Fifty Eight Thirteen

Fifty eight thirteen
Jo No Mercy
I got my copy for $1 at sticky

Personal writing covering observations and heavy emotional shit

Fragmented: This is one of those kind of zines that begin abruptly and finish in the same sort of manner: you’re dropped in the middle on a seemingly random entry point, swim with the currents, learn about this person, and get washed up on the final page from the zinemaker’s thoughts. Like being allowed into someone’s life for a limited amount of time before your paths no longer cross. It’s a pensive writing style, written from a bit of distance but still arresting and intense.

Aesthetic: That rough and ready cut and paste effort with a mix of patterns and image snippers roughly scissored down, the computer text with the occasional pen correction.

Strong: There are powerful scenes in here. Sadness. Glimpses of sobriety in between the distorted sense of reality of an addict, and glimpses of why the run from reality as well. The zine looks for meaning where there may just be none…being ‘together’ when you need to be falling apart. Being ‘proper’ in the face of rot and decay and disorder. It’s a powerful little unassuming read.

Sketchy Friends

Sketchy Friends
Neil Sanders
I got my copy at Sticky for $5

A full colour (and fully colourful) fold out pocket-zine of smiley monster creatures with loopy arms and legs with excellent production values.

Schmick: This is a bright little number with a perfectly manufactured dusk jacket. You know when something’s been cut and folded by precision instruments? (chills). This has been printed by the ‘Melbourne Polytechnic Printroom’. I thought this might be a hipster name for a new artist studio, but in fact it’s more likely to be a tafe (=college) printing service. LOL.

No space wasted: I love it when zinemakers consider the format as much as the content. I love how you can totally unfold this booklet, and there’s another whole zine on the reverse. Awesome and clever and has that lovely secretive factor like you’re the only reader in the world who is in on the trick. (Even tho there’s instructions).

But what does it all mean: No narrative, this is all illustrated mutant creatures just doing their thing with weird eyes and funny teeth. Everything is in bright colours with pantomime shadows against swirly backgrounds – kind of has that psychedelic feel. Half of these critters would totally sell as designer felt toys at indie craft fairs. In that sense this zine is a total zeitgeist publication: there’s lots of stuff like this out there, for better and worse, and this is a nice example of the fashion in illustration. I don’t think that’s a ‘radical’ observation to make. It’s not necessarily a criticism either.

Also: Great title.

Living Without Money: How and Why

Living Without Money: How and Why
Andy Paine
andy.paine77 (at) gmail. com
I got my copy at sticky for $1

A guide and rationale to living as disengtangled from capitalism as possible, being free and not needing to earn or spend money for materials and resources.

Living without Money: That’s impossible, right? (picks up zine from shelf). Is this going to be a Marxist Leninist tract about the evils of capitalism? Is it going to include tips about forraging dandelions for food? Or is it going to be a how-to-scam-shit-without-paying-for-stuff-ever-again (aka Abbie Hoffman) kinda zine?

That was unexpected: The zine begins quoting the bible. I kind of like the fact that the zinemaker must realise this is a highly unfashionable thing to do on page one and just ploughs on.

Luke 12: You know the part where Jesus talks about the ravens not needing to be clothed or fed, and how the wild flowers don’t labour or spin. (I do, I listened in school assembly). This is the starting point of this zine

It’s a basic message; material shit is ultimately ephemeral in the bigger picture of nature (and God’s kingdom). Yes, worrying about things beyond our control can be redundant. But. I think it does pay to worry about your life, what you will eat, about your body, and what you will wear. I do set my heart on what I will eat and drink and I’m not about to surrender my possessions anytime soon. Jesus’ argument, of course, was that the Kingdom of God would provide.

Can I just state the obvious here for a second. And I know I’m not supposed to, but… Wildflowers don’t have to spin or labour because they are fucking PLANTS. They are busting their guts photosynthesising and attracting pollinators. Ravens – (or birds as a rule, depending on which bible interpretation you’re going with)- don’t sow or reap but would probably be open to it if they could appreciate the long term benefits, could build a grain store and could operate miniature agricultural equipment with their beaks.

