Tag Archives: colonialism

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.




I got my copies of all of the below from Sticky in Melbourne. The deeper into the box I go the older the zines.

THE ADVENTURES OF THE SHEBBAB & The Haunted Percolator Issue 1


Totally cute: Little pocket comic zine that opens up into band poster art, WIN.

Self explanatory title: the coffee percolator contains a ghost when cleaned.

Spoiler alert: Josef Mengele

Best: Any comic that finishes with “You should have been there” to save on drawing space

Finally: a zine that contains the word WALLA. Multiple times.

AWKWARD HANDICK: A Prequel-Mengo Lee Boredom Was Killing Me Just Like An Orgasm

Mengo Lee

I got this because: It’s full of mental drawings. And the colour cover is very very bright. You can see all the directions of the texta marks where it’s been hand coloured in. I like that.

Outlay: This was more like buying an art book, with lots of cool and weird looking pen illustrations, and many drawings of dicks. Some pages are spaced, some are overflowing. The drawings and mark-makings and asian characters  all vibrate with a frenetic energy.

I liked it more when: The urban myth as relayed to me was that the zinemaker did not want to waste an entire year of his life in military conscription, so he decided to make this zine during his compulsory service in Taiwan.  [This is also alluded to inside the first page].



Kuedos: This is a long running comic and by comic I mean really bad drawings of figures that is TOTALLY ENDEARING. It’s beautiful and nieve and just lots of bad one liner kind of skits on paper. The longest story in this issue is about a trip to Canberra split into four sections across two pages. Most of the panels are kind of one-liners.

Humour: Honestly it’s lame. It’s lame but…you gotta smile. Like money saving tips gleamed from share house living – ‘get your furniture off the street’. And a cute drawing of a stinky couch. You cannot but love. It has little stink lines coming from it.

What hooked me: The fact that the back cover advertises the forthcoming comic, “Father Yod and the Source Family: Guru, Cult Leader, Psych Musician, Killer: A comic based on a true story.” Amazing. I feel like I’m holding it in my hands already.


Sydney Exploratory Society
PO Box 4 Enmore NSW 2042
sydneyexploratorysociety (at) gmail.com

Morose: This is a dark personal zine about the zinemaker and how he came to learn of his mother’s death February 14 1999. It’s very concise writing – just a few sentences or so a page – in one sense it kind of made the zine seem overly dramatic and it ends up being heaps of pages as a result of this decision, but you do get a sense that there’s pause and hesitation and self doubt within all the empty space on each page. This kind of paired down writing is really full of impact, if anything it could have been paired down even more in some parts. It’s like someone is sitting you down and telling you something very, very important and private and you have to listen and not interrupt and just let the person chose their words carefully and do it in their own time.

Tragic: I really felt incredibly upset reading that the short note that was found on the zinemaker’s mother meant that he and his brother were unable to keep it. Due to police protocol. A detail like that is a hurtful shock. I didn’t realise something so intimate, so intensely personal, as a final note…can end up as tagged evidence somewhere and not be returned to family members. It’s heartbreaking. I just never knew.

Guilt: There is so much guilt in this zine. It’s so sad. You get an insight into the family situation and all you can think is how none of this could possibly be a reflection on the zinemaker or is their fault but at the same time you can see how someone is always going to feel like that, when the person is your parent, when it’s an enmeshed relationship. Even when the parent is broken, when they should be parenting you…there’s loyalty, there’s unapologetic love. The dysfunction is laid bare in this zine in simple words and you immediately get the sense of just how dark and complicated dysfunctional relationships can be. How they can be wrong, and hurtful, and irresponsible, and fucked up and aggressive, and remorseful and faithful and forgiving and everything else.

Multiple Loss: The story doesn’t end there. It continues to follow the zinemaker’s life and how he rebuilt his world. And how it came falling in anyway. The saddest thing to me is the social isolation that comes from growing up in exceptional circumstances and trying to integrate into the mainstream when you have so much different stuff going on inside you. Reading this zine made me want to hug the zinemaker so bad and make everything different. It’s very hard not to be affected by reading this. I wanted to review this zine, but it was too overwhelming to grasp. But I’m glad I’ve written about it now.


Chris Mikul
PO Box K546, Haymarket NSW 1240
Cathob (at) zip.com.au

Return to Glory: Bizarrism is a cherished and longstanding Australian zine title amongst a wide global community of aficionados and only gets released once every two years. 2016 fell into a Bizarrism release year, and I was really excited to get my copy and see that the zinemaker has returned to the old skool production values of plain black and white photocopying on crappy tinted paper. This year was pale blue. I love this so much more than when Bizarrism flirted with glossy colour covers.

