Okay, so reviewing this might stir up a few feelings in regards to what is/isn’t a zine. Does the binding matter? Does an ISBN make it not a zine? Frankly, I’m not sure where I draw the line. I think that the message in this zine/book/??? is important enough to look past defining lines to what is actually being written about. This started as a zine, so I’m willing to see it as such.
This is one of those zines that I saw at some point, it got stuck in my head, and before I knew it, it’d been on my wishlist for ages without me any the wiser as to when and where I first saw it. I wasn’t exactly sure what I’d get out of it, but I knew I wanted it.
In ‘The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Fighting the Big Motherfuckin’ Sad’, Adam Gnade takes you through a journey of self-examination, examining other people – in general and in your life, examining what it is to fight for life and what it is to cope… There’s so much happening in this zine, and yet you wouldn’t think it – even flipping through the pages. The topics are deep and complex-if-you-want-them-to-be like brand new thought gardens, just waiting for you to plant some thoughts and let them grow. (Workable metaphor? I hope, because I like it.)
This zine turned out to be even more than I could have anticipated. It’s not ‘let’s sit down and talk about depression’; it’s ‘let’s sit down and talk about how to deal with life’. While I was reading it, I felt like he was talking to me as a fellow person who thought the world was bloody hard to live in rather than talking to me about depression. At no point did I feel like it was about the label – even as he wrote about drug therapy. It was always simply about life.
I’ve mentioned before here how much I love lists, and this zine has plenty of them throughout. It’s nice to have that break when you’re dealing with such a heavy topic. It helped balance out the pace of reading the non-list sections.
Without a table of contents, I didn’t really know what I was in for. There was the title, of course, but little else to let me know what I’d be reading. Looking back on it, I’m glad for that. That’s not to say I’d be against a TOC, but I liked the ‘winding journey’ element to reading this zine. I liked not quite knowing what was coming up next. The clear breaks/titles were all that was needed – and only needed so I could have a clear stopping place while I thought back on what I’d read.
I did a lot of thinking back on what I’d read.
One special entry that I really appreciated was ‘Helping Your Friends Get Through It’. I like that Gnade didn’t automatically assume that his only readership would be amongst people who were dealing with the problem rather than people wanting to know how to help others with the problem. It’s a small section – not even a full page – but I think it’s a very important not-a-full-page.
On the technical side of things, as a zine maker, I found it quite interesting to see how a zine translates into a more ‘bookish’ form. You’d think it would be easy, but as someone who makes/formats both, it might not be as 1 to 1 as you think. While I by no means give up my love for the traditional ways of binding zines, I do love how this is bound while maintaining the more zine-esque qualities of a cardstock cover and black and white interior pages.