And let’s not forget God’s world of nature can be brutally opportunistic, territorial, and predatory. But, I digress.

Essentially this zine’s argument is that you can live off the waste of contemporary western society, cop the occasional fine it may attract, pool resources, chip in where you can, and your mates will provide the rest: “This zine for instance was made entirely on a friend’s computer” types the zinemaker. *I don’t doubt it*.

It’s Complicated: That’s the relationship between this zinemaker and commerce. He hasn’t managed to completely live without currency himself, but encourages everyone to seek out alternatives as much as possible. He’s less into bartering than sharing your resources and utilising neglected resources. (Unless it comes to squatting when he discusses getting your own locks and claiming ownership). And then, reading this zine, you just get lines like the following,  “…sometimes strangers will even give you money without you having to do anything” Wait, what about the enslavement stuff?

Aesthetic: The zine is boring but legible, the usual desktop publishing trade-off. Everything has clear headings in times new roman bold, and the only images are insert photos, kind of like the zinemaker posing in action shots like it’s a lifestyle catalogue. Most of the pics are dark and blurry, …so maybe not so much like a lifestyle catalogue. There is a collage reproduced in here, but a mysterious one that has been clearly lifted from an Australian squatting zine from the 1980s. I can tell this because it includes the use of a two dollar note in the graphics. The two dollar note was phased out of circulation in 1988. But hey, I guess the ‘housing for all’ message is timeless.

Sell it to me: If you’re going to try and promote a radical lifestyle choice, you’ve really got to make it sound great. Exciting. Sexy. Risky, perhaps but ‘worth-every-second’ kind of thrilling. This is the zine’s greatest flaw. The ultimate miscalculation is to try to make out that living on the fringes of society is something everyone can do in their daily lives and that it’s no biggie.

Seriously? This lifestyle is exclusively for people who are young, physically strong and healthy, and not vulnerable: This is a lifestyle for risk takers with few possessions and needs or health complications who don’t care for long term planning.

The following quotes don’t quite cut it as conversion arguments:

On busking: “It gives other people a chance to be generous”

On dumpster diving: “I have been living almost entirely off dumpstered foods for nearly five years now and have never once got food poisoning…”

On plate scraping: “People will stare when you do this, it’s a good exercise in discovering how self concious we all are”

On sleeping rough: “Other than two months living at Occupy Brisbane…I don’t really recommend it”

On hitch-hiking: “I think it’s safer than many people assume.”

On walking: “It’s a bit slower” (I added this last line more for laughs if anything).

Amazing facts: You know when you’re reading a pamphlet about something and they include some amazing fact like how it would take 630 Olympic swimming pools to fill the Melbourne Cricket Ground, to illustrate their point? Something visual to make you go “woah” and gain a new appreciation of…how big the MCG is. Well there’s only one factoid in the zine, and we’ll never know who crunched the numbers on the global textile industry, (read: the zinemaker) but for what it’s worth, enjoy:
“If the whole world stopped making clothes tomorrow, we would still have enough clothes on the planet to last all 7 billion of us at least a decade, probably much longer.”
Probably Much Longer. Bless. No statistic exists, but goddamnit, take a stab to illustrate your point. (Just for future reference, here’s some fascinating and  legit research on the problem of excess manufacturing of clothing where the supply outstrips the demand).

Ideology vs Consistency:
There’s lots of ideas flying around in the zine – christian ones, environmental ones, anti-capitalism ones, but all are undermined in their own way. Ultimately I don’t really see how this zinemaker’s lifestyle relates to Jesus’ teaching; he claims one of the advantages to busking is that on Fri or Sat night, people’s generoisty is often “chemically enhanced”. There’s something a little too cynical about this throwaway comment of profiteering from drunk people that doesn’t seem to fit with Christian principles OR seem to demonstrate freedom of the ‘power dynamics of wealth’.

The other kink that struck me in the zine was how the zinemaker made sense of land ownership and private property. He despises theft but endorses occupation. It’s also the first time in the zine that personal safety is advocated over sharing a space you actively occupy (ethical dilemma?), and tips on ‘claiming ownership’ are provided, which is an interesting deviation from the strong emphasis of the need for universal sharing. Albeit, even with squatting and changing the locks, “It’s best not to get attached”.

