Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Good Food

By Emily
PO Box 74002
Vancouver, BC
V5V 3P0

So much for "every day until I finish all these zines", sigh. School takes up a lot of time you know?

Plus, for this zine I wanted to actually cook some of the recipes. What good is a review of a cooking zine if I don't try the food? (We'll ignore the fact that I'm name dropped in a burrito recipe.) (Why is "burrito" underlined as though it was not a word? Technology...)

Anyway, I made the quesadillas (also not a word apparently), for myself and two friends, and they were considered a great success. Hell, I'd make them again.

We also accidentally doubled a cookie recipe and had so many cookies we're still eating them. This photo makes it look like they're burgers, but they're really chocolate cookies with like four types of chocolate in them. Yum.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Today 3

This cute little zine came inside an envelope with this comic printed on it. Neat! Plus it came with a button of a typewriter which is currently on my bag.

Inside are more of the style of comics from the first two issues: one or two page stories about random things from Stef's life (both recent and long ago). Some of these are specific events (such as the time her dad found a caterpillar in the broccoli he was eating or when she tried to cure her hiccups), while others combine many events into one comic (all of the incredibly complex and involved games that Stef would create as a child).

Stef's art is on the cartoony end of the spectrum, but I really enjoy the way that she uses a lot of lines to draw hair, the drawings of many of her childhood toys (ponies! monsters!), and the ways that she plays with page layout by interesting use of panel borders.

It's a super cute little zine, and my major complaint is that it's so short! It doesn't take very long to read, and I wish there was more of it, either more comics in general, or a longer comic that goes more in depth into something.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

About a Ghost Town Bike Tour

By Celeste
PO Box 226
Irvine, Alberta
T0J 1V0

I love exploring abandoned buildings, though I really don't get many opportunities to do so. I did recently get to check out a weird fake building that is actually a train tunnel ventilation shaft, and that was pretty cool even if the building itself wasn't that interesting.

This zine is primarily photos of abandoned buildings that Celeste discovered while cycling through (I think) rural Manitoba. The black and white photos accurately capture specific moments of the decay of these buildings: rotting staircases, collapsed roofs, debris, remnants, and general signs of nature returning to where humans had "conquered".

Each photo has some typewritten text placed over it. Some of these pieces describe (in a rather poetic manner) the buildings the photos were taken in, and what was found inside them ("honeycombs, the hard work of bees, smashed."). While others just talk about the idea of ghost towns in general, and how civilization can change and move and retreat from where it once was. They also explain some of the various reasons why a rural community might wither and die after being successful.

The text describes the few encounters with actual people that happened on this trip, and how these encounters describe "what a town is like just before it becomes a ghost town". Or, in one case, how a family that doesn't speak English (but rather "something like german") gets annoyed when you visit the cemetery where their goats are grazing.

I liked this zine and its descriptions of crumbling buildings and towns, though I think you can find the same decay and abandonment in cities as well as rural areas. Despite the continued existence of certain buildings throughout human history, we seem to forsake things far more frequently than not.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

What Are You Doing to Participate?

So earlier this year my friend and I went to a zine art show. Or rather, we tried to go. I saw an event listing on Facebok, and thought it was kind of confusing. "INVITE IS FREE BY RSVP", followed by an email address. What did that mean, and why would I have to RSVP for an art show? I asked on the event page, but the only response I received was "RSVP FOR FREE BEER", and since I don't drink, I didn't bother to email them.

So on the night in question my friend and I went to try to find this art show, but outside the bar/club where it was apparently taking place we were confronted by a doorkeeper who was dressed far fancier than I think anyone I have ever seen at a zine event. They wouldn't let us in. After much discussion and waiting, my friend just left, but I eventually got someone (an organizer?) to let me in. I went upstairs to the bar place, and then down another flight of stairs to some bizarre intermediate floor of the building. Inside was not zine art (or not much of it), as you might have expected, but just actual zines hanging from walls and on tables for people to look at.

I still don't really understand why this was an event, or an art show. Perhaps the fact that it seems to have had some connection with LA people should have tipped me off that this was not the sort of zine event I was used to (though I have since met some lovely zine people from LA). But I still don't know why this event happened, or why there was so much free beer available. I did get to see a friend who was leaving town in a few days, so it wasn't a total waste, but still, it was odd.

