ZINES I NEVER GOT AROUND TO REVIEWING LAST YEAR… BUT SHOULD HAVE… YET DID NOT
I got my copies of all of the below from Sticky in Melbourne. The deeper into the box I go the older the zines.
THE ADVENTURES OF THE SHEBBAB & The Haunted Percolator Issue 1
Totally cute: Little pocket comic zine that opens up into band poster art, WIN.
Self explanatory title: the coffee percolator contains a ghost when cleaned.
Spoiler alert: Josef Mengele
Best: Any comic that finishes with “You should have been there” to save on drawing space
Finally: a zine that contains the word WALLA. Multiple times.
AWKWARD HANDICK: A Prequel-Mengo Lee Boredom Was Killing Me Just Like An Orgasm
I got this because: It’s full of mental drawings. And the colour cover is very very bright. You can see all the directions of the texta marks where it’s been hand coloured in. I like that.
Outlay: This was more like buying an art book, with lots of cool and weird looking pen illustrations, and many drawings of dicks. Some pages are spaced, some are overflowing. The drawings and mark-makings and asian characters all vibrate with a frenetic energy.
I liked it more when: The urban myth as relayed to me was that the zinemaker did not want to waste an entire year of his life in military conscription, so he decided to make this zine during his compulsory service in Taiwan. [This is also alluded to inside the first page].
SUBURBOPHOBIA ISSUE #12
Kuedos: This is a long running comic and by comic I mean really bad drawings of figures that is TOTALLY ENDEARING. It’s beautiful and nieve and just lots of bad one liner kind of skits on paper. The longest story in this issue is about a trip to Canberra split into four sections across two pages. Most of the panels are kind of one-liners.
Humour: Honestly it’s lame. It’s lame but…you gotta smile. Like money saving tips gleamed from share house living – ‘get your furniture off the street’. And a cute drawing of a stinky couch. You cannot but love. It has little stink lines coming from it.
What hooked me: The fact that the back cover advertises the forthcoming comic, “Father Yod and the Source Family: Guru, Cult Leader, Psych Musician, Killer: A comic based on a true story.” Amazing. I feel like I’m holding it in my hands already.
Sydney Exploratory Society
PO Box 4 Enmore NSW 2042
sydneyexploratorysociety (at) gmail.com
Morose: This is a dark personal zine about the zinemaker and how he came to learn of his mother’s death February 14 1999. It’s very concise writing – just a few sentences or so a page – in one sense it kind of made the zine seem overly dramatic and it ends up being heaps of pages as a result of this decision, but you do get a sense that there’s pause and hesitation and self doubt within all the empty space on each page. This kind of paired down writing is really full of impact, if anything it could have been paired down even more in some parts. It’s like someone is sitting you down and telling you something very, very important and private and you have to listen and not interrupt and just let the person chose their words carefully and do it in their own time.
Tragic: I really felt incredibly upset reading that the short note that was found on the zinemaker’s mother meant that he and his brother were unable to keep it. Due to police protocol. A detail like that is a hurtful shock. I didn’t realise something so intimate, so intensely personal, as a final note…can end up as tagged evidence somewhere and not be returned to family members. It’s heartbreaking. I just never knew.
Guilt: There is so much guilt in this zine. It’s so sad. You get an insight into the family situation and all you can think is how none of this could possibly be a reflection on the zinemaker or is their fault but at the same time you can see how someone is always going to feel like that, when the person is your parent, when it’s an enmeshed relationship. Even when the parent is broken, when they should be parenting you…there’s loyalty, there’s unapologetic love. The dysfunction is laid bare in this zine in simple words and you immediately get the sense of just how dark and complicated dysfunctional relationships can be. How they can be wrong, and hurtful, and irresponsible, and fucked up and aggressive, and remorseful and faithful and forgiving and everything else.
Multiple Loss: The story doesn’t end there. It continues to follow the zinemaker’s life and how he rebuilt his world. And how it came falling in anyway. The saddest thing to me is the social isolation that comes from growing up in exceptional circumstances and trying to integrate into the mainstream when you have so much different stuff going on inside you. Reading this zine made me want to hug the zinemaker so bad and make everything different. It’s very hard not to be affected by reading this. I wanted to review this zine, but it was too overwhelming to grasp. But I’m glad I’ve written about it now.
PO Box K546, Haymarket NSW 1240
Cathob (at) zip.com.au
Return to Glory: Bizarrism is a cherished and longstanding Australian zine title amongst a wide global community of aficionados and only gets released once every two years. 2016 fell into a Bizarrism release year, and I was really excited to get my copy and see that the zinemaker has returned to the old skool production values of plain black and white photocopying on crappy tinted paper. This year was pale blue. I love this so much more than when Bizarrism flirted with glossy colour covers.
Daggy: Bizarrism is very much from the discipline of self publishing which crosses over into all things zine. It’s basically a desktop magazine containing articles about weird shit from around the world and different eras…whatever takes the zinemaker’s fancy I guess that ends up getting researched and written up. Chris Mikul is also a published author, but fuck that, he makes zines like the common man. I love that one stuff up meant additional text had to be stapled in on the relevant page. Keeping it real.
Amazing: I always learn cool shit from reading Bizarrism and for me the real highlight of this issue was being introduced to the world of Mingering Mike, a dude who created his own fictional cardboard records, (ACTUAL CUT OUT CARDBOARD RECORDS…Think about that for a second) complete with lovingly created cover art, and extending to acapella home soul recordings. His back catalogue lives on at the Smithsonian. God the Smithsonian is cool. You’ve got to check it out, or was I the last one to get onto this. http://www.mingeringmike.com
Darius Howard’s WATCH ODYSSEUS FUCK SHIT UP #1
No name, no contact details.