I like the fact this zine exists because: Even though I find a lot of it objectionable and nieve, it does invite you to think about your relationship to money, your dependence on an income stream, where you fit on the socio-economic scale, if you could take on these suggestions in your life and how necessary it is to buy a new t-shirt. It makes you think about what freedoms you have and do not have in your own life, your own relationship to authority, and also? the dangers inherent in quoting from the bible.

The smartest line in this zine: “Real freedom comes from us working out for ourselves the best way to live”.


How To Be A Cop

How To Be A Cop:
A comprehensive beginner’s guide to the world of police and law enforcement

D.C. Sam Bears
Sgt. Nicholas Burns
Officer Raul Coppe

I got my copy at an undisclosed location in Brunswick Street, Melbourne for $7 “guess who don’t sue”
You can get your copy from: realcoppoliceman69 at gmail dot com

Hilarious: This zine is just great old skool ‘fucking-shit-up’ funny. It’s exactly the kind of zine you’d want to see on the shelves of Polyester and all other “good book stores” lying next to those High Times magazines that review bongs. Hah. It’s put out by the Department of Youth, Culture and Problems. I LOVE THAT. The zine is not worth $7 but I will pay it just for that little Australian cultural appropriation of the coat of arms.

Contents: Rookie spelling mistakes. Clip art doughnuts and guns. Batons as dildo jokes. Satirical, misogynist, racist advice on how to use your unlimited powers of brute force. (hashtag political commentary).

How funny is it? The kind of funny when you’re delirious at 3am in the morning. That is to say, it’s not particularly original or clever. But seeing all the jokes make it to print and superimposed on to official logos kind of makes it A grade comedy. The recommended further reading includes Batman, Batman and Robin, Kill All Perps, A Study in Law and Justice, Domestic Violence and the Joys of Laughter, Police Boy, Police Boy II: Revenge of Police Boy etc. You gotta laugh. It has some kind of absurdist streak going on.

But is there a Hitler reference? Glad you asked. Yes, yes there is. “A day in the life of officer Barry Hitler”. He runs over disabled children and eats cheeseburgers and gets a handjob from his partner, Junior Officer Henry Goebbels. Story to be continued in the next issue.

Wizardry: What I think amuses me the most about this zine is the use of images to accompany the text. Like, there are a lot of reproductions of people from some kind of costume catalogue dressed up as police, including children, perfect, but what makes it kind of absurd and takes it to a whole new level is that in some of these pictures there’s a kid in a wizard costume from within the same photoshoot who has been left in the collage. Including, in another collage, a man dressed as a wizard with a white beard. And the glossary of cop terms includes ‘cop hat’ with a wizard hat depicted. There’s some weird magic subliminal shit going on. Including a Harry Potter reference.

Fuck the police: Actually, personally, I don’t subscribe to this sentiment. I have only ever had good experiences with police – I count myself fortunate. I do believe police corruption exists etc and that powers get abused, because humans, and because journalism, but I don’t scream at police officers in protests. I laugh at Chief Wiggum on The Simpsons and have NWA on my ipod but I am a law abiding citizen (essentially) and live in a nice happy bubble of my own white, privileged mainstream mediocrity. I read about things like this and am vaguely concerned from afar but obviously I don’t experience the police like other people from different demographics walking the same streets as me or living in remote Australia. And my educated guess is that this zine is the kind of humour you can afford when you are privileged. Hashtag irony.

Is this part of something bigger? I don’t mean socially I mean print wise. In small print the zine says fwyc #8. I really want to know this acronym as well. (Fund what you can? Fort Walton Yacht Club?) Is this issue 8? What have I been missing?


Herding Cats/Dirty Kitsch

Herding Cats/Dirty Kitsch

I got my copy from the wonderful nature of belated postal zine swaps.
You can write to PO Box 123 Newtown NSW 2042 Australia

A motley assortment of queer raver memories: Share houses in Sydney. Nailing astroturf down hallways because you can. Dragging giant foam turds on to the steps of the church. Anarchy. Glitter. Living on the fringes. Questioning life choices. No regrets. Sharing advice on how to handle pepper spray. Being under surveillance. Dancing in Berlin.

