Category Archives: american zines

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.

Curse Journal

Curse Journal

Dave
PO Box 221041 Chicago IL 60622
poodrow (at) hotmail.com
I picked my copy up at Sticky late 2015 for $1

An ill-stapled narrow typed log book of swearing, recorded by date, time and incident in an effort for the zinemaker to induce shame and curb his swearing habit. The second half of the zine is an academic summary of why we swear. ‘Something for everyone’. This zine has been around for a while but must still go into occasional print runs.

First thought: That’s only the best idea for a zine, EVER.

Amazing: The third entry for January 1st is the best backstory for why the zinemaker said the word ASS ever. It comes with an engrossing character study of the zinemaker’s math and computer teacher in high school. So much greatness right there second page in.

Surprising: This zinemaker is one of those people who speaks out loud to himself. I think this was surprising to the zinemaker as well. Sometimes the first word he’ll say for the day has no audience. Thanks to this diary exercise, now such utterances have a readership.

Less Surprising: Playing Nintendo, and hanging out with his brother, prompts a lot of profanity. So does playing Nintendo WHILST hanging out with his brother.

What swearing reveals: See, this is the genius of the zine, because these little incidents of cussing are peepholes into someone else’s life at their most vulnerable moments. They cover the full spectrum of comic (dropping food, cooking mishaps, slapstick involving small time injuries, playing Boggle);
tragic (sad things that happen, things you wish didn’t happen but they did)
comic-but-could-be-tragic; (cycling in traffic) and social interactions where swear words serve as almost a social crutch or method of integration.

Fucking A: The writing is just gold. I loved reading this zine so much, it’s condensed and punchy, sincere and playful. And it also had a poignancy I wasn’t expecting: some of the times the zinemaker swears are quite touching and greater reflections on America’s education system and economic downturn. There are other stories where swearing punctuates amazement and wonder. I felt so connected to this zinemaker on so many levels everytime he recorded his inappropriate language. Hearing someone swear can be a thing of intimacy and beauty.

Great: The zinemaker includes a ‘near miss’ as an entry (getting bitten by a domestic animal).

Don’t Give Up: Quitting swearing was this zinemaker’s new years resolution, and I was dismayed when I came to the last entry and realised six months into it that the project had been abandoned. The zine kind of abruptly stops and then there’s a separate part looking at the science of swearing, and how it can be both good and bad for one’s brain and the greater diversity of linguistics. This is an OK read but I’ll be honest, I wanted more swear stories.

Meh: The second part has a lot of chunky quotes from academic papers/ research and it does read like a mini essay or a personalised wikipedia entry. (But great little opening quotes for each section). It’s interesting enough with some nice pop culture references but I was still experiencing withdrawl from the first half of the zine.

Production values: Woeful. When you make a zine, it’s perfectly POSSIBLE to take a bunch of single cut pages and just staple them down the sides sans margin, but usually when this is done it’s because someone has fucked up somewhere along the way. What happens when you just staple a bunch of pages down the side? The pages don’t bend back on themselves properly. Disaster. Worse still my copy has pages starting to fall out from the staple and all the pages are cut at slightly different lengths and it is killing me. I don’t know whether this gets filed under ‘endearing punk’ or ‘should know better’

Further reading: There’s a bibliography at the back if you want to read more into pain tolerance, linguistics, and the evolution of the human brain

Missed opportunity:
A glossary of swears in alphabetical order. Also, the zine contains no infographics, which would have been great. I would love to see the most used swear word in order of frequency in some kind of pie chart…or some kind of graph showing categorised contexts. There’s just so many statistical possibilities here too. Who cares, this is one of my all time favourite zines, shitty stapling and all.

-E.P.

Some additional notes from the zinemaker follow:

So let me explain some a couple parts of it. I was in between sessions at grad school when I wrote it and kind of stuck in an academic writing mode. That’s why the second half is like that. I was still in a “do the research, cite your sources” mode. I mean, it was intentional and I think it’s kind of funny, but looking back I can see it was clearly a product of my grade school mindset.

