Gratitude and the Art of Diffidence Presents…Shitkicker: A tragedy.

Anon, but the ID photocopied on the back-cover reveals first and last name
No contact details
I got my copy at Sticky for $3

Shit: The zinemaker’s job. I love zines about the workplace, because a) I live vicariously through other people’s lives;
b) all kinds of confidentiality agreements are breached in writing about one’s job and
c) workplaces are endlessly fascinating. The personalities. The work culture. The power dynamics. The duties. The bullshit. And also? The fact that purely by holding down a crappy job, you’re invested in it. You bring commitment to shit. There’s an element of your person that you give to the job and your obligation to make sense of a world within set hours with a lanyard round your neck.

Aesthetic: Classic geeky wonky zine feel. A mix of handwriting, badly drawn comic illustrations, excellently bad stock photos of medical practitioners perfectly and non originally defaced, wonkiness, and text that is a font size or two too large for the page size. But at the same time it’s this nievete that makes the zine kinda cute and awkward. So it’s a geeky kind of aesthetic, which for zines? is awesome.

R.E.S.P.E.C.T: Give it to him. The zinemaker is an orderly at a hospital – a casual one moving from one section to another wherever he’s needed. He’s endlessly bossed around to clean up gastro, fill blanket warmers, transport patients and sort out needles in order of length. Nobody looks him in the eye when they speak to him. Apparently his name is not in big enough capitals on his ID because staff have no idea what the fuck his name is, and he seems to be vicariously known as Ben (His actual name is Vincent). When he’s not suffering this kind of indignity, his overly youthful 21 year old appearance means he’s equally at risk of being teased about whether he’s old enough to operate bed movers. The problem is, however, self deprecating humour and being a prat are not mutually exclusive either.

Six parts, two distinct moods: The zine is in six sections but more like in two progressive parts: It starts off very teen angst but becomes more tempered as it continues. When I started this zine, I couldn’t help but think that sure, the guy had a shitkicker job, but that’s what he’s paid for…he kinda sounded like a bit of a dick. (Actually, on re-reading, he still does).

HOWEVER, the time I got to the final pages, the spirit of the zine has done a complete 360. It’s a welcome turn, but slightly disconcerting. Like listening to someone in the differing degrees of being drunk, from obnoxious right through to likeable.

Resolution: Like a good episode of Dr Phil or insert talkshow here, we pull back from despair and grief and the zinemaker has a blinding flash of insight while sulking in a philosophy class which he feels compelled to share. Thank god, this zine could have gone in some horrible potential serial shooter direction otherwise.

Spoiler alert: The zinemaker discovers perspective. And it’s a cool perspective that I really liked.  He probably will never experience the wonderful universal philosophical principles he wants to adopt reflected back at him in the workplace, but it’s good to believe stuff.

Bonus section: The orderly hall of fame. Includes portrayals by Jerry Lewis, Dr Who characters and a guy from Scrubs. I highly enjoyed. There should be more in pop culture, really.


Break ’em up the whole goddamn thing

Break ’em up the whole goddamn thing

I got my copy as a trade from the zinemaker
PO Box 221041 Chicago IL 60622

His life is worse than yours: Well, maybe not as a blanket statement but this zine covers some trying weeks in this zinemaker’s life. He’s getting undermined at work, has a bike accident, and breaks bone(s).
This zinemaker has the unnerving gift of being able to perfectly articulate that slow motion breaking point of the human condition. And he describes these experience wonderfully. Like some kind of valiant soldier of modern life.

It’s the little things: I love how the zinemaker includes a checklist of his greatest biking fears. Unfortunately all but one have now been realised.

Bonus: It’s one thing to hear about a medical horror story that you can afford to laugh at (it was a broken collar bone, it did presumably heal in the long term) …but it’s another to read the reproduced Yelp reviews of other patients who had the misfortune of consulting the same practictioner. Never has there been a better use of screen shots of the internet. This is like peak zine reading as far as I’m concerned.