Fave bit: So the zinemaker is setting up an abandoned warehouse for a party and he’s digging around on ‘decoration duty’: “At the back was a giant cylinder shape over a meter wide and about 1.6 metre tall. I thought it was an old hot water heater. I poked it with my finger absently, distracted by a cardboard box of xmas tree baubles…the cyclinder was soft to the touch. I’d found the biggest roll of bubble wrap I’d ever seen…” Seriously is that not the best singular sentence you could ever hope for from a zine: “I’d found the biggest roll of bubble wrap I’d ever seen”. (And you get the impression this guy has seen a lot of industrial bubblewrap in his time).  Gold. Lego is a good writer, I was kind of sad there wasn’t more of his writing in here.

Crazy: Lego talks about how a massive piece of foam made its way back into his ownership, having been transformed/sculpted into a giant turd in the meantime (long story). Anyway he puts it to good use and transports it to the church steps to farewell (then) Archbishop (now Cardinal) George Pell. Cardinal Pell is in Rome these days but this was his last sermon in Sydney. His leadership as Melbourne and then Sydney Archibishop has been considered complicit in concealing sex crimes and protecting sexual offenders over TWENTY YEARS or so. He’s since appeared before the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse – it’s second hearing– and. Yeah. Kind of makes the church look…indifferent? cold? corrupt?)

Anyway, our street hero is there protesting (because fuck silent Tuesday nights) and it’s Pell’s final Australian sermon. Scene set. It’s not much of a protest, just the enormous foam turd, a bit of media, folks standing around and a few elderly ladies (probably observers from the Royal Commission). A Parishoner scurries past them and there’s a brief exchange. The Parishner tells the ladies they should be ashamed of themselves and the zinemaker’s friend overhears them say “Well name one, name me one pedophile priest”. One of the ladies replies “I can’t, I signed a deed of agreement with the church over my claim for abuse”. Pow. One second you’re laughing about how the turd needed to be transported on a car rack and was bigger than a family-sized two-door fridge. Then the shock of an overheard conversation on the church steps. I was still thinking about this two second overheard exchange long after I put the zine down.

Aesthetic: I call this ‘bedroom punk’. It’s a graffitied/stencilled cover done on A4 computer desktop print outs that form the pages and have been stapled down the side. Its very old skool 90s zine format when everyone thought a zine had to be the same dimensions as a glossy newsagent magazine. Stapling A4 sheets is a crappy format for a zine, but there’s something nostalgic about it. Other friends of Lego have also contributed bits and pieces too which makes it a real shared year schoolbook kind of zine of sharehouses past.

Where it all began: I first discovered Lego through his very super great radical Coughing Up Legomen from the 90s.

Hilarious: I used to think Coughing Up Legomen was a reference to some kind of punk slang for phlegm. Nope, it’s a reference to capitalism and little plastic lego men. I still think ‘legomen’ is a little akin to ‘phlegm’ if you say it fast enough with the accent on the ‘men’.


The Undead Weekly

Halloween issue 13

I got my copy from Sticky for $2
You can chase yours through

Not of this world: Well, actually, it is of this world. Someone has made a zippy spooky zine of pics and things from the internets of weird dead related shit and sold it ($). It’s a little pocket zine including freaky carved turnips, the predecessors of jack o lanterns, and how to make your own necropants. The instructions are pretty involved. And they involve stealing a coin from a poor widow.  To draw money into the scrotum.

Disappointing: As far as I can tell the zine doesn’t appear to come with a curse and when you unfold it there is no secret occult symbol or anything on the reverse side. I don’t understand people when they make zines using this format that leaves you an entire blank side that is never utilised. It’s not so much a waste thing as a lack of imagination thing.

More: There needs to be more. I feel like there is a lot more collage montage material where this zine came from. Awaiting further apparitions.

Also: Best editorial for any zine ever.