Nice: Another little pocket comic, made by someone with consumate drawing skills as far as drawing men, horses and one eyed giants go. Seriously, there are serious skills here.
Confession: I never got around to reading it, the stapling makes the margins hard to access, and it looks like some narration about nanotechnology and gore and bisexual scum and greek mythology. Awesome.
Furthermore: I can see the pages contain double sided stuff but it’s been folded in such a way that you have to remove the staples to get to the secret stuff underneath (unless it’s just recycling older failed photocopies). I can’t be arsed undoing the staples so a) I’m not worthy and b) I’ll never know.
CHIPS A tale of Lust
A hit with the kids: Okay, so this zine actually came out in 2014 but really I’m going to say it became a cult classic across 2014/2015 as at least one new title appeared in the franchise. It’s basically a crudely drawn comic zine of a seagull which is kind of a hybrid gull with a man’s body and makes chip eaters take it up the arse. It’s so insane and so Out There, people went crazy for it and it made me begrudgingly smile despite myself. I think it shall remain timeless.
High Art: It’s done on a riso for all the riso fans.
God, this comic is actually from 2013.
Excuses: This is another comic – I never really have the confidence to write about comics, because I can never describe the drawing styles or the layour or aesthetic because I just have no freaking knowledge about the great comic tradition, or enough of the local scene.
Beautiful: This comic artist is a master. All the comics produced are beautifully produced for starters, this one with a lovely brown paper cover and brown and pink riso printed cover art. The comic, all in brown and orange, is a story from the artist’s personal life, (a father and son relationship) and it is just told just really…simply and with heart… and you find yourself immersed in this comic world of capital lettering and childlike, cartoonish graphics kind of reminiscent of Ginger Meggs (see, I don’t know how to reference the style). PLUS the actual story is emotional and tore my heart out.
Meh: the ending? It felt contrived, like there had to be some meaningful closure. Sometimes a story doesn’t HAVE to have a neat ending. I don’t know. It didn’t feel that clever but it felt like it wanted to be.
Production values: Riso is a hard medium to work with as far as printing goes, the pigment lodges itself on your skin and riso inks don’t always apply smoothly. My copy of the comic was almost rough in the way the ink clings to the page – it’s as if the paper was too porous for the riso, or maybe the ink cartridges were low – but I still love it somehow, it’s kind of grainy and rough like an old newspaper comic and the zine carries the look since the images are heavy set and thick lined and deliberately pixilated (which loans itself perfectly to stencil technology), so you can afford the texture of uneven printing without losing detail. You know you’re holding something precious and special – this goes for pretty much anything this artist puts his hands to.
Other zines from 2014
ANAlog: Dispatches on d.i.y anorexia and recovery issue 2
PO Box 553 Northhampton MA 01061
Freak out: this zine super freaked me out. I had no idea how to tackle it as far as whipping up a review. The zinemaker has anorexia and does the most insane thing which is to move to a third world country. The whole endeavour is almost a self-inflicted political punishment. It was definitely an experience approached in revolutionary terms. It’s kind of an act of madness, so crazy it’s almost genius; at the same time I cannot imagine any self respecting medical professional recommending this…but the zinemaker did this, fully immersed themselves in the experience and DOES recommend it.
The jist: It’s a really well written (agonising-to-read) zine all about teaching English in a former fishing village to ethnic minority Mon people in Myanmar. There’s lots of cultural gulfs to overcome, the first being the political dilemma: is even teaching English enforcing colonial traditions or helping to create resistance (itself a fascinating topic). Nevermind the obvious cultural clash: where the zinemaker is in close quarter communal living, people are free with exposing their naked bodies, and students especially prepare food for you as the ultimate act of caring. Everything, every action, every turn of event is a trigger for disordered eating, and everything is an ironic twist of fate, like travelling there on ANA which is the nickname for anorexia where even the packaging of snacks have ANA in massive lettering. I loved the zinemaker’s humour throughout the zine, the most minor observations that for someone with anorexia is absolutely defining. You realise how much you take for granted, how UNCOMPLICATED life is, without this physical and psychological condition tormenting your entire ‘being’. It’s a powerful insight into the condition and the mental processes that try to control you.
Intense: So, naturally everything about this zine is intense. And the zinemaker – once they have created this situation, they can’t escape from it either. It’s a deep political journey, it’s a huge personal commitment to every individual student they teach, it’s an emotional commitment to the entire culture. You don’t run from this. At least, the zinemaker wants to, and writes of this in the most incredible honesty, and yet they do not.
Unknown: The thing with a condition like anorexia is that there is no simple one stop cure. I am personally convinced it’s a disorder that survivors have to fight most days of their life, on some conscious level, to not go regress and return to disordered patterns the brain is so hardwired to want to return to. I have no idea if this zinemaker lived happily ever after or not. And it’s not the kind of zine I would throw in the face of someone with an eating disorder, either. But fuck me, it’s a fascinating read.
You should also check out: Kenneth, a zine also about recovering from anorexia albeit in a conventional treatment setting. Just as engaging and compelling. No longer in print but available as a reissue here.
More cuteness: Another little pocket zine, this one is really sweet, printed on a riso in pink ink on a lighter pink tinted paper. (a little too sweet maybe…the pink on pink is a bit hard on the eyes). It’s an illustrated mini zine all about cool facts on little bugs. When you fold the zine out, you get thousands of little ants everywhere (in pink). The carefully documented wonderment for nature makes you like bugs (or reminds you how much you do already).
Riso Fail: The only annoying aspect to this zine is: that the quality of riso printing has lost all the delicate details that I presume exist in the original illustrations, and because there’s no use of thick lines or contrasting lights and darks, the subtle marks are lost in the riso process.