Small Potatoes 4 is an A6 black and white perzine on cream paper about anxiety, work, and a lot more.
I’m in a chatty mood, zine friends, and there are a lot of things I enjoyed about the latest instalment of Small Potatoes.
Small Potatoes 4 opens with an introduction about little things we do even if we can’t remember the reason why we do them, Keira’s pride in finishing the zine, and the struggle to finish it while spoons were scarce (their energy was low). I identified so much with it being easier to write things happening in your life down and “just hand[ing] people the zine and hop[ing] they understand.”
This intro – and the updates on things they wrote about in previous issues – really epitomise while I like reading a while series. I adore reading about how people grow and change over the course of a zine series. This intro reads like Keira is becoming more comfortable with sharing their thoughts on paper. They also invite readers to respond and share about a zine they are making (one I’m contributing to!).
Keira writes about anxiety and medications, shares drawings and poetry, gives a driving update (congratulations on passing your driving test!), and more. They actually opened up the zine to suggestions for what to write about in this issue, and they wrote about why and how they give – my suggestion! I’d actually forgotten that I’d made the suggestion, so it was a great surprise. As someone who has experienced their generosity, it was interesting to read about their background and thoughts on giving.
In ‘Retail Work is Real Work’ Keira writes about how people abuse retail workers and make judgements about what ‘real’ work is. (Hint: These people don’t consider retail work ‘real’ work.) I’m always sad to hear about people treating other people badly, but I was impressed how Keira got angry but also fought with facts. The main fact being that there aren’t enough jobs to go around in Australia full shop.
I have a lot of love for this and the series. The variety of subjects, art, and poetry make for unexpected surprises in each issue. It’s easy to read with a clear font and contact details. There’s a lot to enjoy. Check it out.
PS. I love the subtitle.
The Little Things is an A6 black print (mostly) on blue paper zine about mental health and self-care techniques.
If you’ve been reading here for a while, you know I love a good self-care zine, and Lily really takes it to a new level in The Little Things.
The zine starts off with an introduction to self-care and how a suggestion from a psychologist helped to create this visual self-care list. This isn’t a text-only list, however. Each self-care suggestion is given its own page, but more than that, they all come with a drawing as well to illustrate the list item.
Lily’s art style is very realistic and detailed. There are so many little things that made me smile as I looked through. The Sailor Moon drawing in ‘Drawing for Myself’ and the roses on the teacup in ‘Drinking Tea’… The suggestions are good in and of themselves, but the art adds a different dimension. I feel calmer and in a nicer space just paging through and looking at the pictures.
When I finished this zine, I realised how much I liked the details included in the introduction of how this zine came to be. Whether intended or not, this has inspired me to make a list of my own.
If you’re interested in self-care and/or an artist you may not be familiar with, I recommend checking out this zine.
Fully Sick, Chronically Sad is a black and white comic zine with a colour cover somewhere between A5 and A6 about mental illness.
I struggled a lot with this zine. Not so much with the zine itself but because I’ve been there – and am there still in many ways.
In various drawings, Amber is Blue takes us through what it’s like having a mental illness and the constant struggles coming from inside and the world around us in dealing with it. Medications can be wonderful, but wonderful meds that work are often not affordable. Therapy helps, but the current system doesn’t exactly help with consistency.
Amber is Blue doesn’t mince words when it comes to dealing with these frustrations and more. There is no mystery when it comes to how Amber is Blue really feels about these things.
As I mentioned, I identify a lot with Amber is Blue and all of the nonsense that comes with these things. I think it’s valuable to share these experiences so people don’t feel alone. While this zine stirred up a lot of feelings in me, one of those feelings was a desire to write more about my own experiences with mental illness.
I do feel I should mention one content warning, though, in that suicidal thoughts and dealing with suicidal thoughts are mentioned.
There weren’t any contact details in the zine itself, but I’ve dug up some links for you if you’d like to check out more of Amber is Blue’s work. Fully Sick, Chronically Sad has a part two and three, which I’m looking forward to checking out.
Intimacies Volume 1
Intimacies Volume 1 is a black and white half-fold zine about a personal journey with physical intimacy, sex, and expectations told through a collection of short essays.
By and large, I experience zines within the realms of zines that tell me things and zines that share things with me. It’s a delicate distinction and one that may only make sense to me (and I love both types). The difference is telling zines come across as ‘this is an experience, and this is what I take from it’ whereas sharing zines run more along the lines of ‘this is an experience – make what you will of it’.
With the exception of the introduction, Intimacies Volume 1 is a zine that shared experiences.
Over the course of various short pieces, Dara shares experiences from the view of someone who desires things like physical intimacy but questions those desires and the timeline in which to have them imposed by the world and society. Through these experiences you get a picture of what it’s like from the view of someone who explores everything from sex fantasies to the gravity of one’s first kiss – all with the same thought and respect.