– E.P

I am very busy and important Issue 11

“Things I kept from the internet” issue 11
I got my issue from: Sticky for $4

Best title: Both are – the name of the zine AND the title for this issue. Anything that claims to be off-limits for the internet?immediately piques my attention. If something needs to be withheld, then I want to read it. The zine screams “too hot for facebook”. Stuff the zinemaker doesn’t want friends to see? I’m in!

Quick’n’dirty: The zine has been put together fast and furiously, or at least that’s how it looks. It’s folded and stapled as an A5 booklet but the layout is on a 90 degree rotation so it’s closer to reading an A4 newsletter format that could have been stapled in the corner rather than through the middle. The manual typewriting feels immediate, has transparent edits, and you can see those photocopier shadows of it all being stuck down. The final two pages are large scrawled handwriting of music listened to while writing the zine and thank-yous.

I am very busy and important, myself: And, because of this, and getting overly excited at the ‘too hot for net’ factor, I picked this zine up on the fly (along with a bunch of others). I got home and realised it was a flimsy 8 page zine that I had unwittingly paid $4 for, with the last two back pages looking suspiciously like filler. Two folded sheets of paper. $4. Was I impressed? No. I was not. Would this fact impinge on my enjoyment of the zine? Yes. It would.

Random: The zinemaker bumps into her ‘first love’ (read, unrequited teen crush, not sure if that classifies) in the city after five years. These are her subsequent reflections. There’s a lot of deep introspection and the zinemaker writes with a brave, candid personal insight as she describes how her once-best-friend in high school changed. How her friend changed from someone she knew and related to (and had a crush on), to someone who assumed a different  name, changed sexual identity, and whose disposition differed. Her best friend becomes a politicised trans guy. The zinemaker calls bullshit on the transformation, dates a dude with  dyed blue hair, and their friendship disintegrates.

Courage: It took a lot of courage to write this zine and acknowledge past insenstitivies. Trans stuff can be challenging and hard core and so delicately ideosyncratic from person to person, friendship to friendship, and all the broader circles of interconnected relationships in families and communities.

I don’t recognise you anymore: The zinemaker and her friend find themselves on the wrong tetonic plates that now move, grind, and press in conflicted directions, leading to a social continental drift. (Do you like that metaphor? I love it). It’s described well. New articulated personalities, frustrations, desires, and pulls of identity create a new unfamiliar landscape of dynamics. Hurt is involved.

Don’t be a jerk: I love how the zinemaker owns her adolescent behaviour, and points out that while we all want to be considered politically astute with superior interpersonal skills, we are not always these things and there’s definitely been some point in our lives where we’ve been unschooled in discrimination and ignorance and perpetuated hurt ourselves. And that it’s okay, because we’re always learning. Cue an Oprah moment.

Closure: So – the zinemaker was able to spend time as an adult with her estranged friend, and while the bond is different there’s respect and common ground. The zine closes on a more recent romantic trans encounter and finishes with a satisfying sense of wisdom and worldliness.


A zine covering the everyday adventures of an American expatriate in Spain. This particular issue is an anthology calling itself ‘the best of’ Chorrada issues 1 to 6. Includes personal writing, correspondence with readers, historical tit bits, interviews and reviews.

Where I got mine: Sticky for $5
Where you can get yours: Send US$5 or 5euros to:
Kris, Calvo Sotelo 13B, 4B, Plasencia 10600 Caceres, SPAIN
or paypal to lolalucio(at)
and it has an online presence here.

How hard is it to invest in a long arm stapler? Very- apparently. Looping jute string around the fold is an inferior and annoying substitute for binding. Just putting it out there. I was amused to see I was not alone on this one, either.*

The Pros
The zinemaker, an American living in Spain, writes about various events and experiences. Even though he has a Spanish wife and has presumably been living in Spain for a while, it feels like he is a perpetual tourist. Maybe that’s what life is like when you are an ex patriot. It’s interesting to read about Spain through an American zinester’s eyes.

