Zine Reviews

September 2014 Zine Reviews

call my name

Call My Name #4
Quarter size, perzine, 22 pgs
Summer 2013 $1

This is a 24 zine project for International Zine Month, so it lacks some of the depth customary to Charlotte’s full issues; nevertheless, there’s still a lot to enjoy here. First off I love that Charlotte has a “zinester shirt” and her enthusiasm for independent publishing is infectious. There’s often a focus on sustainability issues in her writing and it’s delivered in a reflective, direct manner. I read a lot of misanthropic stuff which I sometimes like, but Call My Name is always a welcome reprieve, partly because Charlotte deals with serious subject matter with an authentic sense of positivity and possibility. In this issue, she chronicles her youthful experiences with tarot, Wicca, witchcraft and natural religion. She offers some enlightening criticism on the problematic gender and sexuality norms presented in many of those myths and rituals. There is also some commentary on birth control. Always a solid read, looking forward to her next issue.


Clumsy #4
Kara Comegys
Quarter size, 23 pgs $1

Cassette tape cover design. This diary-like zine chronicles Kara’s cross country hitchhike with her best friend, Dave. The “A” side of the tape says, “I hitchhiked across the United States from June 22 to October 9, 2011. It was awesome 100% of the time. Side B says “I hitchhiked across the United States…it was terrible 100% of the time.” This binary is misleading though; Side A has almost as many roadside obstacles as the B side. This was a thrilling read and a bit scary at times. I felt like I was with Kara and Dave as they slept outside abandoned gas stations or tried to outwit Babylon. One thing to be taken away is that hitchhikers are often at the mercy of power tripping cops. The zine picks up in Chicago and then they’re off all the way to Seattle and down to Memphis. Needless to say, along the way they cross paths with a lot of really solid people and of course, a few parasites. I loved the cassette tape presentation; it reminded me a bit of a short story version of Carol Shield’s Happenstance. My only real complaint was that it ended just as I was really getting engrossed in their journey.

day stop being punk

The Day I Stopped Being Punk
Siue, illustrations by Antoine
Mini, 32 pgs

This zine examines some of the cleavages to be found in the modern “punk” movement. Siue deftly argues that it’s not really much a movement at all actually. This zine picks up where her last one “Punk is Like a Box of Candy”,left off- “where the punk scene was missing girls, queers and people of color, the Toronto scene had become anti-political.” Siue chronicles some of her less than positive experiences in Toronto, Portland and Los Angeles. She believes that “punk is nothing more than a type of music and dress; at best it is a mode of youth rebellion”. I have to say I agree with her assessment in many regards. In the past I have found the broader punk culture has been unable or unwilling to probe the intersectionality between modes of oppression and sometimes uses imagery and discourses that augment objectification more than scrutinizing it. Siue notes she was influenced by zines such as Race Riot 2 and Personality Crisis. As she examined the subject further, she found “more stories about people who joined a subculture because they felt like outcasts in mainstream society only to find the same racism, sexism, homophobia, fat phobia, transphobia, etc, right here in our little oasis.” Informed writing on an important subject. Highly recommended.


Ghost Pine #13: Water
Jeff Miller
Quarter size, litzine, 28 pages

Often cited as one of the best Canadian zine ever produced, Jeff’s writing is Chekhovian and deceptively simple. The diction is superb, there’s rarely a wasted word and the editing is always exemplary. I usually feel like writing in my spiral notebook after reading Jeff’s stuff, maybe because he makes it look so easy to produce such beautiful flash fiction and short stories. It is not. I remember Goldberry Long once said that a novel is like urban sprawl, whereas a short story is more like a single house. Jeff never tries to cover too much ground, leaving key themes or issues underdeveloped. In this issue there are 5 expertly manicured stories, the most compelling being, “Common Loon” which documents an intriguing friendship and “A Very famous Cat”, about Professor, the reading cat. There’s also a fish n’ chips review and a review of Jeff Wall’s “The Crooked Path”. Ghost pine has been published in some form since’ 96 and Jeff tours quite a bit, so if you get the chance to cross paths at a reading or small press expo, I implore you to check his stuff out.


