• Zine Reviews

    Zine Review: Rum Lad Issue 12

    Rum Lad Issue 12
    Steve Larder

    Rum Lad Issue 12 is an A5 black and white zine sharing Steve’s memories of his grandparents in words and drawings.

    I had a feeling this one was going to pull on my heart strings the moment I saw it. I wasn’t wrong.

    Rum Lad opens on the inside front cover with a beautiful dedication of this zine to his grandparents, both of whom have passed away. It is clear from the start that he admired his grandparents and loved them dearly. Other than Steve’s sweet words in regards to his grandparents, something else struck me as beautiful as well. Even in his grief, Steve writes:

    “…hopefully anyone reading this will be able to recognise and reflect on the familiar, yet ordinary tenderness that you might share with loved ones of any description.”

    It certainly did for me.

    Following two text-filled pages about their early lives are an assortment of drawings and comics encompassing some of Steve’s favourite memories. Most are one page long, and all are filled with a lot of love. Little anecdotes along with Steve’s awesome art style give such a rich impression of these memories.

    This zine is a heartfelt tribute to two people but also a realistic one with plenty of moments of humour to go along with the moments of sadness. From the footnotes that include ‘do keep up’ as well as the fun little moments with his grandparents, Rum Lad 12 took me through a full range of emotions.

    I really love the entirety of this zine and am grateful that Steve chose to share these stories. It feels wrong to ‘rank’ memories in any sort of way, but I do want to mention how Tesco Bag made me smile so much, and I keep smiling whenever I think about it. The memory is lovely in and of itself, but it also reminded me of how important the ‘little’ moments are in our lives.

    I think what impressed me the most is that Steve included both good and not as good memories. It’s all too easy to idolise those have passed away, brushing over the bad and focusing on the good. But Steve hasn’t done this, and that speaks to me as him being someone who wants to remember his grandparents for who they were rather than some idealised version.

    I also loved that he included stories of them as told by his brother as well.

    Steve’s art style is fantastic – a mixture of highly detailed and yet sometimes more simple. No matter what I’m looking at, I love looking at it.

    Absolutely pick up this zine. You know where it will end because of where it starts, but it’s beautiful and a zine I highly recommend.

    PS. I won’t spoil it, but when you pick this up, don’t forget to look at the page numbers. There’s a little fun something at the end of each memory.

  • Zine Reviews

    Zine Review: Livor Mortis 1

    Livor Mortis 1

    Livor Mortis 1 is a zine a bit smaller than an A5 that contains black and white photography with a focus on skulls and skeletons.

    Livor Mortis 1 is a photography zine that opens with a haunting quote about “…the dead, piled high and pressed ‘neath the earth” from lemierre, a deceased Perisian, before leading you into the catacombs of skeletal photography…

    Skulls and skeletons are fascinating to a lot of different people for a lot of different reasons. For me, it’s wondering about the human lives once held in and around the bones. Who were they, what was their life like, and how did they end up where they did? In that way, the black and white (as opposed to colour photography) really worked for me, stripping away another layer of identity and thus compounding the sense of never knowing.

    The photography itself feels… I think ‘unassuming’ is the best word for it. Photos feature skulls with fully clothed skeletons, slightly mummified remains, skulls piled high in a sort of macabre room decoration. There are no ‘artistic angles’ (I’m not taking a shot at that – I do it myself) nor does it feel like anything was set up as such; the subject matter of the photos is curious and intriguing all on its own.

    I didn’t find myself wondering why the photographer took a picture this way or that – I was too busy wondering about the individuals in the photos. When there weren’t so many skulls as to overwhelm the imagination, that is.

    I think there is an obvious level to this zine being one that you will likely know already whether you want to check it out. I found it strangely curious in the way writers – especially horror writers – are curious about things.