The Cons
I feel like I’m reading someone’s travel blog. The writing and the stories are amusing but in that pleasant extended family way where nothing personal is really revealed. The zine is full of fascination for quirky lives and events and times and places in history and intricate details about the zinemaker’s shoes for chrissakes, but I don’t feel any rawness? honesty? real personal connection? with the zinemaker.

My confession:  So, I didn’t realise it at the time of buying this, but as mentioned, this zine is an anthology. I immediately felt cheated. Whenever I think of anthology zines I think of ‘best of’ albums. I don’t have any issues with reprints of zines, but I draw the line at anthologies. Why would you be collating ‘best of’ bits from previous zines when you could be writing a new zine? Why do people do this? Is it to demonstrate how awesome the partial bits of previous zines were? Why wouldn’t you just write new stuff?

The counterargument: Actually I really don’t know what the defence IS for doing zine anthologies. I kind of understand if it’s a celebration of a long run of issues and you’re putting it out as a glossy book for a wider reading audience who may not be familiar with zines and find this cool book which turns out to be a compilation of old issues, or reproduced parts of. See, I do kind of understand that. I don’t think it’s in the spirit of zinemaking – but I understand it’s a way of preserving an art form in a more robust and commercial medium for a wider population of readers or maybe a new generation. I don’t get it when it’s just you re-doing bits of old issues with jute string.

The context: Turns out the zine is not a ‘best of’ but it’s actually a complete reprinting of all six issues: Kris has written, “It’s the 1st six issues in their entirety. Each issue is an 8 pager, corner stapled, and very Dad style (what can I say, I’m middle aged). I put them all together to share with the world at large outside of my little circle of a couple dozen regular zinesters that I trade with.” Makes sense! Reprinting zines I get!

The papernet: I don’t see this a lot in Australia (if at all), but there are American zines out there that reprint various bits of zine correspondence from readers and include an editor reply. It’s interesting to see who is writing from what zine or sharing what information and it’s also a way for the zinemaker to promote other people’s zines and encourage general correspondence. So here is another entry point to the papernet. It’s alive. And full of the usual suspects. (after a while, you start recognising the same names).

The best part of this zine was: reading about how the zinemaker scores an illustrated and anecdoted reprint of George Borro’s account of travelling around Spain and Portugal in the early 1840s. From the zinemaker’s enthusiastic descriptions, it does make me want to score a copy myself. The zinemaker genuinely gets excited about various eccentric pursuits like dulcimers, and if you have any kind of interest in things, like dulcimers, then instant gratification awaits. (Dulcimers are probably the next Ukuleles for hipsters). The zinemaker is basically a fan of cool, interesting and obscure stuff – kind of like an amateur historian –  as well as a fan of interesting characters he comes across, like the dudes running the Chamber Pot Museum across from the cathedral, or the transient guy who he comes across every now and then who is an ex pat like himself but living in a cave with a weird skin cancer wound on his arm. I found myself skimming various bits and pieces in this zine, mainly the interviews and book reviews, finding some parts boring or just getting lost amongst too many obscure cultural references I didn’t get (so couldn’t appreciate). I’m not complaining about this – it’s just that I found myself easily distracted as a reader with no real entrance point to some of the content.

Kind of to be expected: The zine is text heavy, obviously. While there is an inclusion of photos and reprinting of historical images, it’s very much a Dad style desktop publishing aesthetic: half columns in times new roman. Clear and easy to read. Functional. It won’t break your eyes but it won’t razzle dazzle them either.

I’m guessing people who like this would also like (and vice versa): Anything by Chris Mikul – the zinemaker behind the glorius Bizzarism and intense biblio-curiosa, stuff by Ken Baseurt, DJ Frederick aka Frederick Moe, stuff by Adam Ford and  zines by the powerhouse behind The Zine Explorer’s Notebook.

Overall: I’m left lightly entertained and marginally educated but kinda ambivalent.


The zinemaker comments on Blackguard’s review in defence of the string decision, which I didn’t read when I first linked:
“Yeah, the string binding didn’t work too well. But my long arm stapler wouldn’t go through that many pages… After destroying a few copies trying to staple them I turned to the string. -Kris”

He just needs this.
Screen Shot 2013-03-23 at 1.34.46 PM
(Greece’s entry in Eurovision, 2009)

Kris is looking out for stapler recommendations. He has a Kanin which is crap.