Aesthetically, this is a text-heavy zine, with essays broken up by quotes in larger fonts and ‘new section’ tables of contents. I feel like this is a zine you need to sit down and devote your full attention to.
The writing can get a bit confusing as people are named as letters, and the only people who seem to be consistent are Dara and ‘you’. I did get confused in the first piece as to who was speaking with whom and who Dara really was in the context of that piece.
The ‘background’ details got confusing for me at other times, too, but at those points I was so engaged on the thoughts about sex and intimacy being written about that it didn’t stop me.
This zine also had single lines that really stuck out to me:
‘And who knows what I want, except me?’
‘…we were taught to take care of so much, not least our bodies which were never, ever ours.’
Though the first line in the copyright note on the back was more about the laugh it gave me:
‘Don’t be a dick is a good rule, isn’t it!’
By and large, the writing is incredibly vulnerable and open about such intimate things like sexual fantasy and self-pleasure that it gives the zine as a whole its own kind of beauty. It’s a zine of exploring thoughts but not presenting you with conclusions.
If you think that sounds like the zine for you, then check out Intimacies Volume 1.
Connection Edit: Shine is a black and white zine collection of blackout poetry. If you’re not familiar, blackout poetry is where you take a piece of text and black out words so the words remaining – your poem – reads as something different to the original.
So if you’re thinking ‘so it’s just a bunch of blacked out words’, then this zine may not be the zine for you. Or you could stick around and let me win you over with my review.
It’s been a while since I’ve sung this particular tune, so I’ll mention that poetry is not a strength of mine. I often don’t understand it and miss whatever points were being made. That being said, I have a strange fascination with blackout poetry.
The text for these poems come from a book called ‘Shine’ given as a gag gift and the last magazine Jessica’s nana read before the end. (Sorry for your loss.) I found the juxtaposition of flippant and serious a strange one, but I wonder if it was intentional in showing that you can make serious out of funny and vice versa no matter what the text.
The poems can be a little hit and miss, but when it hits, it does so in ways I love. Phrases like “To My Nobody” and “You have to shine bright” stuck with me and made my mind drift pleasantly from the poem at hand. No big spoilers here, but the poem on page 7 is definitely my favourite.
I found myself rebelling at the thought of ever finding out what the original text read beneath the swathes of black.
Honestly, I missed the aesthetics for the words on the first read through. I was so focused on words and possible meaning, but I don’t see that as a bad thing. I am glad that I went through to check out the visuals because I liked the various washi tapes and pictures used.
If you’re curious about blackout poetry, check out this zine.
Proof I Exist #20: “Why I’m in a band.”
Proof I Exist #20 is a black and white mini-zine about the love of music and being in a band.
High school band is as close as I ever got to playing music with other people, so to say I am not familiar with starting a band or band dynamics is an understatement. I was a little unsure as to whether this zine would be for me, but I shouldn’t have worried about a zine by Billy.
Billy throws you right into the story from page one with no intros, no table of contents, nada. He starts straight off with a high energy beginning reminiscent of a movie with the words, “The year was 1996, and I was just on the verge of discovering music.”
That energy is carried through the whole zine, mixing with nostalgia and a bit of regret along the way. Billy’s love of being in bands is practically palpable as you read. I could go on and on, but I really don’t want to spoil what this zine has in store for you if you pick it up.
This line really said it all for me:
“I began to realize that bands are not much different than relationships.”
Billy focuses on the story rather than pictures while still keeping to the cut and paste aesthetic. The words are typed and cut out in white strips that stand out starkly against the black background.
This is a gorgeous little zine full of love both past and present for bands and music. Even if you’re like me and not within that sort of world sphere, check it out anyway just because it’s fun.
Strictly Ballroom: A Fan Zine
I feel a little weird reviewing a fan zine. It almost feels like someone professing to love doughnuts, and me saying things like, “I really like how you express your love for doughnuts… but where are the contact details for people who want to know more?” That being said…
Strictly Ballroom is a full-colour mini fanzine about the classic Australian romantic comedy by Baz Luhrmann.
Laura starts off the zine by lamenting about not seeing this movie sooner (it’s from 1992) and all the good times missed (oh, I do so love a twirly skirt as well). As much as I understand Laura’s pain, I have to say that I really love that this is a fanzine borne not of years and years of love but of discovering something and loving it so intensely from the get go that she made a zine about it. There’s just so much energy and excitement in Laura’s writing that I can’t help but feel like I need to get my hands on the movie and watch it again straight away!
Laura launches into five reasons why you should give the movie a go (or a rewatch if you’ve already seen it). I had to laugh when Laura got to talk about Fran’s character and got so excited that she wrote about the possibility of a zine dedicated just to Fran. It was almost like talking to someone who is so excited about something that they can hardly finish one sentence before starting the next.
