Wonderful, beloved zine friends. I’m so happy to be creating this post.
It’s that time again – a time that probably isn’t familiar to a lot of you. When I reached my 100th review in May 2016, I felt inspired by the Golden Stapler Awards and celebrated by awarding zines with titles like ‘best binding’ and ‘funniest zine’.
I hit my 200th zine reviewed a few months ago, but with everything that was going on, I wasn’t able to get to things until now. I still wasn’t sure whether I would do this, but I do love sharing my zine enthusiasm and celebrating fun and cool zines.
Things to remember:
1. My apologies for any less than stellar photos.
2. This is only meant to be a bit of fun.
3. Zines often fit into more than one category. How they were sorted is all on me.
4. Keep in mind these are limited to the second lot of 100 zines I’ve reviewed – roughly from May 2016 to July 2017. You can find the whole list: Zine Review Index
5. Picking out the ‘best’ stinks. I love them all!
Let’s do this.
(I’m putting everything after a more tag because there are a lot of images.)
The 125th Street Demon
The 125th Street Demon is a short fiction zine featuring a short story about a man on a train…
I quite like the formatting for this zine. I know this is going to get me in hot water for some crowds saying this, but it’s formatted like a book. Not to the extent of title pages and dedications, but the font, the drop cap… Book layout and styling is something I love doing, so I can’t help but noticing the qualities. (Admittedly the drop cap doesn’t quite make sense in all its uses, but I still like the look of it.)
The one thing I didn’t like – and I know I’m being a bit picky here – is the way it’s stapled. The staple ‘teeth’ face outward instead of into the halfway mark. This isn’t necessarily a problem, but I did get poked. Something to consider if you staple your zines.
The story itself is an interesting one. You start questioning whether you should be trusting the protagonist at all and whether the man is unhinged. The ending leaves you satisfied but with a few questions – questions I’m happy to leave unanswered.
If you like fiction zines and slightly weird/unnerving stories, then I think you’ll like this zine.
Today we have a very short and small accordion fold mini-zine that fits right into the palm of my hand.
Bio-graphy/logy is a short story about you, taking on the rarely use ‘second person’ writing style. You are Michelle, and you love the ocean. Your story is a very sweet one with pencilled illustrations to go along with it. (I must say the I’m very impressed with the printing because it looks drawn by pencil rather than printed.)
Your story is a simple and sweet one on the surface but has hidden depths if you care to think about them.
All up, this is quite a lovely little zine.
Kackle Issue 3D Skull Water
By Bruce Wilson
A zine that comes with 3D glasses? Yes, please!
Skull Water is a short horror story zine with the addition of some 3D illustrations to go with the story. The story takes place in the mountains with a sweet old couple and their adult son. I’m not sure if the moral of the story is not to mess with nature or ‘love can be both beautiful and disgusting’…
I’m an editor by nature (and by qualification these days), so I rarely read a piece of fiction without finding something to nitpick. Overall, though, it’s a fun (for horror) short story with an ending that made me literally chuckle out loud. It’s a story that someone with a bit of dark, crude humour will enjoy.
The images are well done, but the focus still remains on the story instead of the 3D. What I mean by that is the images add a great amount of fun and dimension to the zine on the whole, but, in the end, it’s still about the story. They complemented the story, as good illustrations do.
The 3D aspect to this zine is another great example of you only being limited by your imagination when it comes to making zines. Why not make a 3D zine or something else entirely? That this came with the 3D glasses gave that sort of ‘bonus prize’ feeling upon first receiving it.
I quite enjoyed this and greatly appreciated the laugh.
I received Conspiira/torial #1 as a zine submitted for a review, and I must apologise because the combination of only two reviews a week plus my less than awesome zine organisation meant for a probably-longer-than-necessary wait.
Conspiira/torial #1 the the fictional (or is it?!) tale of Yuri Realman and how he’s being dragged into a conspiracy that he doesn’t want to believe… Though I can’t say for sure, I feel like it’s been a long time since I’ve read a fiction zine of any sort. This was a good zine to break the gap.
What you imagined when you read my one-sentence synopsis? That’s what this story is. Or rather, this chapter one. There’s no mistaking this for anything other than a chapter one, but it’s a beginning I thoroughly enjoyed. Even my inner editor had a good time, and she doesn’t like much of anything.
Side note: As someone who likes to write books as well as read them, I know how difficult it can be to find your ‘voice’. I think ‘Yuri’ can rest assured that his voice is spot on and consistent.
