Ah, the 100th review. I hope you’ll like my choice for the big 100th, because I certainly enjoyed it on a number of levels. Of course, it wouldn’t be a review if I didn’t tell you all about it…
I’d tell you what Guest Informant #1 is about, but I think they’ve already done a better job than I could do…
Guest Informant is a conversation zine made by Sydney zinemaker Emma D and Melbourne zinemaker Luke You. Issue number one was recorded on Sunday 19.7.2015 in Emma D’s kitchen in Dulwich Hill, Sydney Australia.
I usually leave the tactile type stuff for the end of the review, but I think I’ll put it at the beginning this time, as that’s what second caught my attention with this zine (the first being the title, which I think is very cool). I was quite enamoured with the slightly thin, slightly brown interior paper of this zine. As it turns out, they saved me the time of tracking down more info about it, as this is in the back:
…The inside pages are all 60gsm Bulky Newsprint from the intriguing Stationers Supply in Collingwood.
I love it to absolute bits in ways that don’t quite fit into words yet. In ways that make me think that I simply must have some even if I never do anything with it (more the shame if I didn’t, though).
I was actually a bit nervous at the beginning of reading this zine, as they were talking about bands and gigs. If there’s one thing I don’t know about (other than poetry), it’s the band/music scene. But before I knew it, I’d already been swept up in the flow of conversation. The conversation being what this zine is all about.
There’s something really beautiful about text on a page with nothing else. There aren’t even names or indicators to tell you who is speaking, let alone anything like body language (but for the occasional ‘(laughs)’). I imagine people who know one or both of the people involved could guess, but I don’t. When you strip that away, even stripping away things that inform our prejudgments that we didn’t realise informed our prejudgments, you’re left only with what the people are actually saying.
Reading this zine was like reading the middle of a book. No backstory. You have the main topics, but there are also the little clues like how it started with playing the flute and references to Sticky Institute in Melbourne. Sure, I have absolutely no clue about what it’s like to be a band in the world today, but it’s a natural conversation that sweeps from side to side picking up other little side topics along the way.
You would think that something like this – a conversation in a kitchen between two people – would lend itself to being something incredibly intimate bordering on secretive. While there’s nothing wrong with that, this zine really isn’t – and that’s a good thing. There is that degree of separation there, of course, but I read this feeling like it was a regular conversation between a couple of friends that might happen in any kitchen across Australia. It was good and relaxed, and it felt real. Nothing forced happening in that kitchen on that day.
At the very end of the zine, you do get a peek beyond the words to what I assume is the kitchen where the conversation took place. A lovely end to the zine.
I chose Guest Informant #1 as my 100th zine to review because it encompasses so much of what I love about zines. The feel of non-‘traditional’ materials in its physical form, the thickness of a zine that tells you there are many things to be enjoyed inside, the typewriter letters, the anything-goes kind of content the might not be everyone’s cup of tea but it’s out there in zine life and culture because it is welcome there. At the risk of sounding cliche, it is what it is and makes no excuses for that. Nor should it.