• Zine Reviews

    Zine Review: This Asian American Life

    This Asian American Life
    Katie Quan
    www.facebook.com/thisasianamlife

    This Asian American Life is a ½ fold full colour comic about Katie’s life and being an Asian American.

    I know I usually don’t open with the aesthetic side of things, but hello smooth paper and great use of colour.

    This Asian American life opens with a prologue about the zine and a bit, one-panel comic full of Katie’s comic self sitting in the middle of a lot of speech bubbles. Each speech bubble was filled with something Katie has no doubt heard more than once. Things that made me very sad knowing that people could say things like “Too rich to have a ‘real’ POC experience”. It did snap me awake to the fact that this zine wasn’t going to be all fuzzy lala. As Katie writes:

    “…hopes to provide one perspective as a way of inviting dialogue about race/ethnicity, gender, and a coming of age experience.”

    That being said, all lives are multi-faceted. This comic has funny moments as well as sad and politically charged moments. Katie’s comics cover things like being a new(ish) driver, tired days, toxic relationships, and feeling ‘between race’.

    As I mentioned at the beginning, this zine has very nice paper that really serves the art. I like Katie’s use of colour – keeping things mostly to a certain range like reds, greens, or blues. There are smaller details in different colours, but I think this is the first time in a long time I’ve noticed something like that.

    I don’t want to call Katie’s art style minimalist because I didn’t take nearly enough art classes to know if that’s an accurate description. The comics are, for the most part, one-page comics with some of them only made up of one or two panels. The details included are the necessary ones and no more, really. (It’s amazing how much can be expressed with eyes and eyebrows alone.) It’s sweet and inviting and doesn’t leave me feeling overwhelmed that I may miss something.

    Overall, I highly enjoyed this zine. I feel like it was the beginning, though, and I want more! Haha. I look forward to checking out more of Katie’s work.

  • Zine Reviews

    Mega Mini-Zine Review: ZineWriMo 2017 Pack

    ZineWriMo 2017 Pack
    Samantha Riegl
    pathetica.co

    ZineWriMo 2017 Pack is a pack of 11 mini-zines – one ‘main’ one covering ZineWriMo 2017 prompts, and ten made when the prompt for the day call for making a zine.

    I love this, I love this, I love this. Plus, my bias is that I created the ZineWriMo prompt list. Just in case you don’t have time to read the whole review. Haha.

    I decided to review these zines as a bundle not only because they are all related but also because I really love this idea of ‘interconnected’ zines like a puzzle or separated chapters of a book that add extra content to the main book.

    The ‘main’ zine is a gorgeously chunky little zine. It opens with the prompts list, and I was delighted to find a table of contents (not usually a feature of the A7 sized zine) followed. It was so much fun to read about another zinemaker’s process and their interpretation of the prompts.

    Whenever I came to a ‘make a zine’ prompt take, I almost felt like I had a sort of advent calendar. Bonus content. It made for a different sort of zine reading experience putting aside the main zine so I could look at the next mini. Each additional mini has the day of ZineWriMo it corresponds to on the back (except the ‘wordless zine’ day mini) just in case, like me, you drop them and they get a little mixed up.

    Blackout Poetry and ‘How to Pronounce Zine’ are my equal favourites – the latter making me chuckle. However, I do think I really need to check out Animal Crossing now.

    I think this is a great, fun zine set, and I really hope people check it out (and feel inspired to make their own come November!).

  • Zine Reviews

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

    Pieces #7: on belief, delusion & love
    Nichole
    https://www.instagram.com/corridorgirl/

    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: I Hate Raisins

    I Hate Raisins
    Monstark
    https://www.monstark.com
    I Hate Raisins is a black and white mini-zine of hatred towards raisins.

    If you hate raisins, you still have nothing on Monstark’s level of loathing.

    I never thought I could love a zine filled with hatred, but zines make interesting things happen, and here I am. I Hate Raisins is absolutely fantastic. With words and art, Monstark takes the reader down the dark, depreaved hole that is the existence of raisins.

    You may thing hating raisins would be pretty bland, but this zine packs a lot – and it leans well into the adult content side of things (devil’s bullocks anyone?).

    I wish I was more well-versed in comics so I could give you some comparison to Monstark’s art style. I can tell you that it’s detailed to the point of being extra gruesome in a way that made me grimace at one point and serves the subject matter oh so well.

    If you hate raisins and/or appreciate a grittier sort of art style, then pick up this zine (because my copy is staying in my permanent collection – hehe).