Second, yeah, the copying and stapling is garbage. The first batch I made I took care to make sure things lined up perfectly and got stapled correctly. It was a huge pain. By the third batch I really regretted making it that unusual size and started my slow descent into not giving a shit about how they looked. If I make another batch I think I’ll reformat it to it’s easier to put together.

Last, I really appreciate the compliments. It got reviewed in another zine and the reviewer didn’t like it, which is fine, but he accused me of making fun of my high school teacher for being gay. It really bummed me out because I thought I made it clear I made fun of him because he was a creep who liked his teenage students. Also he had a funny last name. No one else had read it like that and it definitely got into the hands of people who would have called me out. I still got worried that it inadvertently came across as homophobic so I stopped selling/giving it to people. I’m relieved that you got what I meant about him.  And just a quick note, I’m now a teacher with a funny last name so Karma has been getting me on that.

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) somethingsbegun.com] 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.

 

Accidental Polyamory

no contact details
I got my copy from the zinemaker

A personal account of the zinemaker finding herself in a polyamorous relationship with her long time girlfriend and a new mutual girl friend. The zine talks about the experience and what it all means.

Aesthetic: A basic hit-the-ground-running kinda look. It’s all handwritten, roughish layout, simple cut and paste with a found pattern cover and stencilled writing. It’s a zine at it’s most pure and raw.

Not pretentious: Whenever I hear the word ‘polyamory’ I groan because it’s such a ridiculous word (and/or concept). This zine, however, is written simply and isn’t trying to be anything profound or posturing to some some manifesto. It’s just one person’s account of what it’s like to find yourself in a situation for which there’s “no blueprint”. The zinemaker writes about how it all happened, how the new dynamic was negotiated, and how, three months in, it’s going successfully. It’s just a personal ‘so, this happened!’ kinda story.

Repeat, not political: The zinemaker doesn’t feel defined as a polygamous person in the same way that, say, her lesbian-ness defines her. She doesn’t romanticise polygamy or brand it as some awesome brand new lifestyle everyone should check out. Nor does she think polyamorous relationships are inherently radical, but open to flaws and dysfunction as much as anything else.

Curious: Definitely, polyamorous relationships have that mystique about them because they’re not the society norm. And they must surely be emotionally challenging. It would be cool if the zinemaker did a zine revisiting the situation in twelve months time and then, say, 24 months time to see if the new configuration of the relationship is working, if it’s failed, and/or how it’s informed her ideas on relationships generally. I’d love to know the challenges and how you introduce your two girlfriends to your mum. Are there other zines like this about polyamory out there?

This zine could be better if: Nothing. It’s not trying to be anything it isn’t – this is just personal writing, copied and stapled. This is how you make a zine, people. Unmediated. Honest. Perfecto.

-E.P

Piltdownlad #10

Behind the Wheel: A Lyft Driver’s Log

Kelly Dessaint
piltdownlad(at)gmail.com
PO Box 22974 Oakland CA 94609 USA
kellydessaint.com/piltdownlad
I got my copy from the zinemaker, you can get yours online here or by contacting the zinemaker directly.

A zine about ridesharing for Lyft in San Fran from the perspective of a driver.

You need this: Because it’s interesting to know about ridesharing in San Francisco, what it’s like to move to a new city, cram new street configurations into your head and open your car door to facebook profile thumbnails on the street. And how the zinemaker hopes nobody will puke in his car. And how he tries to, you know, make a living in the new millennium. And keep his average online rating above 4.8 stars. And be nice. There’s a lot going on. And it’s all thoroughly engaging.

Aesthetic: Smart graphic cover art with strong font choices. It’s a text heavy zine, but nicely broken up into sections with screen grabs and cool street grid maps with carefully typewritten nomenclature. It’s beautifully done.

