Zine Reviews

January 2015 Zine Reviews

antique eval

Antique Evaluations #1
Digest size, Art Zine, 46 pgs

This zine is filled with nearly four dozen performance evaluations for employees of a state sponsored psychiatric hospital. The cover reads: “A Found Art Zine: Even 80 years ago your boss was a dick”. These historical “inside documents” are a fascinating and disturbingly entertaining read. Each page has an index card sized employee description and some of the conduct described is pretty off-the-wall. It appears if you are not an alcoholic when you start working at a sanatorium, you will be by the time you get fired. The author aptly describes this publication as “part police blotter, part gossip column, part found-art scrapbook”. A note accompanying this zine stated that the second and third issues were released this past summer. Can’t wait to pick them up. Highly recommended.



Broken Pencil #64
magazine, 64 pgs

BP bills itself as “the magazine of zine culture and the independent arts”. It’s probably my favourite magazine on the planet; it’s the only one I currently have a subscription to. Nothing will ever replace Factsheet 5, but Broken Pencil has come the closest. Whenever a publication of this size and repute changes senior personnel there are always measurable editorial changes down the line. This is the first issue with Alison Lang at the helm and the last with skott deeming as a contributor. Kinda bittersweet in that regard. Going to miss deeming’s column mightily, but I’m curious to see how Lang’s editorial priorities shape the publication. The cover article in this issue is by Britt Wray and it examines citizen scientists, diybiology and biohacking. There’s also a DIY science experiment how-to article that teaches you how to extract DNA from strawberries. Additionally there’s a slew of zine excerpts as per usual, a few articles on crowdfunding, plus details on BP’s first ever do-it-yourself diorama contest and approximately 35 well written zine reviews. I’m assuming most zinesters are already familiar with Broken Pencil, on the off-chance you’re not, it’s worth checking out


george w

George Wallace
by Tom Buchanan
Digest size, 8 pgs

Two flash fiction stories by Tom with drawings by Zoe Maeve. The first, named “George Wallace”, is an abstract noir rumination on guns, masculinity, and gun culture at large. It paints a bleak but representative picture. The second story “How Feelings Change” recounts how the narrator’s father survived a horrendous workplace disaster. Buchanan’s duplication of select words and phrases is an interesting stylistic touch. Both stories are shotgun brief and deliciously unsettling.


How-to Guide to Manarchy
by Kaley & Emily
Mini, 16 pgs

“This satirical guide features advice for how to push feminists out of anarchist circles.” We’ve all met a manarchist at some point or another. Often they are cartoon Bolsheviks: experts at analyzing class consciousness but less interested in examining patriarchy, gender inequality or even their own privilege with that same rigour. Topics covered: dress code for manarchists which of course includes a black bandanna and combat boots; relationship rules for manarchists: “being polyamorous means your right to do whatever you want with whomever you want is non-negotiable”, and a bevy of other useful tips for the manarchist in your life. This mini is witty but it uses humour to scrutinize real cleavages in broader punk and anarchist culture.



Ker-bloom! #106: Polar Vortices
by artnoose
Quarter size, perzine, letterpress, 7 pgs
Jan/Feb 2014

According to the etsy profile: “Artnoose began letterpress printing the zine Ker-bloom! in the summer of 1996 and has been making it every other month since then, never late, never missing one.” This zine is “a life-history letterpress printed in installments”. In the last issue of Ker-bloom! we reviewed, Artnoose was buying a fixer-upper house in Pittsburgh. In this issue Artnoose is dealing with trying to install a heating system before winter’s brutal arrival. Ker-bloom! is always printed on rich, beautiful  paper, and did we mention it’s printed using a letterpress! And you though using cut and paste and a photocopier was kicking it old school. This venerable zine belongs in the conversation with titles such as Scam, Cometbus or Doris as one of the finest US zines published in the last decade. Also compared to many other zines it’s relatively affordable. I could gush on, but instead I implore you to check out the etsy shop and see for yourself.



