Category Archives: zines that review

Chorrada

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)gmail.com
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.

-E.P.

*Update
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.

New Zealand Zine Review 1


Zine Annual Issue One 2013
newzealandzinereview (at) gmail (dot) com
I got mine from instore at Sticky, NZ $2
available: email directly
www.newzealandzinereview.org.nz

A zine annual that’s wonderfully ambitious, capable and professional. Includes zine reviews as well as extended critiques, interviews with zine librarians, ‘zines of years past’ and a directory of NZ resources and zine fests.

The small print: It’s just an educated guess, but while they encourage zines to be submitted for review, I’m thinking that only includes New Zealand titles.

The appearance is: Clean, minimal, professional. Curiously, instead of regular double-sided copying, each page is from paper folded back on to itself. Normally it would seem wasteful (It doubles the paper volume), but in this case it gives the issue a bit of bulk.
The clip art was a dubious aesthetic call.

The first thing that struck me was:  Wow, a national, annual, round-up of zines! That’s so inspired and amazing!
Furthermore, the annual accompanies an website updated weekly with new reviews. It’s all pretty epic, and a brilliant endeavour, but an undertaking framed in this fashion could prove controversial…

The danger with a project like this: Worst case scenario specific to an ‘annual’: you run the risk of only representing a particular scene within the zine culture (despite the best of intentions), effectively creating an ‘other’.

The types of zines reviewed are: A mix of arty visual zines and some interesting sounding personal zines.

The review style is: Positive and energetic. There’s good things to be said about everything and not much by means of actual criticism.

I was slightly alienated by the fact that: This zine takes advertising. It’s negligible and just for zines and artist stuff, but it’s the first thing you see, and it’s not like a free listing or classifieds, they’re actual ad spaces. That’s kind of weird.

The other thing that weirded me out a bit was the ‘news’ section. Do the zinemakers really consider a library, relocating its zine section opposite the Arts, Music and Literature desk on the second floor as… news and/or gossip. What, is this zine made by librarians?

My favourite part of the zine is: The section where various people of the scene are asked to talk about their favourite zine. Zines are so ephemeral, that once they’re out of circulation they cease to exist, period. So it’s great to hear about zines that may be from several years back that excited people, and what they were about. So good.

The best thing about this zine is: The annual contains not only a whole lot of reviews, which are giving exposure to zines I would not otherwise come across, but it also contains two ‘feature’ critiques which are full and thorough write ups, like mini essays. I love that kind of indepth attention being given to zines, especially one included that is completely visual and somewhat abstract. Visual zines don’t usually get reviewed at all. Big time salute.

No matter what you think: you have to be impressed by the commitment, presentation and ambition of this little compact publication. It’s a valuable starting point to engage with NZ zines and get a feel for the active players in a twelve month timeframe. It’s great documentation, and, combined with an active online presence with current reviews, a fantastic contribution to zine culture in an overlooked corner of the world.

Now that you’ve checked out the nz review siteCheck out a similar UK zine review site  ‘Spill the Zines’

-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