    I will say that if you are curious, do check it out, because there’s more to come in the rest of the series…

  • Zine Reviews

    Zine Review: A Visitor in Myself #1

    A Visitor in Myself #1

    A Visitor in Myself #1 is a black and white ¼ sized stream of consciousness zine about therapy, therapists, antidepressants, and more.

    I started this zine series with #2 – https://www.seagreenzines.com/mini-zine-review-a-visitor-in-myself-2/ – and being able to go back to start at the beginning is not only soothing for my completionist heart but also gives me a chance to learn about the motivations that had Nichole starting the series in the first place.

    “I’m working on myself and my life every day. It isn’t so much having a positive outlook on life as it is the desire to make change. Evolve and live.”

    A Visitor in Myself #1 opens with a handwritten note from Nichole about how this is a stream of consciousness zine, how Nichole is (at the time of writing) contemplating the idea of antidepressants and how big of a step that is for her. From there, we take a gentle slide into a stream of typewritten thoughts with handwritten notes interspersed throughout.

    Nichole mentally wanders through self-examination, pointing out tendencies like pushing people away before they can leave her – and regretting it, unhelpful ways of coping, and things like knowing she shouldn’t feel afraid to ask for help… but struggling to do so anyway.

    As per usual with Nichole’s zines, I found myself nodding along with the things I’d felt myself and even rolling my eyes at the therapist who didn’t think she was living with Borderline Personality Disorder because she didn’t lack empathy. I don’t think anyone would accuse me of lacking empathy, and I’ve had my diagnoses (including BPD) confirmed on multiple occasions. But I’m not a professional. Still, this is what Nichole’s writing does to me. It draws me in with its laid bare vulnerability and has me saying, “You’re not alone!”

    Nichole also writes about anxiety and dissociation as well as her experiences and feelings around borderline behaviour. Her writing is a wonderful mixture of clarity while also still coming to grips with everything that being borderline encompasses.

    Having ready many of Nichole’s Pieces zines, I couldn’t help but compare this zine to them. Would they stand out, or would they feel like Pieces under a different name? (I certainly wouldn’t complain either way, given how much I love Pieces.) The differences, I feel, are subtle. This zine has a bit more of a ‘wild’ element with a touch more cut and paste, more pictures, and definitely more handwriting. I feel a vulnerable curiosity coming through these zines that feels like a different angle of Nichole’s personality shining through. I like it.

    Nichole is one of those zinemakers whose zines I will always read. I identify with so much and find the things I don’t identify with interesting. I’ve been looking around for more zines about Borderline Personality Disorder and, lo and behold, I had one in my zine stack already.

    This zine is an interesting, open exploration of mental health/illness, and I recommend checking it out.

  • Zine Reviews

    Zine Reviews: Riot Grrrl Reviews 2

    Riot Grrrl Reviews 2
    Compiled by Jolie Ruin

    Riot Grrrl Reviews 2 is a black and white half-fold collab zine of reviews (music, beer, zines), interviews, art, and more.

    Full disclosure: I contributed a couple of zine reviews to this zine.

    Riot Grrrl Reviews 2 opens with a sad (to me) note about how this issue of the series will be the last. Alas, I think nearly everyone who has made a collab zine understands the frustrations and delays that can come along with the endeavour. (I type, remembering a piece or two I still owe others…)

    The zine then launches into music and beer reviews by Gemma Mahadeo. I must admit that I immediately smiled seeing a fellow Australian in a US-based zine. The piece was a mix of beer review, a review of Men At Work’s album ‘Business as Usual’, and socio-political commentary – making a great opener for the zine.

    Absolutely no one is surprised that I spent the most time pouring over the zine reviews (as if my wish list needs to get any longer). I was excited to find new-to-me zine recommendations and equally as excited to see zines I know and love being appreciated by other reviewers.

    And yes, my wish list did grow a bit.

    Three interviews – with Greta Moody, Jull Waldrep, and Tafanovaginite – make up the centre of this zine, creating the third ingredient in a lovely mix of pieces.

