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TOO PRETENTIOUS FOR MELBOURNE

Sober Bob is… TOO PRETENTIOUS FOR MELBOURNE
How to alienate a community you’re desperately trying to build
by Sober Bob


soberbobmonthly@gmail.com
I got my copy at Sticky for $2 recently but it’s been out for a while

Tell it like it is: Queensland zinemaker involved in local scene travels to Melbourne for the 2017 Festival of the Photocopier and leaves largely disappointed in both city and festival.

An interstate gaze: As a Melbournian I was really interested to read what a Queensland visitor makes of the city. They came with dreams of cafe culture, high fashion, amazing shopping and finding ART, blah blah blah (well, they didn’t come for high fashion, I added that). They got overpriced scrambled eggs on sourdough bread with no butter ($14), saw sanctioned street murals and second hand brand shoes going for as much as new ones. I had to laugh in sympathy, they kind of nailed it.

For all those great hotspots in Melbourne be it for food or resale doc martins, there’s the inevitable ratio of sub par enterprises happily cashing in on laneway real-estate and hipster lifestyles. How do you know when you’re walking into a trap? It’s no use people saying to you afterwards “Oh, you should have gone to THIS cafe” or, “there are heaps of great x y and zs in THAT part of Melbourne, you should have gone THERE”. No, you want to wander around the city and experience croissants hybridised with donuts for yourself. And yes, the silent assumption is that you have money to burn.

Not on point: I did however find it strange that the zinemaker was affronted by the amount of human shit they encountered in Melbourne. The last time I came across a human turd was near Hardware Lane in the 90s and that was part of an ongoing fire exit dispute, so was done strategically and in spite.
How often does anyone come across a human shit in the city? I mean, the CBD is pretty clean. I’ve never even thought about it.
This observation is still early on in the zine, so I’m standing there still reading the first few pages in Sticky and felt compelled to pause and asked those instore when the last time was that THEY came across a human shit.
(“Am I so out of touch?”).
One person could recall one but it wasn’t some massive show of hands, and then I was gently informed in a hushed voice that the zinemaker wasn’t talking about seeing human shits around the city (as in turds), they meant…homeless people.

It’s impossible to verify if “human shit(s)” refers to homeless people in this zine – you can read the same sentences over and over and it is ambiguous. I used the term ‘white trash’ in a zine once, and was called out by zinemaker Stu Stratu for it, and am forever grateful for that because it made me seriously think about the damage behind slurs and it’s not an expression I’d use again.

Fascinatingly, the folk at Sticky had it all wrong – and god knows how, this is how urban myths start, right  – Sober Bob encountered two human specimen of faeces in the single trip to Melbourne and wrote about it (as you do). Repeat: no social commentary about homeless people in the zine, whatsoever. This has been verified with the zinemaker who was kind of horrified they had been so misconstrued; MYTH BUSTED.

Faith in humanity restored. Well, not quite, taking a dump in public isn’t classy, but my god, I’ve never been more relieved to hear about turds as opposed to some horrible gross slur towards the homeless population. And there’s nothing in the zine for you to read it as such.

Controversial: It’s controversial to claim the biggest zine fair in the southern hemisphere (around 200 tables at the Melbourne town hall annually) organised by fellow zinemakers, is shit.

Fact check: This is not a zine fair put on by the MCA or some cynical corporate sponsor engaging with zine culture for street cred. It’s put on by volunteer zinemakers through non profit organisation Sticky.

This is an event that is free to attend, free to participate in by requesting a table, that has no formal submission process and that does not turn away any zinemaker. All the tables are located  under the one centralised space. There is disability access to the venue. Sticky are the good guys. What criticism could you possibly make, except to complain that you can’t bring in homemade cupcakes to give away from your table or that you can’t bring alcohol to the venue. Surely that’s the extent of it.

Legit point: The Queue to Snare The Best Positioned Table.
You know what, this is a totally valid criticism. The last  fest of pc fair I took part in was the year before as a tabler. I made sure I got there to queue before the doors were scheduled to open because I knew it was first in, best dressed. Everyone else had the same idea: all zinesters want to get the best positioned tables.

The deeper into the maze of tables at the town hall? the more the visitor’s brain is overstimulated and the less they can intelligently take in. The human body is not evolutionarily equipped to deal with so much zine awesomeness all in one densely populated space.