Trabant No. 5

Trabant No. 5
October 2012

A zine covering several years in and out of circus school battling gravity, health and self doubt and kicking butt.

I got mine: as recommended reading from a friend. On a post-it note on the front of this zine he scribbled, “The writer’s a little hippi woo, but the circus”

You can get yours: Well, the email is still active [megan (at)] but the zine is now out of print. I know, right. What’s the point of reviewing an email two years old that nobody is likely to get their hands on. I need to reassess my life choices. The zinemaker hasn’t done any other zines since this one, either, but never say never.

Rookie mistake: It’s quite funny, I thought this zine was called Rabant. It wasn’t until I tried to google it that I realised this zine name had a T in front. As in German car, as in satellite.  So don’t be fooled by the cover art.

Initially dubious: I start the zine and it’s all about a day in the life of circus school, cool, but my interest immediately wanes reading how the zinemaker washes her hair at 7.10am with baking soda and rinses with vinegar. And how she’s making eggs topped with local salsa and store made guacamole (my care factor has dropped another two points) and how she’s whizzing protein shakes (care factor now close to zero). For a second I wonder if this is going to be one of those zines that meticulously document every meal the zinemaker has. I remember a David Roche zine like this about every felafel ball he ate in Australia. And I swear sometimes Giz’s zines can be entirely devoted to chronicling fregan meals retrieved from dumpsters and what dandelion leaf he ate on what day of the week in what European city. Even on the telephone to my mum I’m not that interested in hearing what she had for dinner. Is this going to be a food-porn zine about eggs fried in bacon fat in cast iron skillets, hand grinding coffee beans and adding half tea spoons of spirulina to shakes? Well,the zine does involve a beef stew recipe, but it’s okay. Keep reading.

How Does It Work: You know, this zine is super ambitious. It covers three genuinely epic years of the zinemaker’s life and it can move in and out of different time frames in the writing, but damn, it’s done with so much craftmanship that at no point was I confused or having to backtrack. In addition the zine hones into each year, which have their own sections. The structure works perfectly.

Aesthetics: You can’t go wrong with a touch of handwriting, plain arial generic font and some stuck down photos. And of course a dash of manual typewriter to break it up a bit. The whole layout is nice, simple, and easy on the eye. I was kind of expecting more line illustrations to appear within the zine, to kind of connect the cover to the contents, but it’s not the case, so you could argue the cover is a bit disconnected. Across the body of writing some pages have little ‘break out’ grey rounded boxes of self contained reflections with their own little headings which also introduces new fonts.
Maybe that’s introducing one style element too many – maybe the break-out text boxes could have just been done in handwriting – but this is me also just me overthinking it. Summary: Great, clear layout dealing with massive amounts of text, while still feeling personal.

Precarious: When your whole life’s purpose and mission is CIRCUS and getting up in the morning to down those protein shakes and manipulate your body to do cool stuff and…your body breaks down.

Yep, it’s largely a zine about chronic illness, I guess, but it’s unfair to categorise it as such because the scope feels so much broader. The writing is pragmatic, non hysterical. There’s evident sadness and frustration but never in a wallowing ‘poor me’ spectacle. The zinemaker describes a ‘lost’ year and what’s most apparent to me is the sheer determination to recover.

You read in this zine about the utterly consuming dedication to circus training and how, deprived of health, the zinemaker has been robbed; and as the reader? you feel that investment, that absolute commitment. And things do gradually reassemble: Yoga, running, a girlfriend, easing back into recreational circus classes, then the joy of returning to circus full time.

You’re excited but you share all the zinemaker’s trepidations: can she recover her fitness? Will the sheer intensity grind her fragile health back down? will she reclaim her passion and thrive or will there be some horrible disaster to break her spirit? Damnit just the sense of pressure to succeed had me holding my breath as I turned each page. Circus is hardcore – and it could apply to any kind of discipline that requires athleticism and performance elements.