Strictly Ballroom isn’t comprised only of the list, though, but I’ll leave the other contents for you to discover.
This zine has left me feeling pretty upbeat, energetic, and inspired. I love all the energy and delight Laura has put into this zine, and I think you should check it out.
I am now utterly in love with diary comic zines and decree that everyone make them.
Scissors & Chainsaws is a black and white diary comic zine featuring daily entries though International Zine Month (July) 2013. Now you may think I love all zines about zines and, well, this zine keeps on with the trend. So much love.
Zina takes you from June 30th introduction and prep to final July 31st wrap up with future zine plans. For every day there are small drawings and brief descriptions about what’s happened on the day. As much as the focus is IZM, plenty of focus goes to things that don’t have to do with zines (other than being put in a zine). Zina doesn’t do every single daily activity, but honestly, I found myself enjoying everything so much that I didn’t mind at all. I was happy to read about the non-zine things, too. It is a diary comic, after all.
The aesthetics of this zine are so cute and fun – and I’m not just saying that because of the green cover and green string binding. Colour me green for being so envious of Zina ‘cute but not cutesy’ drawing style. I love it when the art and the words work around each other, influencing each others shapes and positions on the page rather than everything being so neatly squared and separated.
The addition of Chainsaw Bunny made me laugh and smile. I was delighted to see “I’ll be back” on the July 31st entry with him/her/bunbun.
All up, Scissors & Chainsaws is a nice, pleasant zine that gives you a glimpse into Zina’s life. Get a copy. Truly. If you love perzines, comics, diary comics, International Zine Month, any combination of any of those… Pick it up. Because I’m not lending mine out. Hehe.
PS. This cover is actually more nice warm green than mint, but I can’t for the life of me make my camera take pictures that match up with what my actual eyes see.
Doris 26 is a black and white (save for the cover) perzine that is, well, hard to describe. It’s about life, hope, society, and living. More specifically, it’s about the state of people and their desire for meaning, social ecology, the stories we tell ourselves and more.
I’ve been a fan of the Doris series since I first started reading them – thanks to a number of recommendations on a WMZ thread. Right from the unrelated snippets on the first page, I am sucked into the life of this person whose use of language and way of doing things is so different from mine.
I quite enjoy the aesthetics of this zine. I feel like I’m reading someone’s diary or looking through a junk journal (if you’re not familiar with the term ‘junk’ is not an insult). There’s a fun and seemingly unplanned mix of typing and handwriting, cut and paste and drawn comics.
Reading Doris zines is like a reminder to myself that I am too uptight. While that may sound bad, I look at it as Cindy’s writing style relaxing my mind while simultaneously giving me interesting concepts to think about. There are so many times as I am reading when I note down something I want to look into further or think, “That’s exactly how I feel!” (Page 1: “I’ve been trying to figure out how to get over the lifelong problem I’ve had where I think I don’t know anything about anything…” – This!)
Admittedly, I didn’t understand everything. Cindy’s life experiences are so different from mine, but that’s probably why I found everything so fascinating. Some of the social ecology stuff did go over (way over) my head, but what I did understand was very interesting to me. Also, what I did understand has inspired me to keep learning to I can understand the other stuff.
The seeming randomness of this zine is beautiful to me. It speaks to sharing for the sake of sharing and nothing else.
I think that anyone who has an interest in zines should read at least one Doris zine. I think 26 is a great place to start with plenty of it being about people and currency society.
Terrible Comics Presents: The Life and Times of Cashed Up Bogans
Sober Bob Monthly
There’s a saying in Australia – “not happy, Jan” – that sums of feelings of extreme annoyance. That saying came to mind when I read this comic zine. Sober Bob isn’t happy, Jan, and she’s not about to hold back on what she thinks.
Cashed Up Bogans is a full colour comic of cynical musings about modern so-called ‘middle class’ life and the dredges of suburban humanity. Each page has its own multi-panel comic featuring the hypocrises and shallowness that turn people into full-time cynics.
‘Draw Your Favourite Bogan*’ – a spot on the inside front cover – made me laugh out loud. But when it came to the comic about real estate… Well, after spending the past two years or so learning about the annoyances, discrimination, and outright BS in that system, I felt annoyed all over again.
Even though I’m a ‘why can’t we all just be a bit nicer to each other’ kind of woman, I fell right into this zine. I totally understood why Sober Bob made this zine, and I know a fair few friends of mine who would enjoy it as much as I have.
I feel like Cashed Up Bogans is a combination of rant, dark humour, and completely taking the piss out of common culture. Because, in the end, they are jokes (even if they have teeth). I definitely want to see more of the terrible comics series.
If you like to take a dark poke at humanity – more specifically the suburban class – then this zine is one to check out.
*Bogan is more or less the Australian equivalent of the US redneck mixed with the stereotypical trailer trash.