Not included: The crazy price (and culture) wars currently being battled out between Lyft and Uber at the time of writing this. But the zinemaker has you covered, because he’s reporting from the front line from his blog ‘Behind the Wheel: A rideshare confessional’

You may miss: Subtleties of the culture of ridesharing apps (specially for someone like myself outside the U.S).

There are some little things referenced in the zine but not necessarily spelt out. For instance, the zinemaker mentions giving an obligatory fistbump to one of his passengers as they leave his car. He doesn’t mean ‘obligatory’ in a social exchange hipster kind of way. He means obligatory because, as a Lyft driver? it’s protocol. I seriously thought the zinemaker was just trying to politely reciprocate. Not so. #branding!

The zine also mentions prime time surges. Not understanding it won’t detract from your enjoyment of the zine, but for those who are curious, check out this great explanation from Planet Money’s podcast, it seems to be a unique aspect of ridesharing.

That’s awkward: San Fran is a city of tech start ups and programmers. The zinemaker romanticices a former San Fran that no longer exists and resents the changes that have displaced the locals, the same changes that have forced him to rent in Oakland (the consolation prize address). Of course, he’s a newcomer as much as anyone else and is earning his living off a rideshare app developed by the young professionals responsible for all the gentrification. The irony is not lost on him, but it’s still a messed up dynamic without any kind of…resolution.

But maybe this is the new common working man: Someone who wants what everyone else has. A new millennium petite bourgeois. And the zinemaker does genuinely struggle as a casual driver living from one ride to the next, resenting those rewarded by the new economy. This is the new class war.

Read it for yourself: If nothing more it’s great voyeuristic reading, and personally I love this zinemaker’s writing. There’s the sociological scratching there if you want it –  either way, it’s an endless stream of observations and passing streetscapes and ducking and weaving traffic. This is a story still evolving – and a promised ‘part two’ to this zine. Watch this guy. The whole Piltdownlad zines series is highly recommended. Cannot reiterate that enough.

-E.P

OCD and the GED

anon
bioproject (at) gmail.com
I got my copy through the zinemaker cause I’m special, pester them for a trade or purchase!

A personal account of the zinemaker’s triumph in successfully managing their O.C.D. in a professional capacity as well as a story of his own student’s ability to rise against their underprivileged backgrounds and societal expectations that they are ‘non achievers’. NB: the GED is a high school equivalent certificate in America and Canada.

Don’t be put off by: The initial footnotes. Because the zine assumes an academic tone to begin with.

How this is not academic:  Well, for starters, the zinemaker wants to demonstrate how educational and therapeutic techniques which they have experienced as both patient and teacher-in-training can (and need to be) applied to the field of psychiatry. So yeah, a little ambitious.

There are several aspects that annoy me when grasping with such vast subject matter: Some key concepts go undefined (there is a lot of talk about ‘risking love’, but no explanation of what that means). And some of the arguments assumed in the zine are a little flawed, or dependent on generalisations.

Case in point: The zinemaker is pissed with how everyone takes Monk (the tv detective) to be a stereotypical O.C.D. personality – one fictional detective does not represent a highly complex and variable disorder – but then the zinemaker goes and cites a single individual (Ellyn R Saks) as her proving her psychiatric professionals wrong – as if all schitzophrenics suffer her experiences and are capable of overcoming their condition and can get genius grants and become law professors etc. So in a diadactic sense, Ellyn ends up as a flat-packed ‘type’ to prove a point as much as Monk.

Whats really being argued here is that: We are all unique individuals, capable of exceeding expectations placed on us  by ourselves, generic figures of authority, and society at large. The sentiment is a powerful one. It’s the stuff of universal myths and legends and the key to understanding amazing people throughout history. It is also what makes this zine cool, because this simple truth is amply demonstrated through the zinemaker’s experiences personally, as well as with his students. This alone is more powerful than bullet points and Foucault references.

What makes this zine worthwhile: If you haven’t guessed, it was not the academic tone for me. It is the zinemaker’s personal writing, the tangible passion that comes through the pages and the stories he relays about life in the classroom – the personal challenges the environment presents, as much as the learning challenges for his students.