It’s natural you want to score a good table before your customers eyes glaze over and they start hallucinating in all the overwhelming print culture fantastic-ness.

The problem with ‘first in, best dressed’ is that this can mean standing on the street for up to an hour before you’re even due to physically be there. Which can suck if you’ve come in from interstate, have stayed up all night stapling madly, or just don’t like standing in a really overwhelming queue. And then of course, as Sober Bob experienced first hand, “you local cool kid artists” start casual conversations as they happenstance upon a friend also in the queue, who then effectively “push in” by being absorbed by their mates rather than assume position at the back of the line, which by that time has winded up collins st which is like, what the hell.

Everyone is desperate to subvert this: I’m also responsible for ‘saving’ a table for a friend once I’ve got inside the hall – which is just the same as queue jumping, just a bit less obvious. There’s always been enough tables for everyone, which is amazing and highly admirable, so the queuing is needless in that regard, but – location! location! location! – everyone is heavily invested in getting the best placed table (completely subjective) and making the most out of such a great opportunity to sell your zines – which, as an organiser, is the kind of passion you want.
I think the first in best dressed method is workable for fairs to a certain size, then it gets to a tipping point where it registers in people’s consciousness as a negative part of the fair experience. So yeah. I totally get it. Preallocated tables would remove the stress, the FOMO, sneaky benefits of social connections, and would surely engender good will and peace on earth generally.

Of course, being a volunteer event, it’s more unpaid blood sweat and tears for someone to allocate tables. But you know what, a large scale event deserves consideration and organisation of these kind of aspects. Allocating tables would have to be random, to be truly fair, if you were going to do it. Random like tattersall lottery machines with air bursts and numbered ping pong balls and television studio adjudicators.

The Social Exclusion Criticism:
Basically the Cool Kids factor mentioned above where you don’t get that sense of inclusion when you’re on the periphery. Sober Bob felt it, it sucks, and it’s present in most sub cultures. A tough one. Is Melbourne full of cold and insular people? bah, probably. Soz.

The Etsy Market Criticism:
This is where you bitch about how everyone is selling crafts and badges and temporary tattoos instead of it being about The Zines. I file this under unfortunate-but-hard-to-control and things-could-be-worse. Sober Bob calls for tables to be vetted for their content, and you know what, that’s exactly what satan wants too. Zines versus Crafts And Small Felted Animals is an eternal spiritual battle, and we must all try and be vigilant, but once you start trying to actively vet content of zine tables on the day…well…it’s a dark and lonely path. Maybe you have ideas on what’s inside the zines as well, that also need to be vetted? Maybe you want to organise zine fairs in America where this goes on all the time?

The ‘200 goddamn vendors’ Criticism:
Whereby Sober Bob complains the zine fair is a ‘squished up cluster fuck of people being forced down rows’ lol, that’s a great sentence. Well, it’s a big event, yes but you can always pace yourself. No-one actually died from suffocation or stampeding in 2017’s fair. So, you know, there’s crowding, but it’s a cluster fuck of goodness more than anything.

Production values: This is a folded down A3 effort with Serif font, colour photocopied, black pen handwritten bits, some photos as documentary evidence, token fare evasion pamphlet collage addition and pen squiggles. (the squiggles you do on your folder in year nine).

Further Reading: ‘Anonymous, Idealistic and Responsible: Part 2 This is Not Organised” a zine about a Newcastle zine fair held in atrocious conditions, which this zine pays homage to. I’d also like to recommend my own interstate zine fair bashing effort, ‘I Lost My Sense of Irony in Brisbane’ where I cannot find a cafe that sells freshly squeezed juice or iced coffee in the Brisbane CBD.

Story Time!

Story Time! Issue #1

by Charlie
I got my copy from Sticky for $3 last year
iamthekingofpants@gmail.com

Can people in their mid 20s be as boring as Grandpa Simpson:
Well – it’s possible. Some of these stories kind of went nowhere which is kind of amusing in itself, I guess, and I’m always up for anything with a zine… so maybe this is less a criticism of the fine art of narrative and more a bemused observation. When you read a story, you do want it to go somewhere, and absolutely the story about boosting himself to look through a window while lost on campus doing his second degree was a complete cul de sac. (It ends where he finds his class and it’s awkward because everyone is looking at him surprised that he has a deep voice for his small body when they go round the class talking about themselves). That took like two pages. The whole zine is 76 pages. There are more stories like that one. I guess the introduction contains the warning signs: from what people have told him, his stories are enjoyable to hear. See, I am positive Grandpa Simpson thinks this too.