Daggy: Bizarrism is very much from the discipline of self publishing which crosses over into all things zine. It’s basically a desktop magazine containing articles about weird shit from around the world and different eras…whatever takes the zinemaker’s fancy I guess that ends up getting researched and written up. Chris Mikul is also a published author, but fuck that, he makes zines like the common man. I love that one stuff up meant additional text had to be stapled in on the relevant page. Keeping it real.

Amazing: I always learn cool shit from reading Bizarrism and for me the real highlight of this issue was being introduced to the world of Mingering Mike, a dude who created his own fictional cardboard records, (ACTUAL CUT OUT CARDBOARD RECORDS…Think about that for a second) complete with lovingly created cover art, and extending to acapella home soul recordings. His back catalogue lives on at the Smithsonian. God the Smithsonian is cool. You’ve got to check it out, or was I the last one to get onto this. http://www.mingeringmike.com


No name, no contact details.

Nice: Another little pocket comic, made by someone with consumate drawing skills as far as drawing men, horses and one eyed giants go. Seriously, there are serious skills here.
Confession: I never got around to reading it, the stapling makes the margins hard to access, and it looks like some narration about nanotechnology and gore and bisexual scum and greek mythology. Awesome.

Furthermore: I can see the pages contain double sided stuff but it’s been folded in such a way that you have to remove the staples to get to the secret stuff underneath (unless it’s just recycling older failed photocopies). I can’t be arsed undoing the staples so a) I’m not worthy and b) I’ll never know.

CHIPS A tale of Lust


A hit with the kids: Okay, so this zine actually came out in 2014 but really I’m going to say it became a cult classic across 2014/2015 as at least one new title appeared in the franchise. It’s basically a crudely drawn comic zine of a seagull which is kind of a hybrid gull with a man’s body and makes chip eaters take it up the arse. It’s so insane and so Out There, people went crazy for it and it made me begrudgingly smile despite myself. I think it shall remain timeless.

High Art: It’s done on a riso for all the riso fans.


Pat Grant
God, this comic is actually from 2013.

Excuses: This is another comic – I never really have the confidence to write about comics, because I can never describe the drawing styles or the layour or aesthetic because I just have no freaking knowledge about the great comic tradition, or enough of the local scene.

Beautiful: This comic artist is a master. All the comics produced are beautifully produced for starters, this one with a lovely brown paper cover and brown and pink riso printed cover art. The comic, all in brown and orange,  is a story from the artist’s personal life, (a father and son relationship) and it is just told just really…simply and with heart… and you find yourself immersed in this comic world of capital lettering and childlike, cartoonish graphics kind of reminiscent of Ginger Meggs (see, I don’t know how to reference the style). PLUS the actual story is emotional and tore my heart out.

Meh: the ending? It felt contrived, like there had to be some meaningful closure. Sometimes a story doesn’t HAVE to have a neat ending. I don’t know. It didn’t feel that clever but it felt like it wanted to be.

Production values: Riso is a hard medium to work with as far as printing goes, the pigment lodges itself on your skin and riso inks don’t always apply smoothly. My copy of the comic was almost rough in the way the ink clings to the page – it’s as if the paper was too porous for the riso, or maybe the ink cartridges were low – but I still love it somehow, it’s kind of grainy and rough like an old newspaper comic and the zine carries the look since the images are heavy set and thick lined and deliberately pixilated (which loans itself perfectly to stencil technology), so you can afford the texture of uneven printing without losing detail. You know you’re holding something precious and special – this goes for pretty much anything this artist puts his hands to.

Other zines from 2014

ANAlog: Dispatches on d.i.y anorexia and recovery issue 2

Ponyboy Violet
PO Box 553 Northhampton MA 01061
ponyboyviolet(at) gmail.com

Freak out: this zine super freaked me out. I had no idea how to tackle it as far as whipping up a review. The zinemaker has anorexia and does the most insane thing which is to move to a third world country. The whole endeavour is almost a self-inflicted political punishment. It was definitely an experience approached in revolutionary terms. It’s kind of an act of madness, so crazy it’s almost genius; at the same time I cannot imagine any self respecting medical professional recommending this…but the zinemaker did this, fully immersed themselves in the experience and DOES recommend it.