This zine is made up of photo collages of zines (presumably the ones from the art show, it was six months ago, give me a break!). It could be fine, but just looking at it leaves a bad taste in my mouth from going to this event. I hope other zine events in Vancouver are more fun. (If there actually are any...)

Friday, September 6, 2013

Double-A World-Zine Issue No.1: Break On Through to the Other Side!

By Anthony Atkinson

This comic seems to have been created for a sort of strange (though interesting) reason. In the introduction Atkinson says that he's writing a story about someone travelling to another world, and that this comic zine is all about the development of that world. Neat!

This issue is about different types of alternative worlds, where they could be located, and how it's possible for people to find them. We have nuclear submarines discovering tears in the fabric of space and time, a giant Elvis heads that reveals a mysterious jungle, a tiny world located inside a filing cabinet, and a world found inside the hollow Earth (which is reminiscent of one of my favourite hidden worlds: Skartaris. Located inside the (hollow) DC universe Earth, and discovered because a pilot got confused by the Earth's curvature and flew into a hole at the North pole. Seriously! Comics are awesome!).

They're all pretty neat, and I'm a sucker for lost worlds and hollow Earth stories, so I dug this a bunch. I'd love to read the second issue sometime, as apparently it's about what these mysterious other worlds look like.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Les Carnets de Rastapopoulos #8

By Robert Gauvin
Les Carnets de Rastopopoulos
2-7 Larch Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1R 6W4

This is one of the neatest zines I've seen in a while. It's about Gauvin's attempts to get a penpal in the early 1980s. At first he is content to exchange letters with people from penpal organizations, but soon he has a new goal in mind: a penpal "on the other side of the Iron Curtain". In the early '80s this must have seemed super exotic, and also considerably more difficult than finding someone in Denmark to trade letters with.

Gauvin decides to write to the Czechoslovakian and Yugoslavian embassies and, much to my surprise, actually gets a response! He writes to some youth organizations in those countries and after several months he finally gets a response! Of course it's in Serbian which isn't too helpful to someone who lives in small town New Brunswick.

And then the next day there are 14 more letters, then 12, then 16... In total Gauvin received about 250 letters (mostly in Serbian), which included photos, Yugoslav dollars, lipstick prints, and cut outs of the original article printed in TV Novosti magazine that said he wanted a penpal.
"There was so much mail suddenly flowing from Yugoslavia to the small obscure rural Atlantic Canadian post office of Bouctouche people along the postal supply chain took notice. This one time a letter arrive in a magnificent colour poster elaborately folded to act as an envelope. There was hardly any trade of my address on the surface. Just "Try Bouctouche" scribbled on it by a postal employee along the postal supply chain. Guessing it belonged with the hordes of correspondance heading to that previously unknown destination point."
Soon after the letters from Yugoslavia begin to dry up, a letter from Czechoslovakia arrives. At first Gauvin is afraid that he'll get hundreds more letters in a language he can't understand, but this time the majority of the letters arrived in French and English. This led to a new problem, how to choose which letters from the hundreds received that should receive replies.

This zine reminded me of getting a penpal letter in a class soon after I moved to Canada. I feel bad because I didn't reply to it because it was from some "boring" girl (I was 8!). I'm much better at responding to mail nowadays.

I thought this zine was cute and funny and I'm looking forward to reading more issues. Plus it has some neat maps in the middle that show all the countries in which Gauvin has had penpals. There are a lot of them!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

David Yoder's Awesome Journal #7

By David Yoder

Diary comics are pretty popular nowadays, especially compared to the past (when they didn't exist at all!), but for the most part I don't really get them.

Well, that's not true. I "get them" in the sense that I understand one of the major reasons that people make them: it causes you to draw every day. And if you want to get good at anything, then you really do need to do it every day.

However, for the most part diary comics don't do much for me, and this is because most people's lives are kind of...boring. I mean, we complain about people posting pictures of the food they ate on facebook or twitter or whatever, so why should making a comic where "I went to a restaurant" is a major event (and yet no additional information is supplied)?

Artwise these comics don't do that much for me, but I think that's probably because they're made without any real planning. The borders are all shaky and hand drawn, and some of the panels are just whatever space is left on the page.