Conspiira/torial #1 is a zine that goes to show that a zine doesn’t really have a definition in terms of what it is or isn’t. People know what they like, but preferences do not a standard system make. This zine is five single-sided pages printed and stapled in one corner.
However (you knew that was coming, eh?) even with personal preferences aside, I think there is room here for a lot of fun. Because of the envelope art and the awesome note accompanying the zine – on top of the actual context – I think this zine would be great with a little layout put into it. Half-fold, printing on both sides of the paper (being a zinester has made me a bit grumpy about white space), a cover upon which to stamp and draw…
There is nothing wrong with the way it is, but I can see potential for this to become aesthetic art as well as prose.
Conspiira/torial #1 is definitely worth checking out – especially if you like a bit of mystery.
Mini-Moss: Log / Mini-Moss: Dognapped
Tegan Elizabeth / Becky Nosiara
I know it’s April 1st, so Mini-Zine March is over, but I didn’t want to have this Friday all on its own without a mini-zine. Plus, I really wanted to squeeze this one in as part of the MZM stuff.
I received this zine in trade at the Festival of the Photocopier. The idea of a science fiction zine intrigued me, and the fact it was a mini-split-zine made it all that more appealing. There’s always something a little special about split zines, and I like it when they split it by putting one part in one direction and the other in the opposite direction (reading one means the other is upside down).
Plus, to completely judge a zine by (one of) its cover(s), how could I pass up a bourbon bottle floating in space?
As for the actual stories, you can check out excerpts on the Etsy listing.
Log was a great example of how, in short stories, you can tell such a massive story in fewer words. The implications and the references were used well in that they told a lot without being confusing. Beyond that, though, is the concept of anxiety in space. I’ve read it before, but this was more… my kind of anxiety. In space. I wish I was more articulate so I could express the difference. Anyway, I quite liked it.
Dognapped was quite a funny piece. “Completely starkers.” I love the phrase so much and had an out-loud giggle when I read it. I’m not quite sure what else to say about it for fear of spoiling it.
The best part? How these two stories relate to each other. I almost wish I could wipe my memory to find out what it would be like to read Dognapped before Log so I can find out how the influence of feelings would go if read in the opposite order.
My only little bugbear with this is that there is no contact information. Nary a URL to be found. With zines, you never know for sure if that’s intentional, but I’m a lazy fangirl. I like to be pointed in the right direction.
What a whopper of a review! Forgive my long-windedness!
Hand Job Zine Issue 6
Jim and Sophie (and contributors)
Sometimes you just know when you’ll like a zine. I do come into these reviews with a bit of naivete because I’m hoping for a good zine, but this one? This one I had a good feeling about.
Right away, I was taken to what I view as the more ‘traditional’ (not a bad word!) style. There are copied edges and smudges, different fonts and handwriting, pictures, stories… It rings true with cut and paste style. Seeing all this in my initial flip through had me eager to dig in.
I’m used to a table of contents of some sort in zine, used to being gently invited in to continue on reading. HJ6 doesn’t have a table of contents or even page numbers – but it works! It works to a magnificent degree with this zine because of the tone set on the very first piece – a poetic, melodic (in my mind) welcome from Jim and Sophie.
I have no idea who Jim and Sophie are, but I already think they’re pretty cool. The introduction is excellent in that I think you’ll know straight away whether this zine is for you. Either you put it down or you feel that ‘Boom. You’re here, so why not keep reading?’ that the intro really set the stage for in my reading experience.
Pull up a stool, have a smoke and enjoy.
The pieces including were all interesting and sometimes shocking in the way that a story can lure you in, calm you down and then slap you across the face, all while maintaining the same tone. I went back more than once to read a sentence here, an entire piece there. While that might be something that puts others off, I liked the feeling that written pieces were as much art as literature. (And all that without needing to read Jane Eyre!)
I can’t say that I’ve understood all the poetry, but I’ve taken enough English classes to know that I’ll come ’round.
While a zine maker who accepts contributions can only work with what they have, I feel like this zine was set up in a way that screws with my expectations. The aforementioned English classes could have me reading into it too much, but I found myself shocked out of my expectations more than once. ‘Him Upstairs’ was a slap across the face (at the end), followed by a picture, followed by another piece with something special about it (no spoilers), and so on. The review toward the end and the very last piece – a list – continued to take my expectations and laugh at them. A strange but enjoyable experience.
This isn’t a zine to sit down for a casual flip-through. There is a lot of content and a lot of room for contemplation, so you be so inclined.
PS. Hand Job Zine is calling for submissions! Be sure to click on their blog link at the top of this review and check out their blog.