• Zine Reviews

    Zine Review: How To Be Alone 6.1

    How To Be Alone 6.1
    Bastian Fox Phelan

    I was not at all prepared for this zine.

    How To Be Alone 6.1 is a zine by Bastian Fox Phelan about Bastian’s life. This edition follows Bastian’s thoughts about the world, writing in different environments, the importance of a writing routine, and finding one’s voice – in more ways than one.

    Before I’d even read the zine, I’d jotted down the note that I enjoyed the visual pun on the cover – whether it was intended or not. How to “bee” alone, eh? Clever. Now that I’ve read it, I realise there is so much more depth and thoughtfulness in the choice and how much meaning it has to the content inside. Do I know if Bastian thought that much about it? No, but the depth of meaning in things is often left to be found by the reader rather than intentionally created by the author.

    Reading this zine was, for me, like listening to a song I’d never heard before. It lured me in with soft, beautiful melodies and made me feel comfortable. With that comfort, I let my guard down. When the crescendo of conflict of hurt and pain came later in the song, I was completely unprepared and swimming with different feelings that, even days later, I’m still sorting out. But, like a truly good song, and like a truly good tale reads, it all came back to the melodies it started with but now with a different view.

    Even when I am berating myself for not doing it, I do like to read about writers and their writing. I liked reading about how Bastian discovered the personal importance of creating and sticking to a writing routine (even as something deep within me rebelled at the thought of applying one to my own life).

    I love how easily writing about writing transitioned to finding one’s voice – an important aspect for writers that took on a new meaning when Bastian found the courage and the voice to confront those who are rude and mean just because Bastian doesn’t follow their ideas of what “should” be. It hurt to read about what other people thought was okay but was absolutely not. But those feelings were soothed by my admiration of Bastian for standing up in the face of others’ ignorance and cruelty.

    Though small in the grand scheme of things, it was also lovely to read that I am not alone in my occasional rescue of tiny creatures. It was also a lovely image to start with and come back to at the end.

    How To Be Alone 6.1 is, for me, a zine that requires more reading and further contemplation. Bastian’s writing voice is beautiful, and I will definitely be tracking down other zines in this series.

  • Zine Reviews

    Zine Review: Anecdata 1


    Excuse my scissors to hold down the edge.

    Anecdata 1
    Olivia M June

    Zines often ‘catch’ me for one reason or another, drawing me in to take a look inside straight away, and Anecdata 1 is no exception. While this zine may be mini in shape, it’s not mini in size. This isn’t a one-page folded zine; it’s a cut, stapled, 32-page solid read.

    Anecdata 1 talks about group housing, stimming (a new-to-me term), mental illness, skin, and more. Olivia has a strong and yet open writing voice that’s intriguing and makes me want to pay attention. Plus, she swears more than I do, which made me grin.

    I found myself nodding along a lot while also writing down things to get more information about later. There’s even a section of recommendations for mental health zines, and I love seeing zines supporting other zines in that way.

    It was interesting to read a perzine from someone whom I felt I had so much and yet so very little in common with. I felt like I was being taught a lot of new things, but in a casual, conversational kid of way. Olivia’s openness and expression about being in therapy and other life experiences has really inspired me to take a close look at what I let myself feel and express when it comes to my mental illness.

    There is a lot going on in this little zine, and I enjoyed very much. Anecdata 1 has been a lovely introduction to a whole new(-to-me) world experience, and I look forward to reading more in the series.

  • Zine Reviews

    Zine Review: Plaid Skirts & Converse #1

    Plaid Skirts and Converse 1 Zine

    Plaid Skirts & Converse #1

    As I’m just diving into writing my fourth novel, I decided that a perzine about NaNoWriMo was a great way to bring in July.

    In Plaid Skirts & Converse #1, Quinn takes us through her one-month journey of writing 50,000 words. It’s a combination of a writing diary, a scrapbook, novel notebook and excerpts. However, this zine isn’t all text…

    I quite like how she was able to create actual pictures of her characters. (I’m not sure what program she used.) I think it’s nice to have visuals in the mix. There were some other pictures as well as some interesting ‘word art’ made out of the words that she used the most in her novel. (I tried to make one, but I couldn’t get Wordle to work.)

    The ‘diary’ entries had me hooked right in, especially as tragedy struck on day one and words were lost. Oh, I cringed. Been there, lost words in similar ways… I almost want to keep a diary while I’m working.

    I’m glad that she put an excerpt from her novel in the mix. I think I would have felt like something was missing had that not been a part of it.

    On another note, though, this zine is an example of why, if you’re going to use your handwriting in your zine, you need to be confident that your handwriting is clear. I could read her writing for the most part, but I did have some trouble with it. On one hand, it’s totally appropriate and plays into the NaNoWriMo focus to have handwritten notes in there. But, again, it’s kind of riding that edge of readability in some spots.

    As an author, it was great to get a glimpse into the mind of someone else writing a novel. By that, I think you’ll know whether you want to pick up this zine or not.