  • Zine Reviews

    Zine Review: Kari-graphy – A Show-and-Tell About Calligraphy

    Kari-graphy – A Show-and-Tell About Calligraphy
    Kari Tervo
    http://zinewiki.com/Kari_Tervo

    Kari-graphy – A Show-and-Tell About Calligraphy is a ½ fold black and white zine about calligraphy.

    Okay, so the title is already descriptive enough, but what can I say? I like to stick to a format. Mostly.

    A zine for the love of calligraphy! Definitely one for me, I actually remembered seeing this when Kari first brought it out, and now I finally have my hands on a copy – and it’s even better than I thought.

    What I thought being ‘I know heaps about calligraphy’.

    This zine is an excellent starting place (or even a ‘further down the line’ place for people like me) for anyone interested in calligraphy. Kari is definitely thorough – moreso than I expected given the zine’s 16 pages and some of the large examples of the things written about. (Not complaining! I like plenty of examples.) This zine turned out to cover all sorts of things like basics, tips, calligraphy gear, and more.

    Kari-graphy takes on a perzine quality in the section “Kari-graphy: A History”. I had to smile reading it because I have a very similar history with calligraphy – except I ended up putting names on certificates for the drama club rather than the National Honor Society. The things you find out you have in common with people!

    You may think that calligraphy is a dry topic, but Kari really makes it her own with her sense of humour – even on page one:

    “…one of my favorite hobbies: calligraphy, or, as it is more formally known, fancy-letterin’.”

    Those are the sort of things that give me a chuckle and make me want to check out more zines by the author.

    Aesthetically, this is a great zine. It’s easy to read, there are a lot of examples of what is written about – from practise pages to font examples – and the cover is made of lovely parchment paper. Even more cool – the inside of the back cover has a mini-poster Kari has made for you to keep.

    Obviously this is a very specific topic for a zine, but if you have any interest at all, grab a copy.

  • Zine Reviews

    Zine Review: Nice Things That Happened to Me Because of Pokemon Go!

    Nice Things That Happened to Me Because of Pokemon Go!
    Avery Flinders
    https://twitter.com/averyflinders

    Nice Things That Happened to Me Because of Pokemon Go! Is an A6 full-colour zine about positive things that happened around and because of playing Pokemon Go.

    This zine opens with a silver linings recounting of how Pokemon Go came out a couple of days after a car crash left Avery without a car. A game that involved a lot of walking after losing the car proved to be a big plus. From there, Avery writes about more good times that involved or came from using the game.

    As I read, I had to admire Avery’s bravery. Not only were there actual wanderings through unfamiliar places – that ended up leading to fun things like a sculpture garden – but Avery also met with new people through the shared hobby. Reading this put a smile on my face. The centre spread even has pictures of various pokemon in different places.

    I have to give kudos to Avery for the cursive writing that is actually readable. There are two little niggles in the forms of the margins cut a little bit here and there (nothing too bad), and Avery didn’t include contact details. But, as always with the latter, it could be intentional.

    Nice Things is a lovely zine. (Minus the car accident happening, of course.) Pokemon Go got a lot of flack, as popular things do, but it also provided a lot of good – as evidenced by the stories here. Avery shares the good vibes and the positivity, and the world can always use more of that.

  • Zine Reviews

    Zine Review: Push: A Cure Fanzine Issue 1 – Sugar Girl

    A Cure Fanzine Issue 1 – Sugar Girl
    RuRu Productions
    http://www.curefandocumentary.com

    Push is a slightly smaller than A5 full-colour glossy zine about The Cure.

    “My zine & documentary project, PUSH, is a love letter to the fans who have surrounded and supported The Cure. And to The Cure, of course!”

    Full Disclosure: I’m not all that knowledgeable when it comes to music, but I do love a good YouTube ‘scavenger hunt’. I’m playing a The Cure playlist while reviewing this.

    Push starts us off with a gorgeous opening about the writer’s first Cure live show, and how it changed their life. While I haven’t listened to much by The Cure, I felt that nostalgia for those moments of music in my life that meant so much. The intro sets a lovely tone for the entire zine.

    What follows is a collection of quotes, pictures, lyrics, recipes, fan art, stories, and more. So much fun! When I think of band fanzines, recipes don’t really come to mind, so I thought it was a lot of fun to find song-inspired sweet creations. (The red velvet cupcakes sound divine.) There’s even food ideas for a Cure-themed dinner party!

    Now this is a fanzine in a way I haven’t seen before.

    The aesthetic of Push really supports and emphasis the overall feel with all the colour and the cut and paste style.

    Not being all that familiar with The Cure, I expected a lot of this zine to be lost on me. To my pleasant surprise, most of it wasn’t. I enjoyed the positive vibe and the enthusiasm of the zine. I felt curious enough to track down the songs referenced – which, I imagine, is the second best thing after connecting with fans. I’m also curious about the documentary project the goes along with it, so win there, too.

