January 2016 Zine Reviews

20160109_195342

Comedians Coloring & Activity Books
By Jolie Ruin & Jamie Noggle
Zine, digest size
TheEscapistArtist.Etsy.com

Jolie and Jamie have channeled their love of stand up comedians into a set of amusing coloring and activity books. I love that Jolie writes about stand up comedy in her perzine, The Escapist Artist. It’s always a fun read filled with unique content: first hand accounts of shows and interactions with her favorite performers. It’s the only fanzine I know of that is dedicated exclusively to the stand-up comedy scene. In the first of these two zines, Comedians Coloring & Activity Book, there’s lots of coloring fun and maze games, on one page you have to make a lost cat flyer for Marc Maron, in another you have to find Dave Attell, or connect -the-dots to figure out what Janeane Garofolo’s mystery pet is. The second zine features more standard coloring fare with many comedians featured: Amy Schumer, Sarah Silverman, Brian Posehn and Margaret Cho, among others. This is an ideal gift for any comedy obsessed crafties out there.

20160109_195507

Nesting: Self Care Tips for Autumn & Winter
By Katie Johnson
Zine, half size, 18pgs

This zine arrives just in time, as Toronto transforms into a monochromatic hibernation zone for the winter. Sometimes it’s a bit like being an extra in a Matrix sequel: everyone is wearing black leather and black sunglasses, and shuffling around in a semi zombie state. Recently one of my friends, a Torontonian who had spent the last five years living in NYC, told me that New Yorkers are better at braving the winter because they just pretend as though it’s not happening, while Torontonians don’t leave the house for 3 straight months unless it’s to go to work, or to buy a new pair of sweatpants. This zine is organized in a “workday schedule”, and it’s broken down into sections: The Morning, At Work, The Home Time, and Bed Time and Sleep. It’s concise and filled with cheap and practical suggestions to help mitigate some of the issues that accompany winter, such as… “depression, flues, colds, boredom, loneliness, seasonal affective disorder, directionlessness…”. My favourite tips included: making a “quote book” for inspiration and grounding purposes, using a sleep chart, light lunches and plenty of hot showers, or watching favourite TV shows “like the old days” one episode a week, instead of in marathon runs. This title is available through Pioneers Press.

20160109_195423

One Way Ticket #8
By Julian
Zine, half size, 42pgs
onewayticketzine@gmail.com

We picked this up at Canzine at the Great Worm Express Distro table, since Frandroid had strongly recommended it. After reading just a few pages of this anarchist perzine, it’s easy to see why. The writing is tight and spontaneous, and Julian articulates complex and contradictory feelings and observations with tremendous ease. There are eight, well edited, straightforward stories and an academic book review of Dr. Seuss. Julian chronicles jobs on an assembly line, a stint as a pizza delivery worker and running a small print shop and press in Guelph, Ontario. There’s also a story about getting busted. It’s a bit of a travelogue, Julian doesn’t stay put in one locale for too long, and it’s fun to tag along with him. Although Julian is speaking to common themes and subjects, like all good writing, there is a unique and original perspective presented that is delightful to experience. In the forward, Julian mentions that this may be the last issue, we sure hope not, this was one of our favourite reads in a while.

20160109_195537

Pansy #12
By Laura Garland
Zine, legal size, 28pgs
Flammable.etsy.com

Sure, meta-zines and review blogs are tried-and-tested means of scouring out new zine titles, but the best way is to ask fellow zinesters what their favourite reads have been. There are a handful of zines that are repeatedly mentioned, and Pansy is usually one of them. Pansy is a riveting and unforgettable perzine. Laura shares so much of herself in her writing, and often the visage is stark but always courageous. The layout is gritty cut-n-paste with great design and contrast. There is a trigger warning attached to this zine, it may be too raw and unflinchingly honest for every reader, but it is a profound chronicle of self expression and self analysis. Highly recommended.

20160109_195622

Pond Rot II
By The Panoptic Press
Zine, cut-n-paste
thepanopticpress.com

This seemingly random collage zine from New York State is a visual feast. The note accompanying the zine stated that “the order of the pages of is random and different with unique copy”. I remember that some Beat poets employed the technique of randomly arranging and re-arranging sections of prose to create new and exciting variations. This zine uses a similar technique to frame news clippings, newspaper collages, graffiti, comics, ink drawings, tourist photos, and clip art to interesting effect. A couple of friends came over just as I was looking at this, and I passed it around, curious what their opinions would be. While both appreciated the gritty cut and paste aesthetic and the mix of paper stocks used, one said they didn’t “get the content”, while another read it as a blatant critique of how real history is being sanitized and re-written by corporations, or ignored by mainstream news outlets. That’s what interesting about well constructed collage art, it’s almost a Rorschach test. Different perspectives read very different things into the same subject matter.

20160109_195446

Psycho Holosuite
By Oli Johns
Zine, half size, 88 pgs
Psychoholosuite.com

We first became aware of Oli John’s unique science fiction writing in his Hong Kong based zine, Gupter Puncher. Psycho Holosuite is similar in temper, taste and tone. Not likely to be everyone’s cup-o-tea, it is refreshingly off-the-wall and wholly original. Zinedom can in part trace its roots to early science fiction fandom of the 1930’s and 1940’s, but Oli John’s zines are more a remix of, rather than an homage to, early fan culture. It’s difficult to categorize this zine, and that’s always a great thing. Johns plays with many common science fiction themes and tropes by turning them on their head. There is an intriguing prose style employed throughout, and an adroit use of fragmentation to shape and re-shape meaning. Whether the subject focus is on astronaut minutia, or a time travelling surgeon, it’s an intriguing blend of modernist structuralism and post modern tongue in-cheek critique. The content is decidedly varied, there’s director’s notes for a few horror films, satirical email correspondence, short notes and story ideas, and a handful of well written flash fiction. Great cover art by Soren Melville and additional writing by Tyson Bley, Berit Ellingsen, Frankie Sachs, Marc Horne and Thomas Stolperer.

20160109_195524

Reglar Wiglar # 23
By Chris Auman
Zine, digest size, 40pgs
Reglarwiglar.com

Reglar Wiglar began publishing in 1993, and after a long hiatus, this is the second recent issue. Like the previous issue, this one is broken up into two main sections. The first chronicles many of the jobs the zine maker has had, as a dishwasher, a law clerk, a telemarketer, and plenty of other hospitality jobs. The second half of the zine has some satirical and humour bits and comics, like Donald Trump reviewing Justin Bieber, a spoof job posting, and “hungover poetry.” Personally, the more straightforward and earnest writing in the first half resonated with me more than the comedy writing in the second half.

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