The Prince Zine (2nd edition)
by Joshua James Amberson
Digest size, 60 pgs
PO Box 42081, Portland, OR, 97242

There’s Morri’Zine (Morrissey), and Spring Zine (Bruce Springsteen) and now there’s a fanzine that pays homage to the artist formerly known as. Actually the zine was first published in 2011 but this edition has been revised and updated. Amberson states in the intro that he isn’t the biggest Prince fan, but believes the performer serves as a useful fulcrum for analyzing celebrity culture at large. As Amberson notes, Prince has undergone a strange transformation: “one of the queerest, most gender-bending pop stars of all time is now a homophobic door-to-door Jehovah’s Witness who won’t get a much needed hip replacement”. The zine has A LOT of fascinating info on Prince, including many of his albums, his films, his bands (the Revolution, the New Power Generation) his phases (the purple years, the symbol years). There’s way too much salient content brimming this zine to mention it all. The Prince vs. Michael Jackson piece was probably my favourite and it shows that any rivalry between the two was really a media fuelled fiction. Amberson’s respect for his subject is evident, the writing is descriptive and well-researched. It’s a testament to the quality of the work that I read this dense fanzine cover-to-cover even though I’m only a casual Prince fan. The zine is a rich blend of cultural studies and biography. Worth checking out. Amberson also publishes the zine Basic Paper Airplane.



Reglar Wiglar #22
by Chris Auman
Digest size, 40 pgs $5

Reglar Wiglar was first published from 1993 to 2005. The zine’s title is inspired by an Errol Morris documentary and this is the first issue in almost a decade. Back in its heyday this zine was known for its playful satire. As Chris mentions in a note that accompanied the zine, Reglar Wiglar was “a parody and satire, and my reaction to the ‘alternative’ music frenzy occupying much of mainstream music press at the time”. I really enjoyed the first twenty pages that detail myriad jobs Chris had in his teenage and college years. There’s the paper route, lifeguarding, working at a pharmacy, working at a restaurant and a bunch more. Auman’s humor is crisp and understated. The second half of the issue is filled with short satirical bits and comics, most notably, Donald Trump reviewing an old Metallica album.


whose emma

Remember Who’s Emma
by Lyndall
zine and dvd

From 1996 to 2000 there was a record/book store/anarchist space called Who’s Emma located in Toronto’s Kensington Market. It was named after Emma Goldman who had once lived in the neighborhood. I remember going to Emma’ s frequently in the late 90’s to pick up zines, I even once saw show a show there. This zine has a bunch of original flyers, pictures and other memorabilia, but it’s the micro-doc that really stands out. It’s part insider’s look, part hindsight critique. The documentary was part of Lyndall’s master thesis at Ryerson in 2009. It “chronicles the rise and fall of the collective.” There’s some great interviews with some of the main organizers about the process that was the shop. Emma’s can be understood as being as much a process as it was a physical location. The film isn’t overly nostalgic, instead it brings to voice some of the inherent challenges that are found in anarchist political cultures and climates. It also vocalizes how some discussions pertaining to race and gender are sidelined by a mostly white, male and heteronormative dogma. One of the most interesting segments is when one organizer recounts how difficult it was to set up woman identified-only hours.



Riots, Rebellions and Resistance: Ontario 1837-2007
by A.J. Withers
Digest, 38 pgs

A.J. worked as the primary researcher for OCAP’s (Ontario Coalition of Poverty) calendar project and used some of that research to compile this great historical zine. Covering more than a century and a half, Wither’s canvasses a dozen “significant moments of resistance” in Canada’s most populous province. The zine starts with a brief legal definition of terms, what actually constitutes being classified as a riot, and what does not. This is a well researched and compelling perspective. Although the author was forced to use mostly mainstream media articles and reports , they have a keen eye for corporate psycho-babble, so this framing of history is both concise and believable. It’s also pretty inspiring. Some of the riots/rebellions documented: Canada’s first race riot, aka, The Moseby Affair , The Christie Pits Riot (1933), The Bathhouse Raids (1981), and the Queen’s Park Riot (2000), among a bunch of others. A captivating read from the first page to the last.


