• Zine Reviews

    Zine Review: Pieces #7: on belief, delusion & love

    Pieces #7: on belief, delusion & love

    Pieces #7 is a quarter-sized black and white zine on belief, delusion, and love. On the realities we construct, the comforts we cling to, and finding a way to keep going when they all fall apart.

    I hardly know where to start. So much happens in this zine, and I feel like my words are truly lacking when it comes to expressing how I feel. I actually started reading it a while ago, but I quickly realised that I needed to wait until I could really take all the time I needed to read and take it in.

    Knowing that Nichole no longer distributes this zine along with the cover images and words left me with a somewhat wary feeling when I started reading. The feeling grew stronger with the list of words and definitions (including ‘belief’, ‘delusion’, and ‘love’) that followed the touching intro. Not wary in that it would be harmful to me – though Nichole does warn that some things may be triggering along the lines of depression, self-harm, and losing touch with reality – but rather feeling in my gut that I was about to read (and undoubtedly get invested in) something intensely personal to Nichole.

    I struggle to sum up the events in this story because I keep feeling like I am somehow taking away from what this zine is and Nichole’s experience. However, for the sake of review, I’ll do my best.

    Nichole writes about a personal demon created out of fear and how it became a terror-filed comfort in avoiding other fears and perpetual beliefs – even when doing so was to her detriment. She writes about how people who aren’t bad people can still be bad for each other and feed into each other’s demons. The roles we adopt, and the blurring of lines within relationships.

    When all of these things escalate, they begin to crack and tear – taking Nichole’s sense of reality and autonomy right along with it.

    Nichole’s honesty is breathtaking and shows such a level of self-awareness and self-understanding. She documents events without second-guessing, blaming, or softening the edges of the experience. While I imagine there are still some things not included, what she did commit to paper is intense and shows a level of vulnerability I think anyone could learn from.

    “I think I wanted to lose” she writes at one point. A point at which I had to pause for a moment because I’ve felt that way, too, but never seen or heard it expressed before. Not in that way. Not in such an experience. Even if I didn’t identify with that specific situation, I think a lot of people can identify with the hell you know being better than the heaven you don’t.

    As cliché as I am about to sound, it’s the depths being so dark and painful that make it a truly beautiful relief when Nichole does reach out to get help – and writes about continuing to work on things.

    I’ve never been so emotionally invested in a perzine. Partly because I identify with some of Nichole’s experiences in more ways than I care to share in this review. Partly because I know it must have taken so, so much for Nichole to put this down on paper – let alone turn it into a zine.

    As I mentioned, Nichole no longer distributes this zine, so I can’t say as to whether you’ll ever have the chance to read it. If you do, give yourself time and the space to read it, as it is an intense read – and one I’m honoured that Nichole chose to share with me.

  • Zine Reviews

    Zine Review: Pieces #13 on being a romantic asexual

    Pieces #13 on being a romantic asexual
    IG: @corridorgirl

    Pieces #13 is a black and white quarter-sized perzine “on being a romantic asexual” that also serves as an introduction to asexuality and the asexuality spectrum.

    I hardly know where to start with Pieces #13. It’s one of those zines that I absolutely devoured and that left me with so, so much to think about. I like perzines, and I like learning things. This zine happened to be an intense combination of both.

    Aesthetically, Nichole’s zines have always been appealing to me (as mentioned in reviews of previous Pieces reviews). I do so love a thick quarter-sized zine, and I like how the cut and paste style is fun but not overly distracting from the writing.

    Oh, the writing.

    Nichole manages to be frustrated, informative, vulnerable, and many other things, all within one zine. While the pieces do cut from one to another – the intro being distinctly perzine, the laments being vulnerable, and the FAQ/comments responses being a mixture of many things. Nichole doesn’t need to say the obvious because feelings come through so clearly in the writing.

    There is a section in the back where Nichole responds to questions and comments regarding asexuality. I felt so, so frustrated that people could say and ask those things. At the same time, I have to respect Nichole for addressing them anyway.