Is this a frustrated coming of age novel slash The Wonder Years teleseries: Again. It’s possible. I can see this as the start of a more encompassing autobiographical writing project which may or may not work. Fortunately I enjoy reading about other people’s lives, including uneventful ones, and there’s enough in this zine to give me a sense of someone else’s life, their personality, a feel for them as an individual. Specifically (in this case) that sense of gloom that growing up in regional victoria must involve when you’re identified as ugly or a fag, or both, cause you don’t fit in. So you struggle along with your own defensive self-depreciation, and your circle of pals are known as the Bohemian Lawn Party, and you stay up late and watch Rage and talk and shit.

Great: You know that dilemma when you need to acknowledge the front cover needs something different to differentiate it from the rest of the stapled pages but you don’t quite know what the best device is. The solution here is to put the title of the zine in bold, write issue one at the bottom of the page, start off with the first story of the zine as if you’ve already opened the zine, and just print it off on yellow paper. I can respect that.

Also great: The zinemaker is happy to be known as Charlie “Hendo” Henderson.

What I learned from this zine:
One time, there was a flasher in the park.
Quite a few stories begin in chemistry class.
A strategy to hide one’s face is to grow one’s hair. when people keep coming into your bedroom to try and get you out to join the party, the party is probably shit.
There is a lot of crashing on other people’s floors and unsolicited shared bed arrangements.
That at least two people from the resident town population are statistically destined to lose their mind at a weekend pagan festival in the bush and will consequently use sea salt to safeguard themselves from aliens.

Format: So, the zine has a table of contents on the first page which sets the structure of the zine, which moves mostly chronologically from early childhood stories to first crushes to first share house. Most of the stories are kind of serialised and interlinked. There’s no illustrations or visuals, the zine is just all times new roman text with no attempts to be arty which worked for me. The bulk of these stories centre around ‘nutbag’ females – Katie and then Erika. The zinemaker does not particularly like these people, but there are unwritten rules of friendship rings that apparently force people to socialise. I found this thoroughly depressing. Later the zinemaker actively spends time with these people, even though he thinks lowly of them, and that’s kind of even more depressing.

Backfired: When we tell personal stories in our zines for the sake of entertainment, or any kind of written communication really, (including reviewing zines) we as the writer are appealing to the reader sharing our sentiments in the faith we share common ground.

And so the story of The Bet makes it into the zine with zero interpersonal awareness. The bet is between Pig, Philby and Bloke on who can shag Erika first. Incredibly, the subject of the bet is “quite rude” to them on discovering this joke, but she remains oblivious to the punchline, which is that nobody actually really wanted to get into her pants anyway, get it? because she’s a nutbag. Hilarious. I guess you have to have a misogynist streak to appreciate that quality anecdote. This story fell short of it’s target audience, me being a girl and all.

Having said all this: I will be looking out for issue two. I want to know what else this guy gets up to. 76 pages later, I’m kind of invested now. And I’ve managed my expectations.

Was that wise: The zinemaker signs off with “no trolls please”, which, in turn, is surely an invitation to be trolled.

-E.P

Shitkicker

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.

-E.P.

Break ’em up the whole goddamn thing

Break ’em up the whole goddamn thing

I got my copy as a trade from the zinemaker
beg,borrow,cheat,steal:
PO Box 221041 Chicago IL 60622
poodrow@hotmail.com

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.

-E.P.

Ticker

Ticker


$2
gallerygirlzine@gmail.com
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.

-E.P.

My Dad’s Ugly Clock Wall

My Dad’s Ugly Clock Wall

$1
thefestivusfeatsofstrength(@)outlook.com
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.

-E.P.
Hot-Sale-40PCS-SET-6-13MM-Silver-Brass-font-b-Paper-b-font-font-b-Fasteners

 

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.

-E.P.

 

Can Tofu be Vegetarian?

Can Tofu be Vegetarian? Edition One 2015

Mark Allen and Michael Bayliss
feetlittle (at) gmail.com
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.

-E.P.

Sidenotes

Sidenotes

Ivana
badbellyfoods (at) gmail.com
badbelly.bigcartel.com
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.

-E.P.

Bamtan

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).

-E.P.