    I quite like this zine am still sad to see the series end, but I’m glad I got the chance to be a part of it. I’m glad to have it as a part of my collection. (And I’m definitely getting issue 1.)

  • Zine Reviews

    Zine Review: It’s My First Time, I Swear

    It’s My First Time, I Swear
    Written by: Anonymous
    Complied/Illustrated by: Marin Boyle

    It’s My First Time, I Swear is a ½ fold black and white zine about sex work collab between Anonymous and Marin Boyle.

    As Anonymous writes on the inside front cover, this zine is not a sex work 101 zine: this is a sex work positive zine with stories about the work. Following this is an intro to why Anonymous wrote this zine and the influences on their perspective (privileges that come with being white, etc.). It’s strong, clear, and if you had any doubts about what this zine entails, you won’t after reading the intro.

    After that, Anonymous opens by taking on one commonly held belief: that ‘no little girl dreams of growing up to be a whore’. They write about being fascinated by sex work and sex workers from a young age – especially after seeing them on daytime talk shows. Anonymous went on to do huge amounts of research.

    From there, we read about a series of firsts – from their first day stripping to their first day as an escort. (It took me a few moments before I realised how that tied into the title.) I was completely fascinated by all of it. I don’t know why, but somewhere in my mind, I thought sex workers tended to stick to just one area. All the different things Anonymous has done reminded me that sex work is like other jobs – people switch, get bored, transfer, etc all the time.

    Anonymous’ writing voice is a pleasure to read. It’s strong and direct with no fluff while still sharing plenty. That makes this zine all the more interesting in my mind because it’s a clear, concise, real-life view of sex work that challenges stereotypes in sex work. One quote that really stuck out to me is:

    “Throughout my other jobs, sex was always the least of my concerns. It was always about making the client feel seen and heard. It was about making them feel special. It was about making them – if only for a short while – feel important and significant. I was equally therapist and whore.”

    Marin’s illustrations and layout choices are fantastic. The font is a good size and easy to read. The illustrations add visual interest to the zine would taking away from the impact of the writing.

    I think this is an excellent zine, my bias being that, like Anonymous, I have been fascinated with sex work and workers for a long time. This zine is exactly what I was hoping it would be.

  • Zine Reviews

    Zine Review: Adventures Close to Home

    Adventures Close to Home
    Rebecca Sheedy

    Adventures Close to Home is a perfectly square and adorable full-colour comic zine about fun things you can do without travelling too far.

    This 8 page (front and back, not including covers) zine is as cute as the cover implies. In Rebecca’s usual detailed but not busy style, they feature eight different fun, close-to-home adventures. Each adventure gets its own page full of colourful drawings that give tips for a great time and reasons why each adventure is cool.

    I like how Rebecca mixes adventures that most people can enjoy like going to the local library as well as more location-specific adventures as well. Why? Well, because they’re now also within travelling distance for me, too. Haha. But while Rebecca may list something specific to South Australia, you can make it more general again (like ‘go to a tourist attraction’ rather than the one listed if it’s too far away from you) to help it suit you.

    I really adore Rebecca’s work and love checking out all the little details included on every page. I want all of Rebecca’s work.

    Check this one out.

  • Zine Reviews

    Zine Review: Spoonie

    Spoonie: Some Stuff About Chronic Illness
    Phoebe Kitcher

    Spoonie is a full-colour one-page folded mini about the Spoon Theory and chronic illness. Not familiar with the Spoon Theory? Check out this link: https://butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/

    There’s nothing like a well-timed zine read, and I needed to read this today while stressing over zine fest preparations.

    I’ve seen (and loved) a lot of self-care and chronic illness related zines, but I think this is the first one I’ve read that touches specifically on what the Spoon Theory actually is (many reference it but don’t explain it) and how it works. (That’s not a poke at other zines, by the way.) It’s a brief overview, but this hits the main points and offers a table that further illustrates the concept.