    I found the spectrum of asexuality absolutely fascinating. Like many (I imagine), I was part of the problem in that I only ever saw it as the ‘you don’t’ side of ‘you do or you don’t’ when it comes to sex. I had no idea that there’s not only a spectrum but that there are other names as well. Thanks to this zine, I’ve not only learned things about asexual people but may have clarified a thing or two for myself as well.

    I think this is a great resource not only for people who are still figuring out the facets of their asexuality but also for anyone who has even a little open mindedness in learning more about asexuality. It’s a zine I want everyone to know about because I know it’ll be valuable to those who are looking for zines on the subject (and more beyond them).

  • Zine Reviews

    Zine Review: Pieces #11 On Connecting Through Friendships, Letters & Zines

    Pieces 11 Zine

    I’m not sure what’s going on with my colouring in this pic because the cover of this zine is definitely yellow, not cream/tan/whatever.

    Pieces #11 On Connecting Through Friendships, Letters & Zines

    I’m usually so utterly focused on reviewing things in order, but when you have a zine series you love, you make exceptions…

    In a way, jumping from Pieces #5 to Pieces #11 has been interesting in that Nichole’s writing ‘voice’ has changed so much. There seems to be this level of inner acceptance in this zine that I didn’t pick up in previous zines. That’s one of the reasons I love being able to ‘stay with’ a zine series over time – people change and grow.

    That being said, I was very happy to see that Nichole’s cut and paste style that I have loved over the course of this series is still going strong in #11.

    Nichole talks about taking a new approach to interactions with people, the beauty of letters, and meeting penpals in person in the setting of Chicago Zine Fest 2014. The inner acceptance that I mentioned earlier really shows in the beginning pages,the very first starting with the words “hello, hello” and the second pages displaying her mailing address with an open invitation to connect.

    The funny thing is that I felt this shyness come over me at such an invitation. Not unpleasantly so, though.
    The zine wraps up with beautiful thoughts about cultivating ‘second homes’ – those spaces where we feel safe to stop in and comfortable enough to stay. I loved the imagery and loved being reminded of little things that I can do to make my own life a happier one.

    For me, the Pieces series continues to be everything I want in a perzine in both aesthetic and content. Nichole makes me think but doesn’t lecture, and I always feel welcomed in rather than forced to watch from the outside.
    Definitely grab a copy.

  • Zine Reviews

    Zine Review: Pieces #5 On Change

    Pieces 5

    Pieces #5 On Change

    I’ve reviewed Pieces 1-4, so if you’d like to check them out, you can find the links in my recently updated *cough*it’sabouttime*cough* Zine Review Index.

    When I first get a zine, I have a quick scan to get a sense of the layout and what kind of zine I’m about to get into. The Pieces series never fails to be a pleasurable scan. I am a huge fan of the A5/regular page half-fold zine, but there’s something about the A6(ish for US friend paper) size that makes it feel a tiny bit more like a zine. A fun little treasure just for me. Pieces #5 is a smidge smaller than A6, and I love it.

    Plus, I love how she continues to use white text on black for the change to more stream-of-consciousness type writing. The visual change to go along with the writing style change is a nice touch.

    Now enough about paper, Nyx. Not everyone has teh lurve for the stationery like you do.

    Pieces 5 is all about, you guessed it: Change. Looking to go back into regular work, contemplating a move and facing fears are topics that we can all identify with. As with previous issues, Nichole does so with that hint of vulnerability that makes you feel like you’re having a conversation with a close friend.

    It’s strange to read something that was written in the past (2011) and yet have it apply so well to things I’m dealing with now. This zine is all about change, and Nichole’s writer-ly background along with a keen craving for the creative sits her well with what 2015 Nyx is sorting through. Maybe I have a severe case of narcissism, but even when the situations are different, her questions and thoughts ring true.

    The beautiful thing about a perzine is that it’s like getting to know a person. You can read all sorts of things, but they can still surprise you. Nichole’s foray into S&M was a surprise but a pleasant one. I admire her bravery in a number of ways: admitting her wants and needs to herself, pursuing them with another person, and writing about the whole lot. As I contemplate what to write in my second perzine, I read what Nichole has shared and think deeply about what I could share with the world.