Written structure: Doesn’t really work. This is one of the best zine stories told in the best possible way but awkwardly sandwiched between a beginning and an end that have no related significance and there’s no attempt to tie them together. The zine tries to open on a moral-of-the-story introduction, but there isn’t any really, and they know it: “You figure it out”. Quite frankly that’s just a typical lazy zinemaker attitude.

The zine begins with life as a teachers aid and is kind of an omen for the shittiness to come, just crappy work details and office politics as a teaching aid. It’s a kind of rambling and not completely relevant lead up to the Wednesday Morning that the real story begins. Which is fine, it’s still entertaining, but *because* the zine doesn’t end on a return to the workforce, it’s a narrative cul de sac.

The zine could have ended on what happened at the workplace post injury: the professional sympathies, how the career climbing worked out, maybe some student responses. (student responses are hilarious, amirite). That would have been great, but instead the story finishes on a forced post-script. Like a kind of like a two second “and then this happened and that happened the end” kind of trailing off.

But I cannot emphasise enough: The bike accident story and consequent medical exams? all gold. You can’t top it, it’s the best read I’ve had, making this one of my NEW all time favourite zines.

Presentation: Ratshit handwriting on unlined paper. Does the title quote some cultural reference I don’t get? probably. What does the picture of the badger or skunk on the front cover mean and how does it relate to anything? I don’t know. Inside the zine, aside from an x ray reproduction and some screen shots, the layout is clean and simple to give the appalling penmanship as much breathing space as possible. You’re not buying the zine for it’s cursive (there is none). You are buying the zine because it’s fucking good. Has the zinemaker ever heard of a stapler? Apparently not. And there’s nothing that shits me more than thirty four cut down pieces of paper folded and expected to not fall apart. But is this one of my most cherished zines of all time? Yes, it is.

The greatest gift: On one of the final pages, the zinemaker includes a selfie of himself with broken collar bone in his plaster cast. (If it strikes you that this sentence sounds utterly wrong on multiple levels, including medical, you’d be right). Up until now there had been lots of written descriptions, comparisons, metaphors, everything. In my mind’s eye, it sounded funny and kind of ridiculous…and you could tell he struck kind of an exceptional figure from the responses he got from other medical staff…but nothing prepared me for the actual photo. And there’s something gloriously resigned in the zinemaker’s forced stiff posture that still gets me as well. Can an photo also capture the zinemaker’s pure mortal courage in somehow always ending up as the chump who cops it? It fucking can when you get to this page. Beg this zinemaker for a copy of the zine to have and to hold. BEG him. Great storytelling.




I got my copy at Sticky

Short and sweet and bittersweet: I really loved this zine because it’s simple and a personal story told in just a few lines per page. Sometimes this storytelling effort can end up super laboured and overworked, and it almost always ends up wanky, but this zine? shows you how it’s done. By having one hell of a story and telling it in short punch lines.

I laughed out loud: it’s probably wrong to laugh out loud in a shop reading how a girl is told to wear a heart monitor by a specialist and in that same 24 hours she has her art show opening AND her boyfriend dumps her.  Beyonce makes Lemonade, this person makes a kickarse zine.

Awwww: amazing little story, painfully honest too, and yet quite nonchalent and understated and the most beautiful thoughtful ending. Makes me want to know the person & hang with them.

Aesthetic: Just a simple reproduction of a heart diagram which is repeated on each page done on tinted light pink paper, with the sentence snippets placed over it in manual type. Probably a tad overpriced for what it is. I do like that there was not an exerted effort in trying to source alternative images for each page – the repetition works, and doesn’t distract from the story.


My Dad’s Ugly Clock Wall

My Dad’s Ugly Clock Wall

I got my copy at Sticky.

I was talking to this girl at Sticky one time: and she was telling a few of us about her dad’s love of what she flat-out described as just ‘ugly’ clocks. He sounded like a bit of a collector, and had an entire wall of them. It struck me that he probably didn’t consider them ugly, it sounded like he was quite proud of them. You don’t wake up one day to collect UGLY clocks, unless you’re an ironic hipster, and the chances are low that someone’s dad is an ironic hipster (less so in another generations time maybe). I confess I became intriged in her father’s collection, one he continues to add to. What was the aesthetic? What made one clock desirable over another? What was his curatorial bent? Who was this fantastic man? We all snickered about #Ugly Clocks and #Stuff Dads Collect and I told this girl she should totally make a zine about his collection. Seriously. She really should.