His experiences span teacher training, working with middle school students and working with adults studying to get their high school qualification equivilent after an interrupted education. Not only are the teaching experiences varied, but the zinemaker also talks about being a young white teacher amongst a black adult student population and how he (and his students) reconcile this culturally.

Goddamn, this zine is engaging on so many levels – the perspective of someone with O.C.D, the insights of teaching, those of learning; the broader power dynamics of teachers and students race relations, and developing one’s teaching style (…and identity). Even without being interested in education (or reforming psychiatry) these remain amazing and genuinely inspiring stories that make you want to hug the guy.

Further reading: The zinemaker mentions the ideas of Douglas Kutach, Paulo Freire, Myles Horton, bell hooks, Carter G. Woodson and Jack Mezirow.

And if you’re interested in this zine, also check out: OCD Thows Bows, and Mo Bows – both zines describing personal experiences with OCD.

-EP

All My Fathers

DJ Frederick aka Frederick Moe
singinggrove (at) conknet.com
36 West Main Street Warner NH 03278 USA
I got mine for US $1.50 through Antiquated Future 

A micro memoir of the men in the zinemaker’s life who successfully demonstrated how masculinity can be expressed in a loving, healthy fashion.

You think you’re reading a family history when: The opening sentence of the zine reads ‘My biological father was Herman Frederick Moe, born almost a century ago on January 31, 1919″.

I have to admit: I wasn’t sure how personally invested I was going to be reading about the life history of Herman Frederick Moe, (as per reviewing Coral Coogan) but the hook with this zine for me was in the title – ‘fathers’ – as in plural. For some reason I imagined the zine would be about someone’s dad suffering Dissociative Identity Disorder.

It’s not exactly what I imagined: Instead of promising some tabloid tell-all, it’s not some creepy story of a psychopath dad with voices in his head. And it’s not about a kid who grows up with a series of stepfathers in some horrifying unstable childhood or a kid with multiple non biological ‘daddies’ in some freaky cult. No, it’s none of that.

What it is: Actually a cool tribute to various men who served defacto fatherly roles to the zinemaker as he grows up, providing a sense of security, respect, leadership and guidance his own father is incapable of giving.

There is something really touching about: A man now in his fifties speaking of an ongoing need for a father figure in his life – and making sense of that positively. And acknowledging the men in his life who inspired him in significant ways. This is so insightful, and a unique perspective shared so openly.

Less is more: this is not a lengthy zine – it’s only twelve pages – but you feel like you’re closer to the zinemaker by the end page. He even includes a regret that would have been easier to omit than include. Writing about regrets in a professional or personal capacity is *such* a strong and courageous thing to do.

Sideline: The zinemaker’s working life is interesting in itself, working in the mental health and disability sector.

This zine makes you think about: authority figures in general, people in leadership positions in your own life, and what kind of fathering you experienced in comparison. It’s also part of a larger discourse on society and gender norms too of course.

It’s interesting that the zinemaker doesn’t explore his mother’s relationship to his father in these pages, and it’s unfortunate the women who do feature in the zine in positions of power across his working life appear intimidating and just…draconian.

Don’t be put off by: The cover art. There, I said it. It does make the zine look like a family history booklet as per the opening sentence, featuring a photo of the father holding a cat which is half adorable and half ominous. (Does he love the cat? Is the cat about to be the victim of some kind of hate crime?). In addition the inked heading is actually weirder and more inconsistant the more you look at it: also making this zine potentially spooky (if your brain is like mine).  Either way, the cover art doesn’t indicate the awesomeness inside. Because it’s a really cool, brave personal zine to be read, and shared, and talked about.

DJ Frederick is: a busy man. Not only does he write many zines, he also reviews them at One Minute Zine Reviews too.

-EP

Media Junky Issue 18


Winter 2013

I got mine through trade, you can get yours by sending $US 1, stamps or a nice letter:
Jason Rodgers
PO Box 62 Lawrence, MA 01842 USA

A zine that reviews diverse zines and indie music with the philosophy that DIY cultures are critical to cultural resistance against progressively greater corporate and state control.