Of course, some people really enjoy reading diary comics. I guess they enjoy the view into someone else's day to day life, but I think I mostly find them kind of boring. But hell, it's not like if I made them they'd be any better (Saturday: Ate cake for breakfast, went to a thrift store with a friend, bought a kinda janky chest of drawers for $5, went to another friend's house to play Unexploded Cow and watch Striptease Samurai Squadron).

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Oak & Linden #2

By Pat Barrett

The first comic in this issue of Oak & Linden is a pretty awesome one about people going to war with gods because they are jackasses who eat all of their goats (see below).  It's pretty great, and uses an interesting art style where the characters look more like palaeolithic art than what you would expect to see in a comic.

The other comics use art styles that are more like what you'd expect in a comic. The one I liked the most was a sort of bizarre dream type comic about a guy who steals a wallet and finds a woman inside it. It was pretty strange, but I liked how things happened for seemingly no real reason. Just like in a dream!

The longest story in here is about a jackass space captain who takes advantages of the aliens on the planet he crash lands on. I'm guessing it's supposed to represent how white people treat developing nations, but mostly I just think the space captain is a jerk.

Plus there's a diary comic called "The Trouble with Diary Comics", about how people keep asking to be in your comic once they know you make one. I thought it was pretty funny.

Monday, September 2, 2013


By various

Usually I'm not that big a fan of anthology comics. I mean, sure some of the contents will be good (usually), but I'll also not care for or actively dislike other content. Of course, most anthologies aren't about werewolves, and that creates a completely different set of judging criteria.

Werewolves are a type of monster, and I love monsters, so already I'm in favour of a comic anthology about werewolves. The stories in Werewolf!! range from slice of life comedy to all out nun action, so there are werewolf stories for everyone!

The nun story ("The Bad-Ass Habit" by Laura Terry) is pretty good, though I do have to wonder why the concept of warrior nuns seems to be so ingrained in our culture. I mean, do people even interact with nuns any more? I don't think I've seen one in years. I sort of feel bad for anyone that became one, it seems like such a weird way to live. Anyway, none (hah!) of that is brought up in this story which features a nun choking a werewolf with a rosary.

There's a cute/sad story by Nick Patten that is really more about a vampire than a werewolf, but it _also_ has a mummy in it, so I'll give it a pass. "Fail Wolves" by Betsey Swardlick features vegan werewolves and their attempts to get some fake chicken. Since it involves bicycle chase scenes and characters in dumpsters I thought it was pretty fun.

The other comics in here are pretty good too, though I won't bother going through them all individually. Needless to say, if you're interested in reading some werewolf comics you should check out this one. (And the first issue.)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Polite Fiction 2

So I go travelling for two months and manage to keep to my three times a week schedule despite sleeping on people's floors and couches and not having consistent internet access.

Then I get back to Vancouver, and immediately start missing updates. In my defense I was sick, and had to move house, and blah blah blah. If you're reading a zine review site you know that the combination of zinester with blogger probably produces more excuses than anything else. ; )

Anyway, before I left on my trip I scanned every single zine in my review pile, and now there are only 13 left! (Of course I got _a lot_ on my travels, and also people sent some to me while I was travelling, including my brother who sent me a huge box of old ones, so this site won't be going away any time soon).

This is a pretty strange little comic. It's made up of several stories, all but one of which are in black and white. Some of the "stories" don't really have a narrative, such as the first one "Running Bird". It's about a weird bird headed person that runs a bunch. They just run past abstract backgrounds and some of the pages remind me more of pop art (sorta like Keith Haring). It's kind of interesting to see this style of comic, though I personally don't really care for it that much.

The second comic, "Tree-Island Birds", makes more "sense" in that things happen in reaction to other things and there's a narrative. A person washes up on a desert island, and has to deal with being stuck there with the birds who make it their home. It's actually kind of depressing, though I'm impressed by the amount of emotion Olivares gets out of the artwork considering the person has basically no facial features (see below).

There's also a dream comic, and a diary comic that is actually about diary comics and why some people make them. These use a different style than the other comics, and actually have text and dialogue. I think the diary comic was one of the more interesting of that style that I've read recently, though more on that soon.