She did: Fast forward some months later. I came across this zine at the counter where we’d previously been talking: My Dad’s Ugly Clock Wall. My heart sang.

But are they ugly: I have to say….they are pretty bad. Mass produced 1960s and 70s kitsch wall mounted clocks. Kind of curated in the sense that they are all similar dimensions, maybe by the same manufacturer, maybe not. I have no idea where you acquire these, but out there in suburbia there’s a father with a passion. I can see how they would be collectable in a retro sense, but the question remains: is this girl’s dad a genius right on the fashionable retro pulse or is he just a man who really loves (basically) ugly clocks from an earlier era?

Can we talk about production values for a moment: So, a funny idea ended up as a zine, but guess what, someone couldn’t be arsed working out pagination so they’ve used one of those split pin things (aka ‘paper binders’)  to hold together a group of cut out bits of card that they have then *pasted* colour print out photos on to. No no no no no.  If you’re going to do something on small cards? Print the images onto the goddamn card directly.

Can we specifically discuss split pin fasteners: These handydandy little clippy things are probably a more unconventional means of binding pages FOR GOOD REASON. The following are legitimate usages of split pins because they take the technology and run with it. Batshit weird psychedelic paper birds with rotatable wings. Twirling daffodils. Hypermobile paper dolls. Chicks hatching out of eggs. Hypermobile bad ass spidermen. Timepieces. (omg the zinemaker could have made her dad’s clocks actual movable paper replications…)

My point is. Split pins are for twirling. Spinning and twirling.

More cut throat critique: The home photos of dad’s ugly clocks. Now come on. In the perfect world, you take down each clock individually and photocopy it straight on the glass for a wonderful black and white inky resolution. Or you take down each clock, and photograph it properly for chrissake (I’m looking at you sunlight reflecting off timepiece). Then? sit your dad down and get him to recount how exactly he came to own each particular clock. The when, the why, how much. You know. Go the anthropology angle on this fascinating subject. (The clocks). (Or the man). Or both. BOTH!

A call to arms: everyone has weird collections of things and every object tells a story. Go document the fuck out of it with the upmost attention to detail and respect. Learn how to paginate and photocopy double side and buy yourself a long armed staple. Change the world. Respect split pins for their unique technology. Make a killer split pin zine. Somehow, somewhere.



Sometimes I’m Shit and Thick

Sometimes I’m Shit and Thick. And Sometimes I’m Just Shit.

No contact details.
I got my copy from Sticky for the super value of $1.

You had me at ‘hello’: I scanned the following paragraph and reached for my wallet knowing I had to buy this zine: “Artists would build brick walls in the middle of the studio, or create puddles of petrol, or make huge metal dandelions, or order funeral wreaths that said ‘FANNY’. I once watched someone have a bath during their crit and it lasted an hour…’ = YES. Shut up and take my money.

Loved it: Reading this zine is the equivalent of sitting in a circle cross-legged, and listening enthralled to a storyteller as they create this world around you with their words and you can’t wait to hear what happens next. That’s how perfectly this zine is written. And yes, it’s full of mad shit (tick) but it’s also earnest and genuine and contains profound wisdom, bet you weren’t expecting that. The zine is actually drilling down to the ultimate legacy of the zinemaker’s time at art school; critical thinking. But specifically how to really evaluate any kind of endeavour; how to think about ‘success’ and ‘failure’ and analysing one’s motivations. This zine actually hits on universal truths as it narrates entertaining accounts of ‘crit’ sessions where students present their work to their class group and listen to their fellow students’ assessment and feedback – and contribute their own personal responses to their classmate’s work.

Rogue Scholar: The zinemaker gets into crits so much? they start sitting in on crits going on in other departments. That’s right, introducing the zinemaker as that mystery student who never has anything to personally present but plenty of opinions to share across all kinds of artistic disciplines. And now you’re part of it as the reader, becoming equally as obsessed with the sculpture department.