  • Zine Reviews

    Zine Review: Bloomurder #1

    Bloomurder Zine

    Bloomurder #1

    My 101st zine review. Wow. I feel like I have a clean slate and greater expectations all at the same time. Haha. To give my anxieties a bit of a relax and my brain box some enjoyment, I figured Bloomurder #1 would be the way to go…

    Bloomurder is a collection of bits and pieces of experiences. I say ‘bits and pieces’ with no disrespect. The content is a mix of art and travel, music and television shows from her youth. It bounces around a bit and doesn’t have a theme for the issue as such, but sometimes it’s nice to go along with someone else’s flow to see where it takes you. This style of doing things reinforces the ‘scrapbook’ feel I get with this zine.

    I found the pieces funny in a synchronicity sort of way. I’ve never been to France, but Wanderer has, and he had some very similar things to say about the places there. Laura also talks about South Australia and the Adelaide Fringe Festival. I just so happen to be looking at moving to South Australia. So in that strange way, I do have somewhat of a bias toward some of the content.

    This zine also combines journal aspects as well with little additions to go along with the writing instead of a cut and paste fiesta distracting from the words. Had I learned after the fact that this zine was a product of ‘converted notebook ramblings’ (instead of at the intro), I wouldn’t have been surprised.

    Earlier today someone asked if there were any rules when it comes to making zines. There really aren’t, but Laura provides a good demonstration of the ‘general understanding’ when it comes to handwriting in zines: make sure people can read it! Laura has easy-to-read handwriting (except for one word on occasion 😉 ), as you can see* on the first page here:

    Bloomurder 1

    One thing I found interesting in this zine is that Laura uses handwriting for some pieces and typing others. If someone had simply suggested this to me, I would have assumed that I wouldn’t like it. As it turns out, I do. The change from piece to piece fits the overall ‘scrapbook’ sort of feel that I get with this zine.

    I find it a lot of fun to look at a person’s first zine, especially after they have been making them for a while. I’m very curious to see how Laura’s style has changed or stayed the same in the issues of Bloomurder that follow.

    PS. I have to mention that her contact/media details right in the front, clear and easy to find. Yes!

    *I’ve decided to revisit my rule about no pictures of the insides of zines. I am looking at doing it more, but for the time being, I am going to be very picky about what I take pictures of.

  • Zine Reviews

    Zine Review: By the Skin of My Teeth 3 + 4

    By the Skin of My Teet 3_4

    By the Skin of My Teeth Issue Three and Four

    Check out my reviews of all previous issues of By the Skin of My Teeth in the Zine Review Index

    I went back and forth on whether I should review two zines in one review. I want to state that I don’t mean any disrespect nor do I want to come off dismissive of either zine by putting them together. I made the decision because the zines were made in rapid succession, and even the zine maker calls issue 4 a part two of sorts.

    By the Skin of My Teeth issues three and four follow Sarah’s journey through depression and mania within a private health care facility. I was curious on two fronts with these zines because I’d never used inpatient mental health facilities (I’ve always been too scared to), and I definitely haven’t done so in the private sector. I liked that she talked a bit about the differences between private and public.

    I identified a lot with some of the depressive aspects Sarah went through but moreso the mania. The lack of being able to concentrate. I hate that, too! Three and four were like two sides of a coin with three being about moving past depression and four focusing more on managing the mania that followed.

    While I did identify a lot with things, these are definitely zines that are more on the diary side of things. She does talk to you, the reader, but there are more rambling thoughts, repetitive mentions, and fewer breaks that can make for slightly jolting reading when the next paragraph happens hours later. That being said, it’s still a slower read than most zines. The fact that both of these are 64 page zines make these things stand out all the more.

    If you like ‘stories from the ward’ then it might be right for you. Otherwise, you might find it lacking the variety that would otherwise keep you reading.

  • 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: By the Skin of My Teeth Issue One

    By the Skin of My Teeth 1

    By the Skin of My Teeth Issue One

    I love all sorts of zines, but perzines are definitely my favourite category. I have a fascination with people and how they live their lives.

    This perzine focuses on mental health – living with various disorders, experiences in the psych ward, and more. Sarah starts with talking about her great love – her cat, Sabby (Sabastian). I loved reading about him not only because I have a kitty I love in my life but also because it goes to show how much animal companions can mean as to people with mental health issues.

    The zine does feel a little less cut and past and a little more typed pages on the computer. But she does get into a bit of drawing, photos, and handwriting, so it starts to get a bit of personality in an aesthetic sense.

    While this is a perzine, it’s not strictly bits of memories. There is a book review as well as an interview with herself. I’ve only seen self-interviews a couple times, but I really like them. I think it’s a fun way to get a glimpse into someone’s head. Plus, I appreciate the variety. Heavy stuff needs to be broken up.

    All up, this zine felt more like a blog on paper than a zine (I hope that’s a distinction that’s clear), but I enjoyed reading it and will be checking out the next editions.

  • 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.

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