Imantzine #1
Full size, tribute zine, 26 pgs $5
June 2013

This is a tribute zine to the late Imants Krumins, put together by the folks at Hammer City Records in Hamilton. Krumins died after a long battle with brain cancer in June 2011, but his love of underground music and collectibles is highlighted in this pamphlet, a sampling of his handbill collection. There’s a bit of everything, from local acts like Teenage Head, The Forgotten Rebels, to The Cramps, Iggy Pop and Johnny Thunders. Krumins was reportedly a bank manager by day and a punk aficionado and super fan by night. His record and memorabilia collection was the stuff of legend, as ex-Rebels bassist Chris Houston told the Hamilton Spectator, “he may have had one of the top three collections in the world, for punk and noise music”. He also was a regular at all kinds of underground punk shows for decades. He was known to travel to Japan and Europe in search of new bands, and he was one of the early DJs at McMaster University’s CFMU. Great to see Hammer City Records is doing this for such an original and unique personality.

postal adventures

Postal Adventures
Mini, 14gs

Marian used to only get mail from her grandmother that is until she stumbled across mail blogs like the Pen Pal Project and Confessions of a Pen Thief. This cute mini briefly canvasses her involvement in mail art, and her numerous interactions with her many pen pals over the years. I love the retro vibe of this zine; I thought Facebook had killed the pen pal phenomenon. There is something so rewarding and intimate about getting personal, physical mail in this digital world. There’s a few one pager’s and lists relating to mail art and her postal adventures. The most memorable is about her mailbox being vandalized with ketchup. A quick but enjoyable read, and the homemade envelope that accompanied it was awesome.


Radon 45
Travis Fristoe, Aaron Cometbus
Digest, perfect bound, 45 pgs $4

Two short essays on the cult 90s band, Radon. Cometbus’ piece starts with ruminations on punk equality; those in the audience aren’t that far removed from those playing on stage. He argues that ethics are important and the amiability of a band is no doubt a factor in contextualizing them properly, but in the final analysis their work should be the prime conduit for analysis. Cometbus focuses on the group and their vinyl rather than highlighting their outrageous band persona. He delineates the difference between an intimate and personal relationship, the latter can distract from analyzing the work itself. Fristoe, a lifelong Gainesville resident, writes an essay that is more personal in tone since he actually knows the band. A devout fan of both Radon and Spoke, he attended all their early shows and writes with great admiration for them both. Radon’s first album “remains largely unsold, gathering dust two decades later on a warehouse shelf…despite or because of that it is a true masterpiece, and a quintessential example of the failures and successes of the DIY scene.”

static zine

Static Zine #9
Ed. Jessica Lewis
Digest, compilation, 32 pgs
March 2014 free

The Food Issue. When is it too early to start calling a zine venerable? More than two dozen artists and writers each contribute a single page on the theme of edibles. Another solid effort by the Static team. The editor’s note informs us that the zine is going to the Buffalo Small Press Fair, the Chicago Zine Fest, and in July, the Portland Zine Symposium. Also, it seems they are cutting from 3 to 2 issues per year. Again there’s a little bit of everything when it comes to form; comix, songs, art, and unsurprisingly, a lot of recipes. My favorite pages were the love letter to cilantro, the guide to eating at buffets, and the interview with a picky eater’s mother. The spoof Coachella lineup poster by Ricky Lam is just great. Opening night: The Jam headline with Red Hot Chili Peppers, Fiona Apple, Ice Cube and Dinosaur Jr. Burger. The next nights it’s McCartney’s Wings, with Meatloaf, Salt N Pepa, Blind Melon, the Black Eyed Peas, and the Cranberries. Highly recommended.

suicidal goldfish

Suicidal Goldfish #1-3
Suemi Guerra
Digest, litzine, 6 to 14 pgs, $5

Suicidal Goldfish takes an interesting form; I wasn’t quite sure whether it was a perzine or a litzine. After finishing the first issue, I slant more towards the latter, but there is an autobiographical feel to the writing nevertheless. The story is set in Los Angeles, and the main character, Violet, has returned from of summer of backpacking in Spain to the doldrums of the fall semester. As soon as the plane has touched down unforeseen conflicts encroach. Not only has her goldfish committed suicide, her best male friend, Ethan, who she may, or may not like, has shacked up with a new girl. I like the episodic nature of this zine, with months coming between issues; it almost simulates reality in that you have to pick up with the characters as you would with a friend you hadn’t seen in a while. The dialogue was crisp and the characterizations were intriguing and believable. This is light but not silly reading, and once I finished the 3rd issue I was curious what was next for Violet.

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