rob ford

Rob F—–’Ford
by James Edward Clark
Quarter size 18 pgs

18 excellent drawings of former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. Most of them feature him with a sinister grin, but a few have him looking confused and befuddled. They perfectly capture just how deranged his mayoralty really was. My favorite panel was the one where he is comforting Pam McConnell (the councillor he knocked down while he was running through the council chamber). Looking forward to seeing more of Clark’s captivating and unique drawing style.


ruin 2

Ruin #2
by Jolie Ruin
Digest size, Interview Zine, 24 pgs, $2 or trade
June 2014
625 West Division Street, Union City, IN, 47390

Jolie is a very prolific zinester/artist with a seemingly endless amount of energy for new projects; her enthusiasm is infectious. Ruin is her interview project and this issue contains medium length interviews with several artists and designers. The Tiny Hobo, Dolly Cool, Sugar Junkie, and Little Betty Horror are adeptly profiled by Jolie. There’s some useful Etsy selling tips as all of the interview subjects are maximizing their Etsy shops to great effect. There’s also a slew of ads for other zines and small press projects that gives this publication a retro 90s feel. I wish more zinesters traded ads like Jolie does, it’s a great way of finding out about new titles.


ruin 5

Ruin #5
by Jolie Ruin
Digest size, Interview Zine, 24 pgs, $2 or trade
September 2014
625 West Division Street, Union City, IN, 47390

Jolie announces in the intro that this is the last issue of Ruin, her venerable interview zine. Actually, it’s really a split zine with another one of her titles, Double Chinchilla. There’s one decent length interview with the dynamic duo that make up MC Sunflower Jones: Deirdree Prudence and Steven Hughes Purkey. MC Sunflower Jones produces wondrously beautiful zines in a signature style. Often there is a lot of repetition of symbols within punk/anarchist culture at large, but MC Sunflower Jones’ creations are wholly unique. They often re-frame cultural iconography in provocative and entertaining ways. It’s interesting to get to know more about these cultural curators, and to get a better sense of their process. Often interviews are a lousy read because the subject isn’t truly engaged and they are just going through the motions, but not in this case. The obvious rapport Jolie has with Deirdree & Steven helps to foster a quality dialogue. Sad to see this zine go, but at least it went out on a high note.


shes pretty good for a girl

She’s Pretty Good for a Girl #2
by Caroline
Digest size, 18 pgs

“The purpose of this project is to highlight the amount of sexist crap the average female-identified musician has to go through by letting them tell their own stories.” There are interviews with “all female” bands and musicians: Kerosene Queen, Cat Bear Tree and Syren. Caroline and a few of the interviewees point out how problematic even the label “all female band” really is. No one ever says “all male band”. Also identifying a band member by their race is obviously racist, but referring to “the chick bass player”, is somehow okay? There’s even a brief section detailing how men can be active allies instead of complicit accomplices. This is really important writing on a subject that doesn’t get enough ink in the misogynist corporate media landscape we inhabit. I think we need more honest criticism of the punk/anarchist communities that aren’t invested in creating safe spaces. Strongly recommended.


static zine

Static Zine #10
Eds. Jessica Lewis, Melody Lamb, Aviva Cohen
Digest size, comp zine, 20 pgs

Toronto’s “DIY Magazine”. 18 zinesters/artists produce a single page on any given theme. The theme for issue 10 is ‘milestones’. There’s lots of quality comics, collages and flash fiction in this comp. The diversity of material ensures there’s something of interest for almost any reader. Some of the content focuses on travel, school and birthdays. Also included: ‘How to Conquer the Oxford Comma’, ‘Going out with Merity’, ‘College Never Taught Me’ and a great one page piece by Lily Pepper. Static Zine is always a solid read.