The jist: It’s a really well written (agonising-to-read) zine all about teaching English in a former fishing village to ethnic minority Mon people in Myanmar. There’s lots of cultural gulfs to overcome, the first being the political dilemma: is even teaching English enforcing colonial traditions or helping to create resistance (itself a fascinating topic). Nevermind the obvious cultural clash: where the zinemaker is in close quarter communal living, people are free with exposing their naked bodies, and students especially prepare food for you as the ultimate act of caring. Everything, every action, every turn of event is a trigger for disordered eating, and everything is an ironic twist of fate, like travelling there on ANA which is the nickname for anorexia where even the packaging of snacks have ANA in massive lettering. I loved the zinemaker’s humour throughout the zine, the most minor observations that for someone with anorexia is absolutely defining. You realise how much you take for granted, how UNCOMPLICATED life is, without this physical and psychological condition tormenting your entire ‘being’. It’s a powerful insight into the condition and the mental processes that try to control you.

Intense: So, naturally everything about this zine is intense. And the zinemaker – once they have created this situation, they can’t escape from it either. It’s a deep political journey, it’s a huge personal commitment to every individual student they teach, it’s an emotional commitment to the entire culture. You don’t run from this. At least, the zinemaker wants to, and writes of this in the most incredible honesty, and yet they do not.

Unknown: The thing with a condition like anorexia is that there is no simple one stop cure. I am personally convinced it’s a disorder that survivors have to fight most days of their life, on some conscious level, to not go regress and return to disordered patterns the brain is so hardwired to want to return to. I have no idea if this zinemaker lived happily ever after or not. And it’s not the kind of zine I would throw in the face of someone with an eating disorder, either. But fuck me, it’s a fascinating read.

You should also check out: Kenneth, a zine also about recovering from anorexia albeit in a conventional treatment setting. Just as engaging and compelling. No longer in print but available as a reissue here.


Ashley Ronning

More cuteness: Another little pocket zine, this one is really sweet, printed on a riso in pink ink on a lighter pink tinted paper. (a little too sweet maybe…the pink on pink is a bit hard on the eyes). It’s an illustrated mini zine all about cool facts on little bugs. When you fold the zine out, you get thousands of little ants everywhere (in pink). The carefully documented wonderment for nature makes you like bugs (or reminds you how much you do already).

Riso Fail: The only annoying aspect to this zine is: that the quality of riso printing has lost all the delicate details that I presume exist in the original illustrations, and because there’s no use of thick lines or contrasting lights and darks, the subtle marks are lost in the riso process.

– E.P.

Tofu is not vegetarian Volume 2

Jeanette de Foe & Friends
I got my copy for $7 from Sticky Institute, 10 Campbell Arcade, Degraves Subway, Melbourne VIC 3000. I’d link you to their site but in the last few months it’s remained down and/or hacked and/or virussy.  Stop by the shop or maybe approach the zinemaker direct about obtaining a copy.

A personal zine-slash-anthology of accounts and essays about the ethics of vegetarianism – and veganism.

Wow: I found this zine to be truly radical. And I was not prepared for it. I’m not vegan or vegetarian, so when i saw the title of this zine start with the word ‘tofu’ I’ll be honest, my mind wandered and my eyes were already on the next zine. I had moved on. Oh no. You don’t walk on from this title. It’s hammering out so many interesting ideas.

I never expected: to read former vegans call out veganism. This zine is not anti vegan, not at all, but it does call the practice out on a lot of its shit. Which is challenging and provoking and really refreshing in any activist scene. Well any SCENE, period.

Whats right, whats wrong? Make up your own mind. The zinemaker doesn’t want to tell you how to think, it wants to tell you how to question. It’s not militant and it’s not looking to pick a fight.

Here is a zine coming from a genuine desire to create greater discourse. The zinemaker makes that clear right at the beginning: “..I wanted this zine, like the previous things I’ve written, not to be the final word on the topic, but to be starting/continuing a respectful dialogue. On some things I have a resolved position, on others I don’t and maybe never will…”
So reasonable! so moderate! and I like the sense of humility.

The zine itself is kind of an anthology but it really feels like a personal zine that happens to open with mini essay contributions or editorials. Because of the chaos of the layout, they all kind of bleed into each other so all the voices get kind of mixed.

My eyes hurt: the zine itself has been printed on a rizzo with cut’n’ paste text printed in blue ink throughout. There’s cute little line drawings of tofus or mushrooms etc with googly eyes. All good. But the text is cut and pasted against multiple jarring background patterns which are too intense at the scale they’ve been reproduced. They are just hugely distracting, changing with every page and constantly breaking your concentration. I had to visually claw from one sentence to the next, fighting daisies, knives, forks, polka dots, feathers, geometric shapes, corn cobs, carrots, tractors, pigs, geese, and baroque wallpaper designs. It was painful. Let me make this clear to the zinemaker.