Master storyteller: Total anticipation builds with every page. Honest to God, you will seriously read this all in one go, desperate to know what becomes of great personalities and greater ambitions. It also contains the stuff of Art School Legend, retold here for the first time. Everything is so perfectly unfurled, with precision and gusto. I was wetting my pants, I was so into it. You will too. Hashtag: Instant classic.

Aesthetic: Simple sans serif accompanied by occasional photographic evidence, tinted colour paper cover in self depricating green hue.

Crime against humanity: No contact details.



Can Tofu be Vegetarian?

Can Tofu be Vegetarian? Edition One 2015

Mark Allen and Michael Bayliss
feetlittle (at)
I got my copy for $1 at Sticky

That title sounds familiar… (and/or I don’t understand the title?) That’s because this zine is crafted as a response to the Australian zine Tofu Is Not Vegetarian reviewed here.

Do yourself a favour: Read the original zine that inspired this effort.  This? is very much a counter argument and kind of a mini essay in defence of vegetarianism. (Yes, that’s as exciting as it gets).  See, the original zine has some really great criticisms of vegetarianism and veganism. This zine is the “no, wait, vegetarianism is still righteous” voice. And it’s not the most charismatic. Unfortunately. The main argument is that the original zine is essentially misrepresentative of the larger vegetarian movement – so, you know, it’s an injustice. Don’t listen to me, let’s hear a direct quote: “Some of the arguments that the authors of aforementioned articles make is that veganism is a movement borne of white privilege and that it objectifies and places value judgements upon western culture..” etc. That’s pretty much the tone of this zine in a snapshot. Stop poking me. I was asleep just then.

The Writers Did Some ‘Soul Searching’: Well, that’s what they claim, as vegans and as white Australians. But I seriously doubt it. ‘Soul searching’ is too strong an expression. How about they started to draft a response for their first year journalism assignment then decided to print it out and circulate? Harsh, I know.

Thank you, Spokespersons: Not only is this body of formal writing devoid of passion, spark or wit, but this entire written response seems to totally miss the point of the original zine which was refreshingly critical of vegan culture, full of personal insights, valid accusations and really thought provoking material. This response? feels like something an authority in Canberra signed off on for the parliamentary press gallery to assert that the veganism movement may include some discrimination and racism but this is a reflection of greater society as a whole and not reflective of the actual movement, no correspondence will be entered into.

Cringeworthy: There’s a section at the back designed to break the ‘endless cycle of ego’. It’s more a list of tips and tricks on how to try and socially integrate and be tolerant (and not be an annoying dick). But I just can’t take lifestyle advice seriously that a) cites an endless cycle of ego and b) when one of the sentences begins, “I recently went out to dinner with my parents…”. This whole effort just kind of misses the point so woefully it’s painful.

The good stuff: Well, it’s always good if someone is inspired enough to put pen to paper. So there’s that. And the makers are interested in what people think, so there’s that too. They also preach tolerance.

Aesthetic:  Because this is a serious word document set out in A5, it does feel more like a booklet than a zine. Zines are more fun.




badbellyfoods (at)
I got my copy from the zinemaker as part of a zine swap

Wanky: If you were to describe this zine as a collection of out of context sentences written over a number of years and put together, you’d be excused for rolling your eyes. This was kind of my initial reaction. But no. This is not a self indulgent literacy piece of crap or bad attempt at poetry.

Correction: Okay, all self published work is self indulgent, point taken

But this one is clever: It’s considered and it’s not overly sentimental or dramatic or coming across as try hard. It’s kind of like flicking through a diary of a small lifetime, and each sentence it’s own snap shot of a memory, a feeling. Then there are occasional paragraphs written in past tense that punctuate the single floating sentences and link everything together like beads on a necklace, so that the greater effect of reading this zine gives you the sense of a greater personal story, albeit in fragmentary snippets. It’s a little product of writing craftsmanship, goddamnit, and I found myself quite liking it.

