Story Time! Issue #1
I got my copy from Sticky for $3 last year
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.