz hates her job (or rather, why she hates the people she has to deal with at her job). The reasons themselves are nothing that fantastic, but the art style is accomplished enough that I think Foltz could produce some pretty good work. This is backed up by an amusing comic on the back page, which features Foltz pretending to be the Alien from the titular movie using a cat. It's cute, funny, and the art has good facial expressions and body language.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

These Things Happen Issue 1

By Sam J. Carbaugh

So this past weekend was the American Library Association annual conference. It was in Chicago (where I am right now!), and I spent a lot of time at the Zine Pavilion, and it was super fun. Expect more info about it soon, or you can check out the tumblr for some photos and stuff.

Anyway, this comic starts off pretty well, with a story about a guy's dead wife coming back from the grave. It's wordless, and kind of sweet and sad at the same time. I enjoyed it! Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the rest of the comic.

The rest of the issue is a bunch of one page comics that I generally found pretty stupid. In one Carbaugh complains about having to pay to have his car fixed. People complain about this shit all the time, and the solution is clearly to not have a car. Now some people are like "Waugh waugh waugh, I live somewhere that doesn't have public transportation," but there are other options like bicycles and rideshare, and so forth. Also, loads of people who do lives in cities with public transportation also complain about cars.

The other comics were kind of dumb too.

Conclusion: If you complain about the expense of owning a car, I have no pity for you.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

10 Things I Love About Zines!

Hey! It's International Zine Month! You should all go check out that site and see all the awesome zine related things you could be doing this month!

Today (July 2nd) is: "Make a Top 10 list of reasons why your love zines, post them online if you would like."

Above you can see the poster I made for the Zine Pavilion at the American Library Association conference last weekend. We'll have the reasons other people loved zines on the Zine Pavilion tumblr soon, but I want to know what your reasons are! (You don't have to write ten, any number of reasons is good!)

As for (some of) my reasons... (Completely off the top of my head, and I'm sure there are many, many more.)

1. I love that Zines allow people to produce their own media, and that creators don't have to care about editors or advertisers.
2. I love that Zines let me to do graphic design stuff that I doubt I'd ever get paid for.
3. I love that Zines let me create weird little projects and discover that other people are into the same things.
4. I love that writing Zines allows me to look at the past and come to grips with my emotions.
5. I love that zines have let me meet lots of cool people from all over the world.
6. I love that anyone can make a zine (you can never be too old or young!).
7. I love that zines can be about anything.
8. I love that zines expose me to many different styles of writing, and types of content that I might never have seen.
9. I love that zines have given me something to blog about for the past four years.
10. I love that zines exist.

Monday, July 1, 2013

xZINECOREx An Introduction

By Milo Miller
Download the zine flats!

So I don't usually review digital zines, but occasionally I do. This is one such special occurrence, both because this is post #666 (!!!), and because it is a super nerdy zine about libraries, metadata, and zines. Plus I had to print it out to read it.

(Also! By the time this posts goes live I'll have been at the ALA conference, and I will have seen real live copies of this zine there that I didn't have to print.)

So this is a zine about metadata, and while I am currently in a program where I study metadata (and even meta-metadata), I'm sure most of you aren't. Metadata is data about data, and is all about how you sort and organize information.

xZINECOREx is an attempt to create a metadata system for zines, similar to ones that are already in place for other material in libraries. It covers stuff like genres, contributors, titles, etc. This is like hyper-nerdy stuff, and most people won't be into it, but as someone who used to catalogue zines _before_ I was even in library school, it certainly appeals to me.

This isn't a definitive guide to zine metadata, and it even says so right in the zine itself. Zines are still relatively new additions to libraries, and librarians are still discussing the best ways to catalogue them in collections. In fact, when I go to the Iowa City Zine Librarian (un)Conference next week we'll be discussing this very topic. I can't wait!