Zine Reviews

IZM 2017 Zine Reviews Part 2

The Big Game: Hero
By Kyle Peets
One Page Zine

The Hero zines are one of many parts of a large collaborative project called THE BIG GAME that Kyle Peets is making with The Platte Forum Residency and a group of 15 high school students from Denver. The goal is to invent and design a new sport. “The project begins with a fictional premise: it’s the year 2117 and the world has all but been destroyed by a century of capitalist greed and violence. A small group of activists have discovered a secret underground repository of sports gear and a tattered book on the history of sports. The only problem is that the book is highly damaged and barely readable. As the last people on the planet, they feel obligated to form some teams and invent a new sport for the contemporary aesthetic; one free of sexism, homophobia, toxic-masculinity, racism and any other form of prejudice.”

“The only figures in the sports history books in a hundred years from now will be the activist athletes who used their platforms to take tremendous risk and speak out against social injustice and oppression. As such we will be using a different activist athlete every week as remote mentors to help guide us through the project and inspire us to be better.”

Peets and the students have created one-page zines profiling some of these mentors: athletes who risked their careers to stand up to injustice, racism, homophobia and jingoism: Colin Kaepernick, Megan Rapinoe, John Carlos, and Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf are the first athletes featured.

This memorable project provokes an interesting question: in a hundred years what will we remember more, Wayne Gretzky’s or Michael Jordan’s records? Or athletes who used their profile to scrutinize systems of oppression? We’re betting the latter. You can download PDFs of all 4 zines here.

Brainscan #33
By Alex Wrekk
Perzine, 68pgs

Brainscan is a must read perzine. Its creator, Alex Wrekk, is well known in the zine and diy community for publishing Stolen Sharpie Revolution, organizing the Portland Zine Symposium, and even starting International Zine Month. Alex devotes a considerable amount of time to educating fellow zinesters on cool titles and events. But often because she’s such a force of nature in zinedom, her excellent perzine work is sometimes overshadowed by larger projects. Along with Cometbus, Scam, Doris, Pansy, Ladyteeth and Ker-bloom!, Brainscan is one of our all time favourite American perzines. This issue has Alex examining her study of secular witchcraft with a very nuanced and knowledgeable critique. Early in the zine, Alex addresses the skeptics, noting that she’s not seeking to persuade anyone or change their opinions on witchcraft. She has developed a belief system that works for her, “witchcraft is not about tossing rationality out the window, it’s about learning new paradigms and perspectives.” The zine starts with a useful glossary of definitions, and contains: witching tips, thoughts on modern paganism, and tons of other great resources. Whether you are well versed in the realm of modern witchcraft, or engaging the practice for the first time, you are sure to find relevant information and insight in this zine. As always, Brainscan is an illuminating and educational read. This zine is available for order here.

DIY Sex Toys
By Kandis
Half size, 24pgs

This how-to guide covers affordable and relatively simple ways to assemble many different sex toys, including vibrators, dildos, harnesses and more. Our favourite section details how to turn your toothbrush into a vibrator.  Much of this zine is taken directly from the zine Go Fuck Yourself, which is also worth checking out. A quote from the intro, also taken from GFY, sums up why this zine and others like it are so necessary: “sex and sexual expression have long been criminalized in our culture. By teaching others, talking openly about it, experimenting and doing it for cheap or free, you are not only having fun, releasing stress, being healthy, and learning, you are also fighting the long-standing criminalization of the body, our desires, and sex in general.” This zine is available for order through Look Mum! zine distro.

From the Root #4
Edited by Whitney French & Timaj Garad
Litzine, 58pgs

This amazing lit zine features poetry and short prose from seventeen emerging wordsmiths. The theme of this issue is home. We read this just as Canada was celebrating its 150th anniversary, amid legitimate scrutiny about a continuing, and often unacknowledged, history of colonialism, racism and violent oppression. These beautiful writings critique boutique multiculturalism and touch on subject areas such as: genocide, warfare, Islamophobia; even gentrification, and mental illness. All the work is stellar, but a few of the pieces such as Whitney French’s (Can’t) go back, Love letter from a Third Culture Kid by Timaj Garad, and Bria Miller’s Resilience in Brown Queer Women resonated with me the most. This is an important zine, and it blends the personal and the political in fascinating ways; simply stated, it is one of the most important lit zines we have ever read. Highly recommended.