Resilience: More than about illness this is about recovery, management and truces. There’s no brilliant happy ever after resolution to the zinemaker’s story, but just the hardness of circus life. A life where one is most successful as a performer at honing their attention, learning and listening to their body – but without obsessing over it. You don’t blindly buy into alternative medicine anymore but you’re also no longer affected by the hopeless sense of despondency western medicine can make you feel.

The hippi woo factor: You know what, it’s pretty low on the hippi woo levels. The spiralina word count starts and pretty much stays at a single mention. In fact it’s a happy middle ground the zinemaker arrives at between unorthodox tricks and supplements (hot and cold showers to shake up your body toxins, taking glutamine) and following prescriptive medicine. And there’s a sense of acceptance that while western medicine isn’t perfect, it is based on science, and sometimes science is the only thing you have left to surrender to when you’ve been willing to try anything and everything from the sales bin of the food coop store. (results may vary). The only other option is the reality of uncertain diagnoses by specialists who don’t know what exactly is wrong with you, but are okay in saying that to your face, and sometimes, uncertainty is the only certainty you have.

Suspense: Yes, there’s a return to circus school and there are the worst possible scenarios: injuries, scans, tears, depression. And yet, also: doggedness, determination, creativity, experimentation, pride, artistry, performance. Honestly, the drama and anticipation in this zine pisses all over dance movies and the best soaps because fuck it, it’s all so real and so effectively written.

You will enjoy: If you can get a copy, read it. You don’t need to be an athelete or performer to fall into the all-consuming world of this zine. You don’t need to ‘get’ chronic illness to care about what happens next and you don’t need to be into food porn. This is just, hands down, an amazing read. It’s honest, courageous, open, grounded and insightful.

– E.P.


Rainy Day Trash Flowers Fun Pack

Rainy Day Trash Flowers Fun Pack

I got my $$$ copy at the Sticky Zine Fair, Melbourne half a year ago.
no contact details.
You can get yours by: being in the right place at the right time with the right coinage. This clan can be hard to pin down.

A fun pack of three individual comix in the classic fortune teller format. All written, drawn, measured, folded and trimmed to perfection by HTML Flowers, (the yellow zine) Jmke (the pink one) and one of Tasmania’s best exports and New York darling Simon Hanselmann (the green one).

Exotic: As advertised, the zines/comix are designed to be rotated, unflapped, folded, unfurled, refolded and opened out. The fortune teller format is now boycotted by comic crafternooners. Life is worth living again.

Genius: The utilisation of the fold. Each zine has been carefully designed to address the design challenge of a format that doesn’t have regular pagination. Hanselmann’s zine excels: each folding pattern forms its own narrative device: in ‘Werewolf Jones TM and Sons’ the first layer of folds makes up a rotational ‘exclusive hat prologue’. (I’m won already). Underneath each triangle flap, a character cycles the perimetre of the main centre comic, ‘Megg’s Will’. On the reverse side you get ‘Megg, Mogg & Owl’ which in turn opens out to a complete flattened sheet of Megg freaking out about not having a bulk stash of weed on hand and making that face that kids make when they’re about to burst into tears. Hanselmann is the master of expression and rendering puffy cat faces.

Heartfelt, Sad, Saddening: The anxiety of financial survival as told in ‘Little Needs A Job’ where you need to negotiate the folds through the numbering system. In this comic, Centrelink payments are cancelled, hospitalisation means you save money on food and the back up plan includes dealing or stealing. Dreams are for those who can afford them, as is peace of mind for someone with a terminal condition. Lots of hospital references and watching the character drink alone. I found this highly affecting.

Spacey Existential Gaming Reality Jamming: This untitled zine revolves around two computer game players and the internal game world which comes complete with visual computer glitches and repetitive imagery. Kinda works as a pisstake against gamers but also drawn in affection I suspect. Contains Kantian and Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen references.

To accept this challenge: You have to find the balance between sequential and non sequential story telling. You want the comic to work at different angles.

Success rate: 2/3 zines in the funpack didn’t need to rely on numbering. All are self contained little comic worlds in their own right. And you get to play with them in your hand. Awesome.

– E.P