Aesthetic: You know those rolls of patterned miso tape you can buy. And or those generic scrapbook pattern pads. Well imagine some strips of [insert craft product] of variable thickness cut up to break the text on some pages…except that the patterns still remain totally recognisable as miso tape slash generic scrapbook pattern. Yep. The whole scrapbooking fad of the mid 2000s slash japanese pop culture has been to the detriment of zinemaker’s imagination when it comes to collage. There. I said it. And *everyone* needs to be ashamed of themselves. Apologies to the zinemaker if they sourced the collage art from somewhere else.



BAMTAN In: ‘No Crime Please’

Apparpo Steel Wabspnp
I got my copy at Sticky for $5
The colour printing is actually washed out saturation wise, I’ve done the production values a favour in photoshop.

I’m not qualified: I’m always hesitant to write about comics because the whole medium is beyond my expertise (and usual smart arse confidence). But when I saw this comic it made me smirk and soon I was thumbing through the pages, there was also snickering. It’s stupid enough for me to comprehend & accessible enough to respond to.

Prerequisites for enjoyment: A basic understanding of batman, appreciation of sexual innuendo, a basic appreciation of lame-yet-endearing humour, decent slash average artwork and deliberate misspellings designed to grate on your nerves. And anagrams to stimulate your higher brain functions. And euphemisms for small penises.

Confusing: Some of the artwork in this comic is good: some of the line drawings are quite decent but they’re mixed up with stylised clowney cartoonish characters which really throws me (but this was also the style of the original comic genre, so this is probably a deliberate homage). Still. I’m not sure if this mix of realism and cartoonism works successfully. (My terminology). Maybe it doesn’t work because even the main characters aren’t consistently drawn. Bamtam starts off with a square jaw on the cover, and by page thirteen he has a totally different shaped chin (and lost half a leg in some unfortunate foreshortening, but that’s another story) (Robin meanwhile looks a bit froggish, his legs are too long). I did find the way the artwork jumps around a bit…and it’s inconsistency…a bit distracting. Like, I shouldn’t be thinking how Robin looks like a frog, right?

But is it hilarious and did it make you LOL: Yes. Yes it did. Finally we have the hero we deserve. It’s got that twist of absurdist humour that hits the spot.

Destined for obscurity: Cultural reference to one time Australian muso and ‘media personality’ slash light entertainment presenter Coxy.

Bonus points for: the double meaning of Bantam as both anagram and slang for tiny dick. (I had to be educated on this, so less street cred points for me).



In Defence of Fanfiction


becksley.felix (at)
I got my copy at sticky for $1 last year, and it’s been around for a little while. I’ve also seen copies at the moment, reprinted with various interchangable subtitles.

A compact little read about how much 50 Shades of Grey sucks, providing some interesting insights into fanfiction.

What’s it all about: If you don’t know what fanfiction is, it’s time to hit wikipedia.

I’m an outsider to fanfiction, so was willing to read a defence of it: I am familiar with the stigma about fanfic though;  that’s it’s a whole lot of generally bad writing posted on the net, reimagining pop cultural texts and full of sexual imaginations. I also know writing fanfic can be a teenage gateway drug to serious fictional writing, like zines can sometimes be.

Spoiler Alert: Bestselling erotic novel-turned-movie ’50 Shades of Grey’ originally appeared online as fanfiction of bestselling vampire fantasy romance, ‘Twilight’. (I love how meta this is). The blatant twilight version (‘Masters of the Universe’ was online for fellow fans to read courtesy of author Snowqueens Icedragon. (Fantastic name). It was later pulled offline and reworked sufficiently so it could successfully claim to be an original work and claim (and capitalise) on copyright. And, of course, became the shitty phenomenon of 2011 that was 50 Shades of Grey.

It’s impossible to discuss fanfic without referencing 50 Shades of Grey. So it is to be expected that 50 Shades gets introduced early on in this zine. What I did not expect was for the whole zine to end up being a bitch fest OF 50 Shades of Grey.