The small print: Only zines with PO Boxes are considered for review. The music releases reviewed all have postal addresses as well.

The most striking thing about this zine is: a really great aesthetic. It’s the classic cut-and-paste, with random background collage behind the strips of columns. The text is small, clean, word-processed courtier font but, with scissors involved, the whole thing comes with that tangible feel where you can see the bits of scotch tape showing up on the photocopies. It’s messy without being distracting; ordered, without being contrived. Perfection.

The types of zines that get reviewed: There’s a happily wide variety of titles here, from the Christian New Age Quarterly, to the Flying Saucer Digest, to fiction and art zines. And publications concerned with historial material relating to anachism and radical economics. The last section of the zine is devoted to indie music releases that all receive the same attention and informed insight as the zines which is cool.

The review style is: Succint, informative, and objective. But there was a review of Junior Careers (Piltdownlad #3) that summed the zine up as “a very nice story” which seemed kind of an odd description and definitely a weird representation of the zine. On further consideration, ‘Nice’ is always a strange choice of wording to use with zines.

The sad part about this zine is: the internet is declared as promoting passivity and goes against the DIY ethic. The zinemaker elaborates on his cultural theories in his introduction to Psionic Plastic Joy, issue 17. Guess that means the guy doesn’t like cat memes.

-EP

grumpycat

Zine Explorers’ Notebook no. 4


Spring 2013

I received my copy wonderfully unsolicited, you can get yours through correspondence, American cash/stamps or zine trade:
PO Box 5291 Richmond VA 23220 USA. Be generous.

A zine reviewing zines, but also an artform unto itself given the letterpress production and vintage graphics.

The small print: you have to have a postal address to be considered for review. Otherwise you’re just not a serious zinemaker.

What I imagined this zine would look like: some kind of little spiral bound notebook with lined pages and field sketches of small marsupials.

What the zine really looks like: a club newsletter from the late 50s, double-sided pages stapled on the right top corner and folded so it can be posted ‘as is’, envelope size. It’s all done on letterpress, which is a big deal, because it’s not a small arts project with a few strategically placed decorative letters. The entire publication has been painstakingly prepared offset and rolled through inking rollers. I repeat, every letter of every word has gone through a manual inking roller and maybe you can feel the applied pressure left ingrained in the paper afterwards, or maybe you’re imagining too hard. Any slight mechanical perfections are unique. Welcome to the romance of letterpress.

The best thing about this zine is: It is die-hard. The labour of love that goes into producing the zine is immediately obvious. Just so, in reviewing others’ zines the writer highly prizes considered writing, production values, pleasing layouts and thoughtful content. There’s a strong solidarity amongst those who cherish pre-digital printing forms and keeping old technologies working. I think I stumbled upon the papernet! Also, these people don’t like centralised government.

The kinds of titles that get covered in this zine: tend to share similar philosophical outlooks, with socialist or punk leanings. A lot of mail art and cool obscure titles are covered, as well as titles by zinemakers with PO Boxes who actively circulate their works for reviews and so become familiar players.

A review of the zine-review review style: The reviews are essentially concise, sometimes a simple description with an endorsement, other entries might include long excerpts from the zine itself, intricate analysis or personal digressions.

The letters section is: out of another century. And print tradition. Zines don’t typically have letters sections, but they are definitely part of an older amateur press/ fanzine format tradition and it fits within this zine logically and comfortably. It illustrates an active prison population readership and other die-hard print fans, all keen to discuss old typewriter models and, in this issue, photoengraving. Mad. Brilliant. And totally an Old Man thing. Not that the zine is intentionally exclusive in the passion for old skool methodologies, it’s absolutely not, but it does have a Old Man vibe. It’s the demographic I guess. (not a criticism, an observation).

Now that you’re into letterpress: check out ker-bloom from Pennsylvania, United States

-EP