Illustrated Women in History #4
Half size, 40pgs

The impetus for the creation of this zine was the opening of the Jack the Ripper museum in London. As the author states in the intro; “the museum had been granted permission to open on the basis that it was to celebrate women in history, and to have changed this to celebrate someone who brutally murdered women instead was outrageous. I realized how little I know about women in history, and how we are only taught about the history of wealthy white men in school.” This zine briefly canvasses the lives of twenty amazing women, some of whom are relatively well-known, such as writers Octavia Butler, Alison Bechdel, and Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Others are not as well-known, but should be. This zine serves as an amazing intro point to their biographies. Each mini bio is accompanied by an illustrated portrait. This is the type of zine project that begs to be developed into a book. Even a casual perusal of the biography section in a mass chain bookstore shows a startling lack of diversity. Enough with all the white dudes. Do we really need another biography of a college football coach or celebrity chef? We highly recommend this zine.

Let’s Make a Zine
By Olivia M.
Instructional Zine, 48pgs

This super cute instructional zine was produced to accompany zine workshops that Olivia teaches. Most of the text is taken directly from Powerpoint slides from the workshop, but some content is unique to this edition. This meta zine is brimming with great stuff. It briefly touches on a whole host of germane subjects: zine history, popular zine subgenres, layouts tips and templates, copyright concerns, distros, e-zines, and even sources for free clip art. The last section contains some cool zine hacks, such as scanning patterned fabric or tablecloths/blankets to create interesting backgrounds. There’s even some thoughts on trade etiquette and tips for tabling at a zine fest. This zine is simply chalked full of so many useful snippets, it would be difficult to list them all here. Suffice to say, Stolen Sharpie Revolution excepted, this is the best zine on zines we’ve read in a long time. Highly recommended. And what’s even better, you can download this rad meta-zine here.

By Tess Eneli Reid
Comic, Half size, 10pgs

This desolate accordion style comic documents the tragic effect a smelting plant has had on the small Ontario village of Madoc, (Madoc is located halfway between Toronto and Ottawa). The visage is bleak: hundreds of dead fish floating atop toxic water, and generation upon generation of miners falling ill; this is hard-hitting stuff. The drawings are exquisite in their bleakness, and this comic’s thin page count belies its deep resonance. Madoc invites the reader to a place they are not soon to forget.

Open Letters #1
Designed by Owen Clements & Nat Clements

From the editor of Wes Anderzine comes a very cool letter writing project. The inaugural issue of Open Letters Leeds, contains five intriguing letters penned by Sarah Peploe, Giulio Cosimi, Max Dunbar, and Vickie and Jake. There’s of course a love letter included, but it’s a love letter with a twist. Max Dunbar’s “CV of Truth” moved me the most; it’s a intriguing take on the standard resume. There’s also a translation of an actual letter written in the Yorkshire dialect. Also included: a mini envelope and sheaf of paper so you can write your own letter. Open Letters Leeds recently celebrated its first anniversary. Hopefully, there’s many more to come.

Trump Reminds Me of My Rape
By Ifer Moore
Perzine, 26pgs

This unflinchingly honest perzine should come with a trigger warning. The author deftly uses dissociation as a theme to survey significant moments of trauma in their life. Readers should be forewarned that several of the instances relate to sexual assault. The brief vignettes span two decades, from age 10 to 30, and the setting shifts from California to Oklahoma, and Mexico. These brief snapshots evoked a whole host of difficult emotions and feelings when I read them. This is courageous writing. While most of the zine focuses on the author’s personal experiences, the narrative intersects with Donald Trump and his disgusting and habitual mistreatment, and assault of women. How could a survivor of sexual assault not be traumatized when they hear a presidential candidate outline his sexual assault strategy, and then get elected anyway? This is a brave and unforgettable zine. You can order a copy here.

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