    I’m undecided as to whether this zine could have benefitted from some ‘newbie’ information. On one hand, any info is helpful to people like me, but, on the other hand, I didn’t feel particularly left out. Only curious.

    Push is a great example of an unexpected fanzine, reviewed in the eyes of someone outside their usual/intended audience. I’m glad I had the chance to check this zine out. If you like The Cure, then I think you’re going to love this.

  • Zine Reviews

    Zine Review: G.P.S. Ghostly Paranormal Séance

    G.P.S. Ghostly Paranormal Séance
    Veek
    https://www.instagram.com/veek1313/

    GPS is a ½ fold full-colour horror comic about a car GPS that is either possessed or straight from hell.

    GPS opens with a couple out driving and the doom that befalls them when they decide to trust their GPS more than their instincts.

    But the GPS isn’t done yet, and that couple isn’t the last…

    Fun fact: I grew up on horror movies. I like horror, and I don’t mind a bit of gore – both of which you will get in this zine.

    That being said, I actually chuckled a bit with this (which probably says something bad about me). It reminded me of those GPS stories you’d hear of years back. People were driving into fields and lakes because they trusted their GPS so much.

    The hand drawing coloured with crayons and markers (I believe) works in juxtaposition to the horror content. I enjoyed it, but I’m also someone who sometimes laughs inappropriately laughs during horror movies.

    If you like comics, if you like horror, then check this out.

    And never trust your GPS.

  • Zine Reviews

    Zine Review: Real Life: A Magical Guide to Getting Off the Internet

    Real Life: A Magical Guide to Getting Off the Internet
    Maranda Elizabeth & Dave Cave
    https://www.etsy.com/shop/schoolformaps

    Real Life is a ¼ sized black and white zine about taking a look at how much you use the internet and how to step away when you’re using it too much.

    “Take a deep lung-cleansing breath and take full ownership of your habit.” – Dave Cave

    I really love when I read a zine at the right time in my life. This one comes with very good timing as I’ve grown unhappy with my recent habit of checking emails and such before I even get out of bed in the morning.

    Real Life opens with introductions from Maranda and Dave, followed by a piece called ‘What Would You Rather Be Doing?’ that really sets the tone for this zine.

    The thing that really struck me from the get go in Real Life was the levels of self-awareness and self-examination in this zine. They both look at the internet as it is: a multifaceted thing that gives us many things on many different levels. Coping, validation, both positive and negative impacts on mental health, and more.

    I appreciated that Maranda and Dave, while definitely leaning away from internet usage, still accept its role in our lives in a modern world. It’s not a ‘burn your computers’ condemnation of the internet as a whole but rather a deep examination of what the internet gives us to get us to the point where we know we’d rather be doing something else but yet still don’t close down our computers.

    Dave’s tips for breaking internet habits (especially lovely for the list-makers of the world) and Maranda’s ‘Try This’ suggestions are a bit intimidating to me to actually try. However, that just says that I am spending too much time online. Along with many, many questions with which you can examine your own reasons for using the internet and how much you use it, this zine could be a spectacular starting point if you want to check in with yourself regarding why and how much you use the internet.

    I highly recommend this zine – even if you haven’t been questioning your internet usage. It can be good to examine that which we take for granted.

  • Zine Reviews

    Zine Review: Coffee & People 1 & 2

    Coffee & People 1 & 2
    Craig Atkinson
    https://www.instagram.com/craiganthonyatkinson/
    https://craigatkinson.tokyo

    Coffee & People 1 and 2 are black and white one-page-folded perzines with short life stories on cafes, coffee, people, and skateboarding.

    I couldn’t tell you exactly what makes a title good or bad to me, but I really like the title of this zine series. It’s simple, nice, and definitely captures a ‘writerly’ vibe.

    The first zine opens with setting the scene of sitting at the local cafe on a humid day. Craig, of course, writes it much more beautifully. He then takes us from a cafe in Japan to a cafe in London and a tale from days spent there. The second zine opens with a late night writing session and reflecting on how skateboarding remained a life constant in a young life that involved a lot of moving house and change.

    I had to smile when I was reading these zines because I had just started thinking that Craig had a flair for writing when he mentioned in the zine that he is a writer. I’d love to read more of his descriptive writing.

    There’s a special place in my zine-loving heart for short, slice of life stories. They encompass the little moments, the little things that so often have big, lingering impacts on who we are and how we think. I don’t always identify with things – the only thing I could do with a skateboard is hurt myself – but I liked reading about what it meant to Craig.

    I quite liked these zines and am looking forward to reading more of Craig’s writing.