    Another win for Nichole in the Pieces series. I’m very happy to see that she is continuing on with Pieces and is on Pieces #12. Looks like I’ll have to catch up.

  • Zine Reviews

    Zine Review: Pieces #4 On Lucid Dreaming

    Pieces 4

    Pieces #4 On Lucid Dreaming

    Lucid dreaming! I love lucid dreaming. I’ve only done it a few times, but each time has been amazing. But, moving on, because this is not a review of my lucid dreams.

    The beauty of having so many issues of a zine is that I get to see it grow and change. In Pieces #4, I feel like we’ve gone from life musings in a general sense to something ‘outside’ Nichole that she’s passionate about. This zine is packed full not only with her experiences but also with information on lucid dreaming – like techniques to use to help you achieve lucid dreaming.

    I really enjoyed that. I feel like it’s a lucid dreaming handbook that I can refer back to when I feel the need. There’s even a list of resources for further reading, which I always appreciate.

    About half of the zine is dedicated to her dream diary. Dreams are like sports to me, though: I’d rather be in the action than watching (or reading, in this case) it all happen. Even so, this zine is a keeper.

  • Zine Reviews

    Zine Review: Pieces #3 On Writing, Drinking & Demons

    Pieces 3

    Pieces #3 On Writing, Drinking & Demons

    I understand now what drives a lot of people to do this and, more importantly, the vague reasons why.

    Pieces #3 is one of those zines where I want to quote everything because I identify with this, and with this, and with this…

    You get the picture.

    From the beginning, Nichole had me with this zine for a number of reasons. Perhaps because I’ve been so desperate to write – to actually finish something. Or perhaps because I’ve been exactly where she was when she made this zine: longing for the possibilities an altered state of mind might provide. I, too, used to look down my nose at people who did such things, but I also now understand why they do it…

    As Nichole states on the first page, this zine was written over two days in a flow-of-consciousness style while she swims to the bottom of a bottle of Captain Morgan. It’s an interesting transition as the first strip of black is put on the page partway through the journey and ends with white text on a page of black – plus a photocopied, handwritten page almost as if to prove it had happened.

    Even in the literally darkest part of the zine, she seems unsure to the point of needing ‘proof’. Or I could just be reading into it too much. Either way, I still feel the urge to take her out for an ice cream and tell her that I really like her zines.

    The next morning in the zine dawns bright once again with black-bordered type on white pages. Attempts to write disappear completely in the wake of ice creams and conversations. While the whole thing left Nichole feeling like she wasn’t sure whether it was a success or not, I see it as the former. After all, I think producing words requires ‘getting out and living a bit’.

    For the anxious and shy, sometimes that requires alcohol.

    Drinking never seems to accomplish what I initially set out to do…

    I hear you.

    Somethin’ somethin’.

  • Zine Reviews

    Zine Review: Pieces #2 On Girls & Wondering

    Pieces 2

    Pieces #2 On Girls & Wondering

    This zine is about the handful of girls in my life that really made an impact on me.

    I think there is a true, deep value in being able to look at past relationships and feel the feelings without getting lost in them. In this zine, I think Nichole makes a beautiful tribute to women she has met. From her first kiss to realisations of unrequited love, we get to view the women that influenced her life as she views them.

    Nichole shares her awkward moments in ways that are endearing and yet ‘are what they are’. She doesn’t indulge in fantasies of what could have been or should have been. When you’re reading, you get a real sense of how she appreciates them even though, in her own words:

    …things didn’t work out the way I wanted with any of them…

    What was especially gorgeous for me is that there are a couple of women who don’t have names. Why is this gorgeous? Because it reminds me that you never really know whose life you’re influencing. You might think that everybody thinks your [X], but it just so happens someone out there is too nervous to ask you out. Or even to say hello.

    Love it.

  • Zine Reviews

    Zine Review: Pieces #1 On Writing, Reading & Growing Up

    Pieces 1

    Pieces #1 On Writing, Reading & Growing Up

    This zine (and #2-#5) came through a trade I made a few years ago thanks to the We Make Zines site. Nichole prefers trades to outright sales, so my financially-challenged self was quite happy.