Things you’ll be left thinking about:
The cultural meaning and emotional role of food in your life, your friends and family.
How a restricted diet can not only be socially isolating, but isolate those who prepare foods or culturally significant meat-centric meals that cannot be shared with you- (Are you staying true to newfound political ideals or rejecting your own culture? can the values be reconciled or are they inherently contradictory? is this an embodiment of racism?).
Are all indigenous cultures with meatcentric diets necessarily cruel, exploitative or disrespectful to animals?
What do vegan and vegetarian lifestyles set out to achieve and how successful is the practice on a practical level?
Is boycotting effective and does it imply a certain judgement of others? (fairly or unfairly).

You’ll also be thinking about also another element: That of health. Is a restricted diet something that can be done safely amongst all individuals or is it irresponsible to promote a vegan lifestyle as a ‘simple’ healthy alternative?
Are supplements adequately addressing your bodily requirements and is ‘adequate’ good enough for your particular body and needs?Even if you are doing everything right, is your health suffering as a result of your political choices?
And should you politely be excused if you can’t commit to a restricted diet? As if you contain a personal flaw or defect. How do you fit, then?

The zine draws from many stories of life in political activist circles, specifically events or conferences which have involved separate food preparation and eating spaces where the question of tolerance and cultural sensitivities has come into play. In some of the zinemakers experiences, these have lead to open conflict and hostilities that have been poorly managed and ended up creating hurtful divides.

Plus: Theres lots of other aspects to vegan and vegetarian culture and its stereotypes that get explored by the zinemaker and contributing writers. Everything from the assumption that vegetarianism is exclusive to white culture, to reverse cultural appropriation, food hygene, food affordability, sustainability, animal rights, capitalism, and common misconceptions. Some of the arguments are problematic and flawed, some wonderfully articulated, defended, and fully convincing. I guess the important thing is the diversity of the opinions as much as the convergenance of perspectives found here. An utterly refreshing read even for those of us who normally pass up tofu titled zines.

What was Volume 1? I haven’t seen the issue to read it (from 2011) but there’s also a thinner zine by the same maker called ‘Veganism, Racism, Culture and Identity’ still in print. So there’s further reading out there and possibly a volume 3 sometime in the future.

See also: A review of zine that responds, ‘Can Tofu Be Vegetarian?’ The debate lives on.


Tour de Croc

or Cycle Touring from Cairns to Cape Tribulation with someone you wish would be your girlfriend

I got my copy for AUS$3 from Sticky
you can get yours there too or by contacting the zinemaker

A zine of practical travel tips as well as a personal account of cycle touring with a non romantic companion in northern Australia for a month.

Three ways to interpret the title:
Tour de Croc: A cycling tour whereby croc shoes are being worn or sighted.
A cycling tour whereby crocodiles are being sighted. (and who knows maybe also end up being worn, aka Romancing The Stone).
Or a cycling tour de crock. As in a piss take of tour de france and crock of shit.
All three work for me.
In retrospect I realise the title probably refers to crocodiles. Northern Queensland and all.

More this and less that: The zine is a hybrid of ‘renegade camping’ travel advice for cyclists following this particular route. AND,  its a personal story of getting out of Melbourne and leaving heartbreak behind while entering a new kind of awkward love dynamic. It’s not as deeply personal as what I was expecting and its much more practical: Like a lonely planet guide but by zinemakers with a post colonial political slant. I wasnt really taking notes for the best sleep stops or the estimated kilometres per cycling stretch. Instead I was turning the pages for the personal dynamics and travel descriptions; like the occasional encounter with the local population which absolutely involves some kind of culture clash or mythological aura. Theres a list of things to pack and advice about drinking plenty of water. Even the slang that gets mentioned comes with an asterick and an explanation. The only thing missing is a free rubber tyre patch with every issue. I like that about this zine. You feel like the maker is going to reach out and smudge some sunscreen on your nose in between pages.

Makes you proud to be an Australian: A highlight of this zine is that
the classic ’80s australian beach bums nudie girls postcard that gets sent through the post is later restaged by the zinemaker and travelling companion, their own butts also sent though the post as a diy photo postcard. Celebrate that butterfly tatt!

Aesthetic: A scrap book approach of travel photos, maps, signs, found images and vintage bits and pieces all presented in the classic cut and paste mix of typewritten and desktop publishing.

Fantastic terms I learned from reading this zine:
Post-couch: Describing an evolved lifestyle that has moved past traditional domesticity and involves having a mattress on the lounge room floor.
Mansplainers: Men who feel compelled to explain things to females assuming they need help or would benefit from well intentioned intervention, a female who may not realise she needs advice and is getting it anyway. Being a member of the fairer sex and all.
Crank arm: A cool term on the bike diagram at the back.