    “A Spoonie in the Wild” – Phoebe’s self-portrait sketch – follows the overview as well as spreads that made me smile like “Unauthorised Spoon Usages” and “Befriending a Spoonie”. I like how Phoebe has made something personal enough to still appeal to those well-versed in Spoon Theory and gentle enough to introduce those who aren’t.

    I’m familiar with Spoon Theory and am a spoonie, and it’s nice to see people making zines about it. It’s also nice to have little reminders (that I always forget all too quickly) like how the same activity on different days can take different numbers of spoons.

    This is a lovely little zine that I’m happy to recommend.

  • Zine Reviews

    Zine Review: Things My Parents Never Taught Me

    Things My Parents Never Taught Me
    Crash Reynolds

    Things My Parents Never Taught Me is a one-page folded full-colour mini-zine about overlooked childhood lessons.

    I knew from the moment I read the title of this mini that I would enjoy this zine.

    Opening up this zine, you find a small collection of snippets covering the practical – like how to properly clean a bathroom – to more emotionally related skills. Crash had me from the first missed lesson, and I spent time wondering just how much YouTube and other educational websites have taught me. I nodded along with most of Crash’s lists, identifying with so many and inspired to make a list of my own.

    This zine makes me feel sad in the feelings and sentiments that it covers. But, like with many zines, I appreciate the potential it has to help people feel less alone.

  • Zine Reviews

    Zine Review: Body Hair: A Love/Hate Story

    Body Hair: A Love/Hate Story

    Body Hair: A Love/Hate Story is a black and white A5 text zine collection of life moments that shaped Olga’s journey with body hair.

    In this zine, Olga sweeps us into her journey with a memory from grade 8 when a comment from a mean classmate about her moustache and her mother’s reaction to the event set up her attitude toward body hair for a long time to come.

    From there, each page features its own snippet – its own life moment. Olga explores her background, her reactions to her body hair, and others’ reactions. Olga questions assumptions and finds self-worth beyond beauty by challenging herself to grow her body hair. A challenge that makes me feel a lot of respect for Olga because I don’t have the courage to do the same.

    As a hairy woman in a long line of hairy women, I identify with this zine so much. From her mother’s reaction to body hair to curing her hair heredity… I also just took it for granted that you did whatever necessary to get rid of body hair when it started appearing – just like Olga did.

    Olga wraps up on an important note: it’s not about making anyone feel bad about what they do with their body; it’s about choice and how so many people feel like they didn’t and don’t have one when it comes to body hair.

    I think this is a great zine, and I’d love to see more like it. Olga doesn’t hold back nor does she make it into a happily ever after. It’s damned hard to face the idea of judgement from others let alone actual judgement.

    Good on Olga.

  • Zine Reviews

    Zine Review: Inappropriate ABC’s

    Inappropriate ABC’s

    Inappropriate ABC’s is a quarter-sized black and white zine of ABCs that is a long, long way away from a child’s book of letters.

    When I saw Warglitter’s review of this (and Ryan’s other) zines, I immediately put it on my zine wishlist.

    I never claimed to have a mature sense of humour.

    With this zine, Ryan seeks to give people “a new kind of alphabet book that they can relate to”. With entries like ‘A is for Abortion’ and ‘D is for Douching’, this might be a zine that you don’t want to leave lying around if you have readers that are a little young for ‘intermediate reader’ level. (Those are the only spoilers you’ll get from me.)

    Each page features two letters (save for the middle spread containing six in total) each with its own word or phrase as well as its own funny rhyme. They might not always make things clearer definition-wise, but they always made me grin. The same goes for the illustrations to go along with each. (I’m looking at you, cheeky illustration for letter H.)

    I love the way this zine looks and can’t imagine a better style for it. The fonts, Ryan’s sketches, the sarcasm, the words/phrases chosen for the letters – it all works together for a great zine. Especially for those of us with a less than mature sense of humour.

    Grab a copy.

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