Stubs: Volume 1
by Aaron Weber,
Digest size, 24 pgs

Aaron documents some of the concerts he’s seen over the years with ticket stubs accompanied by brief commentary. The stubs highlight the “extremes of [his] musical tastes” and “some of the greatest moments” in his life. The shows span from 1999 to 2003 and the bands and genres are mixed. The shows run the gamut from the Beach Boys to Jay-Z “and forty random dudes who shouldn’t have had microphones”, from The Violent Femmes to nu-metal and 00’s emo. This zine made me reflect on my own concert-obsessed period in my late teens and early twenties and how I seem to recall peripheral moments rather than the performances themselves. A lot of these sets are hazy in my memory but I invariably remember who I went to the show with, or weird little things that happened before or after the concert. It’s strange what we remember and what we forget. I liked how abrupt some of Aaron’s descriptions were. Interesting concept for a zine.



Tongueswell #2
by Jen
Quarter size, 30 pgs

I picked up this zine on a whim earlier this year, and I’m sure glad to be introduced to Jen’s crisp, evocative writing. In this issue she examines many relationships in her life, “to her body, to others and to herself”. This small zine packs a lot of wisdom and honesty in only a few pages. Part of what makes this zine so readable is that while Jen is respectful of her subjects and her readers, she doesn’t take herself too seriously. She is simultaneously working through many processes in her life, and her frank and honest examination of her own psyche and predilections is illuminating to read. I particularly enjoyed Jen’s insightful scrutiny of assumptions relating to food and “dieting”. There’s a bunch more stuff that should be mentioned in this stellar perzine: some interesting online dating adventures, observations on interacting with the world while being single and some thoughts on managing toxic relationships. Nothing better than discovering new titles as solid as this.


wes anderzine

Wes Anderzine #2
Digest size, fanzine, 80 pgs
March 2014

This is a compilation fanzine dedicated to filmmaker Wes Anderson. There’s a bit of everything: comics, poems, short stories, interviews and more. Particular stand-outs are Jess Melling’s piece on Auteur Theory, and the interview with Vic DeLeon (an artist who makes miniatures and dioramas inspired by Anderson’s films. You can see more of his work at This is a comp zine with over 30 contributors, I like that all their tumblrs are listed. I’m not a huge Wes Anderson fan (although Rushmore is still one of my favourite movies and I like the Royal Tenenbaums a lot), but this was an enjoyable read nonetheless. This zine is required reading for any Anderson aficionados out there. Great cover art by Roy Wood.



What’s A Zine?
by e. war
Digest size, Instructional Zine, 24 pgs, $2
Box 183, Guelph, Ontario, N1H 6J6

I wonder how many hours of my life I’ve lost trying to define what a zine is to bemused onlookers. I think I might just carry this in my back pocket and whip it out next time someone smotes their forehead and says, “What’s a Zein?” This is an excellent survey of small press phenomenon. Good background info for those who are new to the world of zines, but enough content and perspective to please scene stalwarts as well. Erin War is very active in Southern Ontario zine culture, she runs the Arrow Archive Zine Library in Guelph and even her own distro: Look Mum, which has a great stock of zines and pamphlets. Contents include: a quick but thorough canvass of zine history, general info on zine distros, zine fairs, and libraries, and some useful design and layout tricks and tips as well.

zine o file

Zine-O-File #4
by Toronto Zine Library
Digest size, 18 pgs, $2
November 2014

ZOF is the annual publication cut and pasted together by the Toronto Zine Library collective. It is always a solid read. The articles and commentaries are usually brief but highly informative and most articles leave you wanting more-in a good way. In this issue, Jessica interviews Alex Wrekk on the Stolen Sharpie Kickstarter, there’s also a short article documenting the first few years of the Toronto Queer Zine Fair. As a sidenote, I attended about a half-dozen local zine fairs this year and TQZF was by far my favourite. There’s also a brief guide to Mental Health zines, and some descriptions of zines that they’ve recently added to their sizeable catalogue. Additionally, there’s a bit of info on the library’s AGM and some pretty cool zine workshops they facilitated at a local alternative high school. If you are ever visiting Toronto, skip the CN Tower tour and check out TZL instead.

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