Nothing wrong with a bitchfest: In fact I love bitchfest zines, they are one of my favourite genres of zines. (it’s now a genre, okay!). I love it when a zinemaker cannot help but rant about all the things that are wrong with ‘x’, ‘y’ and ‘z’ and you know you’re listening to a tirade that has already been unleashed to all the zinemaker’s friends (or not, because they don’t have them). You cannot, however, claim that a 50 Shades of Grey bitchfest from a self identified fanfic reader is coming to the DEFENCE of fan fiction. Because, um, as far as I can work out, fanfiction is best characterised by being bad writing lifted from stuff riddled with porn. And that’s pretty much all 50 Shades is, so what’s the problem?

As far as I can tell, the zinemaker is pissed off that:
-You can tell you are still reading ‘Twilight’
-All the small niggling faults you can overlook in self published online fanfic are unforgivable once they appear printed by a large company in paperback form. Thus it is actually ‘delegitimising real literature’
-that 50 Shades contains bad erotica and does BDSM a disservice
-that it lacks realism
-that 50 Shades is misrepresentative of fanfic (this seemed a bit contradictory)
-that there is better fanfic on the internet than 50 Shades of Grey. (Sorry, but again, this was one of the least persuasive arguments in the zine).

Other irritants:
-Initially the zinemaker was enjoying 50 Shades. At least the first part. They now feel tricked.
-Something about over-used tropes and something something first person.
-The publishers made out that the twilight fanfiction draft was too hot for the internet (“Fandom generally wants more porn, not less porn, that’s why they are on the internet in the first place”). I can appreciate that trying to make out that something is too hot for fanfic readers is an offence to the entire global fanfic community.

Who cares: Given that several years have passed now, probably not many people, but I imagine the zinemaker could still be baited on the topic. And it’s still an enjoyable read.

It’s Complicated: A strange undercurrent of cultural snobbery runs throughout this zine. 50 Shades is an assault on the publishing world and Real Literature. But what is Real Literature? There’s mention of HG Well’s Invisible Man as a demonstration of a ‘proper’ book and in the same breath it’s referred to as H.G. Well’s “best selling” novel – what does best selling mean? Was it OK for The Invisible Man to be a best selling novel because it’s ‘proper’? Is it unfair for 50 Shades of Gray to be a best selling novel because it is not ‘Real Literature’? Is it so neccessary that the zinemaker qualifies that they are smart and educated enough to recognise quality writing of great literature canons by establishing they are capable of reading H.G Wells and are just disinclined to read ‘proper’ books when they can access ‘easy reading’ fanfic on their mobile on the tram instead. So yeah. I sense some inner conflict.

Aesthetic: The way this zine has been laid out is INSANE. The zinemaker has cut up individual sentences and/or words from presumably an A4 print out to fit it down to a smaller page size and to include the occasional image to break the text up. It’s pretty irritating to the eye. You kind of get used to it. But mainly I imagine how crazy time consuming this would have been to glue down, and that’s the real cringe factor.

In defence of bitchfests: Bitchfest zines are great, I’ve said it before and I will say it again. I love how passionate people get about the most esoteric shit, or in this case, the most hyped. It’s impossible not to come away from this read feeling that now you too have an informed opinion on the Great pop culture Controversy of 2011.





(Or, also in this case, two years ago).


I got my issue from Sticky but have no idea how much I paid for it.

Little A6 ink illustration and photo collage zine with turquoise ink riso cover

Awesome: I consider this to be a belated fanzine for Germany’s ‘turn of the century strong man and circus performer’ Arthur Saxon. Judging by the man’s physique, moustache and no-nonsense facial expressions, I believe this has been a long time coming.

But what is ‘strong’ and why should I care about it? Because strength shows itself in many ways and this zine is a happy illustration of how strong can be a good cup of tea, or dealing with heavy shit like philosophy.

But who is Arthur Saxon and why should I care about him? Because for one thing he is zine gold. The photos of him in this zine are lifted from the 1910 Textbook of Weightlifting where Arthur must evidently pose in every possible action-man stance in an oriental inspired black sash pair of jockeys. The man was made for cultural appropriation.

Aesthetic: It’s perfect with a strong graphic sense. Arty but not wanky.