    I had a good feeling that I would like this first one because I am an author (and was back when I made the trade, too) and love a lot of things that are writing-related. This zine did not disappoint.

    Pieces takes a ‘snippets of life’ approach to her zine with, well, snippets of her life. Bits and pieces that surround reading, writing, authors and what it means to grow up as a creative person. She does skip around in time – jumping forward and back – but chronology doesn’t matter as much as the feelings of the scenes involved. While my glitchy self would have loved chronology, my free love hippie self was happy to go with the flow.

    What was even better is how many experiences Nichole and I had in common. For instance, I also wrote for Young Authors when I was in school. I also started using British spellings in school only to be told a resounding no. (Yay for moving to Australia and putting extra letters in all sorts of words! Colour!) While she was not allowed to read at the table, I was not allowed to write. But we were both convinced (if only a little bit) that the characters would get up to something while we were away.

    We’ve even both met Garth Nix.

    I won’t give it away, but the zine ends on an exhilarating (especially if you’ve done it yourself) note that leaves you wanting to know what happened next.

  • Zine Reviews

    Zine Review: Strange Romance #1

    Strange Romance #1: A Shit’s Fucked Anthology
    Edited by Iggy Nicklbottum
    Graphic Design by Josh Corea

    Strange Romance #1 is a full colour zine that is a bit smaller than A5 size full of stories, poetry, and art all along the theme of strange romance.

    Strange Romance opens with a poem called ‘Love and Demons’ about a strange love under the full moon, setting a tone that plays into the title completely. What follows are stories, poems, and art – some equally as strange as ‘Love and Demons’ and some moreso. From odd creatures to love beyond the grave, Strange Romance hits the spot for creations out of the norm.

    Tourist is my favourite of the collection – a short story about loving each other despite mistakes made. I predicted some of the elements but was pleasantly surprised to find it ended a bit differently than I expected.

    I love the look of this zine so much. The cover art is fantastic (and horrifying), and it’s made to look like a well-worn trade paperback. I keep touching the ‘cracks’ and ‘rips’ in the art. This is carried inside with yellowed and stained (looking) paper. This is broken up in the middle with a couple of art pieces printed on glossy white paper, but I just smiled at that because I’ve read more than a few old books with crisp glossy paper pages in the middle to feature photos.

    My cover photo pic doesn’t do it justice.

    My editor side picked up a couple things here in there, but the combined package of the looks and the content kept me reading right along.

    I’m happy to see that this is #1, implying that there will be more in the Strange Romance series. I think if you like the odd, the strange, and/or the slightly weird in writing as well as art then you will enjoy this zine.

  • Zine Reviews

    Zine Review: Zine Crush: Volume 2

    Zine Crush: Volume 2
    https://twitter.com/zinecrush (No longer updating)

    Zine Crush: Volume 2 is a black and white ½ fold zine collection of affection in the zine world in comics and written pieces.

    Zine Crush gets right into things from the get go, opening with a story of zine crushes and moving from penpals to friends. From there, we have comics, written pieces, and even a couple of photos. This zine describes itself as ‘like a missed connexion board’, but contributors took the prompt in a number of different directions. Along with the anonymous and direct confessions of like, there is a section of anonymous notes for the Richmond Zine Fest 2012, a piece from the editor about being Zine Crush, and even a funny comic about a cat.

    When I opened this zine, I expected a more straightforward, ‘traditional’ sorts of tales of like – and I would have thought I’d prefer that as well. However, I ended up enjoying the different interpretations.

    I really enjoyed ‘Creepsters United’ by Jonas which goes into the strange feelings of ‘knowing’ a zinemaker so utterly through their zine and yet feeling like you don’t know them at all when you meet them in person.

    The thing that I appreciated most about this zine is that it was a mixture of ‘like’. It’s not all romantic or sexual. The crushes are of any nature – from be my friend plz to more intellectual crushes. I like to think that I can have zine crushes (which I definitely do), and they won’t all be assumed to be the romantic/sexual kind.

    I really adore the concept for this zine and am sad that it seems to have ended on volume 4. Still, I shall continue my search and try to get volumes 1 and 4. If you see this zine series, pick it up and have a look.

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